Painter of Code
Matt Kane makes digital paintings using proprietary software he's programmed from scratch, tailored to meet his vision. The work he creates is infinitely scalable, based entirely in math, yet can resemble real world physicality when advantageous to his vision. Kane designs systems of image production built on his knowledge, habits, and observations of art, design, mathematics, and the natural world. Subject matter is derived from found photography that resonates with the artist. It's his sense that the spark he feels taps into the collective unconscious and will be communicated more universally by his art.
The artist's days are committed to his artistic programming projects via research, experimentation, and creation of art. Additionally, he enjoys long meandering walks through natural and urban environments, finding creative ways of adding a fried egg to everything he consumes, listening to podcasts, and is deeply devoted to afternoon meditation.
A Chicago born, gallery exhibited artist in his early and mid twenties, Kane left the art world for a decade to work as a web developer in the Pacific Northwest. It was there that he taught himself programming, gained life experience, and made career choices centered around creating, at a future date, the work he's currently devoted. Kane began as a painter of oils to become a painter of code.
Self Portrait, 2018
My Art Practice
Vintage Photo Collection and Online Archives
My extensive photo collection includes photos from the dawn of photography through the present day. I collect photos that strike a strong resonance with me on a psychological or visceral dimension. In addition to hounding antique dealers and flea markets, I've also made a habit of exploring online image archives. When I began serious work as an artist in the early 2000's, I visited libraries to access photo collections. Now, so much of these are available online. But nothing online can equate the smell and touch of a vintage photograph.
Found black and white photography meets imagined color
Finished artwork emerges from interactions with custom software
An artwork of mine is the result of several hours of interacting with my program, making artistic choices from start to finish. Sometimes I spend an entire day with a piece. In more recent complex work, I've spent entire days of an entire week. I decide how to leverage the hundreds of tools I've created from the many thousands of hours I've spent coding. As I build out more to my software, I build out more posibilities for my future artistic creations.
An aesthetic developed in traditional studio materials moves ahead via coding.
In 2005, I rendered each element in its own way. Each piece of a painting seems to tell me their appropriate style. To the left, notice how the pink seat cushions are rendered with pencil, the floor and background rendered with acrylic paint and ink washes, and the face rendered with halftone. This aesthetic has been carried over from my traditional studio work into my digital work. Whereas previously it was different material, it is now a different combination of algorithms I've written.
Marks as Metaphor
I see colors over black and white in my mind's eye. My color sketches are laid down with urgency; a frantic dissemination of acrylics, gel pens, crayons, and pencils over a black and white print on paper. The marks I make are metaphors for more complex patterns and structures that will take shape in later work. Indeed, the same transformation occurs with the original photograph and even with my color choices. Everything becomes an opportunity for transformation from simple to complex. Much of my coding has been done to create algorithms that support this idea.
How to code what's done by hand?
A great challenge is finding creative ways to achieve with code what is so easily done by hand. To the left is an acrylic painting I did several months prior to first attempting to create works of art with my program.
Tracing the outline of a shape by hand is easy. Doing this with code is difficult-- but not impossible. I developed a shape tracing algorithm after many failed attempts over the years. It's my belief that anything done by hand can be achieved with code.
Infinitely Scalable Paintings
One of the chief requirements in setting out on making art with code was that my work would be infinitely scalable; that everything I create be able to be boiled down to simple math. As such, the artworks I create are saved in a custom format. The only limit to the size of an uncompressed image I create are the same restrictions placed on everyone.
My work is created with the intent of being large oversized prints in a cavernous space, allowing viewers to approach from afar and experience how the image falls away into the parts and pieces that make up the larger work. In order to simulate this experience online, I create videos and feature my paintings as navigable Google Maps on my website.
My Coding Practice
It is my goal to express my understanding of art and design through a series of algorithms that becomes the foundation of creating my expressive art. Every morning for the past 4 years, I have woken up and gotten to work coding-- often creating new tools, but never without having a particular desire in mind.
Disecting complex techniques and color theories into algorithms. All studies below are made with my program.
Cross Hatch Drawing
I create algorithms around replicating traditional media, things from nature, new digital tools, and just about anything that I come across that strikes me as a challenge.
Ink Splatter / Spray Paint
Wet & Dry Brushes
A lifelong student of museums, I often find myself walking galleries, studying exhibits and thinking about the art as mathematical equations. Challenging myself to write algorithms based on other artists not only makes me a better, more creatively thinking coder, but I also sometimes end up with a tool I'll use.
A great benefit to becoming a lifelong coder is that previous algorithms can be leveraged with others, creating an opportunity for unexplored creativity.