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The Golden Mean - Quayola

posted Jan 30, 2013, 9:55 PM by Ellen Pearlman

The Golden Mean - Quayola

 Can classical beauty be reinterpreted by algorithms? Is our appreciation of aesthetics hardwired, or does it shift, often within the span of a generation? Do we continually filter history through our contemporary lens?

Quayola does something alchemists have tried for years, to extract the golden mean from great art.  In his HD Video Strata #4, he transforms altar of pieces of Flemish painters Peter Paul Rubens and Anton Van Dyke, housed in the Palais des Beaux Arts in Lille, France into undulating geomorphs, reworking Van Dyckʼs Christ on the Cross (1628), Rubensʼ Martyrdom of St. Catherine (1615),The Ecstasy of Mary Magdalene (1619) and The Descent from the Cross (1617).

Peter Paul Rubens, The Descent from the Cross, 1617

A special custom software analyzes data about the paintings characteristics, mapping all types of polygons and their spatial relations. Is there an inherent aesthetic in the proximity of the polygons and the picture plane? Does one arrangement lead to an ecstatic viewing experience? Is this true for all cultures, or just one that is Euro-centric?

A web of polygons

Point clouds of dots are extrapolated from that scenario. Is this the origin of how we perceive shapes in a pre-cognitive state?

Point clouds of dots of data

In the next picture you can see the polygons as swaths of color. Sometimes the image is clear and classical, and other times it becomes exceedingly mathematical.

Classical painting meets algorithm nation

This reworking of the picture plane into shards of triangles and polygons becomes even more blatant with The Immaculate Conception (1767) by Tiepolo from the Museo del Prado in Spain. Quayola reworked it as Topologies - Tiepolo, Immacolata Concezione, 2010

The Immaculate Conception (1767) by Tiepolo

Topologies - Tiepolo, Immacolata Concezione, 2010

He also did the same with Las Meninas, which some say anticipated the invention of the camera.

Las Meninas (1656) by Velázquez

Topologies - Velazquez, Las Meninas, 2010

Hundreds of thousands of polygons and points comprise a wire frame core that mathematically contorts and regenerates, driven by a soundscape that is visually determined.

Excerpts of Quayola’s work can be seen on the bitforms Gallery website -