April 23, 2023

QQL # 206 by Tyler Hobbs, Dandelion Wist and William Mapan

Today I'm talking about a work by the generative artists Tyler Hobbs, Dandelion Wist and Willliam Mapan that has particularly excited me in the past few weeks. Find out why in the article.

The generative artwork QQL # 206 is created by William Mapan and is part of the QQL Series made by Tyler Hobbs and Dandelion Wist. It is made up of many small shaded circles, which are themselves ordered into a larger shape. The dissolving blues, whites and blacks create a gradient effect that you have to concentrate on. The edges of the circles are not sharply delineated but seem to blur, giving the impression that they partially disappear into the background. The colours of the work seem to be arranged in such a way that they convey a sense of depth and movement, almost as if they were swirling around a central point. At the same time, they create what seems to be a tactile form through this play of light and shadow and you want to feel over the different elevations of the individual circles, even though of course they are not there.

I immediately felt reminded of the ZERO movement when I first saw the QQL# 206. And the more I look into the work, the more i understand why i felt this way..

To explain, the ZERO movement emerged in Germany in the late 1950s and early 1960s as a reaction to the destruction and trauma of World War II. The artists of the ZERO movement wanted to create a new kind of art that was both radical and utopian, an art that rejected traditional forms of expression and embraced technology, science and new materials. Their aim was to create a visual language that would be universal, democratic and free from the constraints of national and cultural boundaries. (Who else here feels reminded of the art movement we are in rightnow?!).  

One of the most important members of the ZERO group was Günther Uecker and he was the first person I thought of in this context. Uecker's work was known for the use of nails, which he hammered into canvases to create textured, three-dimensional surfaces. The nails were arranged in patterns that were both orderly and chaotic, giving the work a sense of movement and energy.


Inscribed 'Weisses Feld | Uecker | 64' on the backPainted nails on canvas-covered composition board, 34 1/4 x 34 1/4 x 3 (87 x 87 x 7.5). Purchased from the artist through the McRoberts and Tunnard Gallery (Knapping Fund) 1964


However, Uecker also created his more subtle embossed prints, which I personally appreciate more because of the paper material. These prints are created by placing objects under a paper and by applying pressure to the paper, a raised or indented surface is created. Uecker used this technique to create works that are both tactile and visually stunning, often containing abstract geometric shapes and patterns that seem to vibrate and pulse with energy.


Günther Uecker, 'Fluss', 2005, embossed print, 1200 x 800 mm, signed, Ex. 79/90.

The use of repetition and pattern in generative art can also be traced back to, among other things, the ZERO group's interest in order and chaos. Similarly, the use of chance in generative art can be seen as an extension of the group's interesting creating art that is free from the hand of the artist. This can be seen, for example, in the use of light, fire and air in the artists' work. One could experience this, for example, in the 2014/15 exhibition at the Guggenheim:

The ZERO movement was not only about creating new forms of abstraction, but also about rethinking the relationship between the artist and the viewer. They wanted to create works that were interactive and spoke to the viewer in a direct and immediate way. Many of their works were designed to be experienced in certain ways, for example by walking around them or looking at them from different angles, and sometimes they also wanted the viewer to participate in the creative process and in the making of the artwork.

There are some interactive exhibitions that show the ZERO group's focus on creating immersive, participatory artworks that engage the viewer in new and innovative ways. By inviting visitors to interact with the artwork, the ZERO movement sought to break down the traditional boundaries between artist and viewer andcreate a more dynamic, collaborative art experience.

Tyler Hobbs explains that he wants to create art that is "alive" and constantly changing, relating to the unpredictable and chaotic nature of the world. He sees his role as a facilitator for the generative algorithms he creates rather than a traditional artist controlling every aspect of the artwork.

He also emphasises the importance of the viewer's interaction with his work. Hobbs wants his art to be an experience that the viewer can engage with and explores that they can discover new patterns and forms in the ever-evolving compositions. He sees the viewer as an active participant in the creation of the art work rather than a passive observer. 

Overall, QQL is an exploration of the possibilities of generative art and of pushing the boundaries of what is possible in terms of creating dynamic, ever-changing artworks.

The generative nature of QQL means that the artwork is not fixed, but constantly evolving and responding to the viewer's input. This creates a sense of collaboration between the artwork and the viewer as both contribute in meaningful ways to the final composition.

Hobbs’ and Wist’s QQL and this curation demonstrate the interactive and engaging process that has been used in previous exhibitions by ZERO artists. With this project, it is possible to imagine a future where generative art is exhibited in public spaces and responds to the movements and actions of the viewer, creating a dynamic and immersive experience.

Like the ZERO art movement, the artists in this project are interested in exploring the interplay between intention and chance. They embrace the unpredictability of generative art and see it as a way to create unique and unexpected art works that are nevertheless coherent in their intention and original idea.

And if you want to create a QQL yourself or learn more about the series, you can do so on the artists' project page.

April 23, 2023

Steven Reiss

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