Interview

In Conversation with Melissa Wiederrecht

by Jeff Davis

Melissa Wiederrecht is an American generative artist and mother of five kids. She is a computer scientist (MS) and machine learning engineer by education, but an artist at heart using code to explore texture and color. Her work ranges from generative surface pattern design to NFT collections on the blockchain. I had the opportunity to speak with Melissa in advance of her upcoming Art Blocks project Sudfah.

Jeff Davis: Hi Melissa! It’s great to be able to catch up with you about your art. When did you first get into making art?

Melissa Wiederrecht: I have always been into art, even since I was a little kid. I was especially into both traditional painting and graphic design in high school, and I took ALL the art classes. I was really at home with my art, however, when I defined for myself a repetitive process to follow, which I sometimes did on paper by hand, and sometimes did manually in Photoshop. Looking back, I was a generative artist in the making even back then. I was also really into coding but didn’t realize at first that I could use art and code together—or at least I didn’t know how yet. Sometime in high school, I had a sort of “life-defining-moment” when I found a book called Flash Math Creativity that showed how to use math to make art in Flash. It was then I realized that both of my passions could be combined, coding and art, and was able to make some real generative art for the first time. Having nothing better to do with my art back then, I made myself animated screensavers.

Melissa Wiederrecht, Generative Seamless Surface Pattern Designs.
JD: So, you had your first “aha” moment in high school, did you decide to pursue generative art more formally in college?

MW: I went to university to study Computer Science and left behind my art for a bit. In 2017, after graduating, I picked up generative art seriously for the first time as an adult. I learned Processing and played around a lot with animations like what I used to make as a kid with Flash. Very quickly, I decided that I would really love to find a way to turn generative art into a living for myself. What I came up with was teaching some classes about generative art on Skillshare and at the same time using generative art to generate Surface Pattern Designs to sell on microstock websites. I enjoyed doing that for a good three years before discovering the world of NFTs, which pretty much opened up a whole new world to express myself artistically and professionally.

JD: And how did you first discover NFTs as a vehicle for your work?

MW: Oddly enough the first time I heard about NFT art was in an email from Erick Calderon himself in 2019. He had seen some of my work on Reddit and contacted me about an idea he had related to generative manufacturing, but during the conversation he mentioned to me another idea—a weird idea he had for a generative art platform on the blockchain that would take in a hash and produce unique outputs that would be stored on the blockchain. I was like “Wow that’s really cool, tell me more.” But then he was like “Great! Install Metamask in Chrome,” and I went…‘uhhhh…I don’t know what Metamask is, and I don’t know what the blockchain is, and I don’t really know you’…and told him I wasn’t ready to jump into that. And that was the end of the conversation. Looking back and knowing where he has gone with Art Blocks now, I find all this absolutely hilarious. Fast forward to November 2021, I rediscovered Art Blocks and started thinking about projects and getting ready to apply.

Melissa Wiederrecht, Orbs #45, 2022.
JD: That’s crazy, I had no idea that Erick had reached out to you about Art Blocks so early on. I suppose when it’s time, it’s time! How would you say your creative practice has grown over the years?

MW: Unsurprisingly, I have matured a lot both in my artistic skills and my technical skills over time—but especially artistic skills. Back in 2017, after university, I had technical skills but barely any artistic taste. I spent years trying to get noticed on microstock sites and as a “Surface Pattern Designer” and trying to make this thing and that thing and this effect and that effect and in the process finally developed a style that I think is uniquely me and the skills to pull it off. Oddly enough, I think part of what helped me mature in my artistic skills was that during my time working on generative surface pattern design I backed up one step from the code and found a way to iterate a lot faster using node-based procedural art in Adobe Substance Designer. Because I could implement my ideas so much faster, I was able to make a LOT of work really fast. I made hundreds of different collections and styles and finally developed a reasonable sense of taste, I think. Now that I have come back to the pure code, I bring a lot of what I learned and the same ways of thinking that I used in node-based art (and Photoshop) for my work. I think in terms of noises, layers, levels, filters, blending modes, variable blurs, and warps rather than languages, functions, algorithms, libraries, and other ‘programmer tools’ (even though obviously I use them). I like to believe this way of thinking gives me a unique way of working on generative art.

