Kerim Safa & loackmenullMachines

nullMachines is a new series by Kerim Safa & loackme, featuring constantly hard-working imaginary machines intentionally designed to perform no function. These works offer a tongue-in-cheek critique of our modern society's relentless focus on capitalism, numerical growth, and consumption.

For this collaboration, the artists have challenged the boundaries of handmade digital art with real-time generative algorithms. Translating Safa's previously unachievable 'machines' into algorithmically created artworks, loackme employs the (pseudo)randomness stemming from a blockchain hash to generate unique pieces for this series.

“Because sometimes the answer is: nothing.”

How does it work?

Each nullMachine is generated by stitching together hand-drawn animated tiles with the help of an algorithm called 'wave function collapse'. Daniel Shiffman has a wonderful video about it on the Coding Train, but here's a quick & simplified run down of how it works.

Let's start with an empty grid. Select a cell and identify all the tiles it can accommodate based on its position in the grid. If the cell is on the border of the grid for instance, we cross out all tiles with a little cube coming in or out of the border. Randomly choose one of the possible tiles for that cell; this process is known as “collapsing” the cell. Once the cell is collapsed, examine its neighboring cells. Eliminate any tiles that cannot be placed adjacent to the collapsed cell. Repeat this process for the neighbors of neighbors, continuing until all consequences of your choice have been resolved. Next, select the cell with the fewest remaining tile options and repeat the procedure. The algorithm concludes when all cells in the grid have been collapsed. If you encounter a dead end where no valid tile options remain for a particular cell, start over and try again until a complete solution is achieved.

The wave function collpase algorithm in action.The wave function collapse algorithm in action. When the machine is ready, another component of the algorithm scans the small built-in screens and dynamically generates the content for display. This content encompasses marquee screens featuring a range of messages and generative pixel animations. Notably, these graphics are not pre-rendered; they come to life in real time.

Combine everything and you got yourself a nullMachine!


Kerim Safa & loackme

Kerim Safa is a Netherlands-based artist working with pixels and sounds. His exploration revolves around ideas related to systems, perpetuity, perception, and representations. Safa's practice finds primary inspiration in early abstract animations and computer games, incorporating pixel aesthetics, frame-by-frame animation techniques, and a limited color palette. His artworks often showcase...
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NGUYEN WAHED is a London-based gallery, which program evolves around but is not limited to digital and generative art practices. Focusing on contemporary artists (Leander Herzog, Sofia Crespo) who embody the intersection of technology and creativity, it expands onto rediscovering select phenomena in the peripheries of digital art starting from the 1960s (Manfred Mohr) to the first neural-network...
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