Wwatkns Interview

“Ridge Blur #14” by Wwatkns

Who are you?

I am a creative coder, I’ve been working in software development for a few years now, in computer vision, software programming, and fullstack web development.

When did you start making generative art?

I started learning programming in 2014 by developing small (unfinished) games. Some of the algorithms I used back then were things you can see in generative art such as boids, pathfinding, cellular automata… I did some digital art side projects for some time but I started publishing generative artworks about 5 months ago.

How did you hear about FxHash?

I was following all kinds of artists, traditional and digital, on Twitter for a while and started to see the name FxHash being mentioned by a few people around November/December of last year. One was from Matt DesLauriers showing off his collection which got me really interested.

“Strata Lines” was your Genesis mint on FxHash. How did this piece come to be?

This was one of the side-projects I coded randomly one day. I probably got the inspiration from another artist on Twitter and implemented my own version. I love to look at generative art pieces, try and understand how they were made, and think about how I would do it or even take that as a base to then do my own thing. After hearing about FxHash I was home for Christmas vacation and had a lot of time so I decided to publish it for fun.

“Strata Lines #3” by Wwatkns

You have two works styled like charcoal art (Charcoal Landscapes & Charcoal Brutalism”. Why did you choose to mimic that medium?

I am fascinated by traditional drawing techniques, and even though I took some drawing classes when I was young and later took 3months off school to relearn all the basics (perspective, anatomy, color theory, composition, etc.) I was never that good at it. Being able to mimic those techniques to some degree brings me closer to the kinds of results I have in mind when starting a piece but cannot achieve with traditional techniques.

“Charcoal Landscapes #15” by Wwatkns

What was your ultimate goal with the charcoal works?

There weren’t much thoughts behind Charcoal Landscape. It was kind of an experiment with flow fields and the limitation I imposed on myself of drawing only to cardinal and ordinal directions. Charcoal Brutalism was more thought out. I went after the contrast between the natural, organic landscapes of the first piece to the rough and urban feel with brutalist architecture imagery for the second.

“Charcoal Brutalism #3” by Wwatkns

“Ridge Scribbles” is a glorious landscape work. What made you choose the mountain setting?

Like many I was blown away by Subscapes by **Matt DesLauriers** and the mountain setting was quite popular at the time on FxHash with pieces such as Mountain View by **Flockaroo** or Waiting in Afton by **Mjlindow**, so it got me interested in trying it out for myself. The outcome turned out totally different than the original concept I was after. The algorithm I used to draw the organic lines was supposed to be used initially to mimic paint strokes in an expressionist art style. I didn’t pursue this direction further because I loved the complexity and organic feel that the simple lines created.

“Ridge Scribbles #7” by Wwatkns

The data is based on geometry and some pretty simple rules, but the outputs create interesting patterns that change over time and keep surprising me. The audio is not mixed or mastered properly, it is very raw. Sometimes too loud, sometimes not even audible and totally unpredictable on different sound systems. Some people almost got their ears or speakers blown, while others did not even realize it has audio. That was tricky to test and explore, but multiple collectors said they were showing the work at parties, one of the best possible outcomes.

Also in the “Ridge” series is “Ridge Blur” where lines act like the sun’s rays over a mountainous terrain. What did you learn from “Ridge Scribbles” that helped in the creation of “Ridge Blur”

Ridge Blur is a direct offshoot of the Ridge Scribbles piece. The base algorithm is mostly the same but with different parameters I stumbled across when doing parameter exploration. Simply put, instead of creating multiple line paths that wind down the topology of the terrain I simplified the algorithm to only create lines that went in a particular direction and were of constant length. I also learned a lot about random camera placement and orientation which I further improved in Ridge Blur and later in Anachronous.

Are there any “Ridge blur” attributes or mints that stand out as a favorite of yours?

I love all the color palettes but some of the results I like the most are using Inferno, Borealis, and Mostly black. I also prefer small field of view values. From a technical standpoint they’re harder to work with because they’re more sensitive to the random camera placement/orientation algorithm but they strengthen the sense of scale, give overall better compositions and create a more intimate feel.

“Ridge Blur #5” by Wwatkns

“Anachronous” is your latest FxHash mint which focuses on chaotic structures created with silhouettes. How did you know when this work was officially ready for the site?

It’s the collection I spent the most time exploring parameters for, making small changes then repeating this process. There are so many variables to tweak that have small impacts individually but are very important to get right for the end result. While in my opinion, the early work in progress results I shared had stronger compositions and qualities, they were a 1 in a 200 gem. Raising the overall quality went at the expense of some features and results the algorithm could not produce anymore but I decided it was finished when I didn’t have any camera placement issues leading to unusable results and the quality was great as a whole.

“Anachronous #18” by Wwatkns

What are you excited for in the future?

I’m very excited to see where this medium will evolve towards. Generative artists are raising the quality of their work, and more and more people are experimenting with new techniques and styles. Collaborations are also exciting, but the ones I’m looking forward to the most are mixed medium collaborations.

Why do you create generative art?

I love coding and technical challenges, I love art and I’m a creative person but until now I never found any way to express myself with. Generative art is for me a way to do that, it’s a door into the art world and a passion. I intend to pursue this activity going forward.

What is the difference between a good and great piece of gen art?

My answer to that is very much biased as I cannot dissociate the technical side from the art side. For me, the beauty of the algorithm (whether in its complexity or its simplicity) is part of the end piece. I’d love to see discussions about this aspect take a bigger place in this space. So I’d say a great piece is both strong visually and technically, it’s the result of careful research and experiments.

“Covered in fog #1” by Wwatkns

Is there anyone you’d like to shoutout?

I’d like to shout out all of my early collectors who are still supporting me to this day, and my friend Juliette who started working in the art space recently who always gave me good advice and helped me get a different perspective on things.

Anything else?

I’m very excited about upcoming projects, but I can’t quite share some info yet. I will start experimenting outside of my comfort zone, spending more time doing research, I’m talking to artists and friends from other disciplines (visual and sound) who are interested in collaborating, and I’m also looking towards VJing and making interactive pieces.

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