• Code Rambler

Randograms for Artistic Signatures

Updated: Nov 7, 2021

The first canvas-print of Threads, a 12-inch square frame, is proudly hanging on my friend’s office wall. He is a CEO of a successful real-estate firm, often visited by investors. The picture is getting noticed, and my friend says he is still waiting for my signature, a small gap towards the delivery of an expected artistic experience. I still haven’t signed. I will, I promised.

This got my attention: Like any picture, a generative-art piece can be signed by the artist, have a serial number out of an enumerated set, etc. Certainly, there’s a case for that. Yet, I could not recall seeing signed generative art pieces. At least, I suppose that’s a rare practice.

It may have been interesting at that point for me to try and figure out why, but I simply wanted to sign my works and got carried away by a new idea. That idea materialized as Randograms.

There you go, a picture is worth a thousand words.

The pictures above show the output pictures of 36 iterations of Threads, random symbols that serve as letters and digits in a minimalistic kind of font:

  • Each symbol was randomly associated, for good, with one digit or letter out of {0-9, A-Z), case insensitive.

  • The chosen Threads grid size is 9x9. The color palette is relatively bright. With these, the Randograms are clear enough down to small scale, which suits a signature at the margin of a much larger picture.

  • When an image is generated (so far, by Threads) a text string is associated with it. A direct Randograms translation of it is drawn as the graphic signature. For best results, each Randogram is drawn by its vector representation.

The idea felt right to me instinctively, but then I rationalized it as follows:

  • The Randograms set is rich enough to hold information, like a series name and enumerations. I could have simply leveraged a nice readable cursive font to print a signature on the picture but that would not be personal enough. A real font would be an overkill, limited to a single color per symbol, generally not as cool, and definitely less unique. Randograms are colorful, unique and personal. I hope you agree they are cool.

  • Randograms can be minted on blockchain. That makes them officially mine, an equivalent of my handwriting.

  • Hand-written signatures are sometimes wild. Commonly, the concept of an artistic signature puts originality above readability. That said, trying hard enough, it is usually possible to decode a signature to its content. Similarly, Randogram signatures are more original than readable, too. I'll get back to that below.

  • Randograms were created randomly. They are also cryptic to read. In that regard, there’s a rough conceptual fit, a hint of the world of generative art and its NFT modality. Awesome.

  • I used Threads to create my alphabet. How symbolic. Awesome too.

I admit that the readability point bothered me. Having to decode a signature by the letter is bit extreme, just to get some sense of the signature. I wanted to soften that rough edge and make the resulting signatures at least lexically clearer. Given a signature pattern like this -

CR.<series>.<item unique id>

- where CR is the acronym for Code Rambler, <series> is self explanatory and the id part could sometimes come as

<item's serial number>/<number of items in series>

Hence, I decided to make a small friendly compromise and add a more recognizable representation of a dot and a forward slash to the alphabet. I did not want to use a “real” dot and a "real" slash using some font, though. Instead, I decided to keep it Randograms-native and hand-vector very rough representations of a dot and a slash that are also possible Threads’ outputs. Like this –

So finally, here’s an example of a Randograms signature:

(standing for)

To complete the story about the picture hanging in my friends’ office, here it is, signature-free.

Here’s a different Threads generation that uses the same blueprint, modified a bit to have a more significant margin and a Randograms signature at the bottom right corner.

  • This picture is sized for a 14"x14" print.

  • The size of the signature symbols is 18-point - roughly ¼’’ or 0.6 cm height (and width, since the Randograms are square).

  • The length of the signature is about 4’’.

At these dimensions, the signature is just large enough to be clearly seen, non-intrusively.

Here’s how the signature looks up-close:

It translates to CR.TR3.95dc -

  • CR standing for Code Rambler

  • TR3 as short form of Threads-V3

  • 95dc are the first four hex-digits of this particular generation’s hash.

Here’s another example of a 1080 x 2400 image I generated as a wallpaper for my mobile phone. The signature appears vertically on the mid-right, where it is less likely to be covered by a search bar, the app dock, etc. Although the signature is vertical, the symbols are stacked, not rotated.

I hope the concept of Randograms makes sense. If it inspires, I’m honored.

Last, I have some guesses about the answer, but instead I’ll leave the question hanging: Why aren’t signatures common in generative art pictures as much as in non-digital art?!

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