About

Frederik Vanhoutte

fvanhoutte@wblut.com

Who

During day­time, a physics PhD work­ing as a med­ical physics expert in a supra-region­al hos­pi­tal in Belgium. Together with a team of radi­a­tion oncol­o­gists, physi­cists and nurs­es I turn med­ical data into effec­tive treat­ments for can­cer patients.

During night­time, a cre­ative coder, on the fine line between art and sci­ence, between util­i­ty and aes­thet­ics. Working with Processing since 2004, cre­ative cod­ing fuels my curios­i­ty in phys­i­cal, bio­log­i­cal and com­pu­ta­tion­al sys­tems.

Bridging dis­ci­plines, I’m fre­quen­ly involved in turn­ing diverse sources of data into artis­tic visu­al­iza­tions, from tiny con­tri­bu­tions like decod­ing CERN exper­i­men­tal results for Ruben Van Leer’s award-win­ning dance movie Symmetry, to more involved col­lab­o­ra­tions such as visu­al­iz­ing clas­si­fied mine lay­outs for Frederik De Wilde’s black­er-than-black M1ne #1 sculpture and in anoth­er col­lab­o­ra­tion with the same artist, Safecast radi­a­tion mea­sure­ments for the short film Sievert Rising.

My HE_Mesh library for the cre­ation and manip­u­la­tion of polyg­o­nal mesh­es in Processing has gained a small fol­low­ing and sees use in gen­er­a­tive, sculp­tur­al and archi­tec­tur­al explo­rations. I don’t know what they were think­ing either…

Why

When rain hits the wind­screen, I see tracks alpha par­ti­cles trace in cells. When I pull the plug in the bath tub, I stay to watch the lit­tle whirlpool. When I sit at the kitchen table, I play with the glass­es to see the caus­tics. At a can­dle light din­ner, I stare into the flame. Sometimes at night, I find myself behind the com­put­er. When I final­ly blink, a mess of code is draw­ing ran­dom struc­tures on the screen. I spend the rest of the night star­ing.

W:huh?

Bear with me on this one. One of the sto­ry­lines of William Gibson’s nov­el Count Zero con­cerns the Boxmaker, part of a frag­ment­ed arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence resid­ing in an orbit­ing space sta­tion. It’s only remain­ing pur­pose is cre­at­ing Joseph Cornell type box­es from float­ing debris. Boxmaker is in a way a descen­dant of two oth­er A.I.s, Neuromancer and Wintermute.
The image of this con­struct cre­at­ing art by dis­as­sem­bling com­plex items, going beyond the lim­its of its mechan­i­cal pro­gram­ming, has remained with me ever since I first read the nov­el. When I start­ed play­ing around with gen­er­a­tive algo­rithms in 2004, I thought Wintermute to be a fit­ting name, quite wrong­ly as I would lat­er realise. The name, short­ened to W:Mute (in part because oth­er web­do­mains were unavail­able), was espe­cial­ly appro­pri­ate since a) my orig­i­nal inten­tion was to nev­er address you, the view­er and b) win­ter has always had a spe­cial sig­nif­i­cance for my fam­i­ly.
Anyway, tak­ing a name from a nov­el isn’t a smart move, espe­cial­ly from a pop­u­lar one. Aside from this, there were oth­er rea­sons to step away from the orig­i­nal Wintermute. Generative cod­ing builds com­plex­i­ty from sim­ple things, quite the oppo­site of the orig­i­nal Wintermute. And fun­da­men­tal­ly the gen­er­a­tive code is guid­ed to its final form by an inescapable human sense of esthet­ics. So the machine-like nature of Wintermute, how­ev­er strik­ing the imagery is, was actu­al­ly not what I intend­ed to con­vey.

So W:Mute became W:Blut or Winterblut, Warmblut, Wereblut,… No longer mute.