With Code as His Medium, Siebren Versteeg Programs Art
According to the mixed- and multimedia artist, attempting to retain information in our overloaded age is not worth it. In line with the Buddhist principle of non-attachment, by which he is influenced, he once stated: “There’s too much, why bother to try and hang on?” Instead of “hanging on” to the information that we process through computer screens and the infinite internet-based resources—like Amazon, Flickr, and Spotify—that have altered our social and buying habits, Versteeg hacks into and scrambles it. Tied to its time, his work is about the technological revolution and how human beings engage with the digital age it has ushered in, for better and for worse.
Though computer code is his principal medium, he draws much inspiration from art history in shaping his installations, digital paintings, and internet- and video-based works. “I did make painting, sculpture, and video as an undergraduate,” he once explained, “but once I began programming, I realized that the logic of that medium was exactly what I had been pursuing through other means. That is, a looping logic that is infinitely nesting and spiral-like.”
Versteeg begins most of his works by writing code, which he then unleashes online, allowing it to do its work. In a series of digital paintings, for example, he turns