JD: Any recent accomplishments you’d like to share?

MW: Right now, I am very proud of Sudfah. I have been contemplating how to pull off a good ink bleed with code for years and feel like I have now arrived at something convincing and attractive. I am also extremely proud that it has been chosen for a curated Art Blocks project. As far as recent accomplishments, I am also proud of all of my recent drops on fxhash. I have started to get my work out there and in the hands of collectors who appreciate it.

JD: Nice, well let’s get into Sudfah! What is the inspiration behind the project?

MW: Sudfah (Arabic for “happy accident”) was inspired by the messiness and uncontrollable nature of life and the beauty that can emerge from perceived mistakes and failures. Oftentimes one will be trying to make or do one thing and along the way something happens that feels like a disaster. The juice is spilled, this or that thing falls apart or some major failure or problem happens that is beyond your control. But then, if enough time and creative space is given for the process, it will very often turn out that the result of this accident, mistake, or problem that you thought you faced, is more beautiful, amazing, and perfect than you could have ever intentionally planned for. Sudfah captures this feeling by celebrating the messiness of a liquid being spilled, brushed, or scribbled onto a perfect and dignified calligraphic line and the unexpected beauty that emerges.

Melissa Wiederrecht, Sudfah (test output), 2022.
JD: Yes, I love the concept here of happy accidents. Those spills are what really make these special works of art. What else would you like collectors to look for in your Art Blocks project as the series is revealed?

MW: Start with the line itself. The line has been known to have a mind of its own and make some really strange occurrences. I have seen spelled-out words, human-like shapes, and whole stories in that one line. Then look for the interaction between the line and the blots (if there are any). Sometimes the line appears to be throwing balls about. Other times the blots look like a moon and turn the whole piece into an abstract landscape or become the eyes of some strange creature. Finally, look at the spill. Look at it closely and carefully and admire how beautiful a mistake can be. Take in the entire piece from far away and also from very close. Each piece has its own story, and neither I nor you know ahead of time what that story will be. Do tell me what story you see! Also…you will never see real-life spilled juice in the same way. Or at least I don’t.

JD: Haha, as a mother of five I’m sure you see plenty of spilled juice. Is there anything else you’d like to share to help people better understand your art?

MW: I guess I feel like it might be nice for one to appreciate the technical aspect of this piece. A lot of people seem to believe that the work is generated via a series of steps where first the spill happens a tiny bit and then a tiny bit more…like an iterative process. I guess this is probably because that is how it would happen in real life—the ink slowly dissipating from the line outward. But that is not the case! I personally very much dislike waiting for generative art to appear slowly over time and made the thing calculate every pixel of the bleed in one go—one pass—over every pixel using a shader. On my (powerful) machine it is lightning fast.

JD: Thanks for the chat! What’s the best way for people to follow your work?

MW: The best ways to follow my work are to sign up for my newsletter, follow me on Twitter, and check out my other links on Linktree.

Melissa Wiederrecht is an American generative artist and mother of five kids. She is a computer scientist (MS) and machine learning engineer by education, but an artist at heart using code to explore texture and color. Her work ranges from generative surface pattern design to NFT collections on the blockchain. I had the opportunity to speak with Melissa in advance of her upcoming Art Blocks project Sudfah.

Jeff Davis: Hi Melissa! It’s great to be able to catch up with you about your art. When did you first get into making art?

Melissa Wiederrecht: I have always been into art, even since I was a little kid. I was especially into both traditional painting and graphic design in high school, and I took ALL the art classes. I was really at home with my art, however, when I defined for myself a repetitive process to follow, which I sometimes did on paper by hand, and sometimes did manually in Photoshop. Looking back, I was a generative artist in the making even back then. I was also really into coding but didn’t realize at first that I could use art and code together—or at least I didn’t know how yet. Sometime in high school, I had a sort of “life-defining-moment” when I found a book called Flash Math Creativity that showed how to use math to make art in Flash. It was then I realized that both of my passions could be combined, coding and art, and was able to make some real generative art for the first time. Having nothing better to do with my art back then, I made myself animated screensavers.

