Che-Yu Wu draws inspiration from nature, physics, modern art, mathematical rhythm and music to create compounding algorithmic works that explore the border between art and engineering.
The Soul is an audio-visual work, combining the rationality from Wu’s electrical engineering background with the sentimentality of visual design. The subtle colour shifts, illusion of luminosity, and unrelenting dynamism of this work fulfil its purpose to provoke thought and introspection.
As Che-Yu says: “in the dark space, the big eyes of the world are watching you, and its pupils are shining with colours and lights that do not exist in this world, asking your soul who you are.”
Leading up to this drop, we had the opportunity to talk to Che-Yu about the inspiration behind The Soul, his background and education and how he sees his practice developing in the coming years.
Was The Soul inspired by anything in particular, any past artists, works or historical moments?
“The Soul” was inspired by Olafur Eliasson’s “The Weather Project” installation from 2003, as well as the brand visual for the 2022 Solana Breakpoint Conference. The use of fluorescent colours and gradients in the conference’s branding inspired the use of these elements in my own work. The combination of these influences sparked my imagination and influenced the creation of “The Soul”, which I developed while attending the conference. The work aims to bring the outside world inside and create a cosmic vision for the audience to experience. The work is meant to resemble an immense, floating eye staring into the void and asking the audience to consider the meaning of life and their deepest desires.
How integral is it that your work is shown in a dynamic way?
It is extremely important for my work to be presented in a dynamic way. This is because the dynamic nature of the artwork allows the audience to engage with the piece and experience it in a way that static presentations cannot provide. For example, by incorporating algorithms and digital assets into my work, I am able to empower the audience to run the “life” of the artwork by executing the formula and source code from the digital collection. It’s like delivering seeds to people and they can see them grow in action instead of just looking at a picture of the final grown flower. The added “time” dimension of the work creates an experience that includes the audience as part of the artwork. And the use of new media formats allows people to engage with the work through multiple senses. Overall, dynamic presentations enhance the impact and experience of my artwork.
How do you approach each individual project?
I have a structured approach to each project that begins with sketching out initial concepts or formulas. From there, I explore the derivatives and develop a rough draft of the artwork. Once I have a solid foundation, I focus on improving the details and balancing the composition. I then go through several rounds of rendering to discover potential outputs and fine-tune the overall algorithm. Finally, I add multi-sensory features such as sound and interactivity to enhance the experience of the artwork. This approach allows me to create dynamic and engaging pieces that captivate the audience.
You have a background in both engineering and visual design, does one of these influence your work more than the other?
Absolutely, my background in engineering has a much stronger influence on my work. As an engineer, I have a passion for pushing the boundaries of what is considered rational and logical. This drive has led me to metamorphose into a new-born artist, using the formulas and patterns from maths and physics to create incredible and mind-blowing results. While visual design certainly plays a role in my work, it is my background in engineering that truly fuels my desire to create and innovate.
What are your thoughts on long-form generative art projects in comparison to unique 1/1s?
I have a deep appreciation for both long-form generative art projects and unique 1/1 works. I love the way that unique 1/1s can be the only and unique work produced, making them scarce and highly sought after. At the same time, I also appreciate the way that long-form generative art projects can show the audience how a work is generated, allowing them to experience the process of creation again with the artist. In this way, generative art projects can challenge the traditional notion of “The Death of the Author” by blending the time and space of the artist and audience to co-create and experience the artwork together. This allows for a bit of the artist’s soul to remain present in the digital medium used to transfer the work. Overall, I believe that both approaches offer unique and valuable experiences for the audience.
What is your favourite method of coding?
My favourite method of coding is using p5.js. I love p5.js because it is accessible and easy to understand, even for those with minimal programming knowledge. It is also versatile, allowing me to execute my code on various computers and portable devices. Additionally, I find that writing code with p5.js is like writing poetry – it is a smooth and deep experience that allows me to try out different ideas, see the real-time results, and improve my code intuitively and creatively. Overall, p5.js is my go-to coding method for creating dynamic and engaging artwork.
Is there much difference between being a generative artist in the USA compared to Taiwan?
As a generative artist in Taiwan, I have found that the community is still small and growing. In comparison, the U.S. has a vibrant and established generative art community, with events such as the generative art portion of Art Basel and galleries like Pace showcasing this type of work. I love the way that artists can collaborate and play together to create stunning works of generative art. However, I have found that Taiwan has fewer resources and less active environments for generative artists to thrive in.
I think the vision for generative art in the U.S.A. is more instant and avant-garde, with artists pushing the boundaries and experimenting with new ideas. In Taiwan, the focus is more on educating students and promoting generative art as a mainstream art form. I am currently focused on educating students in Taiwan about creative coding and pushing generative art into the mainstream of the art world. In the coming years, I hope to see Taiwan’s generative art community grow and thrive, allowing for more opportunities for artists to exhibit and perform their work. I am also inspired by the energy and soul of foreign generative artists who push the boundaries and imagine the possibilities of this art form. I hope to bring some of this energy and passion to Taiwan, fostering a thriving and dynamic generative art community.
How do you see your practice developing in the coming years?
In the coming years, I see my practice developing in several ways. Initially, I plan to continue building upon the foundation of my current work, using a variety of shapes, patterns, and colours to create daily pieces using 1-2 hours a day. As I continue to grow and evolve as an artist, I plan to dedicate more time to refining and perfecting my work, taking the time to create pieces with greater depth and complexity. I also plan to focus on creating works that are both exhibitable in static and dynamic formats, allowing for a wider range of audiences to experience my art.
Additionally, I plan to delve deeper into the world of modern and classical art, drawing inspiration from a wide range of sources to improve my core thinking and imagination. Ultimately, my goal is to develop my work to the level of classical fine art, which I have coined as “generative impressionism”. I am excited to explore the unique and dynamic possibilities of digital art, defining a new branch of art that merges modernism with the future of metaverse art. Currently, my focus is on creating art with life and soul, allowing the audience to engage with the work in a dynamic and immersive way. I want my work to be forever dynamic, evolving and growing, continuing to surprise and delight the audience with its ever-changing nature.
Your online courses on creative coding and new media art have inspired tens of thousands of students in Asia, what compelled you to start this?
I have a deep passion for empowering others to create interactive and dynamic works of art. I started creating my first online course while I was still in college, motivated by the desire to share not only the skills and techniques necessary for creating stunning interactive websites, but also the full journey of breaking down a beautiful design into practical steps for developers.
Through my online courses, I aim to provide students with the tools and guidance they need to explore the exciting world of creative coding and new media art, and to join me on this journey as creators, engineers, and artists. I am thrilled that my courses have resonated with so many students in Asia and beyond, and I look forward to continuing to share my passion for generative art with the world.
Che-Yu Wu is a new media artist, designer, engineer and entrepreneur from Taiwan, currently based in New York. With a background in both art and engineering Wu creates digital art with life and soul, illuminating the discourse between physics, maths, music, and art.
He has dropped on Fx (hash) and Art Blocks and is included in major digital art collections such as GlimmerDAO. Wu has also built unparalleled immersive experiences, combining his visual design skills with VR/AR to powerfully juxtapose elements of the digital with the physical.
After completing his Master’s Degree in Integrated Media from New York University he founded Monoame Design and has worked with Taipei City Government, National Palace Museum, Nissan, White Castle and many others to provide dynamic experience applications and solutions. Wu is also notable for his Hahow online courses, which have inspired tens of thousands of students to pursue creative coding and new media art.
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