A snow capped mountain range

12 Months of aRt

January 29, 2019


Announcing a new project: 12 Months of aRt! In this post I’ll explain what this project is, why I am doing it, and what I hope to accomplish. I’m currently rewatching 30 Rock, so enjoy this story as told by 30 Rock gifs.

What is aRt?

The goal of this project is to use R to make generative or data-driven art. Each month I hope to explore a new idea or algorithm—my only requirement is that the primary purpose of the work is creative, not functional. Whatever my results at the end of the month, I will write them up and share a blog post here where I talk about the design and technical process, along with sharing the artwork itself. I also plan to share the code for each month on my GitHub, though fair warning that these are personal-time projects so while the art might look nice, the code likely will not.

I will also be posting intermediate progress+failures on my Twitter @W_R_Chase.

Why am I doing this?

No, not really for the attention (well, not entirely at least), and not just because of the incredibly low-hanging aRt pun. There’s three reasons: fun, learning, and spite.

I just recently discovered the generative art community, and it was love at first sight. There’re so many amazing generative artists around, and when I realized this was something I could do I dove in head first. I get so much joy from making art with my computer, and if I’m going to do it during my nights and weekends anyways, might as well share and write about it.

Of course, through this process I will learn a LOT. I’m neither a trained mathematician nor a computer scientist, but a lot of this work will delve into these fields and I’m eager to learn more math, geometry, and algorithms.

The third reason is spite. In a recent job interview, I was asked if I wanted to learn a programming language. I responded that I program in R, to which the interviewer said: “Yeah, but I mean a real programming language.”

My response:

If anything was clear from rstudio::conf 2019, it’s that R is a full-fledged, production-ready, Real Programming Language (tm). So, I thought I would put it to the test. There’s no reason that you have to use Processing or Javascript to make generative art. R has all of the tools you need, and with the amazing development happening from people like Thomas Lin Pedersen, it has many helpful generative art and advanced plotting packages to help you along the way.


I’ve already mentioned a few things I hope to get out of this—namely learning, fun, and promotion of R as a real programming language. But I also hope to get more of the #rstats community involved in fun personal projects. If anyone out there gets inspired to try their hand at some aRt, then I’ve succeeded. And if anyone is interested in collaborating or joining me for a month, please get in touch!

What types of aRt will I be making? Well, you can follow me on Twitter for sneak peeks, but for now you’ll just have to wait and see.

A snow capped mountain range