IASLonline NetArt: Theory
History of Computer Art
III. Information Aesthetics
III.2 Computer Graphics
The early use of mainframe computers to generate texts
(see chap.III.1) provides us with one prehistory of computer graphics
(see chap. III.2.2). The other prehistory contains artistic uses of cathode
ray oscillographs being applied as control display in electrical engineering
and as output medium of analogue computers.
Laposky, Benjamin Francis: Oscillon
Number Four, 1950, photo of an oscillograph´s screen.
Since 1950 Benjamin Francis Laposky photographed the screen of his modified
oscillograph combined, among others, with a sinus wave generator. The
elimited amount of the oscillograph´s wave forms was expanded by
Laposky adding "other electrical and electronic circuits...to create
the almost infinite variety of forms." Laposky drew a connection
between his "electronic abstractions" 1 and
The relationship of the oscillons to computer art is that the basic waveforms are analogue curves of the type used in analogue computer systems. 2
Franke, Herbert W.: Oscillograms,
1956, photos of an oscillograph´s screen.
Franke, Herbert W./Raimann, Franz: Analog devices to
be connected with an oscilloscope. Photographed in 8/13/2014 in Puppling
nearby Egling/Bavaria. Photo: Thomas Dreher.
In 1955/56 Herbert W. Franke produced
"pendulum oscillograms" ("Pendeloszillogramme") in
moving a Contaflex mirror reflex camera before the screen of an oscillograph
presenting curves. For the production of these curves Franz Raimann constructed
"an analogue calculation system" for Franke "...being capable
to mark out the elementary curves...It was possible to adjust different
kinds of overlay [of complicated curves] in real time on a mixing console."
3 With the mixing console modifications of the electron
beam´s motion along the horizontal and vertical axes were possible.
In oscillosgraphs a horizontal base line motion is usually deviated vertically.
Raimann´s analog calculation system offered possibilities to control
movements along the horizontal and vertical axis depending on the time
Franke utilises a calculator constructed for his purposes similar to
Schöffer who integrated into "CYSP I" (1956, see chap.
II.3.1.2) a little computer built for him by Philips before the production
of minicomputers started in the sixties. As Schöffer installed a
small computer custom-made by Philips in "CYSP I" (1956, see
chap. II.3.1.2) before the minicomputers became available in the sixties,
so Franke used a small computer custom-made for his needs. This computer
was connected with an oscillograph "producing only thick drawn lines
on a screen with a diameter of only 5 centimeters. To be able to receive
viable images at all, I experimented with different procedures, but I
obtained the best results when I moved the camera with open aperture in
a darkened room... before the screen. To obtain a regular movement I mounted
the camera at a cord like a pendulum in my first trials but the I finally
gained the best results when I moved the camera in my hands continuously
so I trained myself and learned to coordinate the adequate movements.
The images show the overlaps of curves as a grid-like structure, often
with spatial visual effects." 4 The curves being
produced in real time on the oscillograph´s screen were documented
by Franke not simply as photographic reproductions, but he obtained structures
with visual depth effects in moving the camera with an open aperture.
The restrictions for the organization of forms caused by the "thick
drawin lines", as they were presented on his oscilloscope´s
screen, were transgressed by the artist in moving the camera at varying
distances from the screen: Closely following lines and superimpositions
Fuchshuber, Roland K.: Left: Rocker, 1960, plotter
Right: Polstelle, 1960, plotter drawing.
In 1960 Roland K. Fuchshuber became a member of the
founding commission of the Centre Européen de Traitement de l´Information
Scientifique (CETIS). At Euratom (European Atomic Energy Community) in
Brussels and Ispra (Italy) Fuchshuber started to produce graphics with
PACE analogue computers constructed by Electronic Associates Incorporated
(EAI). The "distortion factor of an amplifier" influenced the
course of parallel curved lines documented as plotter drawings. 5
Alsleben, Kurd/Passow, Cord: Computergrafik 4, 1960,
plotter drawing (Alsleben: Redundanz 1962, p.52, ill.d).
In 1960/61 the artist Kurd Alsleben and the physicist
Cord Passow used an analogue computer (EAI
231 R) of the Deutsche Elektronen Synchotron (DESY) in Hamburg to
produce waves printed in horizontal rows above each other as well as overlapping.
Five computer graphics produced as plotter drawings document results of
computing processes. One of these prints presents four horizontal rows.
