Dr. Charles Cusack, professor of computer science and mathematics, received honorable mention in this year’s ArtPrize competition. He was runner-up in the Digital category of the Juried Awards portion of the competition for “Algorithm + You = Art,” which was displayed at House Rules Lounge during the Sept. 15-Oct. 2 event.

Jurors selected one winner and one honorable mention in each of the five categories (2D, 3D, Digital, Time-Based and Installation).  Winners received $10,000 and honorable mentions $2,500.

“Algorithm + You = Art” is an interactive piece that engages those visiting it in the creative process.  They are invited to enter a phrase and pick a color palette and a script to run, with a new work of art based on their choices — including an encoding of their phrase — created and displayed on a monitor.  As juror Mike Han said an interview with WOOD TV 8, “It was really fun to see how the technology was used to make the participant — the viewer — the artist.”

As Cusack explained in his artist’s statement: “Some algorithmic art, including the sort that I create, is based on random number generators to provide variety and non-uniformity. However, any stream of data can be used to make choices, whether or not it is truly random. Although non-random streams of data are very dangerous to use in applications such as cryptography, they can work very well in digital art where whether or not the data is truly random does not really matter. I created several algorithms that use input from viewers to draw abstract art in various forms.”

He also shared how his academic discipline informs his art: “My art is highly influenced by my day job as a professor of both computer science and mathematics at Hope College. My art combines my love for combinatorics (the study of finite discrete structures), algorithms, and aesthetics. I enjoy creating abstract works that draw the viewer in with vivid colors and interesting patterns. My work can be appreciated merely for its aesthetic quality, but those who wish to look closer can also appreciate the deeper mathematical meaning that is sometimes present. In the past I worked with Lego, Flexo, and Pix Brix, but I am currently focusing on algorithmic art.”

Although ArtPrize has ended, “Algorithm + You = Art” is still available.  Those who enter selections via this link will have the resulting artwork displayed on their phone or computer and emailed to them.

Cusack had previously entered ArtPrize in 2015, 2016 and 2017.  For a feature about his 2015 entry — made of Lego bricks — please visit the college’s Stories of Hope blog.

For more about this year’s ArtPrize winners, please visit WOOD TV 8 at this link. A photo of “Algorithm + You = Art is about halfway down.