Melissa Wiederrecht, Generative Seamless Surface Pattern Designs.
JD: So, you had your first “aha” moment in high school, did you decide to pursue generative art more formally in college?

MW: I went to university to study Computer Science and left behind my art for a bit. In 2017, after graduating, I picked up generative art seriously for the first time as an adult. I learned Processing and played around a lot with animations like what I used to make as a kid with Flash. Very quickly, I decided that I would really love to find a way to turn generative art into a living for myself. What I came up with was teaching some classes about generative art on Skillshare and at the same time using generative art to generate Surface Pattern Designs to sell on microstock websites. I enjoyed doing that for a good three years before discovering the world of NFTs, which pretty much opened up a whole new world to express myself artistically and professionally.

JD: And how did you first discover NFTs as a vehicle for your work?

MW: Oddly enough the first time I heard about NFT art was in an email from Erick Calderon himself in 2019. He had seen some of my work on Reddit and contacted me about an idea he had related to generative manufacturing, but during the conversation he mentioned to me another idea—a weird idea he had for a generative art platform on the blockchain that would take in a hash and produce unique outputs that would be stored on the blockchain. I was like “Wow that’s really cool, tell me more.” But then he was like “Great! Install Metamask in Chrome,” and I went…‘uhhhh…I don’t know what Metamask is, and I don’t know what the blockchain is, and I don’t really know you’…and told him I wasn’t ready to jump into that. And that was the end of the conversation. Looking back and knowing where he has gone with Art Blocks now, I find all this absolutely hilarious. Fast forward to November 2021, I rediscovered Art Blocks and started thinking about projects and getting ready to apply.

Melissa Wiederrecht, Orbs #45, 2022.
JD: That’s crazy, I had no idea that Erick had reached out to you about Art Blocks so early on. I suppose when it’s time, it’s time! How would you say your creative practice has grown over the years?

MW: Unsurprisingly, I have matured a lot both in my artistic skills and my technical skills over time—but especially artistic skills. Back in 2017, after university, I had technical skills but barely any artistic taste. I spent years trying to get noticed on microstock sites and as a “Surface Pattern Designer” and trying to make this thing and that thing and this effect and that effect and in the process finally developed a style that I think is uniquely me and the skills to pull it off. Oddly enough, I think part of what helped me mature in my artistic skills was that during my time working on generative surface pattern design I backed up one step from the code and found a way to iterate a lot faster using node-based procedural art in Adobe Substance Designer. Because I could implement my ideas so much faster, I was able to make a LOT of work really fast. I made hundreds of different collections and styles and finally developed a reasonable sense of taste, I think. Now that I have come back to the pure code, I bring a lot of what I learned and the same ways of thinking that I used in node-based art (and Photoshop) for my work. I think in terms of noises, layers, levels, filters, blending modes, variable blurs, and warps rather than languages, functions, algorithms, libraries, and other ‘programmer tools’ (even though obviously I use them). I like to believe this way of thinking gives me a unique way of working on generative art.

JD: Any recent accomplishments you’d like to share?

MW: Right now, I am very proud of Sudfah. I have been contemplating how to pull off a good ink bleed with code for years and feel like I have now arrived at something convincing and attractive. I am also extremely proud that it has been chosen for a curated Art Blocks project. As far as recent accomplishments, I am also proud of all of my recent drops on fxhash. I have started to get my work out there and in the hands of collectors who appreciate it.

JD: Nice, well let’s get into Sudfah! What is the inspiration behind the project?