Each row is constituted by two overlapping wave lines. "Parameter
shifts" determining the course of the wave lines were produced by
III.2.2 Digital Computer Graphics
An analogue computer offered patchboards and potentiometers
for manipulations of the computing processes in real time, in contrast
to the digital mainframe computers used by Béla Julesz, A. Michael
Noll (since 1962), Frieder Nake (since 1963) and Georg Nees (since 1964)
allowing only to control the results printed by plotters after the computing
processes worked out the instructions (that had to be installed via punchcards
or magnetic storage units). FORTRAN or ALGOL, the higher programming languages
for compilers, are used for the coding of instructions. Compilers translate
programming languages into machine language. Since a few years before
the artists mentioned above started to work with digital mainframe computers
the first compilers simplified the programming. 7 Before
the integration of compilers programming was only possible in machine
In the sixties A. Michael Noll,
Nake created pioneer works of computer graphics. Their procedures
are based on the early computer literature presented in chapter III.1,
especially on the works of Christopher Strachey (see chap. III.1.2) and
Theo Lutz (see chap. III.1.3):
- a. the selection of a few elements to be stored in a database,
- b. a syntax to combine the elements,
- c. a random generator,
- d. a determination of the frequency defining how often the
program can select the elements.
If visual elements are used as basic elements instead of textual signs
then the artistic production is transformed to the creation of structures
that shouldn´t be neither too simple nor too complex for the visual
perception of the whole field as well as for the relations between single
elements, as information aesthetics articulated the goal of artistic creation
by defining the best relation between order and information for an aesthetic
experience. In computer graphics the following modifications of the procedures
developed in computer literature can be found:
- ad a. The word database is substituted by elements mostly
lines constructed by the computing processes executing the instructions
of the program (f.e. lines connecting points).
- ad b. The position and the length of basic elements vary with
the combinatory manner replacing the textual structure of left to right
relations (from word to word) and up-down differentiations (from line
to line) by an organisation of the whole plane. The structure of text
lines is substituted by a visual arrangement in zones within which the
program starts again.
- ad c. Because the random generator has its effects not only
in the selection of elements but in the modification of the combinatory
method from zone to zone, the spectrum of variations determines the
- ad d. The limitation of the selection frequency
concerns not only the selection of elements but the combinatory method,
too, with consequences for the visual effect of the work in its totality,
not only for some sentences within an ensemble of sentences. The readability
of sentences and/or lines of a text is substituted by the relations
between the programmed structure of the plane and the optical effect
of the overall view. 8
Before early examples of digital computer graphics fulfilling the criteria
mentioned above will be explained a short ouline of the goals of information
aesthetics is presented because they influenced especially Georg Nees
and Frieder Nake.
core subject of information aesthetics are the relations between the structure
of a program and the visual perception of its presentation. Max Bense
and Abraham Moles define the "aesthetic measure" by exploring
the best possible relation between the "complexity" of the visual
"information" and the "orderliness" ("redundancy")
that can be recognized in the process of perceiving the work: Bense determines
the aesthetic measure in using George David Birkhoff´s definition
as `order divided by complexity´ ("Birkhoff´s quotient").
9 In contrary Moles refers to empirical investigations
in his argument for the `multiplication order by complexity´. 10
Shannon´s "statistic information" provides the basis
for this numerical definition of the "aesthetic measure". 11
It presupposes precise knowledge of the number of used elements ("sign
repertoire") and the possibilities to combine them. 12
That´s why concrete-serial and programmed art offer model cases
for information aesthetics.
Bense in art improbable orders are realised by the "elimination of
the avoidable" and the "reduction of redundancy". 13
Meanwhile Bense discusses characteristics of art works, Moles thematises
their perception. In Moles´ reflections the receiver´s "limit
of apperception" and its dependency on the observer´s previous
knowledge are dominant subjects. If the visual complexity is above the
"limit of apperception" then there is no order recognizable.
That´s why this limit should not be transgressed. 14
Thus, a certain amount of redundancy is inevitable. Contrary to John Cage´s
non-normative aesthetics of simultaneous chance operations 15
the information theory explicates an objectifiable aesthetic goal: For
aesthetic factors it defines the best relation between information and
Götz, Karl Otto: Statistic-metric Trial 4:2:2:1,
concept Summer 1959, realisation with pencil and felt pen on cardboard
1960. Photo: Kukulies. Collection
Etzold. Städtisches Museum Abteiberg. Mönchengladbach (Kersting:
Sammlung Etzold 1986, p.206).
In the fifties Karl Otto Götz became known as an informal painter
and as a member of the artists´ group Quadriga. From 1959 to 1961
Goetz experimented in "statistic-metric modulations" with grids
filled with black and white rectangles. These "modulations"
were still carried out manually.
Karl Otto Götz before Density 10:3:2:1, 1961,
felt pen and tusche on Bristol cardboards, mounted on canvas (Götz:
Erinnerungen 1983, p.900, ill.1016).
