Chilling With Jesse Cathode

Coping Algorithms & The Chillbois

I was having a rough go of things for a while, so I tried just returning to some of what brought me pleasure in the earliest work. Letting the algorithms do their thing and taking it as it comes. I tried some new Processing sketches off github that (thankfully) pretty well worked out of the box. I changed a few things like save format and saving size and so on, but volfegan has some amazing sketches that generate really interesting textures I haven’t seen all over yet. So I experimented a little here and there with just letting the thing run and maybe throwing it into a circle and letting that be that. I wasn’t interested in arrogance or humility or any of the epistemological stuff – this was just letting a program make something chill. So I called them chill. Chillbois. “chill” has since become kind of my own byword for throwing any of volfegan’s scripts into the mix when making a new piece. I experimented a little with making animated versions, but the investment of time didn’t get returned, and I honestly prefer static work in most cases.

Jesse Cathode

An awful lot of my good ideas actually come from projects that ask for things I haven’t done before. I had an artist (I’ll talk more about this in Projects once that’s done) ask for some of my 90’s revival sega_sibyl type design work – only the references were a lot more neon and lightplay than my series had been. I figured “why not?” and just ran with trying some new things. I never did any glow in my early work because I came from a design background where every lazy designer and their brother just added a photoshop layerstyle to something to make it glow for a client, and it was awful. To be fair – glow effects have come a long way since then – but it’s a bit like eating way too much of something and throwing up, even once it’s good again you just can’t do it. It’s probably been long enough, and the exploration of 80’s retro for that I made kind of whetted my appetite for doing some glowing designs again.

To that end – I created an alternate character (not the musician, but reminiscent of them) named Jesse Cathode. Bruce Sterling has a fun story called “Mozart in Mirrorshades” where Mozart ends up a timetraveler and has to broker deals with the managers of time portals. Jesse Cathode is a bit like that – someone from the distant future that travels back to the 90s nightclub scene and pays to stay on the wrong side of the time portal (to the mysterious “time authority”) by paying them with black market designs and artifacts. The first small series of explorations I made are just called jesse_cathode_artifact – and I’m trying an experimental game where I offer them as bounties for finding collectors for other series. Is that wise? I don’t know – but it’s fun. I hacked together a fun reference image from comic books and game art and stuff to just function as my personal headcanon version of the character.

If you recognize any of the assets here, be proud – feels like DND character illustration.

Once this series had matured, the jesse_cathode_blackmarket_designs developed their own kind of system. It was like the Lisa Frank Prime series in that they were open compositions – but now the shapes weren’t just wild but had rounded edges and were meant to conjure night clubs and neon lights. Makes sense, right? Jesse Cathode lives in a nightclub, and the designs should look like they were inspired by that. I’ve also found it interesting that there’s no real words or styles defined for art in that world: there’s no movements of nightclub lights – although there are a lot of neon light artists working now it seems to me that most of them are making thought pieces that have interesting phrases more than strictly abstract art.