Robert Turner Collective

The Robert Turner Collective was founded in Geneva in 2019 by mathematicians Louis-Hadrien Robert and Paul Turner.

Our basic creative process involves two distinct steps. The first, which we refer to as Algorithmic Abstraction, involves taking a source image to produce visual building blocks which are abstractions of the constituent elements of the original image. The abstract parts are not necessarily (in fact mostly not) those perceived by a human observer, but rather abstractions from the point of view of the algorithm used. The second step is entirely a human intervention: we choose the blocks to use, their relative weightings, and the elements of colouring. A trace of the original image may also be retained.

This is very different from the techniques of, say, Algorithmic Art or Generative Art, where pre-defined processes or algorithms are used to autonomously generate forms and patterns: the human acts prior to the creation of the algorithmically determined final work as the setter of rules that determine the scope of the creative process. In our scheme however, the human intervenes subsequent to the process of Algorithmic Abstraction, which produces the raw materials with which to work.

Sometimes, we may use other algorithms as well. For example, in the collection Rotation Noir we splice together two different images in a novel way. Knowing how best to merge one image into another is not a simple question: a basic pixel-wise interpolation of values is easily achieved but most images obtained in this way are unsurprising. The two source images may be thought of as two points in a space of images, and the idea is to find a more interesting path from one to the other. One approach is to first decompose source images (applying Algorithmic Abstraction), and then to "rotate" one decomposition into the other. In this process, we use an algorithm without further intervention, which is more in the spirit of the algorist movement founded by Jean-Pierre Hébert and Roman Verostko.