artist statement
A phone is an agent through which a specifically modern relationship exists- a site of work, contacting friends, arguing with strangers and looking at porn.
The light from that phone has a narrow gamut of colours, less than those visible to the human eye. The interface of a screen promises a complete experience- Could the highest definition VR be a seamless replacement for an interconnected life? However, there's no denying that the real world just 'feels' different.
Megan Bates is a computational artist who works largely with the media of code and paint. She produces works about our increasingly complex relationship with machines.
Her physics background informs her practice, and she is particularly interested in interconnectedness, both quantifiable and spiritual. Informed by Karen Barad's 'meeting the universe halfway', she explores the relationship between Quantum entanglement and individuality, and queer theory questioning boundaries between the human and non-human.
She understands herself as part of a co-regulated soup of stressed-out humans, copper wires, fungal roots, twitter threads and carbon emissions. Megan hopes to capture some essence of that soup with empathy extended in unusual directions.
She takes inspiration from Dutch flower paintings such as those by Jan Davidsz de Heem, which she feels succeed at representing this concept by appearing sensuous from a distance, but challenging and disorienting on closer inspection. The entangled phenomena of disgust and eroticism are depicted through this experience of encountering the alien.
Digital rendering allows Megan to create photorealistic lighting within impossible environments, and enable her to construct dreamlike worlds intertwining unusual materials to construct liquid pools, misty fogs, and fleshy appendages. These are then pulled out of the screen, through Megan's process of interpreting and capturing these computational dreams in a spectrum of paint too broad for digitisation.
render paintings
An ongoing series of works in which digital renders are interpreted into oil paints, watercolours or, ocassionally, pencils. Sometimes Megan's home-made drawing machine is involved.
Ripple render painting
The 3D rendering environment allows for an interesting approach to image making- fantastical dream-like scenes can be depicted with photorealistic lighting despite their physical impossibility.
Cloud render painting Mushroom render painting
The result is intended to be a strange in-between place of neither realism or abstraction, a plein air painting in an imaginary video game.
click here to go through to the full gallery of these works.
Many of these pieces are for sale, contact Megan on for up-to-date information.
coding experiments
A series of works playing with code to make visual experiments. Look at them here.
oapvr sculpture
no such thing
A collaborative work between Megan and Daniel Cesarani @chezzarani. Writing by Daniel, images by Megan.
Computational Garden Embroidery
A work about memory, and the isolating experience of existing persistently in a digital space. It was created during covid lockdown 1, 2020. Read it here.
The images are a collection of collages of assets from video games, photographs of reality, and oil paintings by Megan. The possibility to distinguish between the sources of these collage elements is kept deliberately challenging.
paint studies
Succulent painting
Still lifes, practice paintings and colour studies. click here to go through to the full gallery of these works.
Still life painting
Many of these pieces are for sale, contact Megan on for up-to-date information.
window view painting
computational garden
A single piece which is a predecessor to Megan's 'render paintings'. This is a machine-automated embroidery of a digitally rendered monochrome scene of flowers.
Computational Garden Embroidery
The greyscale tones are calculated through raytracing a virtual light's beams of light bouncing through a scene of flower models. The flowers are a kind of 3D 'collage' of collected opensource models, some made by other artists, some constructed with photogrammetry of real flowers.
click here for a full-screen image of the work.
An interactive experiment which can be 'played' here. Inspired by video games such as QWOP, this work encourages the user to use an unconventional finger position on the keyboard to create an unusual interactive experience.
Computational Garden Embroidery
A pinching/pulling finger position is used to control an inflating balloon. Holding all of the WAXD keys causes the balloon to inflate and rise, and removing a key lets the balloon spring back in the correlating direction, and get a little boost moving that way.