MW: Sudfah (Arabic for “happy accident”) was inspired by the messiness and uncontrollable nature of life and the beauty that can emerge from perceived mistakes and failures. Oftentimes one will be trying to make or do one thing and along the way something happens that feels like a disaster. The juice is spilled, this or that thing falls apart or some major failure or problem happens that is beyond your control. But then, if enough time and creative space is given for the process, it will very often turn out that the result of this accident, mistake, or problem that you thought you faced, is more beautiful, amazing, and perfect than you could have ever intentionally planned for. Sudfah captures this feeling by celebrating the messiness of a liquid being spilled, brushed, or scribbled onto a perfect and dignified calligraphic line and the unexpected beauty that emerges.

Melissa Wiederrecht, Sudfah (test output), 2022.
JD: Yes, I love the concept here of happy accidents. Those spills are what really make these special works of art. What else would you like collectors to look for in your Art Blocks project as the series is revealed?

MW: Start with the line itself. The line has been known to have a mind of its own and make some really strange occurrences. I have seen spelled-out words, human-like shapes, and whole stories in that one line. Then look for the interaction between the line and the blots (if there are any). Sometimes the line appears to be throwing balls about. Other times the blots look like a moon and turn the whole piece into an abstract landscape or become the eyes of some strange creature. Finally, look at the spill. Look at it closely and carefully and admire how beautiful a mistake can be. Take in the entire piece from far away and also from very close. Each piece has its own story, and neither I nor you know ahead of time what that story will be. Do tell me what story you see! Also…you will never see real-life spilled juice in the same way. Or at least I don’t.

JD: Haha, as a mother of five I’m sure you see plenty of spilled juice. Is there anything else you’d like to share to help people better understand your art?

MW: I guess I feel like it might be nice for one to appreciate the technical aspect of this piece. A lot of people seem to believe that the work is generated via a series of steps where first the spill happens a tiny bit and then a tiny bit more…like an iterative process. I guess this is probably because that is how it would happen in real life—the ink slowly dissipating from the line outward. But that is not the case! I personally very much dislike waiting for generative art to appear slowly over time and made the thing calculate every pixel of the bleed in one go—one pass—over every pixel using a shader. On my (powerful) machine it is lightning fast.

JD: Thanks for the chat! What’s the best way for people to follow your work?

MW: The best ways to follow my work are to sign up for my newsletter, follow me on Twitter, and check out my other links on Linktree.

Melissa Wiederrecht is an American generative artist and mother of five kids. She is a computer scientist (MS) and machine learning engineer by education, but an artist at heart using code to explore texture and color. Her work ranges from generative surface pattern design to NFT collections on the blockchain. I had the opportunity to speak with Melissa in advance of her upcoming Art Blocks project Sudfah.

Jeff Davis: Hi Melissa! It’s great to be able to catch up with you about your art. When did you first get into making art?

Melissa Wiederrecht: I have always been into art, even since I was a little kid. I was especially into both traditional painting and graphic design in high school, and I took ALL the art classes. I was really at home with my art, however, when I defined for myself a repetitive process to follow, which I sometimes did on paper by hand, and sometimes did manually in Photoshop. Looking back, I was a generative artist in the making even back then. I was also really into coding but didn’t realize at first that I could use art and code together—or at least I didn’t know how yet. Sometime in high school, I had a sort of “life-defining-moment” when I found a book called Flash Math Creativity that showed how to use math to make art in Flash. It was then I realized that both of my passions could be combined, coding and art, and was able to make some real generative art for the first time. Having nothing better to do with my art back then, I made myself animated screensavers.

Melissa Wiederrecht, Generative Seamless Surface Pattern Designs.
JD: So, you had your first “aha” moment in high school, did you decide to pursue generative art more formally in college?

MW: I went to university to study Computer Science and left behind my art for a bit. In 2017, after graduating, I picked up generative art seriously for the first time as an adult. I learned Processing and played around a lot with animations like what I used to make as a kid with Flash. Very quickly, I decided that I would really love to find a way to turn generative art into a living for myself. What I came up with was teaching some classes about generative art on Skillshare and at the same time using generative art to generate Surface Pattern Designs to sell on microstock websites. I enjoyed doing that for a good three years before discovering the world of NFTs, which pretty much opened up a whole new world to express myself artistically and professionally.

JD: And how did you first discover NFTs as a vehicle for your work?

