Jacob L. Steenwyk, PhD Candidate

What was the inspiration behind your artwork?

Letting go of control. By creating such large datasets, I am unable to keep track of what the output of the algorithm will look like.


The abstract art of algorithms. R is a powerful computer programming language designed to facilitate statistical analyses of large data sets and visually represent them. With a different approach, the same functions can also create art. Here, I have implemented the power of algorithms to automatically generate data frames composed of thousands to millions of data points and then plot them in two-dimensional space. However, due to the sheer size of the data frames and the nature of the algorithm, I (and no one else for that matter) can conceive how the images will look until after being visualized. Despite having no predictability, I appreciate the results of the algorithm that span noise and poetry.

What do you see as the similarity between science and art? Why is science-art important in today’s society?

A hallmark of science and art is that they are calculated and creative practice, respectively. However, science is also creative (e.g., experimental design), and art can also be calculated (e.g., drawing realistic faces). Additionally, science and art used to be intertwined fields but were only recently divided. Science-art is important in today's society because it builds bridges between what is currently viewed as disparate fields. Thus, science-art facilitates an enriching experience that each field does not offer alone.