If Jackson Pollock had been a cartography nut this is what his classic works of art might have looked like.
A Boston-based coder has created a site that generates random Google Maps images that are assigned random color and zoom settings in a manner that creates a constant stream of stunning abstract art.
The Random Google Maps site, created by Shaun Utter using the Google Maps API, pulls its geographic source material from 26 predetermined cities from around the world, some of which you may recognize.
However, you’ll have to look quickly, as each image only lasts four seconds, after which it’s replaced by another abstract image.
And because the lines and shapes of the maps at their various sizes vary from precise and repetitive (roads and building grids) to random and organic (mountains and off-road terrain), the series of images manages to look surprisingly original and deliberate.
Generative art, that is, art created through automated means, is sometimes derided as a soft assault on human-created abstract art. But Utter’s creation is more proof that code can indeed create hypnotic and beautiful visuals, even if those visuals lack the fire of direct human inspiration.
It’s not Picasso, but more and more of these generative art pieces are popping up in museums next to your favorite art masters. Humans, it’s time to step your game up.