In "Density 10:3:2:1" (1961) Götz divides the "image
area (200 x 260 cm)" in "16 super zones" and subdivides
them in "16 big zones" of equal size. He determines the frequency
of the black rectangles (in relation to the "2 brightness degrees"
black and white) in the four "density degrees" indicated by
the title. The basic unit is a grid with four by four rectangles (16 big
zones", each with 16 "little zones"). One of these 16 rectangles
is white (density degree "very bright") and 10 rectangles are
black (density degree "dark"). In relation to the density degrees
between black and white rectangles are 2 rectangles brighter ("lower
density") and 3 rectangles darker ("middle density"). The
title "Density 10:3:2:1" designates 10 times the density degree
"dark", 3 times "middle density", two times "lower
density" and one times the density degree "very bright".
Götz, Karl Otto: Density 10:3:2:1, sketch, 1961,
division of the image´s surface in super zones with four density
degrees (Götz: Malerei 1961, p.14).
Götz visualises the realisation of the four density degrees with
a grid of 2 by 3 squares: From these six squares with increasing density
no field ("very bright"), one field ("low density"),
three ("middle density") and five fields ("dark")
are filled with black colour. The brighter or darker appearances of the
grids are a result of a number of black or white elements being distributed
randomly: "statistic relations between quantities".
Götz, Karl Otto: Density 10:3:2:1, sketch, 1961,
little zones with four denstiy degrees: D = dark, M = middle density,
H = low density, sH = very bright (Götz: Malerei 1961, p.23).
The 16 x 16 (=256) big zones distributed on 16 super zones constitute
a plane provoking the eye to slide between the zones with different amounts
of black and white elements, and to look for visual cues at prominent,
particularly dense black or white fields. The partition in "big zones"
is recognizable at horizontal and vertical break lines between zones with
dominant black squares on one side and dominant white squares on the other
Students work out at home their area on "pre-rasterised drawing
cardboards" with felt pen and tusche. Then the grid image was "put
together by mounting the cardboards" prepared in labor division "on
canvas". The realised "ca. 400.000 image points (elements)"
constitute a "model image" that could be realised as an "electronic
television image". The two "brightness degrees" of Götz´s
"model images" could be substituted by the "ca. 40 brightness
degrees" of the television image with "450.000 image points".
In 1960 Götz tried to persuade Siemens to realise his "grid
images" but failed. In 1962 the film "Density 10:2:2:1"
(8 mm) was produced by combining photographed permutations of parts of
the "grid image" as shots. Intertitles indicate which grid elements
"basic units in little zones", "little zones",
"big zones" have been replaced from shot to shot. Götz
photographed these permutations. The photographs constitute the shots
of the film. The sequences of shots presenting the raster permutations
are brought into motion by the projection of the film and provoke the
impression of a flickering image. The permutations proceed from the smallest
"units" to the "big zones", and the changes become
recognisable in the course of seeing longer phases of the nearly three
minutes lasting film.
Götz, Karl Otto: Density
10:2:2:1, 1962, film (8 mm) in Vimeo
(Claus: Zeitalter 2008).
Götz calculated the "information content"
("Informationsgehalt") of his images. Concerning the observers´
problems to recognize order in the connections between the rectangles
of the "statistic-metric modulation" it is no surprise that
a high "total information content" ("Gesamtinformationsgehalt")
and few "redundancy" have been the result of his calculations.
Götz pursued "information theoretical observation" and
investigations of "gestalt psychological values" as separate
fields of study. 16
Götz anticipates algorithms of digital computer graphics in a still
manual realisation: The reduction of the realisation process to a few
elements, the combination rules and the selection possibilities limited
by rules based on criteria of frequency are aspects of information aesthetics
that recur in later computer graphics.
In 1956 the electronics engineer Béla Julesz
obtained a doctorate from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. After the
army of Soviet Union invaded Hungary, Julesz emigrated to the U.S.A. Several
weeks after his arrival the Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill/New Jersey
affiliated Julesz to their technical research team. 17
Julesz, Béla: Stereopsis, 1959, plotter drawing.
In 1960 Julesz
published his investigations of the "Binocular Depth Perception of
Computer-Generated Patterns" in "The Bell System Technical Journal".
This issue of the "Technical Journal" contained glasses to observe
the random dot stereograms illustrating Julesz´s contribution: These
glasses anticipate LCD shutter glasses. 18 Pro stereogram
a mainframe computer IBM
704 (1954-60) calculated images with 10.000 points. A pseudo-random
generator distributed 16 brightness degrees. 19 The
rectangles, printed and published beside each other, had the same random
distribution of points except specific divergences in their middle zones:
Within each of the rectangles an identical square field was displaced
to the left and to the right ("parallax shift"). The deviations
concern a displaced square zone and its environments. 20
This "parallax shift" provoked in the binocular perception with
glasses a three-dimensional effect, nevertheless no features of the images
suggest a resolution by visual patterns for three-dimensional objects.
