ddrees art

My art work and thoughts

Posts Tagged ‘op art’

More about op art

Posted by ddrees on December 30, 2008

r-ms1eturning to my discussion of Optical Art, I would like to share some of the ideas of US design education in the third part of the twentieth century. At Catonsville Community College, the two of us who were the main two-dimensional design teachers for years, though very different in personality, shared in the indoctrination of our alma maters, Bob Dale from MICA and UMD and me from Pratt, PSU and indirectly, Yale through Skidmore, and so we saw eye to eye on our educational objectives. I handled the Color Design class, which was more Albers than Albers. I do not think we were too much different than most of the country in our points of view.

The CCC art faculty used to differentiate between types of op art effects in a manner that would help the students gain control of the art elements both one element at a time and elements combining with other elements. Other objectives were to develop abstract thought capacity and hand eye coordination. In those days we believed artists should have an ability to objectively assess what they put out for communication and to realize that there might be a difference between what they were recording to the material world and what portion remained in their imagination. The students were supposed to realize what was the perceiver’s share. This is not a new idea in education, think Henry Adams “One sees what one brings”, but with many ripples about what is really real. Since I somewhat believed in objectivity, this was important to me.

Let us not forget that Plato worried about the unreality of images many years ago and the discussion goes on and on from there. Oh yes, there was also the graven image item in the Ten Commandments and what that would expand to. In the sixties and seventies, the op artists were making their manifestos  and I remember Victor Vasarely declaring that after him there would be nothing more for anyone to do in the art world. I think he missed something basic about creativity. He must have missed Arabesque designs which influenced Maurits Escher and also quilt designs to mention a couple of precedents.

Maurits Escher- Butterfly

Maurits Escher- Butterfly

NYPL arabesque designs 4

NYPL arabesque designs 4

NYPL arabesque designs 3

NYPL arabesque designs 3

NYPL arabesque designs 2

NYPL arabesque designs 2

NYPL Arabesque designs

NYPL Arabesque designs

I have used quilt design motifs in a number of my works like these two below.

magnolia quilt-©1989 DDrees

magnolia quilt-©1989 DDrees

magnolia quilt-©1989 DDrees

magnolia quilt-©1989 DDrees

We are really all remix artists. Some pieced quilts

c1tcht2 pieced quilt

c1tcht2 pieced quilt

japanese-quilt-show-at-the-la-connor-quilt-museum-wa1

japanese-quilt-show-at-the-la-connor-quilt-museum-wa1

le159v1 pieced quilt

le159v1 pieced quilt

oleo-1973

oleo-1973

Some call Vasarely the father of op art, but with so many design precedents I cannot see how anyone could lay claim to that. At an AIGA speech at the Baltimore Museum I recall hearing April Greiman laying claim to the circle. I think she was at least fifty, so old enough to know better. She startled me.

The basic starts in our 2d design class were line transitions as previously discussed. Previous

Line transitions were made out of even width lines that might or might not wave or change direction. The line had to be repeated many times at intervals or negative spaces that were close in width to the lines, to create ambiguity at the edge of vision’s tolerance for seeing things as discreet lines and spaces, and optically mixing them as visual gray. The result of the ambiguity would be difficulty in keeping the image static. You could delight in how something as simple as a line system would produce flashes, depth and motion arising through perception. Many traditional artists and engravers already knew all this because they had to control the elements to tease them into illusionism.

https://ddreesart.wordpress.com/tag/op-art/

Diderot's Encyclopedia Sandal detail showing line transition

Diderot's Encyclopedia sandals engraving

Diderot's Encyclopedia sandals engraving

When I was a student in Bittleman’s class he would have us take small pieces of Albrect Durer’s mature woodcuts and copy them with brush and ink very magnified in order to study the relationship of the line pattern to image formation.These traditional artists were not so interested in focusing on these tricks as on some other content of their preference.

If you start to use shapes rather than lines, new experiments can be generated. Adding color shifts, hue, value or intensity adds the next development. So from line transitions we took the students to shape transitions. From simple figure ground ambiguity we moved to reversing figure ground designs in which the shapes had additional content, like being letter forms or creatures, (think Escher). I hope that the students were following this train of thought. I assumed they were because it was so laborious for them to craft these items in pen and ink that they had plenty of time for their brains to ponder on it. Their results were often very good. As more elements join in the game, possible creative results expand exponentially. Using a vector program makes this all the easier. My computer graphics students can proliferate designs so fast it would make Victor Vasarely roll over in his grave. I do not think they care to imagine what it was like to make these by hand. The end of art is nowhere in sight.

