Connor MacKinnon graduated in the Masters of Fine Arts Visual Art programme at the University of Victoria in 2022. He is now a Workshop and Studio Technician for the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies at UBCO.
Generating and using algorithms as tools for creation is a curious process. In many ways, they can be deterministic, repetitive, and reduce the creative act by limiting it to solutions allowable within their bounds. In other ways, they can be generative, speak to unimaginable potential, and ignite a deep sense of questioning. The algorithms at work here are simple. They do not make use of A.I. or neural networks. They don’t feed off big data and aren’t hooked up to any endless networks. In reality, they are more like math equations that deal in digital 3D geometry. Each series follows a unique set of steps which translates some piece of data into 3D models ready for production whether that be 3D printing, CNC milling, or other forms of digital fabrication. While the function of these algorithms ranges from imaginative historical reconstructions to explorations of non-human centered design, and object-based evolution, they all produce and demonstrate a range of variability within a defined system. While some of the strangeness and variability are genuinely produced through the action of the algorithm, it is important to understand that it is a very controlled environment that inherently carries the bias of the person who developed it.
While their algorithmic nature directly links these works, they are also a part of a larger and longer-term exploration of material culture through the properties, qualities, and attributes that we associate with objects. In particular, these algorithms examine those object characteristics as variables or parameters. How far can traits be pushed or changed? When does it become a new object or even a new type of object? Like the algorithms themselves, when does a value break the system completely?