Julesz, Béla: Depth perception by monocular
and binocular pattern recognition, 1960 (Julesz: Depth Perception 1960,
identifies a genuine "binocular pattern recognition" without
presupposing a "monocultural pattern recognition": The binocular
pattern recognition follows its own rules. 21 Depth
perception can arise not only on the basis of "binocular pattern
recognition" but as a "combination of binocular and monocular
pattern recognition", too: "Monocular macropattern recognition"
intensifies the depth effect. 22 Julesz´ investigations
of the "cyclopic perception" demonstrate that the depth perception
combines visual patterns recognizable with one eye and binocular visual
patterns. Julesz´s investigations had consequences for the perceptual
psychology, the cognition research and the development of autostereograms
with only one image. 23 In 1965 Julesz´s perceptual
experiments were exhibited together with A. Michael Noll´s computer
graphics in the Howard Wise Gallery in New York. 24
In 1961 A. Michael Noll completed his studies at
the Newark College of Engineering with the B.S.E.E. (Bachelor of Science
in Electrical Engineering). From 1961 to 1971 he worked in a department
for telephone transmissions at the Bell Laboratories (Murray Hill/New
In Summer 1962 Noll programmed
"Patterns" in FORTRAN and produced them with an IBM
7090 (since 1959) of the Bell Labs. Noll didn´t want that they
may be understood as "`true art´". 26
A Stromberg Carlson 4020 Microfilm-Plotter presented the results of the
computing processes on a cathode ray tube as configurations of electrons.
The computing processes lead to the production of images on the screen
via a "Decoder and Command Generator". Noll´s FORTRAN
code included instructions for the microfilm plotter to start further
"subroutines". The resulting image on the screen was photographed
and the 35mm negative was "multiplied by photo printing in different
The computer was instructed to produce lines as connections between points
located by a "White Noise Generator". A combination of lines
in different length constituted a jagged line.
Noll, A. Michael: Left: Pattern Three, 1962, photo
Right: Pattern Four, 1962, photo print (Noll: Patterns 1962, unpaginated).
Noll programmed the point clouds on the jagged lines
in "Pattern One", "Two" and "Three" around
a central point. In "Pattern Four" and "Pattern Five"
points with values calculated by random procedures for x- and y-axes served
for the localisation of lines: These points are "alternately repeated
to make the lines horizontal und vertical." The line connecting all
points changes its direction exclusively at right angles. In "Pattern
Four" are both ends of the line recognizable within fields marked
by this line. 28
In "Gaussian Quadratic" (1962/63) Noll distributes 100 points
on the horizontal and vertical axis following different criteria: The
localisation in the horizontal axis follows the Normal-
or Gaussian distribution, meanwhile the vertical localisation is calculated
based on an equation:
The vertical position increase quadratically, i.e., the first point has a vertical position from the bottom of the picture given by 12 + 5x1, the second point 22 + 5x2, the third point 32 + 5x3, etc. 29
To avoid points located outside the determined size of the work´s
area the distribution on the vertical axe at the top edge of the frame
was mirrored at the bottom. The Gaussian distribution on the horizontal
axis follows the standard normal distribution. The connections of the
points constitute 99 lines crossing each other several times in a vertical
midfield. These lines form a jagged line with accidental direction changes
and some remarkable deflections on the horizontal axis. The jagged line
appears as a vertical formation that balances on the lowest horizontal
line serving as a base.
Noll, A. Michael: Gaussian Quadratic, 1962/63, photo
In "Gaussian Quadratic" Noll follows the
strategy of a line´s accidental direction changes that he used in
many other of his "Patterns", too. He expands the algorithmic
criteria in "Gaussian Quadratic" in a way that the relations
between order and chance in its configuration of lines provoke a perception
searching for the "aesthetic measure" more than the "Patterns".
realised by Noll in 1962 are designated by Frieder Nake as "polygon
moves" ("Polygonzüge"). 31 In December
1964 "polygon moves" programmed by Georg Nees were published
in issue 3/4 of the "Grundlagenstudien aus Kybernetik und Geisteswissenschaft"
("Basic Studies in Cybernetics and Humanities"). 32
The instructions written in ALGOL ran on a mainframe computer Siemens
2002 (1959-66). A Zuse
Z64 Graphomat printed the results.
Nees, Georg: 23-Ecke, 1964, plotter drawing (Nees:
Grundlagenstudien 1964, p.124, ill. 2).
The polygon moves occur several times next to each other and one below
the other. The algorithm starts anew in fields respectively "matrices"
33 and determines via random generator the distribution
of consecutive lines. The number of lines is defined by the program.
Nees, Georg: Untitled (Micro Innovation), 1967, plotter
drawing (Nees: Computergraphik 2006, p.222, ill. 31).