Student’s digital line and square op art examples:

	121cg1_cmc_opsquares2.jpg

121cg1_cmc_opsquares2.jpg

121CG1_JW_checkers

121CG1_JW_checkers

cgvc121_lmp_checkers

cgvc121_lmp_checkers

cgvcd121_eab_oplineart2

cgvcd121_eab_oplineart2

cgvcd121_eab_opsquares4ai

cgvcd121_eab_opsquares4ai

jhorstmanCHECKS

jhorstmanCHECKS

trudylrwbheart

trudylrwbheart

How tos;

Making a Line transition with bend and twist in Adobe Illustrator- see figure

  • Make line stacks with a 6 point stroke
  • Transform /move /vertical -12 point . Copy the repeat transform 50 times or so
  • Option drag to get 8 or so stacks, Align and distribute the stacks
  • With direct select tool select points between stacks and move the set. Repeat till it looks like this
  • Then  apply the twist filter
op line-bent-and-twisted-part-11

op line-bent-and-twisted-part-11

op line-bent-and-twisted-part-2

op line-bent-and-twisted-part-2

mylinetranbendtwisted ©2000 DD

mylinetranbendtwisted ©2000 DD

Making a Shape transition in Adobe Illustrator

  • Shape blend between two triangles- one with apex to left one to right
  • Height of triangle must have multiple values that equals number of steps times vertical distance between top and bottom
  • Run the blend. Here there are 14 steps between two shapes
  • Make another set horizontal as a start guide to reset apexes for additional columns
  • Option drag column and edit apex- repeat to width desired
shape-blend-starts for op shape transition

shape-blend-starts for op shape transition

	shape-transition-1 ©2000 dd

shape-transition-1 ©2000 dd

Line transition with figure ground reversal

figure-ground-reversal-lines

figure-ground-reversal-lines

figure ground reversal dressed up ©2000 dd

figure ground reversal dressed up ©2000 dd

figure-ground-reversal-turned-decoration ©dd 2000

figure-ground-reversal-turned-decoration ©dd 2000

I plan to add an entry about more complex figure ground reversals in the future.

Art and life

In view of the playful, game-like nature of op art, despite the arguments that it points out ambiguities and conditional nature of meaning, I often worry that art is a minor pursuit. But I feel that I can be surer of my conditional statements in art than if I were to make huge blunders in the material world like our government has been making. In art, the players are line, shape and color, reference, etc. In politics and control of wealth I do not even know who the real players are. I do see some ugly results in the real world, so I hope the future will track down the truth.

This from Harold Pinter d.2008: excerpted from Nobel Prize acceptance essay 2005

In 1958 I wrote the following:



’There are no hard distinctions between what is real and what is unreal, nor between what is true and what is false. A thing is not necessarily either true or false; it can be both true and false.’



I believe that these assertions still make sense and do still apply to the exploration of reality through art. So as a writer I stand by them but as a citizen I cannot. As a citizen I must ask: What is true? What is false?…..

So language in art remains a highly ambiguous transaction, a quicksand, a trampoline, a frozen pool, which might give way under you, the author, at any time. 



But as I have said, the search for the truth can never stop. It cannot be adjourned, it cannot be postponed. It has to be faced, right there, on the spot.…

I believe that despite the enormous odds which exist, unflinching, unswerving, fierce intellectual determination, as citizens, to define the real truth of our lives and our societies is a crucial obligation which devolves upon us all.

My PSU printmaking mentor , Bruce Shobaken, used to say about being an artist, “At least I am not hurting anybody”

Posted in art | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Op Art using line sets in Adobe Illustrator

Posted by ddrees on August 15, 2008

ne obvious and easy start for illustrator op art experiments is a set of repeated lines. The basic set has lines of even weight or stroke size and even interval. The set looks oscillating if the interval and line weight are the same because your perception keeps trying to make them blend in optical mixture into a grey instead of black and white due to the law of prägnanz. If the line unit is too large in scale in relationship to the visual field, the effect will not work and if it is too small the optical mixture will take place and there will be no vibration. So the oscillation or vibration effects depend on a scale relationship to our perceptual functions. The brain calculates that it is looking at lines, then at greys, then at lines and a vibration ensues. The Meta effect is that the viewer realizes that the artwork functions in the brain, not on the canvas. Here are two Bridget Riley examples of line sets.

Bridget Riley, 1963, Fall

Bridget Riley, 1963, Fall

Bridget Riley

Bridget Riley

It is not too much of a stretch to realize that small jpgs of these on the web or printed in books do not have the effect of the original in front of one’s eyes, scaled by the artist.

line set op art steps

Along with the line sets the artist introduces waves and changes in interval. Mostly what this does is changes the locations of where the thresholds of falling into optical mixture occur and increases a sense of motion. This can be done at the outset with repeated wavy lines or introduced later with tools like the warp tool in Illustrator.

wave with warp

The wave set below has a calligraphic line added and zigzag filter.

calligraphic line and zigzag

If two sets are overlapped, moirés will occur. The moiré effect is also an aspect of Prägnanz because it depends on the threshold at which the crossover angles between the line sets are clear to perceive and want to be ignored as being insignificant. This is also discussed in the Gestalt literature as leveling, sharpening and ambiguity. You can download interactive moiré demonstrations from Wolfram math world.

