Erik Swahn Interview

“Farbteiler” by Erik Swahn

Who are you?

I’m an architect-coder-artist based in Stockholm, Sweden. This spring I’m also teaching at the School of Architecture at KTH in Stockholm.

When did you start making art?

In terms of visual art, I started painting and drawing around 2003, mostly in acrylic, ink and charcoal.

Disegnatori #224″ by Erik Swahn

When did you start making generative art?

I started using generative techniques in the late 1990s, but then primarily in electronic music and text art, with probabilistic and rule-based methods. I studied computational linguistics at the time, so that influenced my thinking about sequences and structures, and I still work a lot with sequences and syntax, even in my two and three-dimensional work.

How does architecture play a role in your generative pieces?

In my mind, it’s all kind of the same thing – structures, sequences, patterns, graphs – whether it’s architecture, art, music, language or whatever. Most of the things I’ve released on hic et nunc and fxhash has some sort of architectural origin: walls, spaces, structures, form studies, and so on.

“Rome, Interpolation Body #8 (2021)” by Erik Swahn

Why do you make art?

It’s very curiosity-driven. I hesitate to call it art, I think of it more as aesthetic excursions. I just have a long list of things I want to try out to see what happens – processes, algorithms, strategies. Sometimes the result has art-like qualities, but sometimes it’s more of a technical investigation. I’m not so concerned with what it actually is.

How did you hear about FxHash?

I started seeing the name on Twitter in early November, I think. I was keen to do Art Blocks-like projects but wanted to do it on a proof-of-stake chain, so I was really happy when I learnt about fxhash.

“Retrogrades #491” by Erik Swahn

Farbteiler has been one of your most successful pieces on FxHash so far. What is the story of how that came to be?

I was investigating ways of drawing walls, facades and roofs using some sort of pointillist technique, with only colored dots. I originally intended to use it for the series that became Disegnatori, but that ended up having a sketch-like map style instead. With Farbteiler, I gradually became interested in how the colors interacted, and I used transparency and slight, randomized offsets to have the color fields interact with each other, and different grids to give it some kind of textile quality.

I had worked with Itten’s color system before in toying with synesthetic musical notation, like Scriabin’s, and I used a simple pseudo-3D projection style and rigid, rectilinear geometries to contrast the exuberance of color.

Are there any specific Farbteiler mints that stand out the most to you?

It has taken me quite a while to go through them, I like staring at them for a while and not go through them too quickly. I was particularly surprised by the ones where figures emerge from the overlaying of colors that were hard to predict, like in #49 and #498.

“Farbteiler #498” by Erik Swahn

Do you plan before you start a new creation or do you jump right in?

I usually sketch on paper when thinking of ideas, before I do any coding, but I’m always on the lookout for the unexpected, and I’ll gladly jump off-track if something interesting happens elsewhere.

What can we expect to see from you in 2022?

More generative projects on fxhash, for sure. There are several in the making, but I don’t want to rush them.

“Farbteiler #49” by Erik Swahn

Anyone you want to shoutout?

Certainly to ciphrd for creating fxhash. It’s been an incredible explosion of work there that wouldn’t have existed otherwise. It’s moving extremely rapidly, it’s fascinating to see.

Anything else?

No, I think I’ve gone on enough… Thanks for taking the time to ask me these questions!

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