A computer code that breaks the codes of traditional art. This is the approach of Florian Zumbrunn, a 35-year-old artist, who decided to make his computer his main tool in the realization of his paintings. “I mostly paint with code” (“I mostly paint with code”, in French), sums up the 30-year-old in the biography of his Instagram account.
In his apartment in the 17th arrondissement of Paris, a room serves as a workshop. No acrylic or palette, but a huge curved computer screen, on which the geek artist can code a computer program that will respond to a set of rules to generate his works. This movement to which he belongs is that of generative art, a practice in which the works produced are generated by a series of algorithms pre-written upstream by an artist.
“My new series Scents of Summer represents a total of 6,700 lines of code,” he explains, pointing to his creations, hung on the walls, which will be exhibited from July 6 to 8 at the Oxône space, in the 3rd arrondissement of Paris. The more advanced and solid the developed algorithm, the more interesting the visuals will be. »
“Initially, it’s me and the computer, I have control over the code, but I really like the randomness of this practice: I create the production parameters of the work, but the result is always unpredictable once they have been ground by the machine,” says Florian Zumbrunn.
Does this mean that the artist completely surrenders to computer-generated results? Far from it, argues this admirer of Kandinsky, who decided to combine machine production and human gesture in his works. Once his productions are printed, he arms himself with his Caran d’Ache and Koh-I-Noor pastel pencils to add a layer to his canvases. “Adding a human touch allows you to push the human-machine dialogue further, and to add even more randomness with the imperfection of the human gesture. »
There is a debate in the generative art world: is the art in the code produced or in the result generated by the machine? As far as he is concerned, Florian Zumbrunn considers the code as a means, and the final work as what is art. “It’s a fascinating tool, but it’s still a research tool, in my opinion. For some very scientific artists, it’s the opposite. Besides, when you read their computer program, it looks more like a math thesis than a code written to generate art. »
This autodidact dreamed of being an illustrator and painter since his youth. He trained on his own in computer code after attending a conference at the Center Georges-Pompidou by Erik Natzke, a graphic designer based in San Francisco who said he had started coding to create differently. “At that time, it was still a very little-known practice… Yet generative art has been around since the 1960s thanks to pioneers, like Vera Molnar and Frieder Nake, who wrote algorithms on pieces of paper and imagined, with their brushes and pencils, how computers could interpret these rules and draw visuals from them. »
It is the NFT movement which, for several years, has been putting the spotlight on generative art. “This technology, which makes it possible to authenticate works and show the general public that code can produce art, has allowed this artistic current to flourish, sums up this fan of the Scottish electronic music duo Boards of Canada . It has aroused the curiosity of a wider audience, especially collectors and increasingly from the traditional world of culture, who are beginning to take an interest in this new history of art. As proof of this, the artist sees the birth of specialized galleries in Paris, such as the Galerie Charlot, which focuses on digital art, or the Galerie Data, which focuses specifically on generative art.
After the exhibition of his visuals in July, the artist plans a new experimentation with Roman Kyn, a musician, to create an animated series that always mixes computer code and human intervention. “The idea is that, on some works, the visual creates the music and, on others, the music creates the visual”, announces the one who cannot work without classical or electronic music in his ears.
For him, no doubt: computer code should be taught from an early age as it holds opportunities. “If someone had told me when I was in high school that code could generate art, I would have jumped at the opportunity to learn programming… It’s a lot more interactive than a typical math class.” ! Code can lead to careers as diverse as an engineer or an artist. »