Raven Kwok Creates Morphing Shapes Through Processing

Though Raven Kwok‘s academic focus was photography, he spent the past year venturing into new media art, where his true interest lies. His passion for exploring different forms of expression at the intersection of computer programming and visual arts resulted in a series of clever, playful animations, ranging in form from an adorable amoeba that follows your cursor around to self-evolving shapes, all made using Processing. He’s also found ways to distort and augment typography that appears almost like moving, generative graffiti.

What inspired this style of gray scale, geometric movement? We spoke with Kwok to find out more about his process and the visual works that just we can’t stop staring at.

Creators Project: What was your intention when you began using Processing?
Raven Kwok
: My creative intention was very simple. Because it seemed interesting and fun, I wanted to explore the visual impact that algorithms and code can bring. I don’t create just to convey ideas. That’s why my works are mainly titled with their completion dates. Recently, that way of titling became too long for me, so I turned the year, month, and date into a hexadecimal code, and used those as the titles instead.

What’s the main difference between Processing and other software? What possibilities does it open up for you?
Processing is an open source programming environment geared toward people without a programming background. It’s a software that you can use to make your own software. Unlike other design software, it doesn’t have numerous function interfaces, time axes, rulers, and motion curves. Upon opening the application, the largest surface is a text editor, and you can basically create anything you want in this area. Many artists often run into issues, saying, “I need an effect but my current software can’t realize it.” They might look for plug-ins or other software on the internet, but for a Proccessing user, if the software’s prefabricated modules fail to realize the results you want, then you just write your own.

Your videos look like geometric shapes that morph into live organisms. Do you see these forms more as cold, man-made programs or self-generating art?
From a creative point of view, I am very aware of the active structures of these lifelike results. Every level of program variation is set according to my logic. So, from its essence, it doesn’t have the free ability to think and learn, therefore it doesn’t actually fit the true meaning of being generative. Every example of computer-generated art is simulated/analog, including my own. A lot of this discussion relates to the works of Christopher Langton about artificial life. Of course, through the viewer’s own imagination, my work can be anything. For me, the programs I wrote are not cold, but they are not gimmicks either.

Can you tell us a little about how music you’ve used to score your work?
Even though I cite the artists, and I’m not using their songs for commercial purposes, I still feel a little bad because of copyright. I usually use electronic or ambient music, but they are not genres that influence my work. For an old school thrash metal music fan like myself, listening to metal while writing code provides the optimal mood.