Like That 2020

Like That 2020, 2019, JavaScript code

Coloured (or colourless) cubes endlessly burst out (or rush together) into unique compositions.

Conceptually and aesthetically the series is about the interplay of ideology and perceptual experience in time. The names of each piece reflect (often ironically) ideological concerns from the time period they were made during from the mid-1990s to the late 2010s. Visually they invoke the perceptual experience of walking or driving, or watching the world go by, through the filters of different ways of seeing. Each composition is an event or a thing or an appearance. It’s irresistible to see the coloured (or colourless) blocks used as simple thing-like objects as somehow related to “blockchain” technology, although they predate that technology by over a decade. They are bounding volumes, level-of-detail or rendering placeholders, logistical packages, modernist cubes. They move with similar simplicity, aleatorically choreographed along lines in time and space.


Source code:

One reply on “Like That 2020”

“Like That” is a generative art project that started in 1996 as a series of 2d image generators and 3d animations called “The Order of Things”. It drew on the aesthetics of then-contemporary British art (Julian Opie, Rachel Whiteread, Art & Language, Bridget Riley). The 2d works in the series were written in the PostScript programming language. The 3d pieces were written in Metrowerks CodeWarrior C++ on Macintosh System 7.x using QuickDraw 3D, their source code has unfortunately long since been lost.
In 2008 I re-implemented and extended the project using Processing. That version incorporated more historical references and I renamed it “Like That”, a reference to a phrase one of my children had used as a general purpose assertion as a toddler. In 2009 I generalized Like That using a script written in Common Lisp to glue together fragments of Processing code into many different combinations of shapes, colours and movements.
In 2019 most web browsers no longer easily support the Java programming language that Processing is based on and Processing’s JavaScript replacements are either already deprecated or too different from it to make porting simple. I have therefore ported the 3D Processing code to THREE.js (I’m still thinking about whether to port the animated 2d code). Going from platform-specific compiled applications to cross-platform bytecode and then to scripting languages has been the technical journey of much of software development over the same time period.
I still find Like That visually and conceptually engaging so I was glad to be able to update it to add some contemporary references and keep it running.
Project page:
Source code: