I have an exhibition catalog from "Wege zur Computerkunst" (Towards
Computer Art), an exhibition which came here in the Philippines in the late
70s (if I am not mistaken) - the catalog itself was published in 1977. I
wonder if the catalog is available online. I'd like to make it available to
everyone here but that takes a lot of time and might step on some
copyrights. Anyway, some works described there, all from waaay back late
60s to 70s seem like very good examples of software as art - at that time
presented as prints for the travelling exhibition.
For instance: Work by Manfred Mohr, born 1938 in Pforzheim, trained at the
Kunst-und Werkschule Pforzheim; music (tenor saxophone, oboe); mathematics
and information -
MANFRED MOHR: Digital graphics. FORTRAN IV programs processed with a CDC
6400 computer. Data output on a Benson drawing board. Most of the graphics
are arrangements of symbols or elements; sub-programs - so called
"aesthetic filters" - are inserted into the generation process; they select
specific processes in accordance with the author's personal viewpoint.
And here, an excerpt from the catalog essay, seem to point a concern of the
technical with the aesthetic (vis-a-vis recent concern of the aesthetic
with the technical):
"The procedure is always the same: a program is written which instructs the
computer to execute certain logical or mathematical catenations. This in
itself is worth noting: it assumes the ability to understand the formal or
quantitative structure of the desired aesthetic creation, be it graphic
design, poem or a piece of music. If this succeeds, the programming
languages provide a kind of universal notation."
I think it is also important for artists (artist-programmers) to work
jointly as an example in one of the works in "Wege zur Computerkunst": Karl
Seibig (born 1947 in Germany with background in information design,
information theory and cybernetic art theory, generative photography and
photochemical transformation of computer graphics) - Siebig using Dr.
Herbert W. Franke's DRAKULA program (Dr. Franke was also the one who put
together the exhibition catalog). Seibig gets an initial configuration
produced by the DRAKULA program as the basic motif and "repurposes" this
with photo-optical transformations.
In these examples of works, I feel it is important to present (as in
exhibit, curate, critic) the process and the algorithm itself as part of
the output (the Zuse-Graphomat or Benson drawing board output).
Looking at the bios of the artists in "Wege zur Computerkunst" many were
trained in Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry. At that time it seems also
there was not much choice but be very technically proficient when
traversing that road "towards computer art." When desktop computers and
off-the-shelf software came to consumers, the 80s onwards, many became busy
configuring Photoshop and the likes. Now artists are drawn back to the code
- some even deliberately avoid popular off-the-shelf software and just hate
it when they are told "your work looks like Flash" or "that's done with
Photoshop" and so on.
Also, algorithm as art seems to me like "art as research and documentation"
and to be really effective in exhibitions, need to be presented as
research, as documentation, then as art. I can imagine how much dialogue
there must be between the artists and the curators to be effective here,
and how much background research (and process) material the artist must
provide that may become essential to the presentation of his work to an
audience (whatever the venue or context).
Some material that could be of interest: I used to run a BBS way back 1997
and since the BBS focused on digital art, my young programmer friends got
to making some digital artworks using their programmer tools (they did this
when bored in class) - here are several written in C -
Fats Lasay | http://www.hoydigiteer.org/ - Art | Technology | Culture
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