In a series of computer graphics
realised between 1965 and 1968 Nees defines how far the "polygon
moves" can transgress the fields within which the program restarts
the configuration of lines. 34 Because the distances
between the "matrices" are short the transgressing polygon moves
interpenetrate each other. At a quick glance they appear as a complex
snarl of lines. 35 The structure of a snarl with lines
crossing each other tilted and rectangular can be recognised only by a
closer examination at a short distance, in a reconstruction of the relations
between the line configurations. In a total view zones of denser superimpositions
and dominating directions of lines across several zones attract the attention.
In Nees´ works the observation
of relations oscillates from work to work in different manners between
a complexity by plurality (via the division in "matrices" and
the superimpositions of line configurations) and a simplicity provoked
by the structuring process of the perception for the whole field. 36
The graphics of Georg Nees can be seen as models for an investigation
of the problem how "order and complexity" 37
can be mediated to obtain a better "aesthetic measure".
similarities and repetitions to simplify the formation of visual schemata
in terms of information theory: to enable the recognition of order
via redundancy (as a return of the same) observers refocus a print´s
surface several times. Nees calls this process a "gradation of the
type heap-variation-gestalt" ("Gradation vom Typus HaufenVariationGestalt").
38 The "micro-aesthetics" of the produced
object determined by the "creation of texture by overlapping"
39 and the "macro-aesthetics"
as a cognitive restructuring by the use of schemata in the process of
seeing constitute inter-related levels: "Gestalts are aesthetic
information units with a local and distal nexus." ("Gestalten
sind ästhetische Informationseinheiten mit Lokal- und Distalnexus.")
Nake, Frieder: Random Polygon Move, 1963, plotter drawing,
10 x 10 cm (Nake: Ästhetik 1974, p.19, ill.5.2-7)/1964, plotter drawing,
15,5 x 11,5 cm (Herzogenrath/Nierhoff-Wielk: Machina 2007, p.424, nr.259).
Since 1963/64 Frieder Nake developed the translation
program Compart ER 56 in the machine language to control via the mainframe
computer Standard Electric Lorenz (SEL) ER 65 (since 1959) the drawing
Z64 Graphomat bought by the Computer Centre Stuttgart shortly before.
In 1963 Nake used his program to create "random polygon moves"
with lines connecting points located by a "pseudo random generator".
Nake realised his works after Noll´s "polygon moves" and
evidently before Nees´ works with such combinations of lines. 41
Nake, Frieder: Walk-Through-Rasters, 1966, six modes
(Nake: Ästhetik 1974, p.229, ill. 5.5-1).
In 1966 Nake developed the program "walk-through-raster" in
"ALGOL60 (with some assembler-sub-programs)". A punch tape contained
the instructions for a Telefunken
TR4 (since 1962) of the Stuttgart University. The results were printed
by a Zuse Z64 Graphomat.
Nake, Frieder: Walk-Through-Raster, 1966, diagram of
the tree structure (Nake: Ästhetik 1974, p.235, ill. 5.5-4).
program selected signs from a repertoire depending on "the last chosen
sign". As explained by Nake, the program simulated a "short
memory". 42 The program exchanged the signs at
specified positions. The exchange is determined by programmed "transition
43 The program stepped in one of "six modes"
44 through a field divided in rectangles and decided
where which kind of transition will be computed. The decision procedures
can be illustrated as tree structures unfolding themselves in the horizontal
axis as well as in the "depth". 45
Nake, Frieder: Walk-Through-Raster, series 2.1, four
realisations, 1966, plotter drawings (Nake: Ästhetik 1974, p.236,
repertoire of the series "2.1" is constituted by vertical and
horizontal lines as well as by a blank field. For the "6 modes"
of the directions in which the computing process runs step by step across
the plane six variants with "defined repertoire and defined probabilities"
were created. 46 For the series "7.3" squares
marked by lines in different colours were selected. The squares were "remarkably
larger than the fields of the grid". The squares´ overlaps
constitute configurations described by Nake as a "destruction of
the basic repertoire" ("Zerstörung des Elementarrepertoires").
47 Nake refered in his description to Nee´s explanation
of the "destruction of the matrices´ arrangement" ("Zerstörung
der Matrizenanordnung"). 48
Nake, Frieder: Walk-Through-Raster, series 7.3, 1966,
plotter drawing in four colours (Nake: Ästhetik 1974, p.237, ill.
program was able to execute "a series of measurements following criteria
of information aesthetics" like "redundancy and information
values as well as distinguishing features and the surprise measure of
each sign" ("Redundanz und Informationsgehalt sowie Auffälligkeit
und Überraschungsmaß jedes Zeichens"). 49
To be able to integrate the measurements as a "selector" ("Selektor")
of the generated signs into the computing process, Nake installed in his
program "Generative Aesthetics I" a "preselector"
("Vorselektor") with statistic measures for the frequency of
colours. The "statistic preselector" could not differentiate
between pictures with the same frequency of colours. 50
The "topological selector´s" ("topologischer Selektor")
programming of the colour distribution on the plane used a frequencies´
measure, and it was based on the raster principle:
A probability distribution p=(p1,...,
pr) for r colours has to be determined for each image. These
colours should be distributed on the plane of the image. For the realisation
of this goal the plane will be divided in 4 equal rectangles and the whole
"mass" of each colour will be distributed on these 4 rectangles.
