polymorphic printmaking

26 Aug 2023

Portrait of the artist as a young vx-er [artist statement]

A polymorphic virus is like my printmaking process, in a dialogue with the machine A polymorphic virus will do two things of great interest: It will change itself (polymorphism) And it will copy itself (viral functionality, aka virus survival 101)

When I carve a block I follow that process: I start with a base image, make prints to see the result, then I make an incremental change, and make more prints, rinse, repeat

With a traditional printing press, I make the base image as well as repeatedly do the work of making the changes to the image and making the copies; however, given a base image and routines for polymorphism and replication, a virus will do that repeated work itself The heart of the matter is that I can write a program, that is a self-contained printing press.

I became interested in the idea of polymorphism as an artistic motif/process about a year or so ago (approximately summer 2022). I have been playing with variations of how to incorporate polymorphism into my artistic practice since then, and found an ideal form in polymorphic vx.

The goal of rewriting the Michelangelo bootkit, in the context of my artistic practice, was twofold:

  1. Apply the techniques of vx legends of the 1980s/1990s to create my own new malware art
  2. Use the unique properties of vx to extend the medium — create new work that lives up to Spanska’s declaration: “Coding a virus can be creative”

For additional details about the tech specs, and the reverse engineering process of this project, refer to the materials from my Recon 2023 talk (slides, demo code + accompanying docs), located on my GitHub repo

To view a gallery of some notable samples from this project, check out the Michelangelo REanimator gallery.

xoxo ic3qu33n