Jonathan McCabe

Canberra, Australia

JONATHAN MCCABE is a generative artist living in Canberra, Australia. He is particularly interested in theories of natural pattern formation and their application to computer art and design. McCabe works with algorithms first developed by mathematician Alan Turing to create pictures. Instead of cells, McCabe starts with pixels. Each pixel gets a random value, usually a number between -1 and 1, which is represented in the final image by a color. Then, McCabe 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 a cross section of leaf tissue you might study under a microscope. “I don't guide the production of any particular image, the program runs from start to finish without input,” McCabe says, though he does tweak the software to produce different results. “The trick is to try to make a system that generates interesting output by itself.