Tom Ellman

Computational Artist

As a young man, Tom was a science nerd. He studied math and physics in college; and computer science in graduate school. He first taught at Rutgers. Later he moved to Vassar and things began to change. Tom joined with a sculptor colleague to develop and teach a course in computer animation. He also began to teach courses in media studies.  Tom was never trained in studio art, but he learned a lot from teaching these courses. He began making his own art around 2014-2015. Tom also volunteers at the Barrett Art Center as their BoD President.

"I call myself a “computational artist”.  I make computer animation; interactive digital media; and generative art. In my animated and interactive works, I create 3D spaces in virtual reality. I place images on surfaces in the virtual world and provide a means for a viewer to navigate the space and view the images. The resulting work provides an unusual context for viewing the images, while the images add ambience to the virtual space. In my generative art, I write computer programs that produce images using mathematical and algorithmic techniques.

I often read and think about mathematics, art and the relation between them. I believe math has a lot to offer the visual arts, both as a conceptual framework for imagining new works and as a language of shape, structure and dynamics that can play a role in art criticism. In my creative work I explore combinations of order and disorder: systematic designs mixed with quasi-random shapes; repetitive patterns that are broken; and symmetries with flaws. I see the boundary between order and disorder as a source of metaphors for aspects of human experience."