In celebration of Unit London Web3’s online exhibition, Building Blocks, we spoke to Loren Bednar about his intricate explorations of colourful patterns in constant motion.
In Resonate Loren Bednar explores the interplay between geometry, colour and movement. As fragmented shapes move across a geometric grid, textures collide and colours meld to present a cohesive composition. This continuous, transformative movement is intended to be symbolic of the propensity of sound waves for intriguing visual distortions.
UL: How do you navigate the relationship between mathematics, generative code and geometric aesthetics?
LB: I take a visual-first position with how I approach geometry in my work. I don’t plan out specific structures or spend time perfecting them, instead I play with a handful of ideas like mathematical brainstorming until something starts to feel like a consistent idea. Once I’ve settled on a theme, I then start to adjust some of the rough spots – literally making the edges less (or more) jagged or creating a more cohesive experience. While I thrive on the unpredictability of my motion work, I try to ensure every experience is positive. It can take a lot of finessing to create emergent geometry that communicates the piece’s ideas while maintaining a certain level of entropy.
UL: Do your explorations in generative pattern have any underlying political or social significance, or do you prefer to focus on the aesthetic qualities of the work?
LB: Much of my work focuses on aesthetic qualities but Phase was partially created during explorations with how social media algorithms would compress motion art video pieces, stripping them of their details and smooshing the colours together. I wanted to create a piece that simulated that effect and made sharing the videos a challenge, like each time a phase video was shared on social media, it would behave like a live performance. The entropy provided by that extra algorithmic compression acted on the art as an outside force and made each share unique.
UL: Your work, Resonate presents a dynamic composition cut up and mediated by a geometric grid. How do you explore colourful patterns in motion within a framework of geometric precision?
LB: My motion work begins with colourful stripes moving in a predictable way. As part of my process, I start breaking up those stripes in increasingly complex ways until it’s indiscernible from its start point. One thing that stays consistent is their motion and colour weight (the distribution of colours within a palette). I enjoy finding moments in my work where, despite the fragmentation of shapes, there is a cohesiveness to the relationship between colours and motion. To me, there is a special moment where you see unrelated edges line up and it’s a sense of harmony to see a hint of familiarity in a rather chaotic piece. In a musical sense, there is a concept of a perfect cadence where a musical moment resolves in a pleasant way. Without that cadence, a work may feel like it’s suspended and waiting for resolution.
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Loren Bednar is a Michigan-based digital artist who has been producing generative work since 2006. Fusing mathematics with his love of colour and shape he creates abstract work imbued with emotion. He is notable for his collection, Traversals, which explores luminous colours in layered intersections. After this, his series Phase was selected for an Art Blocks Curated release, exemplifying his recent explorations of colourful patterns in constant motion. Valuing experimentation and technical performance, Loren continuously applies his curiosity to finding art within algorithms. His works have been collected internationally and exhibited in New York City, Los Angeles, Marfa TX, Berlin, and Frankfurt.
UL: Can you tell us a bit about your background and journey into creative coding?
LB: I’ve always had an appreciation for art and design, but I don’t have a traditional art background. Instead, I’ve always experimented with what I can make with new technologies. As a teenager, I used LOGO to create spirals and other geometric patterns. As an adult, I worked on interactive websites and experiences using Flash. There was a direct relationship to the mathematical placement of elements with code and, in order to make things fun for users, we would add creative touches.
I was able to use my experience with Flash to work as a freelance game developer. In my free time, I built programs that created grids of little geometric shapes where each cell in the grid was a different combination of colour and shape. I started sharing these sprite sheets on Twitter as a way to help indie game developers have access to lots of dynamically-generated art to use freely in their games.
From these early sheets, I began growing my own style of bright, colourful, geometric art. The relationships between the individual shapes, colour blends, and patterns is still present in my work. Since 2021, I’ve been using motion as an additional ingredient in the combination.
UL: How did you formulate your dynamic and nuanced approach to geometry?
LB: My workflow is very iterative – I don’t really have a goal in mind for what the final result(s) will be. I have a vague concept of where I’m headed but I tend to get distracted and let anomalies guide me. I will make small changes that cause some strange results. As they emerge, I lean into those elements and see how far I can push them before they become noise. With my motion work, the interplay between shifting geometries and their relationship with colour becomes my obsession and carries me to the end of a new idea.
UL: Do any historical art movements resonate with you and your practice; Do you intentionally draw any parallels between your work and that of the past?
LB: For the first 15 years of my generative art life, I was pretty much in a bubble. I knew of a couple artists but didn’t really follow their work. The past couple years have been eye-opening! I’ve been exposed to more artists and art than ever before and I feel a bit like I’m playing catch-up with all this incredible history. While I can’t say for sure that my work is informed by past artists and their work, it’s fascinating to compare my work with theirs and find commonalities.
UL: Are there any specific artists who influence your work / practice?
LB: It’s difficult to pinpoint sources of influence since I started my artist’s path alone without really knowing what previous or current generative art looked like. When I emerged from my bubble in early 2021, I discovered so many wonderful artists and their creations from the past and present and was generally shocked at what I’d missed.
I think it is hard to say who influences my work specifically but I am drawn to various styles from artists I follow and chat with. I have appreciated moments of synchronicity where a small group of fellow artists have explored visually similar concepts, but we’ve all approached the ideas in distinctly different ways. Recently, my series, Divergence (released on Art Blocks 2023) had very similar visual elements to Sarah Zucker’s Temporale. Her approach consists of hands-on analog video production and mine is code-based. Similarly, fellow Art Blocks artists, Kim Asendorf (Cargo), Galo (SKEUOMORPHS), and Eric De Giuli (Calian) all approached a similar motion-based generative art look. Without sharing or discussing each others’ processes, we all achieved aesthetically similar elements through different methods and algorithms.
UL: Some argue that generative art is hard to access since it requires a certain level of technical skill and expensive equipment. How do you respond to that and how do you ensure that your work is accessible to a wide audience?
LB: It has always been my goal to keep my work accessible to any audience. For my live-running works, I focus on making them highly performant, so people can view the work on any web browser including hand-held devices. For my interactive work, I include a variety of user interaction models (touchscreen compatibility, mouse, keyboard, gamepad). While my pre-rendered video loops are necessarily large, it is possible to download the video and run it locally instead of downloading it each time.
Stay tuned for more exclusive artists interviews from all the groundbreaking generative artists featured in our exhibition!