Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Kismet and Computers

Here is a shot of my watercolor palette.  It looked interesting; an accidental abstract painting, if you will.

Here is a photo from a few years ago, which I took without realizing the curious shadow shape.  An accidental confluence of tree, fence, light and me.

My kid brother (at our age that will give him a chuckle) lives out by a river, with plenty of undeveloped land.  I was tramping around his woods last winter and shot this old truss bridge.  I painted this on a computer tablet, using that photo, which, with its contrast of green, rust and winter grays, was irresistible.  A bit of luck that I hardly noticed when I was photographing it.

Finally, here is a pastel sketch that just fell together: a bit of kismet...
Kismet comes from the Urdu word for fate, destiny or luck.  It is the sea we swim in whether we like it or not.  No matter how much we try to control our future, and guarantee our happiness, things happen.  In its most benevolent form it is the good catastrophe, "eucatastrophe" being Tolkien's word, that finds us alive after the deadly storm or fire.

The images above are mini forms of kismet.  Chance encounters with beauty.  I wasn't looking for or working toward a specific idea of beauty, but it surprised me as I was just living.  In ink stains, photographs, or sketches, kismet can easily find you, but computers seem to be another thing.

Computers seem to be the epitome of cold logic, and the last place you might look for a chance encounter with kismet.  In computer rendering the shape, form, color and material are unambiguous and as close to simple reality as you can get, as in rendered chair below.

However, if you give the computer a chance, interesting things can happen.  The building design below was in an unfinished state when the rendering was run as a test.  The effect was such a curious mix of reality and plastic model, that I have kept it as a favorite ever since.

Another model (below) started as a very simple part of an otherwise excruciatingly complex design.  It was actually rather boring, until a lighting test caught the material and window wedges just right, producing enchantment.

Sometimes the model is just waiting for the right angle and light to seduce you.  A simple spiral stairs can be interesting architecturally while leaving a visual "blah".  Sometimes the staircase can come together as a complex design.  And, then there are times when the design  and the three dimensional reality can be overwhelmed by the abstract dance that makes it art.

And that is why I have optimism for a future with computers; it won't be what we want or expect, but it will include things to delight and beautify.

As Sherlock Holmes said in The Adventure of the Naval Treaty...
"Our highest assurance of the goodness of Providence seems to me to rest in the flowers. All other things, our powers, our desires, our food, are all really necessary for our existence in the first instance. But this rose is an extra. Its smell and its colour are an embellishment of life, not a condition of it. It is only goodness which gives extras, and so I say again that we have much to hope from the flowers."

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