The story begins shortly after I graduated from the Ontario College of Art in 1980. I walked into a Radio Shack store to talk with a friend who worked there. He showed me one of the new arrivals: a TRS80 Color Computer. It was love at first sight. While it … (read more)
The story begins shortly after I graduated from the Ontario College of Art in 1980. I walked into a Radio Shack store to talk with a friend who worked there. He showed me one of the new arrivals: a TRS80 Color Computer. It was love at first sight. While it may not seem like it now, at that time, there was something magical about the little machine. I had caught the scent of something. Something that I couldn’t name, or even describe. I took the computer home and taught myself how to program in Color Basic from the manual that came with it. I spent hours creating Mondrian-like images.
The graphics were pretty crude In those early years of home computing but, as time progressed, the graphic capabilities of personal computers became more sophisticated. I was captivated by the endless streams of digital imagery that were possible, as well as the fascinating and surreal, abstract patterns that the computer generated simply by tweaking a few parameters and formulas.
My experiments turned into an obsession and then into a quest. There was something intangible in these luminous images. I could feel it, but I couldn’t articulate it. There was a beautiful truth here. The images expressed a mathematical perfection that made my chest ache. The emergence of each image was an unexpected treat. I never knew in advance what I was going to see until it finished rendering. I felt like a photographer exploring an alien world and, when I closed my eyes at night, my hypnagogic imagery took the form of fantastically beautiful geometric patterns. It became a spiritual odyssey.
Over the years, I collected many graphics programs and plugins. It was like being in heaven. I kept working and reworking older pieces. I would crop a small segment of a larger image, blow it up, morph it and paint out the artifacts in Corel Painter.
The images began to become more organic and painterly as I revisited my favourite period and school in art history: abstract expressionism. There was no planning involved. It was the expression of something pure that touched my heart. The main thing that I look for in the images that I create are their emotional impact. Everything else is secondary, including the traditional rules of composition, colour, etc. The main thing I look for in my artwork is: what does it make feel? There is nothing to figure out, no symbolism, no political message, no hidden meaning, just a pure aesthetic appreciation that takes me out of the everyday, mundane world.
A few years ago, I discovered the DeepDream software. DeepDream is an artificial intelligence engine that uses Deep Learning to find patterns in the images that you input into it. My artwork is completely abstract and I was curious to see what the software would ‘discover.’
The result was a strange, surreal, psychedelic world of strange, almost familiar, creatures and cityscapes. It was like a portal to an alien world.
There seem to be many stories going on in each image — stories that are private and unique to each viewer, stories that are unique to each viewing. It taught me to see the stories that we tell ourselves about our everyday life as ephemeral and incomplete and to look further at the fuller reality behind them.
A few years ago, I bought an Apple TV and began formatting my digital art to a 16 x 9 aspect ratio in order to fill the screen. The result was spectacular. I spend hours watching my artwork slide by on the screen while listening to my favourite music. The experience is transcendental and invigorating.
I format my work for 8K UHD screens in anticipation of Samsung’s 85” Q900 Series 8K QLED Smart TV. On an 85” inch 8k TV screen the images would be almost 100 ppi. You would have to have very good eyes and be right up close to the screen to see the individual pixels.
This is how my work was meant to be seen. I always felt a little disappointed when I printed my images. They lacked the luminous dimension that I experienced while creating them. Thanks to blockchain technology, I am now able to share my art in the form that it was meant to be seen. It’s like the stained glass icons that you see in church: sacred and meaningful.
Alison Lee Cousland
A piece to truly take us out of our mundane world. Wonderfully imaginative combinations of form and colour.
These pieces are simply fascinating and frustrating (in a good way). My brain is trying to hard to make sense of what I'm looking at, to find a pattern, or some familiar shape. And it's like I "almost" can makes sense of something, but the longer I look at it the more nonsensical it becomes. Truly a refreshing piece of digital media that is exciting and interesting!