ilumz is a collaborative generative art project exploring balance between mathematics and spontaneous IRL artistry.
Motus Art & Wolffia Inc.
ilumz is a marriage of IRL artist techniques and creative computer coding. With a focus on creations that are varied, organic and feature human characteristics of spontaneous art work.
Motus Art and Wolffia Inc have teamed up to deliver a project that takes two people from uniquely different creative backgrounds and come together with a shared vision.
Prints & Display
Prints will be available to mint owners.
With an aspect ratio of 16:9 ilumz displays perfectly on display monitors or printed in landscape or portrait.
Meet the artists
wolffia Inc. (Emily Jackson)
Working under the moniker Wolffia Inc, British abstract artist Emily Jackson creates a world that is joyful, invigorating and playful.
Physical compositions feature bold colour selections, clashing patterns and varied techniques and materials add depth and variety to the finishes of each section within.
Her work has shown with a variety of galleries covering the UK, Europe and through the US with private collectors, as well as being available on 1stDibbs. In addition, Emily has collaborated with such brands as fabric house Pierre Frey and UK wine brand Saffron Grange, using her energetic compositions as surface patterns, with more collaborations in the pipeline.
Wolffia's work is an expression of energy and character that reflects the artist herself.
Motus Art (Owen McAteer)
Motus Art is the moniker of Owen McAteer, a creative coder and generative artist from Ireland currently based in Madrid.
Taken from the Latin 'Motus' meaning 'movement and motion,' his work makes use of recursion, patterns, and mathematics to create visual art. Working within a minimalist aesthetic, he focuses on movement and flow, to discover the hidden beauty in numbers.
The aesthetic has been created by taking real world, hand drawn shapes that were individually created for ilumz. The unique nature of ilumz is that the shapes are all completely organic and non identical, even though they are recurring. This is due to the creation of Motus' bespoke angle randomiser tool.
A shape is hand drawn and the algorithm can now read & understand the shape. Rather than it now being drawn identically each time it appears in a mint, the corners are allowed to meet each other anywhere within the radius of the circle positioned at each of those corners. This allows for hundreds of possible versions of the shape each time it appears.
This was a key part of the ilumz project, especially for Motus. An artist may work with recurring shapes but they wont be truly identical, this ensures the same with ilumz and ensured the human and organic nature was truly present within each mint. We feel this was one of our strongest breakthroughs in giving the project the desired outcome, and indeed the communication between us as collaborators.
Placement of shapes
We wanted the overall feel of the piece to be free, instinctive and organic. But of course we had to teach the algorithm to make the mints attractive every single time and not allow it to be completely random. We opted for a circle packing technique as the skeleton underneath each unique shape.
The algorithm is allowed to start off with any given shape and let it grow. It then touches another shape, and another and another. Whichever is the largest will survive and the smaller will be killed off. This happens over and over again.
The algorithm never allows shapes to overlap during the placement phase but the shapes can often grow faster than the algorithm checks for collisions resulting in small overlays and unique results. The aesthetics and style pass has more creative freedom, tracing and filling in shapes as it decides. This was especially important for Wolffia who focuses on non-permanence narratives in her real-world work as well as using collage techniques.
Patterns, textures and brush strokes
The pieces combine many traits that commonly feature in real world works of art.
Brush strokes - no lines are truly straight as they are being read by the algorithm from hand drawn, varied shapes. This includes the effect of sketching using pencil and pen.
Texture: the work features layers of texture and opacity giving weight and different qualities to the background and the shapes sitting on top of it.
Patterns: the mints feature a variety of patterns that were all hand drawn, be that dots and spots, lines, grids or crosses layered on top of one another. There is also a 10print pattern that is a nod to Motus being a digital artist and something that represented his background within the algorithm.
We spent many weeks playing with the algorithm and how we allowed the shapes to interact with each other. Making sure the spaces were just right so each mint is attractive, yet not clinical. We wanted to keep freedom in the algorithm so it really was creating its own compositions, but that any overlapping didn't look like a mistake or an error in the programming.
Other trials included layering opacities, percentage chance of pattern, neon colour accents, shape borders.
There are 3 colour palettes that the algorithm can choose from each time a mint is created.
Ilumz will create outputs in three main palettes characterized by familiar stages of illumination: morning/noon/night . It is not that the palette should be thought of as different, but that the light shining on the shapes is in a different phase.
Morning: cool, fresh, bright
Noon: warm, soft, soothing
Night: dark, glowing, inky
There are also 4 neon accent colours that only appear once per mint.
Inspiration and the meaning behind ilumz
The project as a whole was not thought of as a straight forward remake of physical works of Wolffia.
The name ilumz is a play on the word bioluminescence and also a nod to 'iluminar' meaning 'to light up' in Spanish (Motus' residing country)
Wolffia in fact takes her name from the smallest species of flower on planet earth, miniature in itself but covering great areas of land and water as a collective. Working with small elements that make up large pieces of work is a common theme within the artist's IRL compositions.
This went hand in hand with the research for this project and inspiration taken from bioluminescent qualities: glowing shapes with neon accents, the recurring miniature forms, geometric natural structures that change, grow and interact with one another.
Working in my studio, I like to keep in a fluid mindset that the elements I add to my compositions are in a non permanent state. This theme is what turned me onto the idea of generative artwork. I like reworking shape combinations and in fact, the very first mini collection I produced ‘By Chance’ was based on this notion. I imagined the canvases being shaken up and the result would be different depending on how the shapes landed. The concept of randomness and unpredictability was very alluring to me in terms of migrating some of my practice over to generative art to further push myself and my ideas and also work in an entirely new medium to communicate my aesthetic.
When Motus and I first connected we both had that in common - wanting a new project and challenge. Our vision to bring this project to life has been a great partnership playing to both our opposing strengths. Learning to speak each other's language artistically to create something completely new.
Whilst gathering inspiration, brainstorming and conceptualizing ilumz, we turned to nature for both aesthetic cues and instructions for the algorithm to compose the pieces. Rather than a remake of my work that Motus facilitated, we infused his more structured and digital aesthetic into the mix, too.
Motus Art statement
With a background in programming and mathematics, my artistic style has had a focus on structure and order. Using code to instruct the drawing machine to create something unique yet recognisable. I often feel like a conductor guiding the machine, yet not being fully in control, giving the algorithm's hidden mind the freedom of unpredictability.
In the summer of 2022 I had just dropped Balletic on ArtBlocks and was searching for a new challenge, I wanted to push myself outside of my comfort zone and explore a more natural organic approach to my art. This is when, by chance, I met Wolffia. She is an abstract traditional artist from the UK with a style of ordered random, that captured me. With two antagonistic disciplines with matching core ideas, our partnership was a perfect match.
Long before the idea of ilumz; we talked, shared our artistic ideas, methods and thoughts. This gave birth to ilumz, a whole new idea that neither of us could have done alone. Playing to each other's strengths and pushing one another's limits we were able to create. ilumz.
Copyright 2023 Motus Art & wolffia Inc