Digital Painters: Paintings As Distributed Behavior Systems

In programming and algorithmic design there is such a thing as a distributed system.

This is a system, a simulation, comprised of many actors which in aggregate form it's behavior.

The many actors have local knowledge and simple behaviors that cause ripple effects outwards and to the outside observer produce a certain effect - one that is distributed among the individual actors.

Simulation is nuance.

And many of these complex systems cannot be understood fully through the code itself - you have to see it, change parameters, and build an intuition from it.

It is an understanding brought through action. An understanding that escapes words. It lives in your act and it's immediate effect on the world - it cannot be understood in the same way through other means.

Much like how you do not need to be a computer specialist to understand the effects of the parameters of this simulation, you also do not need to be a chemical engineer to understand the nuances in oil painting.

Oil painting, and many other kinds of medium, is incredibly nuanced. It is why we as artists take to it so much - for it's tremendous depth and breadth of effects you can achieve with it.

Easy to learn, hard to master.

What painting is is the well composed mixture of complex effects - delivered simply and understood by the artist.

They take what is nuanced and complex and investigate it's potential, packaging it into a simple image for easy and delightful viewing.

They put order to chaos.

Oil paint is a kind of distributed system. The effects happen from the aggregate mixture and composition of the oil chemicals. It is both controlled and let's room for emergent behavior of the pigment and brushes - just like a computer simulation.

In this way the act of painting can be removed from the medium of paint. One can now, through digital means, describe their own distributed systems and nuances in new and undiscovered ways.

A digital painter.