British artist Tim Knowles creates works independent of his own hand, using elaborate apparatus or time consuming practices. He tries to makes visible the invisible whether it is the wind as it moves branches with pens attached to them or the path drawn by the moons reflection on undulating water. All rely on the logic of cause and effect, as a map of time and a record of actions governed entirely by chance.
In his “Tree Art” project at Rokeby Gallery, Knowles only makes use of the wind as his guide. He creates a large scale tree drawing where multiple pens are tied to the tips of tree branches, as the tree sways in the wind the pens draw onto a panel of paper below. This method puts a certain light on the nature of the art-making process, because the tools acquire lives of their own. In these cases, the constructions of art-making systems substitute the making of static forms.
I believe that Knowles’s work might be ascribed to the Generative Art’s realm, as Philip Galanter formulates the following definition (“What is Generative Art? Complexity Theory as a Context for Art Theory” – New York University, 2003):
”Generative Art refers to any art practice where the artist uses a system, such as a set of natural language rules, a computer program, a machine, or other procedural invention, which is set into motion with some degree of autonomy contributing to or resulting in a completed work of art.”
If the defining trait of Generative Art is that the artist establishes a system which can generate a number of possible forms rather than one single finished form, Gallanter rightly points out that Duchamp, Cage, Burroughs and Lewitt were forerunner in embracing this generative approach. And despite the fact that a great deal of contemporary Generative Art is deeply involved with high-tech, Knowles’ technologically minimal attempt confirms Gallanter’s postulate: “Generative Art is uncoupled from any particular technology. Generative Art may or may not be high-tech.”
Text by Massimo Cartaginese