Long before I was exposed for the first time to the internet and all the different endeavours contained therein, I saw works by Walter Valentini at the house of my mom’s best friend. Back then it already struck me as beautiful, calm, attractive and believe me I had nothing, really nothing to do with abstract thinking, mathematics or algorithms at that time.
Since then I’ve been successively interested in literature, music, arts, film, esthetics and switched over to natural sciences more recently. Theories like those put forth by Rudolf Arnheim, which explain aesthetic force through geometrical distribution of forms and the relationship of colors, led me to believe, that what really attracts us about art is it’s abstract framework. Yes, there can be story, sensual beauty, symbolism, political meaning: but all this does not determine the beauty of a work.
Be it as it may, this type of description lends itself perfectly for abstract works, all the more, when they’re based explicitly on geometrical thought. This week, both Leonor and I , were fascinated by what a series of well chosen abstractions can achieve as far as artistic results are concerned. We’ve seen this for generative art, fractal art, algorithmic art and art inspired by various sorts of kinetics. (article)
After a while getting exposed too many new stimuli, one tends to return to past impressions, that somehow sum it all up. This is one of the great pleasures in art and might be the reason, why we tend to honor old things so much. It gives us a great summary, stands as a symbol for all our experiences and strikes us as even more beautiful, as it seems to be the simplest, most elegant form to say, what we invested weeks, months, years to understand.
Walter Valentini for me is such a point of return. He essentially uses geometry in his pictures, sometimes with physical meaning, mostly astronomy or approximating architectural sketches, the movement of planets or graphs of motions, sometimes forms that are free of meaning. For this, he has used nothing but traditional materials: paper, engraving metals, graphite, sometimes cast metal, stones, dirt. I’m giving you a small impression here, but even browsing through his portfolio, I had a hard time finding a work by his hand, that would not strike you at first glance as being in complete visual equilibrium. Following Arnheim, this means, that you can express dynamics, disturbance or calm, but in any case you have to order your objects in a way, that equilibrate what your viewer can see. Then, they will perceive as attractive, whatever you might want to tell. Go ahead and enjoy and then, pay the artist a visit.
For those of you, who just like to take a quick look, I link directly to the short film found on Valentini’s homepage, as it is at least as artistic, as the actual art it portrays.
With this I’m wrapping up a series of articles about generative art, to which I also count Valentini. My personal reason for this connection is the following. Purely logical things, like geometrical figures, can be and frequently are beautiful. The reason for this must lie in the way our brain is wired. It is worthwhile to mention, that Arnheim’s psychology has it’s followers in what is termed experimental aesthetics. And studies in this domain indicate, that attraction, beauty, depends on the simplicity with which information can be processed by the individual viewer (Reber). Furthermore, artworks seem to converge to the same visual information content, in particular, they seem to have very similar Fourier-Series of visible light frequencies. (Redies, abstract painting). If this is the case, then interest, that is the force with which people are being attracted to things, depends on the form, in which these things appear and if it is possible for other human beings to form them, it is their for their own social good, and in my view even their responsibility. In connection to what we saw with Karl Simms, or the music videos that adapt visually to the music they hear, it becomes palpable, that making machines more human-like will require to provide them with algorithms built on this data.
Here’re the links. I also included the only blog article I found about him on the first 14 google pages, as a kind of kudos, and two italian articles. The deviantART link goes to a smartphone skin developed after Valentini’s work:
Article on Lastampa (It)