amp:op in short
Beauty lies within the simplicity of rules used to create complex beauty. Following this dogma, amp:op programs the computer to handle the tedious arrangement of basic graphical or typographical objects into complex structures. Multiplication creates complexity and the exact “recipe” for such an arrangement can be expressed mathematically. The design process focuses on the conception of a graphical idea and the translation into a computer program that follows the conceptional rules. When the concept (the program) is finished, the final result (the artwork) can be calculated instantly. If the rules are changed, the outcome changes. amp:op’s goal is the exploration of the boundaries this method holds and uses the findings to manifest the possibilities.
AmpOp is now C.E.O of the Strukt GmbH. Visit this site to get more information about my current work.
Amp:op’s real name is Thomas Hitthaler and he was born 1980 in northern Italy. There he spent his childhood and went to school. After his A-levels in 1999 he thought that repairing computers was a cool profession and took a yearlong systems admin training. During that time he worked on his first websites and after a summer of web programming in a small design agency he decided, that design is more interesting than programming. Soon after he began his studies on communication design at the “Academy of Design Bolzano” and learned a lot about the history and theory of design and typography. After two completed semesters, he left behind static graphic design to explore the possibilities of video and animation techniques. So – after a long summer spent as pre-press technician and marketing graphic designer in a big print shop – he went to Salzburg in Austria. The local university of applied sciences has a course of studies called “MultiMediaArt”. There the name “amp:op” came up while he focused on video editing and later 3d animation. Having problems with the concept of tedious rendering he turned to real-time video and 3d. First only used for live performances (VJing) he discovered the seemingly endless possibilities of generative design (computed or programmed design). He wrote his master thesis about the resolution-independent generation of programmed designs and received his master’s degree in 2006. During his time in Salzburg he worked for clients like Salzburg’s Olympic Committee and the International Commission for Mountain Emergency Medicine (ICAR Medcom) and won some awards like a first place at the Animago Awards 2004 or the 4th place at the “Motorola Live Visuals Award”. In 2005 he was nominated for the “Walter Koschatzky Kunstpreis” and in 2006 he won at “MagmArt | Video under the Volcano”, a festival in Naples, Italy. Some of his works are included in the “Zeixs Design Books” to be pubblished spring or summer 2007.
Right now he is in Frankfurt, Germany working at “meso | digital interiors”. There he creates interactive media and art installations for clients like the BASF, Amstel (Heineken), UBS, Adidas, night clubs, museums, musicians and artists. Most of the projects are only temporary but one of the projects takes place in a old salt mine where various infotainment terminals and installations will explain the history of salt-mining for a long time to international visitors.Many projects involve experimental approaches that demand frequent research of new technologies. The main tool used for all his work is called “vvvv”, a graphical programming language. To learn more about the tool visit vvvv.org.
The future is uncertain but the story will continue and can be read on his website (http://ampop.net).
The label „amp:op“ derives in some way from the German word „Meinungsverstärker“, which translates to opinion amplifier. With some twisting, you get “amplified opinion”. And basically, that’s what amp:op’s work is all about. Having an opinion and trying to transmit it to as many people as possible. But the actual message is not more important than the process that led to it. Inspiration can be hard to grasp but the methods used to express it, can be examined. The study of the methods which can be used to create a desired outcome lies at the core of amp:op’s work.When creating something, the artist decides, how a certain task has to be executed to get a certain result. One of the main advantages of human beings is the ability use tools to improve the given extremities. These tools can be as simple as a bone found on the ground or as complicated as a spaceship in earth’s orbit. Mankind devises methods to create tools to make their live easier. But most of the tools are simple extensions of the hand. The brain needs to control every movement of the tool to get the imagined result. A painter can use a pencil instead of his fingers, but he has to move the pencil on his own.
During the industrial revolution, mankind created machines, capable of executing complicated tasks without human intervention. Automation began. But these machines could only perform one specific task. To change the task, you had to physically change the machine.
With the invention of the computer, this was no longer the case. Machines could now follow a very flexible and easily changed set of rules which gave them a certain amount of “intellect” (if you define intellect as the ability to change your actions based on changed premises).
To teach them rules, computers have to be programmed using a specific syntax. Each computer program requires information (input parameters) to produce a result (output parameters). Between the input and the output is a direct relation. If you change the input, the output changes. The exact method, how an input is transformed into the output is specified by rules, dictated by the programmer (or another, more intelligent life form).
Most of the time, the output of a computer program can be anticipated. But if the program incorporates random factors, predictions cannot be made. This means, that a computer program (or a punctured bucket of paint swinging over a canvas) can produce images that are only indirectly related to the actions of the artist. The artist doesn’t have to create a painting by using his hands to apply color but instead has the possibility to use an indeterminable machine. The swinging bucket and the chaotic influences on its movement over the canvas are such a machine. And even if every computer is like a Turing machine (which is a programmable machine that is 100% predictable if the computations can be completed in a finite time) it can be instructed to use randomness or extremely complicated rule sets to create results, not previously expected by the artist.
So the tool is not an extension of the hand, it’s in fact an extension of the brain! This is because the brain is not capable to manipulate tools in such an complex manner as a indefatigable computer program can. The difficulty lies within the creation of the rule set.And this leads us to the central aspect in amp:op’s work: to create sets of rules that can produce results, far more complex, than possible with simple hand-extensions. The theorem is: Beauty lies within the simplicity of rules used to create complex beauty.
By improving the rules, the result gets better. But the modification of the rules still needs to be done by the programmer. That’s very inconvenient! Thus, the next step would be to devise programs, that have the ability to improve themselves. There is a lot of research in the field of artificial intelligence that examines such programs and there exist many working examples but the use of such self-modifying programs to create artworks is still mostly unexplored.
The main questions will be: How to create such an evolving program? What kind of rules defines the task of creating and evaluating artworks? How to define rules that describe aesthetics?
We could find out.