The process will be repeated for each of the rectangles etc., until a
lowest level that can´t obviously be deeper than the level of the
raster fields, but usually the goal will be realised earlier. 51
The "generator" combines the statistical
and topological preselection in procedures following each other comparable
to Marcow chains.
The output of a line printer presents the notations. The notation´s
signs contain the information, how little rectangular leaflets in four
colours should be distributed on the plane. In 1969 two examples were
realised on hardboards. 52
Nake, Frieder: Generative Aesthetics I, 1969. Left:
Experiment 6.22, coloured leaflets on hardboard. Right: print of a result
of the programmed computing process, Experiment 4.5a (Nake: Vergnügen
Aesthetics I" Nake realised an integration of frequency criteria
into the computing processes going further than earlier computer graphics.
In the book "Ästhetik der Informationsverarbeitung" ("Aesthetics
of Information Processing") Nake explains how to investigate relations
between the preselection and a selection following information theoretical
criteria of the "aesthetic measure":
Comparable to a physicist´s
method to formulate propositions on nature by controlled models in the
laboratory, an aesthetician is imaginable preparing and examining statements
on `art´ via controlled models in a laboratory (that still has to
be constructed). 53
In reply to Bense´s "Generative Aesthetics" 54
investigating the properties of realised works, Nake plans to offer
a programming making an "aesthetic description before the [experience
of a realised work as an] aesthetic reality is possible." 55
Information aesthetics inspired the development of
strategies to develop procedures of programming as a precondition for
the production of art. The problem of the "aesthetic measure"
has not lost its actuality: It reappears in the recourse of contemporary
Generative Art on cybernetic relations between chaos and order, as in
2003 Philip Galanter explained it in his lecture "What is Generative
Art? Complexity Theory as a Context for Art Theory". 56
Dr. Thomas Dreher
Homepage with numerous articles
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1 Laposky: Oscillons 1953, p.2. back
2 Laposky: Oscillons 1976. back
3 Franke/Nierhoff-Wielk: Ästhetik 2007, p.110 (quote);
Herzogenrath/Nierhoff-Wielk: Machina 2007, p.336,338, Nr.68s.; Piehler:
Anfänge 2002, p.149-152, unpaginated with ill.29s . back
4 Herbert W. Franke, e-Mail, 8/17/2015. There Franke
wrote about "the standard setting of an oscillograph": "With
this setting the electron beam moves back and forth on a base line...the
beam goes slowly (traceable with the eyes) from the left to the right
side and it jumps then back to the left side again. A horizontal line
at the bottom would arise. But the line is distorted by impulses of the
measuring process pointing to the y-[vertical] axis: The result is an
'image' of the alternating current´s course. If one modifies experimentally
the settings, then this will cause 'arbitrary' other images...I needed
the analog computer to produce curves z(x,y). The value z stands for the
luminance of the image on the screen. x and y are the coordinates [of
the horizontal and vertical axes] of an image point leaving behind traces
of light on the screen. The curve is produced as follows: The analog computer
processes two functions f1x(t) and f2y(t) depending on the time t physically
as two independent oscillations (by determining the forms with its frequencies
and being tunable as well as modifiable in real time)." back
5 Herzogenrath/Nierhoff-Wielk: Machina 2007, p.150,232,362s.,
nr.150s.; Nierhoff-Wielk: Machina 2007, p.28s. back
6 Untitled, 1960, plotter drawing. In: Alsleben: Redundanz
1962, p.52. with ill. d; Piehler: Anfänge 2000, p.204s., unpaginated
with ill.33; Rosen: Story 2008/2011, p.248.
On plotter drawings by Alsleben and Passow: Alsleben: Redundanz 1962,
p.51s.; Alsleben/Eske/Idensen: Aestheticus 2011, p.149ss.; Herzogenrath/Nierhoff-Wielk:
Machina 2007, p.65,234,297s.; Nierhoff-Wielk: Machina 2007. p.27s.; Piehler:
Anfänge 2000, p.203ss., unpaginated with ill. 33s.; Reichhardt: Serendipity
1968, p.94; Weiß: Netzkunst 2009, p.326ss. back
7 IBM delivered the first FORTRAN compiler since April
1957 (Without author: User Notes 1996-98). The Electrologica X1 compiler
(August 1960) by Edsger Wybe Dijkstra and Jaap A. Zonneveld is deemed
to be the first compiler for ALGOL60 (Daylight: Dijkstra 2010).
