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Misunderstood Machines

Sofia Garcia

As an art dealer and curator deeply rooted in the world of code, I am fascinated by the human side of technology— enchanted by the somewhat naïve realization that the technical touch points of our everyday life were, in fact, built by someone.

Before I founded ARTXCODE, my career actually began as a frontend web developer. I worked at one of those swanky financial institutions with great benefits and a solid paycheck, but if I'm being honest- I spent my first two years disillusioned; overriding 20-year-old templates on a legacy CMS, working extensively with vanilla HTML and CSS, and leveraging JavaScript libraries like jQuery, HighCharts, and my personal favorite, GreenSock. It frustrated me at first. Why wasn't I working with the latest frameworks like React or Vue? Yet slowly, I came to appreciate the "simplicity" and creative ease of working with the basic building blocks of our digital landscape: HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Around this time, I also engulfed myself in the online creative coding community. I spent countless weekends reading up on the history of computer-generated art and watching every tutorial I could by Dan Shiffman. I scoured #creativecoding hashtags on Instagram and Twitter, finding artists I would later start collecting from. The creations I came across left me in awe: How did they do that?

My diehard appreciation for algorithmic art was actually a bit self-deprecating. It was very clear from the work I was seeing online that the algorithmic art skillset differed significantly from what I was accustomed to with modern web development. I ostensibly believed that because I deemed algorithmic art more complicated than web development, it was inherently superior. This false observation fueled my desire to create a piece that would bridge this gap.

Section of HTML from Misunderstood Machines

Section of HTML from Misunderstood Machines

'Misunderstood Machines' leans on the intertwined histories of algorithmic art and net art while highlighting the unified, yet hidden, emotional experiences *all* code-based artists endure. Using HTML and CSS, I've rendered two side-by-side decks of playing cards as a visual symbol of randomness. The front of the cards are adorned with an .svg pattern inspired by the late Vera Molnar, a key inspiration for everything I do. Using JavaScript, I set up a JSON file that defines a full deck of cards, each with its own text value.

In one deck, the text on the cards lean towards soft, sensitive adjectives—words that evoke emotion and personality. The second deck contains words associated with computer science and web development—terms that are often perceived as rigid and technical. When a card is clicked, JavaScript is used to shuffle randomly through the deck of cards and CSS "flips the card" to reveal its backside.

This interactive piece is not just a visual experience; it is a statement on the emotional depth and creativity involved when working creatively with the computer. My hope is that both the artists and builders of this community feel seen. By using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript without any external libraries, the artwork can stand alone as it's own webpage, while easily lending itself to be minted on-chain. Moreover, the cards' structure, with nested divs styled meticulously with CSS, and the dynamic interaction handled by JavaScript, highlight the beauty and complexity of manipulating the DOM.

Details on the sale will be announced tomorrow, Wednesday 17 July 2024 at 12PM EST on our Twitter Spaces.

Sofia Garcia is an American-born generative art dealer and curator based in Miami, FL. As the founder of ARTXCODE, Sofia has been a key advocate of the creative coding ecosystem as an award-winning lecturer, author, and curator for close to a decade. She sits on the Board of Directors at Code/Art, a non-profit dedicated to teaching young girls how to make art with code since 2015. Sofia's early career began as a frontend engineer