Infinite Mondrian

“By virtue of the grid, [Mondrian's work] is presented as a mere fragment, a tiny piece arbitrarily cropped from an infinitely larger fabric.” —Krauss

Play with it live. See the source on GitHub.

Infinite Mondrian is an art piece/web experiment that exploits new emerging web technology such as WebGL, WebRTC, and new HTML5 APIs, Google cardboard VR, to re-explore the infinity supposed by Mondrian in his Composition series, in context of the infinity supposed by today’s computation obsessed world.

The present page expresses the art aspect of the piece. For technical goods, please refer to the GitHub page.

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In 1919, Mondrian, began producing the grid paintings that the world would eventually fall in love with. The beauty of these paintings arguably came from its simplicity and abstraction, allowing the style to be produced endlessly without bore. In fact, he was so obsessed with it, that he did it exclusively for the next 20 years, stopping only to exacerbate it.

In 1965, George E. Moore, the co-founder of Intel, coined “Moore’s law” which stated that computing power will double every two year–a law which proved true. The rise of big data today too suggest the endless march of progression through computation; no longer can we analogized computing storage as equivalent to physical mediums such as paper, folders, books, libraries, but rather as a “cloud” in the petabyte age.

Though often described to be dichotomous, art and technology is united in this space of the infinite.

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In Infinite Mondrian, the viewer explores an infinite world made up of boxes and bars that recalls the world which Mondrian took a sample of. Through computation, this world can be procedurally generated without human intervention.

At the viewer’s whim, a snapshot can be taken to create a unique Mondrian-esque piece and be easily shared to social media instantaneously.

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What happens to the magic of creation, when we expose the infinite? Through the piece, the process of exploring the infinite and taking a cross-section is trivialized. Accessing the infinite entails repetition–that is: if there is unlimited resources, we undoubtedly will exploit it: repeatedly and endlessly consume it. Does this consumption mock the ideal of creativity ingrained in art? See Warhol’s Campbell Soup, Last Supper, etc. and the criticism against Modern Art at large.

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In fact, computation can take infinity to a new realm (some infinite are bigger than other infinite). Whereas traditional media is limited to the realm of reality, digital media allows us to push what is real. In Infinite Mondrian, the user can manipulate the way the camera views the world.

Reality can be broken in this new world. For example: the viewer can expand and contract the field of view of the camera infinitely, even past the point where it meets and thus loop on itself.

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Computation allows us to see the world differently. It has opened a new way to experience the world. Art must continue to expound, reflect, and embrace the age of its origin. Computation is our paintbrush now.

DMA Undergraduate Show Half/Half 2015

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Originally done for Jennifer Steinkamp, with John Brumley as T.A, at UCLA DMA.