90degreemoire

wavemoire

moire with color

The line sets can be straight segments; waves, circles or whatever you may invent but the lines and intervals need to be equal- or very close to it.

Line blends can also result in moire. This is due to critical angles between lines that viewers want to see leveled or sharpened.

line blend moire

Posted in art | Tagged: , , , | 10 Comments »

Procedural art, my computer graphics history and op art in Adobe Illustrator

Posted by ddrees on August 11, 2008

I   initt may not be obvious how the reminiscences below all relate to procedural art, my computer graphics history and op art in Adobe Illustrator or how these notions are connected to each other but the pictures will help and the center will coalesce. The ideas that knock around in an artist’s head are kind of like this, perhaps organized as some would label in a right brained way.

What attracted me to printmaking back in 1966 at Skidmore was the idea that you could have more than one iteration or variant of an image without all the precious work of unique painted items. A little mechanical assist was much appreciated. Below see two different copies of pages William Blake’s hand-colored book Songs of Innocence and Experience from the Lessing Rosenwald collection. The colored treatments are obviously different. I wonder what was the determinant in the versions.

Blake - Songs of innocense and Experience 36

Blake - Songs of innocence and Experience 36

Blake  Songs of Innocence and Experience 36

Blake Songs of Innocence and Experience 36

Blake  The Clod and the Pebble

Blake The Clod and the Pebble

Blake  The Clod and the Pebble

Blake The Clod and the Pebble

Blake   Infant Joy

Blake Infant Joy

I liked the way that Rembrandt would make variants in states and in wiping his plates differently and the way Blake would use hand-coloring variations on his prints. Here are four of the many variants of Rembrandt’s Three Crosses plate. Rembrandt’s variations change the content of the print. They are not just decorative changes.

My Sky Curtain series from 1975 were unique items but started with the mechanical assist of the basic intaglio plate that would make richer blacks than could be had with pen and ink. I would rotate the circular plate for different content and add unique images. Interestingly, I am still playing with some of these images, input into the computer. My focus is on the resultant image, not the crafted made by hand one-off concept. That is a concern of many others but has never been a chief concern of mine. Mechanical advantage seems a good idea to me.

It was not just the mechanical advantage, I also liked the metaphor of infinite variations and gradual shifts in increments as profoundly reflecting the universe, string theory perhaps.

Sky Curtain ©d drees 1975

Sky Curtain ©d drees 1975

Sky Curtain ©1975 d drees

Sky Curtain ©1975 d drees

Sky Curtain - And All is Always Now ©1975 D Drees

Sky Curtain - And All is Always Now ©1975 D Drees

Sky Curtain ©1975 d drees

Sky Curtain ©1975 d drees

Sky Curtain - Leaving ©1975 Dedree Drees

Sky Curtain - Leaving ©1975 Dedree Drees

Sky Curtain ©1975 D Drees

Sky Curtain ©1975 D Drees

Digital sky curtain-And all is always now ©2007 d drees

Digital sky curtain-And all is always now ©2007 d drees

In the seventies and eighties I was teaching two-dimensional design to traditional art student undergraduates at CCBC. Objectives of the class included craftsmanship, hand-eye coordination, planning the project and such, but also comprehension of the interrelationship between negative and positive space in constructing an image, the requirements of figure-ground construction, control of spatial devices etcetera. We included “Op” art exercises to achieve these objectives and the exercises did the job well. We proceeded from simple line transitions to ambiguous figure- ground images as in the more complicated Maurits Escher’s. I liked the metaphor of black and white creating each other and felt the simplicity of op art could communicate that notion in shorthand.

Bridget Riley - Metamorphosis

Bridget Riley - Metamorphosis

I bought and read Expanded Cinema by Gene Youngblood when it came out in 1970 and took it to heart. We had all been reading Marshall McLuhan and R Buckminster Fuller at PSU and I glommed onto Youngblood right away while feeling very provincial and resourceless since he was only four years my senior. This book introduced me to a lot of ideas regarding procedural art and related concepts.

For the school library at CCBC in 1971, I had ordered three 16 mm films mentioned by Youngblood; John Hay Whitney’s Permutations, Jordon Belson’s Meditation and Stan Vanderbeek’s Poem field and showed these in Art Appreciation class. I do not know what became of these movies. I hope they still have them. I think low-res versions can be seen on Utube but they do not do them justice. I found them to be an inspiration.

