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In Conversation with Galo Canizares (itsgalo) cover photo

INTERVIEW

In Conversation with Galo Canizares (itsgalo)

by Jeff Davis

Galo Canizares (itsgalo) is a designer, writer, and educator working across various creative fields from architecture to digital art to experimental software. His work explores our ongoing relationship to software and its increasing role in creative processes. He is also the author of Digital Fabrications: Designer Stories for a Software-Based Planet, a collection of essays on computation, art, and design. I had the pleasure of speaking Galo in advance of his upcoming Art Blocks release RASTER.
Jeff Davis: Hi there! It’s great to speak with you about your art, how did you first get started?
Galo Canizares: I think I’ve always been a pretty creative person. As a kid, I would draw, paint, and mess around with painting software. When I got older, I kept drawing and painting, and I also got super into theater and filmmaking. But I never thought that I could make it as an artist, so I ended up pursuing architecture. I thought that would be a happy medium between my desire to be creative and to have what I imagined would be a more stable career. Despite becoming an architectural designer and teacher, art has remained a key part of my life.
itsgalo, STROKERS #58, 2021. Generative p5js script..webp
itsgalo, STROKERS #58, 2021. Generative p5js script.
JD: When did you start exploring generative art?
GC: In the early 2000s, I picked up Flash and some basic HTML and started making websites for fun. ActionScript was probably my earliest exposure to creative coding and generative art. Unfortunately, I almost completely abandoned it when I started studying architecture. What I did discover in school was that generative art and architecture have an interrelated history. I also learned about algorithmic design and processing in some of my classes, but it was always in the context of architecture.
It wasn’t until around 2016 that I started getting back into coding and generative art. I learned about ThreeJS and other web libraries that enabled real-time graphics and something clicked. I started to combine my interests in drawing, painting, and design into experimental browser-based drawing/painting tools and leveraging the generative aspect of code to make animated digital paintings. Since then, I’ve been exploring generative painting algorithms in various ways and in 2019, I had a solo show at the Banvard Gallery at the Ohio State University called Assorted Demo Scenes.
itsgalo_Demo Scenes at the Banvard Gallery_3Up.png
Installation view of itsgalo, Demo Scenes, 2019. The Banvard Gallery, the Ohio State University.
JD: That’s interesting that you found a correlation between architecture and generative art. How would you say your creative practice has changed over time?
GC: The biggest shift in my creative practice happened in 2020, during the pandemic. Up until then, I felt like my little digital experiments were just a hobby or simply a part of my academic research into digital media. But during quarantine, I started to see these visual outputs as standalone artworks and I began to treat the act of creative coding as a meditative exercise. For the first time I didn’t think of my animated paintings as means to some other ends. Since then, I’ve sort of splintered my creative practice into: 1) a licensed architectural firm called office ca, run by myself and my partner; and 2) a digital painting/generative art studio run by me as my screen-name itsgalo.
itsgalo, CRUSTS-220410–01, 2022. GIF loop..gif
itsgalo, CRUSTS-220410–01, 2022. GIF loop.
JD: How did you discover NFTs as a vehicle for your art practice?
GC: It was sometime around February 2021. A lot of digital artists I followed were getting into the space and posting about it. I had also written a blog post about the artists Beeple, Chad Knight, and Blake Kathryn back in 2016 and all of a sudden, they kept talking about NFTs—and that intrigued me. Being an outsider to the world of digital art allowed me some critical distance. I kept thinking about things like ownership and reproducibility—the kinds of things critics like Walter Benjamin talked about during other periods of technological advancement. I’m not a crypto maximalist by any means, but it felt like there was definitely a new appreciation for digital art and media. That’s what hooked me in.
JD: Any recent accomplishments you’d like to share?
GC: I’ve recently started a new job as Assistant Professor at the University of Kentucky College of Design. I’m excited to use this position to teach students about programming, real-time media, and computational design as well as to further research how custom software can be a tool for expression and creativity.
itsgalo, RASTER #0, 2021. Generative p5js script. Live view..gif
itsgalo, RASTER #0, 2021. Generative p5js script. Live view.
JD: That’s awesome, I love to hear that universities are starting to offer coursework in creative coding. OK, let’s get into RASTER! What was the inspiration for the project? 
GC: The project really started from an idea about a painting that paints itself forever in real time. I thought, that’s such an impossible thing with real paint, but it could be possible with software. I also kept thinking about the painterly explorations of artists like Mark Rothko and Clyfford Still and what the digital equivalent of those projects might look like. Of course, screens are different from canvases and pigments; pixels are made of light and electricity. So, I was really interested in exploring how we can study things like color mixing, texture, and movement while at the same time acknowledging the materiality of the pixel.
JD: And what would you like collectors to experience in your project as the series is revealed?
GC: I think the most exciting part of this project is seeing how each piece builds up and eventually achieves equilibrium. It might not be super obvious at first, but the pieces do get to a state where the brush strokes repeat themselves over and over and produce a seamless loop. The project comes with a little tool available at raster.club where you can capture a looping GIF of any invocation. The other thing that might be interesting is to zoom into the still images. The texture has a lot of interesting details due to the dithering shader. Collectors are encouraged to explore the pieces at the pixel level.
itsgalo, SCREENSPACE FACTORY-220122–03, 2022. GIF loop..gif
itsgalo, SCREENSPACE FACTORY-220122–03, 2022. GIF loop.
JD: Anything else you’d like to share to help better understand your art?
GC: Probably that it always involves time, movement, pixels, and gestures. I’m constantly looking for ways to express and reveal humans’ ongoing symbiotic relationship with software and hardware. 
JD: It’s been great getting to know you better! What’s the best way for people to follow your work?
GC: I’m pretty active on Twitter and Instagram. That’s where I share most of my works-in-progress. My Substack is usually where I publish longer ideas. I try to keep my personal website up to date, but I can’t guarantee it reflects my latest work.

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