During the daytime, a physics Ph.D. working as a medical physics expert in a university hospital in Belgium. Together with a team of radiation oncologists, physicists, and nurses, I turn medical data into effective treatments for cancer patients. During the nighttime, a creative coder, on the fine line between art and science, between utility and aesthetics. Working with Processing since 2004, creative coding fuels my curiosity in physical, biological, and computational systems.
Bridging disciplines, I’m sporadically involved in turning diverse sources of data into artistic visualizations, from tiny contributions like decoding CERN experimental results for Ruben Van Leer’s award-winning dance movie Symmetry, to more involved collaborations such as visualizing classified mine layouts for Frederik De Wilde’s blacker-than-black M1ne #1 sculpture and in another collaboration with the same artist, Safecast radiation measurements for the short film Sievert Rising.
My HE_Mesh library for the creation and manipulation of polygonal meshes in Processing has gained a small following and sees use in generative, sculptural and architectural explorations. I don’t know what they were thinking either…
When rain hits the windscreen, I see tracks alpha particles trace in cells. When I pull the plug in the bathtub, I stay to watch the little whirlpool. When I sit at the kitchen table, I play with the glasses to see the caustics. At a candlelight dinner, I stare into the flame. Sometimes at night, I find myself behind the computer. When I finally blink, a mess of code is drawing random structures on the screen. I spend the rest of the night staring.
Bear with me on this one. One of the storylines of William Gibson’s novel Count Zero concerns the Boxmaker, part of a fragmented artificial intelligence residing in an orbiting space station. It’s only remaining purpose is creating Joseph Cornell type boxes from floating debris. Boxmaker is in a way a descendant of two other A.I.s, Neuromancer and Wintermute.
The image of this construct creating art by disassembling complex items, going beyond the limits of its mechanical programming, has remained with me ever since I first read the novel. When I started playing around with generative algorithms in 2004, I thought Wintermute to be a fitting name, quite wrongly as I would later realize. The name, shortened to W:Mute (in part because other web domains were unavailable), was especially appropriate since a) my original intention was to never address you, the viewer and b) winter has always had a special significance for my family.
Anyway, taking a name from a novel isn’t a smart move, especially from a popular one. Aside from this, there were other reasons to step away from the original Wintermute. Generative coding builds complexity from simple things, quite the opposite of the original Wintermute. And fundamentally the generative code is guided to its final form by an inescapable human sense of esthetics. So the machine-like nature of Wintermute, however striking the imagery is, was actually not what I intended to convey.
So W:Mute became W:Blut or Winterblut, Warmblut, Wereblut,… No longer mute.