On plotters: Piehler: Anfänge 2000, p.177-180. back
8 In Gerhard Stickel´s "Autopoems" from
1965 the syntactical structures are selected by a random generator, too
(see chap. III.1.3), but the frequency of the access to each one of the
structures is not limited contrary to Lutz´s "stochastic
9 Bense: Aesthetica 1982, p.33s.,322s.,328s.,354f.;
Bense: Einführung 1965/1968, p.30-35; Bense: Einführung 1969,
p.43ss.,55s.; Bense: Informationstheorie 1963/2000, p.136; Birkhoff: Measure
10 Moles: Information 1965/1968, p.23; Moles: Art 1971,
11 Bense: Aesthetica 1982, p.212,325; Bense: Einführung
1965/1968, p.34; Shannon: Communication 1949, p.16. back
12 On the "aesthetic measure" discussed by
Birkhoff, Bense, Moles et al.: Nake: Ästhetik 1974, p.75ss,82ss.
13 Bense: Aesthetica 1982, p.147,211,214s.,217,223,225
14 Moles: Théorie 1971, p.170,180. back
15 Cage defines his random procedures as not determined
(Schulze: Spiel 2000, p.161-179), meanwhile the information aesthetics
start out from stochastics (see chap. II.1.2): The probability to select
an element via random procedure is already determined by the selection
of the elements and their possible combinations. Florian Cramer demonstrates
that Cage´s methods for chance operations don´t eliminate
determinations (Cramer: Statements 2011, p.199-202). back
16 Götz: Malerei 1961, p.14 with fig.1, p.23 (citations).
Cf. Götz: Erinnerungen 1983, p.899s.,902; Klütsch: Computergrafik
2007, p.148; Mehring: Television Art 2008, p.36.
Further examples of "Statistic-Metric Modulations" in: Beckstette:
Bildstörung 2009; Götz: Erinnerungen 1983, p.869-905; Kersting:
Sammlung Etzold 1986, p.206 (with four examples being planned in summer
1959 and realised in February 1960).
Precursors of an aleatoric configuration of squares: Kelly, Ellsworth:
Spectrum Colors Arranged by Chance I-VIII, 1951, collages made with coloured
papers. In: Bois/Cowart/Pacquement: Kelly 1992, p.42ss.,168ss.,192. Morellet,
François: Repartitions aléatoires, since 1958, oil or acryl
on canvas. In: Holeczek/Mengden: Zufall 1992, p.23,46s.,278-281. back
17 Julesz: Dialoge 1997, p.137. back
18 Kovács: Julesz 2007. back
19 Julesz: Depth Perception 1960, p.1127,1134. back
20 Julesz: Depth Perception 1960, p.1134s.; Noll: Beginnings
1994, p.39. back
21 Julesz: Depth Perception 1960, p.1128 with fig.2,
22 Julesz: Depth Perception 1960, p.1128 with fig.3,
23 Julesz: Foundations 1971; Kovács: Julesz
1997; Weibel: Konturen 1997, p.40f.
In 1979 Christopher W. Tyler developed "Autostereograms". The
visual depth effect of the "Random Dot Stereograms" anticipates
the depth effect that "Autostereograms" provoke by a single
image (Tyler/Clarke: Autostereogram 1990). back
24 Julesz: Dialoge 1997, p.138. back
25 Noll: Beginnings 1994, p.39. back
26 Noll: Patterns 1962, p.4. back
27 Herzogenrath/Nierhoff-Wielk: Machina 2007, p.445
(citation); Klütsch: Computergrafik 2007, p.166s.; Noll: Human 1966,
28 Noll: Patterns 1962, p.2s. back
29 Noll: Computers 1967, p.67. back
30 Davis: Art 1973, p.99; Herzogenrath/Nierhoff-Wielk:
Machina 2007, p.444ss., nr.356; Klütsch: Computergrafik 2007, p.167ss.;
Noll: Computers 1967, p.67; Piehler: Anfänge 2000, p.235f., unpaginated
with ill.46; Reichardt: Serendipity 1968, p.74; Rosen: Story 2008/2011,
Noll was not inspired by information aesthetics (Klütsch: Computergrafk
2007, p.165s.). Nevertheless his works offer models for discussions of
the "aesthetic measure". back
31 Nake: Ästhetik 1974, p.199. back
32 Nees: Variationen 1964. Cf. Nees: Computergraphik
1969/2006, p.XIs., ill.4; Nees: Künstliche Kunst 2005, unpaginated
with ill1s. back
33 Nees: Computergraphik 1969/2006, p.208. back
34 Nees: Computergraphik 1969/2006, p.208. back
35 Herzogenrath/Nierhoff-Wielk: Machina 2007, p.434s.,
nr. 309s.; 314, 317ss.; Nees: Computergraphik 1969/2006, p.216ss. und
222ss. with ill.28-33, p.231 with ill.36, p.244 and p.247f. with ill.39-41.
