The latest issue of Rob Weychert’s Plus Equals—a zine on “algorithmic art with a focus on combinatorics”—is out and it’s worth setting your time and attention aside to explore. For this issue Rob created another based on the use of Bézier curves.
While working for the automaker Citroën in 1959, the French physicist and mathematician Paul de Casteljau developed a method for computationally describing and creating curved lines. A short time later, an engineer named Pierre Bézier independently made the same discovery and applied it to the design of automobile bodies at Renault, another French car company. Unlike de Casteljau, Bézier didn’t hesitate to publish his findings, and so the method, which is still widely used today in the design of everything from fonts to video games to the aforementioned Les Paul guitars, became known as the Bézier curve.
The story goes on to describe the system Rob created to enable the generation of a gallery with 562 distinct pieces. While I thoroughly enjoy each edition of this work, this latest collection feels like jazz. Visually they remind me of the gestures an orchestral conductor makes.
The system generates some loose motifs, which imbue the scribbles with a shared character, as if they collectively represent one person’s handwriting in the absence of an alphabet. And that person seems to be expressing something, albeit in a subtly regimented manner. It’s not hard to see in these scribbles anger, joy, confusion, or even boredom, and yet these emotional qualities never manage to empower the scribbles to escape their confinement.
Similar to how a conductor’s movement is confined to an approximate area in front of them or a series of chords and riffs repeatedly used in jazz, albeit continuously deconstructed from session to session. That’s how I think about it but I am not a musician.
That said, I’m curious how this system created to generate this visual art could be translated into music. What does Plus Equals issue six sound like?
We’re lucky to have Plus Equals in this world. I appreciate that Rob publishes each issue in full on the website, but the zine should not be missed.➵