foldedSpace through January 10, 2012
The work of Charles Wiese is characterized by a search for structure in chaos and is constantly advancing the notion of simplicity from complexity.
Artists first engaged computers in the production of work in the 1960s. Analog, non-digital machines and output devices, most designed for a single task of scientific or military value, produced results that at best reflected nascent Op Art or Minimalism. Truly programmable computers had been invented but were in limited use because of enormous cost and size.
As circuitry evolved and was miniaturized, computers became smaller, more powerful and more affordable. It is of course now impossible to imagine any human endeavor that is not touched by the tool of computing technology. Storing and manipulating images has become so commonplace that the computing power used by an artist who does not consider herself to make computer art probably surpasses that used by NASA to put a man on the moon. This use of the tool is for the most part superficial. Among those artists attempting to realize its true potential is Charles Wiese
Wiese has degrees in both aerospace engineering and fine art. A former Core Fellow of the Glassell School of Art, the trajectory of the current body of work began five years ago when he realized that by using the old, ordinary, Euclidean forms – circles, triangles and squares – and by composing a digital code ordered by an ambiguous language structure, he could “grow” geometric structures. The result was shapes that often appeared organic despite the elementary nature of the hard-edged constituent forms.
Wiese subsequently embraced other modalities, particularly those established thirty years ago by Benoit Mandelbrot in The Fractal Geometry of Nature. A fractal is loosely defined as a shape that is recursive; it can be split into parts which are themselves smaller versions of itself . Whereas Euclidean geometry is characterized by traditional forms and may generally be used to describe man-made objects, complex fractal geometry – made possible only by recursive algorithms and the power of modern computation – more truly reflects the realm of natural shapes.
Wiese also adopted Iterated Function Systems (IFS), a process using non-symmetric marks subsequently repeated and replaced with a new mark in reduced scale but the same arrangement. Repeating the process several trillion times generated a visual “dust” that could feel at times machine-like or organic, depending on the original mark and the parameters to which it was subjected. The effect could be as seemingly complicated as a snow crystal or as amorphous as a puff of smoke. Both results originated from the same system.
Although approaching Wiese’s work through his technique is illuminating, and obtaining an idea of the complexity of their conception, it doesn’t address what provides the most pleasure in viewing these images – namely, that they provide passage into a world that is freakish, fun, infinitely complex and ravishingly beautiful. So authentic is their beauty that you feel as if you are bodily immersed in an environment that you can touch, one that touches you. To study one of these images is not simply to observe another realm or be enthralled by an optical gimmick; it is to become aware of being drawn into a nested Russian doll of realms, each of which is more intricate than the last.