Preview: Back Buffer – New Arena Paintings

Scene rendered with ioq3aPaint. Picture:

Exhibition: Back Buffer: New Arena Paintings, The Hannah Maclure Centre,  Dundee, February 13 – April 30 2010

It is hard to imagine Jackson Pollock on a computer. But artist and inventor Julian Oliver has developed what you might call virtual action painting.

Instead of attacking a canvas, Oliver uses software which gamers have long been using to attack aliens.

ioquake3 is a gaming engine used worldwide in first person shooter titles. It is free to use and open source, in other words open to modification.

So Oliver has developed ioq3aPaint. His players are armed with brushes rather than guns. Their aim is to establish painterly supremacy in a mathematical universe.

A 3D environment evolves in response to your control pad. Every twitch and lunge is rendered as a graphic splurge. Visitors to the show at The Hannah Maclure Centre will be able to play the game in a temporary arcade.

36 million paintings will be generated in the course of the exhibition, 250 of which will be made available as prints.

The abstract expressionists tried many ways of introducing chance and spontaneity into their work, but they never tried this.

Clearly none of them had Oliver’s techie skills. His teaching subjects include object-oriented programming, virtual architecture, UNIX/Linux, interface design, augmented reality and open source development practices.

Written for Culture24.

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