Young Projects is pleased to present Precipice, a solo exhibition by Brandon Morse

Based in Washington, DC, Morse works with generative systems as a means to examine the ways in which physical phenomena such as entropy and emergence can function in ways that are both poetic and metaphorical. Through the use of code, algorithms, and the creation of custom computer software, these generative forms are ultimately less about images per se than they are about the underlying structures, pathways, and overall behaviors hidden within.

The idea of emergence has been around since the time of Aristotle, but in recent years it has come to the fore as one of the most important theories within philosophy, the sciences, psychology, economics, the internet, spirituality and art. Simply put, emergent structures are large-scale shapes that are composed of individual entities, or singularities, that at first glance might have little to do with one another. However, as their interaction with their immediate surroundings becomes increasingly complex, a chain reaction occurs, resulting in the emergence of a discernable pattern, shape or form.

The stock market, the internet, hurricanes, and even organic life itself are often referred to as prime examples of emergent structures. More recently scholars have begun to use the theory to explore the nature of novelty, creativity, and valuation within the art world, while theorists such as Douglas Hofstadter have gone so far to say that the soul—if there is one—might be an emergent system since it is not the individual entity that makes it what it is, but its connection with entities outside of itself.

Morse has been creating emergent systems as artworks for over a decade, many of which touch on these very ideas. He generally begins by building systems, or simulations, in a digital environment where forms self-generate or grow via specific algorithms. In some cases, as in some of his earlier works, the forms resembled massive towers or complete city-scapes made up of complex crystal or lattice structures. Yet in each case — as in works entitled Achilles (2008), More Destroyment (2008) and Exit Strategy (2008) — he also added deliberate flaws into the computation, which lead to a domino effect where the forms would ripple, buckle and collapse. (The attack on the World Trader Center in 2001 and the economic collapse of 2008 were obvious reference points).

Precipice showcases a new body of work that moves away from specific architectural/historical events, and moves instead toward an abstract, organic, biological type of imagery that seems to suggest air, water and/or plant life. Like before, these works are generative designs, where various algorithms build, create and determine the final output. As in his earlier works, they too are references to emergent ideas (from hurricanes to crystal formations), but here the disruption added by the artist tends to be more subtle. The title work, Precipice (2013) for example, which is being presented for the first time in Los Angeles on two screens, conveys a type of collapse in a metaphoric sense, as particles flow over an edge, which may or may not be an event horizon. But here the individual entities are moving toward a future as much as a past, recycling time and again into a constant state of flow.

This is the place of the emergent. It is not about the ‘grid’ of modernism, nor the idea of uniqueness and/or individuality, but rather it’s about the beauty of the collective, the endless loop and the fact that the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts.

Brandon Morse has been teaching at the University of Maryland since 2000. He received his BFA from the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point and his MFA in Art & Technology from The Ohio State University. He has exhibited his work in digital video and sound installation nationally and internationally. Exhibitions include the Corcoran Museum of Art in Washington, DC, the Nanjing Museum in China, the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center, Kusthalle Detroit, as well as many gallery exhibitions across the United States, Europe and Asia.


A solo exhibition by Brandon Morse

Opening reception: March 24, 5 - 930pm

Continues through May 16, 2015