I've been a beta tester for the U&I software guys for more than 10 years now. It's been an amazing and very fulfilling part of my life. When Eric Wenger and Edward Spiegel first released ArtMatic 1.0 it was a very much simpler beast than it is today, and it has evolved into a wonderful and deep artistic exploratory tool. So deep, in fact that I am sometimes deflated when I grasp the vastness of its space and realise I'll never in my lifetime be able to explore more than a fraction of it.

One thing that always bugged me though, was the name. I've said as much to the developers so it won't come as any great disclosure to them. The problem is that for me it immediately sounds like a contraction of 'automatic art' and those terms mashed together in this way is, in my opinion, a problematic pairing; the implication is that you push a button and you get 'art'.

Creative works developed on a computer already have this stigma, even twenty or so years into the full embedding of creative computer technology into our lives. The unspoken opinion of the art cognescenti seems to be that unless you are pushing around squishy pigmented physical materials you can't possibly create a thing of artistic value.

Now I am not going to pontificate on what is, or is not, art, and especially whether my own creations can be considered to have any worth in such a context. I do hope they have some merit, but 'art' is such an ephemeral thing that such considerations are (to me at least) fundamentally boring. 

What I will say, though, is that art (whatever it is) must surely, by anyone's standards, not be defined by the tool with which it's made. Believing that a computer somehow autonomously invents images and sounds like those I am showing you here is analogous to saying that a brush is responsible for a painting, or a piano responsible for a song. 

As it turns out, Eric's definition of ArtMatic is in fact a blend of 'art' and 'mathematics' which, if you understand the app, makes a lot of sense. Apparently his preferred pronunciation of it is 'art-mat-teek' and that's how I say it when I use it in spoken language. 

How I wish they would change the spelling :)

© Scribbletronics 2011                                                                                Watching Europa logo by