decluttering, exaptation (2022)

“Featuring work created by Khaly Durst and Henry Robbins, “decluttering, exaptation” explores the limits of digital image-making through the creation of new tools and workflows. With the use of dmtools, a software developed by Henry Robbins, both artists work towards destructing the digital image through the use of their own workflows and code.”

The exhibition features work created by both artists to explore the limits of digital image-making through the creation of new tools and the breaking of current ones. The use of algorithms in both image generation and manipulation plays a central role. Algorithms are devised to transform images and existing algorithms are exploited through their unconventional use. The work, though at times appearing chaotic, is the direct result of choices by the artist. In many cases, these choices include the choice of an input image, an algorithm, and input parameters to that algorithm. This mode of artistic expression is analogous to that of the electronic musician who faces similar choices in how an input sound will be transformed before reaching its final state.

The concurrent development of software and the derivation of artistic work using said software brings on questions about the nature of artistic process. Decisions often arise in which the “right” step forward from a software development lens is in opposition with the “right” step forward from an artistic lens. To solely make decisions via either lens would be inauthentic to the work. The development of the tool is driven by the desires of the artist allowing them to realize actions that were impossible or tedious with current tools.

The work presented utilizes a software called dmtools which began development in Spring 2021 during ART 3699: Images and Algorithms, taught by Assistant Professor Dan Torop. The software continued to be developed in a collaborative effort by both artists as part of the “Image Toolmaking Lab” which is part of AAP’s new program of research labs. The exhibit hopes to spread awareness of the possibilities this software offers as an artistic medium.