Partly Cloudy, Fully Generative: Strange Clouds by Hayden Clay

Hayden Clay's debut generative collection, Strange Clouds, is the artist’s latest exhibition, featuring 2,000 curated outputs and a unique, single artwork, ‘Countryside Cubism.

The generative series dedicated to clouds, Clay’s largest project to date, marks an exciting new phase in his career. Each idyllic output is a unique combination of shapes, patterns and color palettes that depict the time of day, rendered through 3D generative techniques.

From Analog Roots to Digital Heights

Clay's artistic career began with analog photography, a medium that initially captured his interest. However, a pivotal moment in his artistic journey was the creation of a seminal piece in his World Underwater series. This artwork marked a significant transition from photography to digital art; he was able to portray objects that pushed the limits of what traditional media couldn’t, through hyper-realistic scenes that would be nearly impossible to create in reality.

This catalyzed Clay's passion for exploring beyond the tangible world. Algorithmic technology pushed the possibilities one step further, allowing Clay to generate 2,000 unique cloud compositions that displayed all of the traits he wanted to express.

Summer Games by Hayden Clay
Summer Games by Hayden Clay

The Generative Heart of Strange Clouds

By incorporating generative code into his art practice for Strange Clouds, Clay diverges from his usual perfectionist tendencies, perhaps subscribing to the idea of imperfect perfection. Clouds, after all, are formed by a complex and layered process that result in majestic shapes without seeking perfection.

Nature's raw beauty profoundly inspires Clay's digital artistry. "My biggest inspirations are simple elements of nature. Specifically, water, clouds, and grass," he reveals.

This fascination is vividly portrayed in this series, transforming these elements into surreal digital masterpieces. Clay reimagines uncontrollable forces of nature into contained bite-size shapes, then reintroduces unpredictability with code.

A rare symmetrical output from ‘Strange Clouds’
A rare symmetrical output from ‘Strange Clouds’

One of the most daunting challenges in creating Strange Clouds, Clay reveals, was the rendering of realistic clouds in 3D. Although he invited randomness with code, his vision still required computational intensity, meticulous attention to detail and perseverance, which are inherent to his process. Yet, it's these challenges that play into Clay’s perfectionism, culminating in a series that not only showcases his technical expertise but also his dedication to pushing the boundaries of digital art.

View the entire series in Strange Clouds, an exhibition by Hayden Clay.

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