The design is still a work in progress. If you’ve visited multiple times over the weekend, you’ve seen quite an evolution in quality. I’ve greatly enjoyed this process, and it feels refreshing to have something new here. I was once very attached to the old background – and certainly, it excelled in a number of categories. It was unique, it made the setting, and it was personal. I probably squeezed as much out of that formula as possible. If anyone’s curious, the process wasn’t all that complicated. I made a gradient from orange to black, ran a cubism filter, ran an edge filter to add some perspective, and then added a light and bumpmap. The only difficulty was in getting the color and lighting done properly. As much as I dislike GIMP’s interface and design, I can’t begrudge its unique capabilities.

Over the years I made many attempts to move on from that scheme, but I possess very little in the way of free-hand skills. I can’t sketch or draft to save my life, but the doodles I made as a kid on church bulletins during sermons became the one thing I actually found aesthetically pleasing and satisfying to create. I would use the logos or text as a kind of seed, and draw as many concentric circles and parallel lines surrounding the original features on the page as I could. I still do the same kind of doodling at every possible opportunity, so my notebooks for any lecture class are packed with doodled patterns. Similarly, many of the things I made in Minecraft were the product of pseudo-algorithmic reduction.

The irony of algorithmic approaches to art is that it ends up being a lot of brute force effort to determine what works and what doesn’t. If a pattern results in inconsistencies or asymmetry, then the next iteration need only produce fewer errors. However, that usually means a lot of iterations will be required before a quality result is attained. The advantage is that improving is more a function of time than of dexterity or inspiration. Some people have the imagination and skill to take a blank canvas and create something where previously there was nothing. My talents seem to lie more with altering existing material, and there seems to be an inverse relationship between my creative productivity and the number of tools that are available to me. This might be why I still do all of my code in N++.

My goal with this design is to test the limits of what can be done with nothing but CSS and HTML (and perhaps later, javascript). Every time I visit an artist’s website and I encounter yet another series of bloated Flash galleries with an unresponsive interface, a part of my soul dies. It’s quite possible that I just don’t spend time in the right circles, but I have encountered few to zero websites that engage the browser itself as a medium for artistic expression. CSS3 opens a lot of creative doors; opacity and border-radius – combined with z-layers and borders – make many complex constructs possible. I can’t wait to see what this looks like in an old version of IE, but I’ve decided not to concern myself with that as far as the design process. My code passes validation – my responsibility is fulfilled.