Canberra-based generative artist and designer Jonathan McCabe uses British mathematician Alan Turing’s cell theory of patterns in nature as the foundation of his art. Turing believed that the state of a cells, influenced its neighbour, which in turn influences its neighbour, which dictates patterns in nature – like patterns of animal fur for example.
Instead of cells, McCabe starts with pixels. Each pixel gets allocated a value, usually a number between -1 and 1, which is represented by a colour. McCabe then applies a set of rules that dictate how each pixel’s value shifts in response to the ones around it. As the program progresses, pixel values change, creating clusters of shapes that begin to emerge from the originally random mix of numbers. In the end, McCabe’s digital canvases sometimes take on a startlingly biological appearance, resembling everything from mitochondria, to spots and stripes, to across section of leaf tissue you might study under a microscope.