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MicroImage, 2002

Casey Reas
  • Artist (1972)

Since 1998, generative artist Casey Reas has built up a practice founded on computer code, which has since remained his only medium. In the tradition of conceptual art, the creative act for Reas is located at the level of the developed protocols, based on the use of algorithms. For Reas, form generation processes, obtained from the generic substratum that is the code, are characterised by a minimalism that brings to mind the work of pioneers of algorithmic art like Roman Verostko. His early work was characterised by an interest in forms of artificial life and intelligence and the analysis of the behaviour of natural systems, as in the Tissue series (2002), which simulates neural mechanisms. In particular, Reas explored the phenomenon of emergence and for this purpose developed his own programming language, Processing (2001, with Ben Fry, MIT). Initially designed as a pedagogical tool for the benefit of visual artists, it is an open source language. Continuously improved by a community of users, its use spread rapidly to many domains, including architecture. For his part, Reas used it to generate Process (2004-2010), a series of temporal procedures founded on the interaction of simple agents in a specific environment, defined by specific modes of visualisation. He creates these processes in different forms: besides the programme, which acquires the status of artwork, he presents installations (TI, aka Process 10 [Installation 1], 2004), low reliefs and prints, formalisations that reduce the gap between the digital and material worlds. Reas now draws his inspiration directly from formal abstraction and twentieth-century art, of which he digitally “re-interprets” certain major works, as in Network C (2012). Installations in the public space (Chronograph, 2011), performances and exhibitions (V&A Museum, MoMA PS1, Shanghai Museum of Modern Art) have helped make his work widely known. Reas has also received several awards (including the Golden Nica Prize, Ars Electronica, 2005).

Emmanuelle Chiappone-Piriou