36 Nees: Computergraphik 1969/2006, p.27: "The
perception dependency of the image nexus..." ("Die Perzeptionsabhängigkeit
des Bildnexus..."). back
37 Nees: Computergraphik 1969/2006, p.29. Nees presents
on page 24 a longer citation of Max Bense´s differentiation between
"micro-aesthetics" ("orders [in the sense of orderliness]
and complexity") and "macro-aesthetics" ("redundancy
and information"), published in 1965 in part V of "Aesthetica"
(New in: Bense: Aesthetica 1982, p.334. Cf. Klütsch: Computergrafik
2007, p.67-71). back
38 Nees: Computergraphik 1969/2006, p.209. back
39 Nees: Computergraphik 1969/2006, p.220. back
40 Nees: Computergraphik 1969/2006, p.213. Cf. p.177
with a further citation from Bense´s "Aesthetica" (part
V of 1956. New in: Bense: Aesthetica 1982, p.142) on criteria to differentiate
between "micro-" and "macro-aesthetics" (see ann.37).
41 Nake, Frieder: Random Polygon Move, plotter drawing,
1963/64: Herzogenrath/Nierhoff-Wielk: Machina 2007, p.424, nr.259 (collection
Herbert W. Franke); Klütsch: Computergrafik 2007, p.131-139; Nake:
Ästhetik 1974, p.199s. with ill. 5.2-7. Nake presents an illustration
of the same "Random Polygon Move" that is a part of the collection
Franke (Kunsthalle Bremen), but with the date 1963 and the size 10 x 10
cm. Franke´s plotter drawing is combined with a history of its making:
It was realised in "6/7/64" with the program COMPART ER 56 and
the Zuse Graphomat Z64 (with the size 15,5 x 11,5 cm on a paper with the
size 21,1 x 15,1 cm). The program COMPART ER 56 was developed since 1964,
as it is noted by Nake: Ästhetik 1974, p.192 and Klütsch: Computergrafik
2007, p.132, but following Herzogenrath/Nierhoff-Wielk: Machina 2007,
p.236 it was developed since 1963.
Other early computer graphics: Electronic Associates Incorporated (EAI):
Stained Glass Window, 1963 (Herzogenrath/Nierhoff-Wielk: Machina 2007,
p.63,238 with ill.13, p.332, nr.66); Bäumer, Wolfgang: Untitled,
1963/64 (Herzogenrath/Nierhoff-Wielk: Machina 2007, p.94,309, nr.9s.);
Kawano, Hiroshi: Design 2-1 Markov Chain Pattern, 1964 (Rosen: Kawano
2011); Sumner, Lloyd: Eye´s Delight, 1964 (Dika: Computerkunst 2007,
p.75ss., ill.32). back
42 Nake: Ästhetik 1974, p.229. back
43 Nake: Ästhetik 1974, p.232. back
44 Nake: Ästhetik 1974, p.229. back
45 Nake: Ästhetik 1974, p.235. back
46 Herzogenrath/Nierhoff-Wielk: Machina 2007, p.426,
nr.267; Klütsch: Computergrafik 2007, p.152ss.; Nake: Ästhetik
1974, p.236s. with ill.5.5-5; Rödiger: Algorithmik 2003, p.98,134,141,164.
47 Herzogenrath/Nierhoff-Wielk: Machina 2007, p.426f.,
nr.268,271,273; Nake: Ästhetik 1974, p.237s. with ill. 5.5-6. back
48 Nake: Ästhetik 1974, p.241; Nees: Computergrafik
1969/2006, p.208s. back
49 Nake: Ästhetik 1974, p.236,262. back
50 Nake: Ästhetik 1974, p.263. In 1970 Nake presented
"Generative Aesthetics I" for the first time at the symposium
"Computer Graphics 70" in Uxbridge (Nake: Generative Aesthetics
51 Nake: Ästhetik 1974, p.264-271. back
52 Nake: Ästhetik 1974, p.273-276 with ill.5.8-7, 5.8-8
(with examples of 1969 for notations and realisations with coloured little
sheets). The preselectors "have been implemented in PL/I at the university
of Toronto in 1969 on an IBM
360-65 since November 1965] " (ibid., S.273). Nake: Brief 1973,
p.225: "Only two examples were realised by hand, because I wanted
to produce works in seizes greater than the seizes that were realisable
with plotter drawings." Cf. Klütsch: Computergrafik 2007, p.155-158
with ill.33ss. back
53 Nake: Ästhetik 1974, p.277. back
54 Bense: Aesthetica 1982, p.333-338. back
55 Nake: Ästhetik 1974, p.277. back
56 Galanter: Generative Art 2003 refering to Moles:
Théorie 1958. back
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