I loved the idea of plotter-made artwork when I first heard about it, but as it turned out, I didn’t have any great plotter ideas. Unlike screens, plotters can’t create moving images (which I usually like to make). They also don’t have nearly the range of colors, gradients, and opacities that screens do. Basically everything had to be line-based. I spent the first half of this week trying to make a maze generator, and while I still like that idea in theory, I struggled to come up with a creative way to design a maze that wouldn’t be too hard to generate with a program. Then, one night I was at Resnik and thought “What about binary trees?” I remembered from 15-051 that real numbers can be represented as line-based “trees”, and quickly drew out on a receipt (see below) all eight possible trees for the number 3. I thought that with a little randomization, those trees could look really nice, so I changed my plan.
First, I wrote up code that would just generate eight random trees (checking each time to make sure it doesn’t do an arrangement it has done before) and turn them into a pdf. To be safe, I printed this on the Axidraw with pen:
However, I still wanted to do more. So, I restructured my code entirely such that instead of generating a pdf, it would control the Axidraw in real time. I did this so I could have the Axidraw paint the trees. I added some code so that it would go back for more ink before every tree, and after a few messy trial runs, it worked as well as I imagined it would! The video at the beginning of this post shows the Axidraw painting my design, which I named “Three Trees.” Some pictures of my final paintings are below, followed by pictures of the digital images the computer generated while making them.
They actually turned out more artistic-looking than I originally anticipated. Several people have told me they look like characters in a foreign language, but I prefer to think they look like little dancing people (with stretched out bodies, I guess). Sometimes the ink splashed or dripped a bit, and I think that makes it look a little more hand-painted. I wish I could have made a maze generator work, but I really do like my trees!