14 April 2010

Origins of Computer Art

Via Planetary Folklore, here is a great history of early computer art.  Here is a selection of some of my favorites:

Csuri, Aging Process, 1968
"Two drawings were digitized, one of a young girl and the other of an old woman. The program starts with the young girl and then in stages moves it toward the older woman. Gradually the drawing is fragmented with a greater displacement as it reaches the center. Then the fragments begin to incrementally change their shape until the drawing of the woman is realized. This process was used to create a short animation sequence and it was probably more effective as an animation rather than a still image."

Csuri is still at it, by the way.

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Herbert Franke, Lichtformen, 1953-55

It is worth pointing out another coincidence of the development of computer art in the US and Germany: the first computer art exhibitions in the world were held in 1965, in the cities of New York and Stuttgart. Franke's wide-ranging interests include the use of random-number generators, image-processing, numerically-controlled machine tools, iterative techniques, fractals and even a series of experiments with music produced on the self-constructed wind instrument of colleague Bruno Spoerri.
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Franke, Electronic Graphics, 1961-62
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Michael Noll:  3-Dimensional Projection of a Rotating 4-Dimensional Hypercube, 1962

Movie prints (16 mm) of his computer-generated animations. Noll is one of the earliest pioneers to use a digital computer to create patterns and animations solely for their artistic and aesthetic value. First computer works created at Bell Labs in Murray Hill, New Jersey during the Summer of 1962. 
Cross your eyes between the two columns to see the projections.

Noll also has a good, brief memoir of the beginnings of Computer Graphics.

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Noll: Four Computer-Generated Random Patterns Based on the Composition Criteria Of Mondrian's Composition With Lines, 1964
Algorithmic simulation of Mondrian’s painting Composition With Lines created with pseudorandom numbers.
When xerographic reproductions of both works were shown to 100 people, the computer-generated picture was preferred to Mondrian by 59.
This early investigation of the aesthetics of computer art has become a classic and is described in the published paper by Noll, Human or Machine: A Subjective Comparison of Piet Mondrian's ‘Composition with Lines’ and a Computer–Generated Picture, The Psychological Record, Vol. 16. No. 1, (January 1966), pp. 1-10.
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Zajec: TVC, 1971
In TVC, the main subject of invention is no longer the design of visual modules, but of procedural ones.
The focus is no longer on the geometry of projection, but on the grammatical rules that delimit the possible combinations of the constituent elements.

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