MW: Oddly enough the first time I heard about NFT art was in an email from Erick Calderon himself in 2019. He had seen some of my work on Reddit and contacted me about an idea he had related to generative manufacturing, but during the conversation he mentioned to me another idea—a weird idea he had for a generative art platform on the blockchain that would take in a hash and produce unique outputs that would be stored on the blockchain. I was like “Wow that’s really cool, tell me more.” But then he was like “Great! Install Metamask in Chrome,” and I went…‘uhhhh…I don’t know what Metamask is, and I don’t know what the blockchain is, and I don’t really know you’…and told him I wasn’t ready to jump into that. And that was the end of the conversation. Looking back and knowing where he has gone with Art Blocks now, I find all this absolutely hilarious. Fast forward to November 2021, I rediscovered Art Blocks and started thinking about projects and getting ready to apply.

Melissa Wiederrecht, Orbs #45, 2022.
JD: That’s crazy, I had no idea that Erick had reached out to you about Art Blocks so early on. I suppose when it’s time, it’s time! How would you say your creative practice has grown over the years?

MW: Unsurprisingly, I have matured a lot both in my artistic skills and my technical skills over time—but especially artistic skills. Back in 2017, after university, I had technical skills but barely any artistic taste. I spent years trying to get noticed on microstock sites and as a “Surface Pattern Designer” and trying to make this thing and that thing and this effect and that effect and in the process finally developed a style that I think is uniquely me and the skills to pull it off. Oddly enough, I think part of what helped me mature in my artistic skills was that during my time working on generative surface pattern design I backed up one step from the code and found a way to iterate a lot faster using node-based procedural art in Adobe Substance Designer. Because I could implement my ideas so much faster, I was able to make a LOT of work really fast. I made hundreds of different collections and styles and finally developed a reasonable sense of taste, I think. Now that I have come back to the pure code, I bring a lot of what I learned and the same ways of thinking that I used in node-based art (and Photoshop) for my work. I think in terms of noises, layers, levels, filters, blending modes, variable blurs, and warps rather than languages, functions, algorithms, libraries, and other ‘programmer tools’ (even though obviously I use them). I like to believe this way of thinking gives me a unique way of working on generative art.

JD: Any recent accomplishments you’d like to share?

MW: Right now, I am very proud of Sudfah. I have been contemplating how to pull off a good ink bleed with code for years and feel like I have now arrived at something convincing and attractive. I am also extremely proud that it has been chosen for a curated Art Blocks project. As far as recent accomplishments, I am also proud of all of my recent drops on fxhash. I have started to get my work out there and in the hands of collectors who appreciate it.

JD: Nice, well let’s get into Sudfah! What is the inspiration behind the project?

MW: Sudfah (Arabic for “happy accident”) was inspired by the messiness and uncontrollable nature of life and the beauty that can emerge from perceived mistakes and failures. Oftentimes one will be trying to make or do one thing and along the way something happens that feels like a disaster. The juice is spilled, this or that thing falls apart or some major failure or problem happens that is beyond your control. But then, if enough time and creative space is given for the process, it will very often turn out that the result of this accident, mistake, or problem that you thought you faced, is more beautiful, amazing, and perfect than you could have ever intentionally planned for. Sudfah captures this feeling by celebrating the messiness of a liquid being spilled, brushed, or scribbled onto a perfect and dignified calligraphic line and the unexpected beauty that emerges.

Melissa Wiederrecht, Sudfah (test output), 2022.
JD: Yes, I love the concept here of happy accidents. Those spills are what really make these special works of art. What else would you like collectors to look for in your Art Blocks project as the series is revealed?

MW: Start with the line itself. The line has been known to have a mind of its own and make some really strange occurrences. I have seen spelled-out words, human-like shapes, and whole stories in that one line. Then look for the interaction between the line and the blots (if there are any). Sometimes the line appears to be throwing balls about. Other times the blots look like a moon and turn the whole piece into an abstract landscape or become the eyes of some strange creature. Finally, look at the spill. Look at it closely and carefully and admire how beautiful a mistake can be. Take in the entire piece from far away and also from very close. Each piece has its own story, and neither I nor you know ahead of time what that story will be. Do tell me what story you see! Also…you will never see real-life spilled juice in the same way. Or at least I don’t.

