Ides of March
Nothing endures but change.
— By p4stoboy x ad_strauss
Shakespeare's infamous line from Julius Caesar, ‘Beware the Ides of March’, is a reminder of the fragility of power, a prophetic warning of the danger that lies in wait for those who become too comfortable in their position of authority. Marking the day of Caesar’s assassination and the beginning of the end of the Roman Empire, this date on the ancient Roman Calendar has become synonymous with political reckoning and transformation. A cautionary message that echoes through the ages; Shakespeare’s line reminds us that even the strongest of structures can be weakened through change, upheaval and uncertainty.
Ides of March is a debut collaboration between Andrew Strauss and p4stoboy that embraces this spirit of transformative disruption and celebrates their shared love of bold abstract art in the generative and web3 space.
Conceptually, the project builds upon Andrew’s 2021 series Utopias of the Damned, an homage to the artist’s current hometown of Canberra. Canberra is Australia’s national and political capital and the country of traditional custodians the Ngunnawal and Ngambri peoples. It is a city of contrasts, where brutalist architecture towers amidst native bush, manicured gardens and parklands. A city where politicians and bureaucrats talk policies and politics, insulated within stark, concrete structures from the broader political and economic uncertainty and struggle around them.
Characterised by a rough, raw and monolithic appearance, the structures represented in Ides of March again take their inspiration from Canberra’s governmental buildings. This core concept from Utopias is combined with a programmatic framework designed by p4stoboy which revolves around the interaction between structure, space and light, realised isometrically.
The series draws on the style and forms of Brutalism and non-objective art, fine art traditions that represent a radical departure from the past and the transcendence of established norms and values. Variable light sources create unique patterns of structure, illumination and shadow in every piece. A complex system developed by p4stoboy results in each structure influencing the shape and position of its neighbours. These design elements coalesce to evoke the intricate web of social, political, and cultural influences that shape our world, despite our leaders’ attempts to deny the interconnections and interdependencies that make us who we are.
Ultimately, the Ides of March series presents a thought-provoking exploration of the intricate power structures that govern our society, inviting us to question our assumptions and challenge our preconceptions. By emphasising the influence of uncertainty over the established power structures, the series reminds us that the only constant in life is change, and that it is up to us to adapt and evolve with the shifting tides of history.
Naively the rendering patterns take this 3d space as input, with each discrete coordinate simply storing a boolean (on (space is filled) / off (space is empty)) value. The entire generative process is roughly as follows:
- Pick structures and their associated dimensions.
- Pick field displacement methods and scaling.
- Pick other variables (light position, palette, color applications methods, stroke application values etc).
- Map structures to voxel space (voxel by voxel).
- March light over voxel space and denote shaded coordinates.
- Transform drawing context isometrically.
- Pass voxel space to 2d rendering patterns.
- Iterate over voxel space coordinate by coordinate, performing adjacency checks to inform edge detection and stroke application before drawing voxel individually.
Fun fact: The volume of the space used for an Ides of March output is ~21,000,000 units (512 x 512 x 80 voxels).
A number of extensions have been implemented since this framework was last used in a long-form work:
- A decoupling from p5js - the project harnesses the HTML Canvas API only.
- Significant performance increases due to a redesign of core data structures and interfaces.
- A major increase in the maximum resolution of the internal voxel space, allowing for far more detailed constructs and the application of higher fidelity lighting.
In hindsight this conceptual x technical collaboration seems inevitable; combining a core concept which revolves around the interaction between structure, space and light, realised isometrically, with a programmatic framework designed with these exact implementations in mind.
The result has been an entirely frictionless creative environment and implementation process, and collectively we couldn’t be happier with the result.
Senatus|Brutus|Mors|Caedes|Watch 2|Springfield|Homer the Great 6-12|Coniuratio|Sanguis|Caelum|Astrum|Somnum Exterreri|Calpurnia|Solis Occasum Primus|XXIII|Gloria|Caelum Oceanus|Memoriae|Pugio I|Pugio II|Pugio III|Pugio IV|Pugio V|Pugio VI
p4stoboy x ad_strauss