An Interview with Markos Kay on his Captivating Generative Art and Science Inspiration

An Interview with Markos Kay on his Captivating Generative Art and Science Inspiration

The fascinating and surreal art of Markos Kay

We are delighted to sit down with Markos Kay, a distinguished artist whose work offers a surreal glimpse into the world of generative organic structures. Known for his innovative use of algorithmic methods to explore the intricacies of natural systems and biological processes, he merges the realms of art and science in his captivating creations. In this interview, Markos Kay shares his insights on the fulfillment and fascination of harnessing generative art, his creative process, and the scientific research that underpins his visually stunning and thought-provoking works.

We are so pleased to chat with Markos Kay, a decorated artist with a body of work that boasts a surreal look into generative organic structures. Describe to us how you feel about harnessing generative art to build your visions? What is your relationship with experimenting in the generative realm?

Harnessing generative art to build my visions is both a deeply fascinating and fulfilling process. Generative art allows me to explore the intricate beauty of natural systems and biological processes through algorithmic methods. This approach gives me the flexibility to experiment with various parameters, enabling the creation of complex, emergent structures that reflect the underlying principles of nature.

My relationship with experimenting in the generative realm is akin to a scientific inquiry, where trial and error play crucial roles in achieving the desired outcome. The unpredictability and spontaneity of generative processes resonate with the natural world’s complexity, making it an ideal medium for artistic explorations.

Is there a particular piece of work that you are especially proud of? Tell us about a personal achievement in regards to your art?

One particular piece of work I am especially proud of is “aDiatomea” (2008) which was one of first pieces of generative science art I publicly released. It involved creating virtual organisms in a simulated environment, where their unpredictable movements were recorded using randomly placed cameras, resulting in a dynamic and engaging visual narrative. This project stands out as a personal achievement as it was shown at Ernst Haeckel’s Phyletic Museum in Germany soon after release, which was a significant honour given Haeckel’s art-science practice being a profound influence on my work. 

How would you describe your fascination with microbiology and the way you focus on its particular features when creating your visuals?

My fascination with microbiology stems from its inherent complexity and its hidden nature. When creating my visuals, I focus on expressing this rich world, aiming to capture its essence in a way that is both scientifically accurate and artistically expressive. Microbiology offers a rich source of inspiration due to its vast and diverse visual language, which I strive to translate into my art through careful research and creative interpretation.

Do you integrate any scientific or biological research into your artwork? How important is it for you to maintain scientific accuracy while exploring surreal visualizations?

Integrating scientific and biological research into my artwork is crucial. I spend considerable time conducting both theoretical and visual research to ensure that my representations are accurate and informed. For example, before starting on “The Flow” (2011) I dedicated a year to studying the theoretical background of the subject. This rigorous research process is vital as it underpins the scientific integrity of my work, allowing me to create visuals that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also educational. 

How do you think viewers interpret and engage with your surreal visuals based on biology? Do you have specific messages or emotions you aim to evoke?

My aim is to engage viewers with complex scientific subjects on an intuitive level, evoking a sense of wonder and curiosity about the natural world and encouraging an appreciation of the complexity and elegance of biological systems. By communicating scientific theory through artistic expression, I hope to make science more accessible and engaging to a broader audience. 

How do you strike a balance between scientific accuracy and artistic interpretation when depicting biological elements in your artwork?

The invisible worlds of molecules and particles are so abstract and beyond literal representation that it is less of a question of accuracy and more about how useful an artistic interpretation is in communicating the scientific message behind them. My approach is to use the same tools and visual language that scientists use, such as 3D visualisations and simulations, and repurposing them as artistic tools. The fun challenge then is finding ways to use them in expressive and creative ways. 

In my work Quantum Fluctuations (2016) I set out to do just that by attempting to artistically express the story of particle interactions in the Large Hadron Collider at the CERN. The theory tells a story of particles rapidly moving, interacting and transforming into different states which I imagined as repeating structures that form patterns. To create an evocative feeling, I looked at abstract expressionist paintings and other gestural abstraction art, because I wanted the artwork to have this element of spontaneous action.

The film in fact opens with rapidly moving brush strokes that represent the wave fluctuations that underlie all of reality. To create these patterns I used 3D particle simulations that work on the same underlying principle as the simulations used as observation tools at the CERN. The resulting abstract moving paintings combine the two distinct languages of art and science to convey the complexity and beauty of the ephemeral world of particles and hopefully create a connection with the scientific process on a more visceral, intuitive level. 

How do you use color, texture, and form to enhance the surreal visuals in your art? How do you decide on the right balance or combination of these elements?

I approach the entire creative process in an intuitive way by trying to get a sense of what is right for a project. There is a lot of trial and error and experimentation involved, trying different combinations of elements and colours until they “click”. Using generative methods involves generating hundreds, sometimes thousands of permutations and then picking the “best” results which again is something I let my intuition guide me on. I try to keep the creative process as freely flowing as possible. 

What role do you see generative art playing in the future of artistic expression?

Generative art has existed in various forms since ancient times and in its digital form since the 60s. With the recent advancements in computing and AI technology it seems to be having a resurgence which is helping raise awareness for this type of art. It offers endless possibilities for exploring complex systems and creating dynamic, interactive works that evolve over time and we have only scratched the surface of what it can do.

As technology continues to advance, generative art will likely play a significant role in pushing the boundaries of what is possible in art, allowing artists to explore new dimensions of creativity and engage audiences in innovative ways. Its capacity to merge art with science, mathematics, and technology makes it a powerful tool for the future of artistic expression. 

All images courtesy of Markos Kay, shared with permission

Markos Kay: www.mrkism.com

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