Saver Screensson: randomness, controlled

Published:  June 17, 2015

Created by Siggi Eggertsson and Hjalti Jakobsson, Saver Screensson reinvents an icon of the past: the desktop screensaver. The project randomly stacks, layers and arranges 340 stencil patterns and 19 colour palettes created by Eggertsson, resulting in a hypnotic display of form and colour. The set of possible aesthetic outcomes, while dictated by the parameters of Eggertsson’s designs, is virtually infinite.

Eggertsson explains how the project evolved.

All words by Siggi Eggertsson.


I’ve always been interested in simplifying things, which led me to working with geometric shapes. I continued working with those shapes and over the years it turned into my visual language.

This project started with me playing around with some simple vector stencils. I accidentally stacked them on top of each other and they created this interesting pattern. Then I just continued to draw those stencils and arrange them in different ways, not really knowing what I would do with them. After drawing a bunch of those images I showed them to my friend and developer Hjalti Jakobsson and told him that we had to do something with this. He agreed.

Initially we were going to turn it into some sort of an iOS app (which might happen sometime in the future), but due too being busy working on other things and some technical / conceptual issues we put the project on hold for a while. Then one day, one of us came up with the idea to just turn it into a desktop screensaver. Screensavers don’t really have a practical purpose these days, as nobody uses CRT monitors anymore. The idea was more about using the computer to display art while you’re not using it.


There is no real concept behind the visual imagery of the screensaver. I pretty much just drew whatever came to mind: animals, people, words, patterns, shapes. In the beginning the screensaver had around 100 stencil shapes to work with, but sometimes I don’t know when to stop so I decided that it would be much better if it had 200 shapes. When I reached that number of drawings I couldn’t really stop so I spent a few more days drawing and managed to get to 300. Then shortly before the release I had a few ideas that I felt needed to be included so I ended up with 340 images.

The same goes for the colours: I created a colour palette with about 15 colours, but then decided it would be nice to have other colour palettes as well, so I created another palette with a different vibe, softer colours, and couldn’t stop making those palettes so in the end I had 19 different palettes.

I rarely draw on paper. Working on the computer makes much more sense for what I do. I use the standard tools: Illustrator, Photoshop etc. I use a lot of grids and rules in my work and Saver Screensson is the result of many years of working with this style. All the images are drawn using the same grid, so everything fits together pretty well. Every composition the screensaver makes is randomised, both imagery and colours, but within a predefined frame, so the randomness is somewhat controlled.


After developing the shapes and colours, it’s great allowing a generator to take over the work! The program doesn’t really produce results that surprise me, as I created all the components. But the way they randomly stack together can be interesting. Sometimes the colour combinations are a bit strange, but then the perfect colour slides in and creates a really nice image.

It’s very interesting, the role of codes and computers to create aesthetic possibilities. Procedurally generated stuff is cool, but you have to have an idea of what you want the code to do, and the way it looks has to be somewhat predefined.

Usually I have to be in complete control of how my work looks, but having the computer mixing things randomly for me worked quite well. It’s fun to see the computer create compositions that I could have made, but didn’t. I’m kind of obsessed with this now. I have a lot of ideas that I want to explore. I thought about learning how to program but I don’t think my brain is wired correctly for that, so it makes more sense to continue to collaborate with people smarter than me in that field.

I’ve shown the projects in a few physical spaces too – the last one was an old swimming pool in Iceland where we projected the screensaver across the entire space. It was really nice to see the work so big, and the reflection in the water created some cool effects.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *