DigitalFruit is an interview series from Adafruit showcasing some of our favorite digital fine artists from around the world. As we begin this new decade with its rapidly changing landscape, we must envision our path through a different lens. Over the next few weeks we’ll feature many innovative perspectives and techniques that will inspire our maker community to construct a bold creative frontier. The only way is forward.
1. Where are you based?
I’m based in Wandlitz, a suburb of Berlin
2. Tell us about your background?
As a teenager I knew I wanted to be a painter one day.
I started painting in the attic, did evening courses, studied at the Art Academy Dresden and received a degree in Sculpture. From there, I studied as a post graduate in Stuttgart and Paris and later moved to Brooklyn, New York.
3. What inspires your work?
In a New York club nightclub, I discovered computer animated fractals for the first time. I was so fascinated by this new art form- I knew I wanted to develop a greater connection, so I phoned around and was finally offered an internship at the Computer Graphics Department at the New York Institute of Technology.
I moved back to Germany in 1994 and settled in Berlin- right in the middle of the electronic music boom. Inspired by this, I charted a radical path and started to work with computers exclusively, knowing that I wanted to make art in the same way that the music I was listening to was made. I spent another year learning about Multimedia Design at Cimdata Berlin. Since then, my fascination has evolved to working with software and internet based networks. I’ve never felt any reason to move back to paints and traditional artistic work.
Electronic music, and specifically, artists such as Aphex Twin, greatly inspired me. These days, Nature is my main inspiration.
4. What are you currently working on? Describe your process and what tools you like to use.
Over the years, I’ve literally wandered through many different techniques; 3D modeling, 2D animation, working with all sorts of different software, until I finally got more and more into programming via Macromedia Lingo, Flash Actionscript and then finally arriving at Processing around 2005.
Processing opened up a whole new world of basic and minimalistic studies. In 2006, I started seriously working with Processing and I haven’t taken up any other methods ever since.
Because I prefer to work with basic form elements, programming with simple code supports my concerns about image and video development very well.
Deep down inside I feel like a painter, so I think my work should be best described in the traditional context of painting. My focus lies on the development of an image and color composition.
Sometimes it’s like coming home and feeling full of an expression that, out of its own energy, is longing to become materialized. Even in that moment when I would start “painting”, I wouldn’t have any direct image up on my inner screen. Maybe that wouldn’t be fun. Just as when you are compelled to go onto the dance floor when you hear good music, you don’t exactly know what’s next… I like to compare my work process to dancing or improvising music. It’s like the process of developing a nearly finished form/composition throughout a performance or play. For me, it’s the way in which evolving form elements start organizing and, in the best case- combine to form a fascinating image.
Nevertheless, the implication of algorithmic structuring, by mathematical visualization of forms and behaviors, has a basic priority in my work- to me, it offers a meta-level way of looking at/into nature.
Landscape-like work, based on a simple Perlin noise structure or tree like structure using a recursive algorithm, has fascinated me for a long time to this day.
Preferring simple minimal code basics and fine-tuning them over and over again in order to ultimately create an image that has – to me – that certain something.
5. What does your workplace or studio look like? Do you work in silence or listen to music while you work?
About 18 years ago, my girlfriend and I decided to move out of Berlin to an area with lakes and forests, north of the city. During that time, I was lucky enough to sell some of my works in larger editions through lumas.de, which helped us to realize our dream of having our own living and working studio space.
As a family of four, we enjoy the quiet and surrounding nature and a space to live and work.
My studio is a 70 square meter ground floor space, where I have 3- 3D printers, 1 laser cutter, a pigment printer and a lot of music hardware. This all feels like paradise to me.
Lately, I’ve been making experimental sounds myself, using mainly Native Instruments hardware.
6. How has technology shaped your creative vision?
During my childhood and youth, I did everything possible with my hands; drawing, painting, working with wood, stone and so on, all possible materials and techniques…
Now when I look back, I see that period as a logical progression to my interest in computer technology.
I don’t use computers as a kind of aid for something that could just as well be produced in an analog or traditional way, instead, I take the features of the programmed process as an aesthetic basis. That’s what I like and what I believe in as an expression of our time.
7. Any tips for someone interested in getting started in the digital art form?
I’m convinced that coding with Processing would be a great start.
And, despite all of the unlimited possibilities of apps, presets and plugins- keeping it simple and going with an idea…
8. Where do you see generative and digital art heading in the future?
With 19th century art, the focus was to depict nature in order to understand it. With 20th century art, nature was examined in all possible ways. 21st century art aims to simulate more complex processes- Generative Art.
Holger Lippmann, Wandlitz, 9 september 2020
DigitalFruit is curated by Adafruit lead photographer- Andrew Tingle