[TISEA 1992] Artist Statement: Jon McCormack – Signals

Artist Statement

Backlit transparency in light box

This image evolved from a series of experiments working with light as an algorithmic entity. The work underscores the notion of computational synergistics — the feedback process between visual representation of computation and human thinking resulting in significantly greater awareness and understanding of the process — a synergy between mind and machine. Light is represented by symbolic elements within a procedural machine language. I based the work on a study of the ‘optical phenomena’ known as the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) and Aurora Australis (Southern Lights) — featureless, quiescent arcs of light which occur in the ionosphere, most often seen at high latitudes. They are caused by streams of fluorescing electrons, flushed from solar flares and trapped in the Earth’s magnetic field relentlessly forced toward the poles.

The procedural specification consists of symbolic replacement rules whose syntax is parsed and recursively applied by the machine. Symbols are interpreted as representing light, colour and textural components of the image.
I prefer to think of these as ‘optical forms’, polarised arcs of reflection and energy created from a handful of algorithmic rules: signals singing out into the void. Automatic, oblivious and yet inevitable.

  • Jon McCormack, Australia