James Siena’s “Visual Algorithms”
Shifted Lattice, 2006
Print by James Siena
I have had countless arguments with people who make the blanket statement, “I hate abstract art.” You shouldn’t hate something until you’ve endeavored to understand it, and I have often found myself more appreciative of modern and contemporary art when I have grasped the idea or concept behind it.
James Siena’s abstract geometric compositions are visually compelling, but what makes them even more interesting is that there is meaning ingrained in the artistic process itself. Siena renders his patterns freehand by imposing on himself a set of rules for each work, which he calls “visual algorithms.” He begins with a basic unit—a shape or set of lines— and then executes his visual algorithm—by rotating, shifting, dividing, or multiplying the basic unit—to the edges of his canvas. Siena says he can’t predict exactly what the overall effect will be, but he performs his rules faithfully and meticulously, trusting his algorithm to result in a work of art.