microfilm plotter

Computer art

Computer art is any art in which computers played a role in production or display of the artwork. Such art can be an image, sound, animation, video, CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, videogame, web site, algorithm, performance or gallery installation. Many traditional disciplines are now integrating digital technologies and, as a result, the lines between traditional works of art and new media works created using computers has been blurred. For instance, an artist may combine traditional painting with algorithm art and other digital techniques. As a result, defining computer art by its end product can thus be difficult. Nevertheless, this type of art is beginning to appear in art museum exhibits. Notable artists in this vein include James Faure Walker, Joseph Nechvatal, Matthias Groebel, George Grie, and John Lansdown.

Computer art is by its nature evolutionary since changes in technology and software directly effect what is possible. The most recent evolution of computer art where the computer is allowed to create the art uses the evolutionary computing and swarm principles. However, many of the pioneers of the genre disagree with the idea of considering this type of output a form of art. Italian artist Aldo Giorgini, one of the trailblazers who fought for the recognition of computer art as a valid art form said in a 1974 interview that "serendipitous or accidental computer art is not to be considered a valid art form," albeit that it "can serve as an exploratory device or as a source of ideas." To further reinforce the point, Giorgini states that "using a 'canned' program is like choosing one work from 100 paintings in a gallery, and then calling it your own."


By the mid-1960s, most individuals involved in the creation of computer art were in fact engineers and scientists because they had access to the only computing resources available at university scientific research labs. Many artists tentatively began to explore the emerging computing technology for use as a creative tool. In 1961, Dr. A. Michael Noll, an early pioneer in the use of computers in the visual arts, spent nearly fifteen years performing research at Bell Telephone Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey. His computer-generated patterns simulating paintings by Piet Mondrian and Bridget Riley have become classics.

Computer art dates back to at least 1960, with the invention of the Henry Drawing Machine by Desmond Paul Henry. His work was shown at the Reid Gallery in London in 1962, after his machine-generated art won him the privilege of a one-man exhibition. In 1963 Joan Shogren of San Jose State University wrote a computer program based on artistic principles, resulting in an early public showing of computer art in San Jose, California on May 6, 1963.

The first two exhibitions of computer art, both held in 1965- Computer-Generated Pictures at the Howard Wise Gallery in New York, and Generative Computergrafik at the Technische Hochschule in Stuttgart, Germany- featured work by Dr. Noll and other scientists.

In 1968, the Institute of Contemporary Arts(ICA) in London hosted one of the most influential early exhibitions of computer art- Cybernetic Serendipity. The exhibition included many of whom often regarded as the first true digital artist, Nam June Paik, Freider Nake, John Whitney, and Charles Csuri.. In the same year the Computer Arts Society was founded, also in London.

Katherine Nash and Richard Williams published Computer Program for Artists: ART 1 in 1970. Xerox Corporation’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) designed the first Graphical User Interface (GUI) in the 1970s. The first Macintosh computer is released in 1984, since then the GUI became popular. Many graphic designers quickly accepted its capacity as a creative tool.

Output devices

The early technology restricted the output and print results. Early machines used pen-and-ink plotters to produce basic hard copy. In 1970s, the dot matrix printer much like a typewriter is used to reproduce varied fonts and arbitrary graphics. The first animations were created by plotting all still frames of the movie sequentially on a stack of paper, with the motion transferring to 16-mm film and projected. During 1970s and 1980s, dot matrix printers produced most of the visual output while microfilm plotter produced most of the early animation.

Until 1976, the inkjet printer was invented with the use of personal computers. Inkjet printer is now the cheapest and most versatile option of everyday digital color output. RasterImage Processing (RIP) built into the printer or supplied as a software package for your computer is required to achieve the beset quality output. Basic inkjet devices don't have a RIP, thus relying on the graphic software to rasterize images. Laser printer, though more expensive than inkjets, is another affordable output device.

Graphic software

Adobe Systems, founded in 1982, developed the Postscript language and digital fonts, making drawing painting and image manipulation software popular. Adobe Illustrator, a vector drawing program based on the Bezier curve introduced in 1987 and Adobe Photoshop, written by brothers Thomas and John Knoll in 1990 were solely for the use of Mac.

See also


Congress, exhibitions and promotion

  • Computer Art Congress [CAC.2: Mexico, March 26 - 28, 2008], organized by and held at Tecnológico de Monterrey Campus Toluca and Campus Estado de México. Chairs: Khaldoun Zreik and Everardo Reyes García. Exhibition at: Museum of Modern Art, Toluca City, Mexico.
  • Ars Electronica


Further reading

External links

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