Flood Fill is an animation technique based on an algorithm of the same name, normally used to colour in regions of neighbouring pixels in an image editor, intentionally slowed down to unveil its inner mechanisms.
Richard Serra’s Verb List, typset with Lawrence Weiner’s typeface of choice FF Offline
While still in use in today’s drawing applications such as Adobe Photoshop, the algorithm had its debut in the early days of computer graphics, where the technical limitations unintentionally revealed the elegance of a machine process made visible.
The inspiration stems from the pixel graphics software Geo Paint on the C-64 computer. Due to the limitations of the hardware, its paint bucket function was slow and was executed directly into the video memory.
There was something hypnotic about the motion and sequence of these pixels flowing into their shapes, like sand into a container. It felt a bit like watching the computer absent-mindedly executing phone doodles.