5 million Wikipedia articles made into art? Here’s how code is transformed into cascading color

In Photo: Installation of Jason Salavon’s The Master Index at Expo Chicago

By Sharon Mizota / Los Angeles Times

THESE relatively early days of “post-Internet” art might feel something like the early days of conceptual art. The idea that an artist issues a set of rules and makes art by following them (or enlisting other people to follow them) was a game-changer in the 1960s. It didn’t always matter what the result looked like or meant.

Nowadays, an artist might also be a computer programmer, like Jason Salavon, whose exhibition is at Mark Moore Gallery in Culver City. The rules are a program, and the collaborators are the hive mind of the Internet. The output might be pretty, multicolored abstractions, but the interesting part is how they are made.

Salavon’s exhibition includes wallpaper generated from the colors of every episode of The Simpsons or from the top 5 million Wikipedia articles. Of the latter, only a small portion is installed in the gallery. It is accompanied by a video monitor that displays a cascade of colorful polygons generated from the code of those pages. The hues are pulled from the most popular color palettes on software company Adobe’s web site. And the image is generated in real time, as the software pulls data from the Internet. You may never see the same arrangement twice.

Of course, the works don’t tell us much that we don’t already know. The Simpsons is colorful, and Wikipedia reflects the Internet’s most pressing concerns: sex, celebrities and tech. But the notion of an artwork that is endlessly responsive and crowdsourced is powerful in its possibilities.

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