Act 5: Putting the R into ART

Grid from above

Grid from above

I’m on a creative journey and, this year, I’ve challenged myself to 100 Acts of Creativity

Continuing the theme of using technology for art, today I took a journey back to my work as an analyst.  In a previous life I used to use something called R quite a lot.  It’s a tool we used to write code to turn numbers into pictures.  Usually charts, graphs, maps all that sort of stuff.  It’s free so you can download it here if you like!  If you’re not into programming, then that’s fine.  I guess the point I’m trying to make is that, for some people who are sat in big, white, clean office all day, you’re unlikely to have access to messy art stuff.  But you might have tools like R that are usually used for other stuff, which can also be used for art.  Hey, you could even use PowerPoint to draw some colourful lines and dots to free your creativity.

I’m liking the idea of randomness, freedom, complexity and the texture that creates against hard, formal, sharp boundaries.  What I’ve done with R is take some basic rules and add randomness.  I’ve chosen three colours and 100 boxes and let R randomly choose the colour, position and size of each dot.  So if you look at each of the 100 boxes in the grid, you’ll notice that each box is completely unique.  If I run the program again, I’d get something which looks similar because of the rules I’ve set but completely different because of the built-in randomness.

This image makes me think of two things.  First of all, Ishihara tests or colour perception tests.  I guess the different sizes dots and the use of orange and green make them look similar.  If I think and look a little deeper, I feel like I’m looking down on a map with green trees and pools of water amongst a regular grid of streets.  I’ve been wanting to try this idea for a while but couldn’t quite imagine how it would come out.  An homage to Damien Hirst’s spot paintings?  Maybe, but he actually used quite different rules in his selection of colours focusing on reducing repetition.  Also, I believe many of his spot paintings where painted by hand!

Overall, how did I feel about using technology for being creative. Let’s just say I’m looking forward to getting messier again next week! If you want to get a bit messy too, take a look at one of our events!


Download R. But it doesn’t have to be R. Use whatever you have at your fingertips!


This took about 30 minutes to get right. But it’s something you can keep coming back to and changing again and again.