Later I met Stan Vanderbeek at UMBC and was going to teach printmaking for him there since CCBC did not have a print studio and the one at UMBC was going to waste. He was wonderful to talk to and one of the few academics I knew who would give a young female colleague the time of day. Alas, he died young of cancer after an amazing remission story when the cancer caught up with him so my conversation with him was over. I had seen R. Buckminster Fuller three times in person starting at Skidmore in 1965, and was much interested in his work. I  have early Terry Riley minimalist recordings like Rainbow in Curved Air (1969) that sent me to swooning. I knew minimalist music had a relationship to procedural art though in an abstract way. By 1974 or so I was writing in my journal about wanting to make animation movies using what I called modal transitions, which would show various shape and color transitions in which the changes would encompass important content change. The Charles and Ray Eames movie Powers of Ten (1977) had not yet been made, but the kind of content changes I envisioned would be like that amazing change of scale. But I thought I would never be able to do this on my own. And I certainly did not have the resources that people like the Whitneys did. Now I think I could do because of personal computer advances. By 1990 common screen savers like After Dark would be running animations that met Whitney’s call for artists input.

Until the mid nineties I felt like an outsider in the computer image-making realm that I loved so much. What changed my status to feeling like I could be a player was the development of the Mac personal computer and graphics software like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. Things have continued to get better and better since then. I no longer have to feel like Jude the Obscure.

We started a little Mac lab at CCBC about 1985 to augment the Printing Management program (now defunct due to evolution of the industry) and the faculty was concerned about things like SGML for printer specs and such. By the time Macs had color monitors and the Superpaint application, I was into it with typical techno-greed for every new graphics thing that came along. I still thought in terms of mechanical advantages of iterations for variation, though processing time was painfully slow.

I had the pleasure of meeting Lillian Schwartz at conference of Small Computers in the Arts in Philadelphia in 1992. I had just read her new Computer Artist Handbook. We had both worked with Eugenio Battisti (d.1989) who had recently passed away . I appreciated her success at working with the big boys at Bell labs and such while maintaining a humanistic artistic approach to many issues in computer graphics. I have to laugh at this quote from her artist’s statement, “Those who worked with her in those days still remember her monumental ingratitude to technology.” She is eighty now, but I see she was being commissioned to do videos for Bell labs in 2000. A remarkable and gracious woman.

My early works would typically start with a scan of something from my hand done work and go from there. Small file size was a problem. I would also make a few shapes and reprocess them with whatever I had as software and see what would evolve. These look pretty primitive now but when you thought you had something with nine megabytes of Ram (my first Mac SE) I guess it was OK. Here are a few examples made on my Mac SE;

Early d drees computer graphic circa 1992

Baziotes doodle  ©ddrees 1994

Baziotes doodle ©ddrees 1992

Lightening morphosis ©1994 dedree drees

Lightening morphosis ©1992 dedree drees

caladium panel ©1994 Dedree Drees early computer graphic

caladium panel ©1992 Dedree Drees early computer graphic

Dangerzone ©1994 ddrees

Dangerzone ©1992 ddrees

I gradually shifted from traditional art class teaching to teaching computer graphics starting with Adobe Illustrator 3 teaching Computer Illustration 1.

As things developed I saw I could integrate 2D material in the form of “Op” art exercise, getting the concepts across without the painful pen and ink work and even better stressing the procedural nature of the designs. My new objective was for students to comprehend what “procedural” imaging could mean. As time goes by I have changed and added exercises for procedural images in Illustrator and Photoshop, and back and forth between the two. Some of the more abstract and thus harder for the students have to do with calculations of channels in Photoshop. This basically allows you to invent your own “filters” and avoid your images looking like everyone else’s. But more on that later.

I have played minimally with Flash animations that do the same with scripting but my lack of linear accuracy makes programming very difficult for me. I recall that in HS I did 99th percentiles on many intelligence skills with the exception of “clerical speed and accuracy” for which I had an unusually poor rating. So I may consider this a disability whose disadvantages were not truly discovered till old age.

The op art examples in Adobe Illustrator class start by showing the mechanical advantage of the geometric progression of multiplying the basic unit incrementally. You start with a black square and a white square or void. The first one is constructed to fit your handy grid with snap to grid on. After this there is no more struggling with alignment and hand measuring. All you have to do is option drag and copy the growing compilation of squares. Many errors are avoided and no ink blots. Very quickly a checker matrix or line matrix is assembled and then you can make fun and simple variants with it.

Checker base development

Checker base development

checker field to work with

checker field to work with

checker field state 2

checker field state 2

Checker variant

Checker variant

checker variant

checker variant

more op squares

more op squares

op squares and moire ©dd

op squares and moire ©dd

The three basic start plans are checker squares, sequenced lines and linear transitions. So many designs can be generated by them that Bridget Riley would not want to hear about it. Here is the checkered square start. Others to follow in another post.

Posted in art | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »