What is it? Never heard of it. Is Darwin involved?
Evolutionary Art is exactly what it is called. It is art that evolves. It is a piece of art that changes and evolves over time.
Art is typically considered to be static. For example, the Mona Lisa looks much the same today as it did when DaVinci first painted it. Yes there has been a lot of preservation applied to keep it looking like it does, but its basic has not changed.
In fact, art that has changed is usually defective. A great example is Jackson Pollock. When Pollock was creating his drip paintings, he used gloss enamel house paint for a lot of his work. This was a new product at the time which emerged in the 1930's. It was perfect for Pollock's uses, but as was found out later, it lost its color over time. This is why a house traditionally needs to be repainted every so often. The result is that some of Pollock's paintings are now beginning to devalue because they are loosing their color.
With this in mind, art that changes over time is usually frowned upon.
But Evolutionary Art changes over time. It is not meant to be static but it is also not meant to be ephemeral. Whats ephemeral? Ephemeral Art is art that is not meant to last for a long time. It is made with materials or techniques that ensure it will be destroyed in a brief time.
Banksy is a great example of Ephemeral Art. His art is not meant to last. In fact its often gone within days either by greedy people stealing it, or by grumpy people painting over it. If it lasts, it is no longer ephemeral but becomes static. Banksy tried to show this in the recent auction where one of his painting self destructed at the moment it was sold. Unfortunately the mechanism glitched and only half the painting was shredded.
Evolutionary art on the other hand is not meant to be destroyed or to degrade over time. The opposite applies. Evolutionary art truly does evolve.
To understand it better, consider a simple example. You paint a cat on a canvas. Its a great cat and you are asked to show it in an art show. Sadly it doesn't sell. So you bring it back to your studio and there it sits for a time until you decide that you want to add another cat to it. So you add the other cat. The art is now no longer static. It has evolved. Its no longer the same piece you previously showed. It is something new. It hasn't degraded as ephemeral art does. It is still the original cat, but now it is something different.
Now repeat this process a dozen times. Each time you show it, then you take it home and you add another cat. Soon the canvas is covered in cats. And each cat is more interesting because over time your skill level has also been developing. On the 13th time, you decide the first cat is kind of simple, so you paint over it, leaving the other cats around it. You've now evolved the piece further. When you stop is up to you?
In the Assimilation Art movement (which I will not get in depth on here), we teach that no piece of art is ever finished. The only thing that is finished is the artist who decides the art is done. So whats the difference between Assimilation and Evolution? Assimilation teaches morphology, it is the study of shape and the merging of art forms. Evolution is just one part of a larger cosmology. But again, if you want to learn more about Assimilation, check out the link. But don't be too disappointed. Even as the creator of the movement, I still get confused and sometimes get lost in its translation.
So lets look at an example of Evolutionary Art. In the studio at the moment of this writing is a large piece of art. 12 feet high and 7 feet wide.
As you can see its a graffiti covered door with brick walls around it. It is both graffiti and street art. It is not a real wall but a very large canvas made from styrofoam. Is it a painting? Yes in a way, but it is also a sculpture.
This piece will be on display in another week at an art show in New Orleans where people will see it much as it looks in this photo. But when the show is over, the piece will come back to the studio and over time it will change. New graffiti will be added, old graffiti covered over and the whole piece will go through a subtle transformation before it is seen again.
As a matter of fact, its not even the same piece I began creating. Its evolved here in the studio dozens of times before even being seen.
If you look carefully at the second photo, you will see dozens of changes between it and the first photo. If I take another photo you'd see dozens of changes yet again.
This is Evolutionary Art. Every time it is different. Every time it makes the viewer reevaluate what has changed since the last time.
I think if you look around, you'll find that many pieces of art are more evolutionary than you realized. Take an outdoor sculpture made of marble. Marble holds up well over time. But looks closer and you will find a thousand small details that were not present 25 years before, or 50 years, or 100 years. Its evolving on a very slow scale. In a way I think all art is evolutionary, but on different scales of time. Mona may look the same because a great group of preservationists keep her that way. But she is changing also but at a microscopic level that the eye may not see.
In the end I suppose I challenge artists to stop looking at all their art as static and to try evolutionary art out and see how it changes your perceptions.
You may be surprised what you achieve.