This work is in development- this image depicts the custom controller made of entirely soft materials (mostly conductive thread) which exaggerates the 'stretching' experience of the finger positions.
digital symbiote
Digital Symbiote was the final piece for Megan's Computational arts MA. The system is programmed microchip and circuitboard of her own design, which is set up to have a symbiotic relationship with a plant. click here to view the video documentation of this piece as it was exhibited at the Goldsmith Computational Arts degree show 2018.
Computational Garden Embroidery
The plant and digital symbiote share a biodegradable home. When the plant triggers a signal in a photoelectric sensor, the microchip in the digital symbiote is programmed to respond by stimulating the game of life on its LED array. The colours of the LEDs are chosen to be a good spectrum for photosynthesis, and within the dark space help to sustain the plant that the digital symbiont lives with.
If either dies, so does the other, and so the piece is a reflection on what we consider alive, what we consider complex, and what collaborative relationships are possible.
An opensource eye-tracking software project using machine learning to detect eyes, and computer vision to correlate pupil position. After calibration, the software presents an interactive experience whereby wherever the audience looks the contents of the screen are removed. click here to view the video documentation of this piece.
Gaze eyetracking interactive machine vision artwork
Into the peripheral vision, the color of the screen is tinted. As human eyes see peripheral colour differently, the work explores a unique colour experience as well as playing with disorientation.
The project was based on deprecated C++ code for openframeworks, and updated with a pull request made on github. You can read the code here.
The project was originally built as a computer interface for users wih mobility accessibility needs, to control a PC, for making art using only eye movement.
medusan and athenian interactions
An essay-come-artwork meditating on digital vs natural aesthetics. This dichotomy was explored using the myth of Medusa and Athena. This work was a predecessor to digital symbiote. Click here to read it.
Gaze eyetracking interactive machine vision artwork
A piece exploring creating different visuals with a shared 'knotting' pathing program, winding digital ropes over one another.
The programs were projection-mapped onto a 3d shape to create the illusion that the surfaces of the shape were screens. click here to view the video documentation of this piece.
digital symbiote plant and LED array sculpture
A mobile game which uses gyroscopics to control the motion of a bird within a generative landscape. click here to view the video documentation of this piece.
Flown game
This work was a collaborative piece between Megan, Rebecca Aston, Tin Geber, Joseph Rodrigues Marsh, and Isaac Clarke.
This was an early work using 3D modelling and git workflows. It was built in Unity, and Megan modelled and animated the bird in Blender. She also wrote the camera controls and physics for flight and wind-tunnel forces.
An interactive twine story based on the tarot deck. It can be read here.
Tarot game
o a p v r
'Old Age Pensioner Virtual Reality', a speculative piece about what VR might look like/be used for if it were invented by a woman of the archetype of a 'granny'.
oapvr sculpture
In homage to the history of women's work inventing programming which was erased, this work explores an alternative world in which the aesthetics of little old ladies is brought to 'cutting edge' tech.
A close study of the surfaces of the planets in our solar system. See them all here.
Planet illustration
An extended study/challenge to digitally paint 32 clouds in different lighting conditions.
Clouds digital painting
witchcraft web dev
A guide/ritual to introduce people to web development, and how to make a free web page using github. Read it here.
wwebdev page screenshot
The instructions are delivered by explaining with an unusual tone of voice. Considering coding as a kind of 'spellcasting' is presented as an alternative to the common thinking framework and language used in typical programming guides.
staying in touch
Not safe for work! A project developed for the 2021 Creative Coding Utrecht Rainbows End: Sex Tech Hackathon. Access it here.
staying-in-touch page screenshot
'staying in touch' was created as a gentle and data-safe introduction to online eroticism.
milling guide
A guide on how to design and build a customised PCB milled circuit board. You can read it here.
Customised circuitboard
colour metaphor
A study of colour and materials, 555nm LEDs are strung through a fluorescent pink fabric- as the sun sets, the dominant colours shift from pink through to green, a reversal of the dominant colours the human eye sees at night and day. See the video documentation of this piece here.
This piece is a kite which can be flown! But it was a little large and uncontrollable to be flown through a full sunset.