JD: Haha, as a mother of five I’m sure you see plenty of spilled juice. Is there anything else you’d like to share to help people better understand your art?

MW: I guess I feel like it might be nice for one to appreciate the technical aspect of this piece. A lot of people seem to believe that the work is generated via a series of steps where first the spill happens a tiny bit and then a tiny bit more…like an iterative process. I guess this is probably because that is how it would happen in real life—the ink slowly dissipating from the line outward. But that is not the case! I personally very much dislike waiting for generative art to appear slowly over time and made the thing calculate every pixel of the bleed in one go—one pass—over every pixel using a shader. On my (powerful) machine it is lightning fast.

JD: Thanks for the chat! What’s the best way for people to follow your work?

MW: The best ways to follow my work are to sign up for my newsletter, follow me on Twitter, and check out my other links on Linktree.

Melissa Wiederrecht is an American generative artist and mother of five kids. She is a computer scientist (MS) and machine learning engineer by education, but an artist at heart using code to explore texture and color. Her work ranges from generative surface pattern design to NFT collections on the blockchain. I had the opportunity to speak with Melissa in advance of her upcoming Art Blocks project Sudfah.

Jeff Davis: Hi Melissa! It’s great to be able to catch up with you about your art. When did you first get into making art?

Melissa Wiederrecht: I have always been into art, even since I was a little kid. I was especially into both traditional painting and graphic design in high school, and I took ALL the art classes. I was really at home with my art, however, when I defined for myself a repetitive process to follow, which I sometimes did on paper by hand, and sometimes did manually in Photoshop. Looking back, I was a generative artist in the making even back then. I was also really into coding but didn’t realize at first that I could use art and code together—or at least I didn’t know how yet. Sometime in high school, I had a sort of “life-defining-moment” when I found a book called Flash Math Creativity that showed how to use math to make art in Flash. It was then I realized that both of my passions could be combined, coding and art, and was able to make some real generative art for the first time. Having nothing better to do with my art back then, I made myself animated screensavers.

Melissa Wiederrecht, Generative Seamless Surface Pattern Designs.
JD: So, you had your first “aha” moment in high school, did you decide to pursue generative art more formally in college?

MW: I went to university to study Computer Science and left behind my art for a bit. In 2017, after graduating, I picked up generative art seriously for the first time as an adult. I learned Processing and played around a lot with animations like what I used to make as a kid with Flash. Very quickly, I decided that I would really love to find a way to turn generative art into a living for myself. What I came up with was teaching some classes about generative art on Skillshare and at the same time using generative art to generate Surface Pattern Designs to sell on microstock websites. I enjoyed doing that for a good three years before discovering the world of NFTs, which pretty much opened up a whole new world to express myself artistically and professionally.

JD: And how did you first discover NFTs as a vehicle for your work?

MW: Oddly enough the first time I heard about NFT art was in an email from Erick Calderon himself in 2019. He had seen some of my work on Reddit and contacted me about an idea he had related to generative manufacturing, but during the conversation he mentioned to me another idea—a weird idea he had for a generative art platform on the blockchain that would take in a hash and produce unique outputs that would be stored on the blockchain. I was like “Wow that’s really cool, tell me more.” But then he was like “Great! Install Metamask in Chrome,” and I went…‘uhhhh…I don’t know what Metamask is, and I don’t know what the blockchain is, and I don’t really know you’…and told him I wasn’t ready to jump into that. And that was the end of the conversation. Looking back and knowing where he has gone with Art Blocks now, I find all this absolutely hilarious. Fast forward to November 2021, I rediscovered Art Blocks and started thinking about projects and getting ready to apply.

Melissa Wiederrecht, Orbs #45, 2022.
JD: That’s crazy, I had no idea that Erick had reached out to you about Art Blocks so early on. I suppose when it’s time, it’s time! How would you say your creative practice has grown over the years?

