Flow 02 lowresv2 2

Following the flow

This piece was generated using a “flow field”. What does it mean? It’s like letting a piece of wood or a leaf follow the river flow and trace their journey from one point to the other: it’s never a straight line and they end up all over the place. In this case it’s multiple leaves and the river is particularly rocky!

The beauty of flow fields is that on one side you can build them in a way that the “shape” is not known a priori, it’s semi-random: you define the parameters to use in a random number generator algorithm and watch the magic happen. On the other side, once you have a “shape” you like, a whole plethora of ways to use it opens up for you.

In this case I liked the idea of subdividing the image in stripes and assigning to each one a colour. Even though this could have resulted in a rather dull and static image I “knew” that each flow line was very likely to move from one stripe to another creating a more dynamic composition with colours continuously “invading” each other space.

I wasn’t happy though. So, I added two more “quirks”. First of all flow fields, with all their twists and turns tend to create many “extremely busy” areas where lines overlap multiple times. I have mixed feelings about that: sometimes they look interesting sometimes they don’t. In my version of the algorithm, I start with lines that are at a fixed distance from one another and when they get close I only allow them to overlap for a certain percentage that I can control. And as you can see in the darkest part of the image some line stops before adding itself to an already crowded place.

Flow02 sample 1

The second addition I made was not to draw a simple line but tiny circles instead! If you look closely these are dotted lines with each dot of the same size drawn at the same distance from one another. This regularity balances the more dynamic and chaotic movement that’s happening on the surface. I can control this aspect of the image though and in other iterations of the algorithm I allow “irregular circles” to be drawn.

As you can see there is a mix of uncontrolled and controlled elements in creating this generative piece. Every time I run the algorithm, depending how I change the parameters, the result is always a surprise. The final image is vibrant & dynamic and at the same time soothing giving out some distinctive “impressionist vibes” that I particularly like.

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