Reverse Abstraction

Computers & Mobile Craft & Design
Reverse Abstraction


For thousands of years artists have been rubbing pigment on fabric with brushes made from the hair of animals. Painting remains relevant, but modern technology presents a whole new palette of artistic options. There are so many new inventions geared toward creation and artists aren’t using them. My work is bridging the divide between art and technology, and tools such as 3d printers, Google Glass, and the internet are as powerful in studios as they are in offices. The Reverse Abstraction series begins with a simple premise: that humans and computers perceive the world through different languages, and what is concrete for one is abstract for the other. The objects and shapes so familiar in human art can be neither perceived nor conceived by computers in their original form. Likewise, the codes that are so familiar to a computer are merely scattered symbols to human sensibility.


The Reverse Abstraction series attempts to bridge the gap by constructing traditional objects in dual forms: as the classical object and as the hexadecimal and binary codes that represent them. Thus, abstraction becomes material, the meanings for humans and computers are united, and the duality is resolved. Abstraction is a term both used in art and technology. Abstraction in art strays away from the recognizable whereas abstraction in computer science means the opposite for humans but the remains the same idea for computers. As something becomes more abstract in computer science it becomes more recognizable to humans and more complicated for the computer. Binary code is the furthest from abstraction a computer can be. To a computer this is recognizable but a user interface, for example, would be considered abstract to a computer.


The text is code. If a computer were to read that code it would see the object you are seeing. This is art you both can enjoy.

Here are a few creations from the Reverse Abstraction series:

I’ll be speaking on this topic at Maker Faire New York this Sunday, at 2:30pm on the 3D Printing Stage. Come on by!

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!
Ashley Zelinskie

Ashley Zelinskie is an artist based in Brooklyn, N.Y. Her work blurs the lines between art and technology, and spans a variety of media from sculpture to computer programs. After receiving a degree in glass from the Rhode Island School of Design, Ashley began to experiment with the pairing of artistic media and technology. The work she creates now is designed to be appreciated by both human and computer.

View more articles by Ashley Zelinskie


Ready to dive into the realm of hands-on innovation? This collection serves as your passport to an exhilarating journey of cutting-edge tinkering and technological marvels, encompassing 15 indispensable books tailored for budding creators.