MW: Unsurprisingly, I have matured a lot both in my artistic skills and my technical skills over time—but especially artistic skills. Back in 2017, after university, I had technical skills but barely any artistic taste. I spent years trying to get noticed on microstock sites and as a “Surface Pattern Designer” and trying to make this thing and that thing and this effect and that effect and in the process finally developed a style that I think is uniquely me and the skills to pull it off. Oddly enough, I think part of what helped me mature in my artistic skills was that during my time working on generative surface pattern design I backed up one step from the code and found a way to iterate a lot faster using node-based procedural art in Adobe Substance Designer. Because I could implement my ideas so much faster, I was able to make a LOT of work really fast. I made hundreds of different collections and styles and finally developed a reasonable sense of taste, I think. Now that I have come back to the pure code, I bring a lot of what I learned and the same ways of thinking that I used in node-based art (and Photoshop) for my work. I think in terms of noises, layers, levels, filters, blending modes, variable blurs, and warps rather than languages, functions, algorithms, libraries, and other ‘programmer tools’ (even though obviously I use them). I like to believe this way of thinking gives me a unique way of working on generative art.

JD: Any recent accomplishments you’d like to share?

MW: Right now, I am very proud of Sudfah. I have been contemplating how to pull off a good ink bleed with code for years and feel like I have now arrived at something convincing and attractive. I am also extremely proud that it has been chosen for a curated Art Blocks project. As far as recent accomplishments, I am also proud of all of my recent drops on fxhash. I have started to get my work out there and in the hands of collectors who appreciate it.

JD: Nice, well let’s get into Sudfah! What is the inspiration behind the project?

MW: Sudfah (Arabic for “happy accident”) was inspired by the messiness and uncontrollable nature of life and the beauty that can emerge from perceived mistakes and failures. Oftentimes one will be trying to make or do one thing and along the way something happens that feels like a disaster. The juice is spilled, this or that thing falls apart or some major failure or problem happens that is beyond your control. But then, if enough time and creative space is given for the process, it will very often turn out that the result of this accident, mistake, or problem that you thought you faced, is more beautiful, amazing, and perfect than you could have ever intentionally planned for. Sudfah captures this feeling by celebrating the messiness of a liquid being spilled, brushed, or scribbled onto a perfect and dignified calligraphic line and the unexpected beauty that emerges.

Melissa Wiederrecht, Sudfah (test output), 2022.
JD: Yes, I love the concept here of happy accidents. Those spills are what really make these special works of art. What else would you like collectors to look for in your Art Blocks project as the series is revealed?

MW: Start with the line itself. The line has been known to have a mind of its own and make some really strange occurrences. I have seen spelled-out words, human-like shapes, and whole stories in that one line. Then look for the interaction between the line and the blots (if there are any). Sometimes the line appears to be throwing balls about. Other times the blots look like a moon and turn the whole piece into an abstract landscape or become the eyes of some strange creature. Finally, look at the spill. Look at it closely and carefully and admire how beautiful a mistake can be. Take in the entire piece from far away and also from very close. Each piece has its own story, and neither I nor you know ahead of time what that story will be. Do tell me what story you see! Also…you will never see real-life spilled juice in the same way. Or at least I don’t.

JD: Haha, as a mother of five I’m sure you see plenty of spilled juice. Is there anything else you’d like to share to help people better understand your art?

MW: I guess I feel like it might be nice for one to appreciate the technical aspect of this piece. A lot of people seem to believe that the work is generated via a series of steps where first the spill happens a tiny bit and then a tiny bit more…like an iterative process. I guess this is probably because that is how it would happen in real life—the ink slowly dissipating from the line outward. But that is not the case! I personally very much dislike waiting for generative art to appear slowly over time and made the thing calculate every pixel of the bleed in one go—one pass—over every pixel using a shader. On my (powerful) machine it is lightning fast.

JD: Thanks for the chat! What’s the best way for people to follow your work?

MW: The best ways to follow my work are to sign up for my newsletter, follow me on Twitter, and check out my other links on Linktree.

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