<< preface

this blog is nina wenhart's collection of resources on the various histories of new media art. it consists mainly of non or very little edited material i found flaneuring on the net, sometimes with my own annotations and comments, sometimes it's also textparts i retyped from books that are out of print.

it is also meant to be an additional resource of information and recommended reading for my students of the prehystories of new media class that i teach at the school of the art institute of chicago in fall 2008.

the focus is on the time period from the beginning of the 20th century up to today.

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>> Manfred Mohr

Manfred Mohr was the last winner of the Golden Nica in the category of computer graphics of th Prx Ars Electronica (1993)

For a long time now, Mohr has focused his work on the cube and hypercube.

Mohr on his work P-411-A which was the Golden Nica in 1990:
"P-411-A" by Manfred Mohr is an algorithmic composition. As the result of a process the actual image is created with the help of parametric rules.

In my artistic development I did not have the typical constructivist background. I was an action painter
and a jazz musician. Through a development of my consciousness, I detached myself from spontaneous expressions and turned myself to a more constructivist and, therefore, geometric expression (1964).

Beyond this, my art develope
d into an algorythmic art in which inventing rules(algorythms) are the starting point and basis of my research. The "compositional rules" are not necessarily based on already imaginable forms, but on abstract and systematic processes. My rules are parametric rules, which means that at certain points in the process, conditions have to be set for which,in some cases, random choices can be implemented.

In my work, similar to a journey, only the starting point and a theoretical destination are known. What happens during the journey is often unexpected and surprising. Even though my work process is rational and systematic, as well ascontrolled by visual criteria at all times, it is always open to surprises. With such parametric rules, the actual image is created as the result of aprocess.

Since 1973, in my research, I have been concentrating on fracturing the symmetry of a cube, without questioning the structure of the cube as a "system." This disturbance or disintegration of symmetry is the basic generator of new constructions and relationships. What I am interested in are the two-dimensional signs ("êtres graphiques") resulting from the projection of the lines of a cube. I describe them as unstable signs because they evoke visual unrest.

My art is not a mathematical art, but an expression of my artistic experiences. I invent rules which reflect my thinking and feelings. These algorithms can become very complex, that is to say complicated and difficult to survey. In order to master this
problem, the use of a computer is necessary in my work. Only in this way is it possible to cover as many rules as necessary withoutlosing control. It is inevitable that the results - that is my images - are not visible at first glance. The information is deeply buried, and a certain participation is demanded on the part of the spectator; a willingness to question the material.

In principal, all my work can be verified and rationally understood. However, this does not mean that there is no room for associations and imagination. On the
contrary, the rational part of my work is limited, basically to it's production.What one experiences, understands, learns, dreams ... or interprets, because of the presence of the work of art, rests solely on the mind of the spectator. A work of art is only a starting point, a principle of order, an artist's statement, intended to provoke the spectator to continue his / her investigations.

Technical Background

HW: PDP 11/23
SW: Eigene"

«This work phase (1978-79) is based on the four-dimensional hyper-cube. In this work the graph of a hyper-cube is the basic generator of signs. This graph is a two-dimensional representation of the hyper-cube, indicating relationships between points, lines, squares and cubes, inherent in this structure. A global structure is generated either by combinatorially selecting lines from the cube or by showing connecting paths between 2 given diagonally opposite points on the graph (diagonals). A 4-d hyper-cube has 8 pairs of diagonally opposite points. A “diagonal-path” is the connection of 2 such diametric points through the network of edges of this complex structure (there are 24 “diagonal-paths” for each of the 8 diagonals).»

"My early artistic work was influenced by atonal music, modern Jazz and abstract expressionism. The art of K.H. Sonderborg gave me a profound visual guidance and the understanding of Max Bense�s philosophy a unique direction. As a consequence, geometry and the reduction of my visual vocabulary to black and white as binary decisions, took more and more importance in my work after 1963."
With this work phase (1969-72), a logical and automatic construction of pictures is introduced into my work. For the first time algorithms (rules with a beginning and an ending) are used to calculate the images. My consequent thinking is rendered visible through computer programs I wrote. The resulting drawings were realized by a computer controlled drawing machine (plotter). With a choice of different line characteristics, an alphabet of arbitrary generated elements is created. Individual algorithms are invented for each work from which all forms and structures are solely generated. The algorithms are built from imposed as well as from random selection principles which I called "aesthetical-filters". " (from: www.emohr.com)

Manfred Mohr: "In my artistic development, I did not have the typical constructivist background. I was an action painter and jazz musician. Through a development of consciousness, I detached myself from spontaneous expressions and turned in the mid 1960s, to a more systematic and, therefore, geometric expression. It was mainly the writings of the German philosopher Max Bense and the French composer Pierre Barbaud that radically changed my thinking, pointing to a rational construction of art.

Since 1973, I have been concentrating on fracturing the symmetry of a cube (including since 1978, n-dimensional hypercubes), using the structure of the cube as a "system" and "alphabet." The disturbance or disintegration of symmetry is the basic generator of new constructions and relation-ships. The computer became a physical and intellectual extension in the process of creating my art. I write computer algorithms: rules that calculate and then generate the work, which could not be realized in any other way. It is not necessarily the system or the logic I want to present in my work, but the visual invention that results from it. My artistic goal is reached when a finished work can visually dissociate itself from its logical content and convincingly stand as an inde-pendent abstract entity.

Over the past two decades I have had many solo and group-shows in galleries and museums worldwide. In 1994, the first comprehensive monograph on my work was published by Waser-Verlag (ISBN 3-908080-39-8) in Zuumlrich."

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... is a Media Art historian and independent researcher. She is currently writing on "speculative archiving && experimental preservation of Media Art" and graduated from Prof. Oliver Grau's Media Art Histories program at the Danube University in Krems, Austria with a Master Thesis on Descriptive Metadata for Media Arts. For many years, she has been working in the field of archiving/documenting Media Art, recently at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Media.Art.Research and before as the head of the Ars Electronica Futurelab's videostudio, where she created their archives and primarily worked with the archival material. She was teaching the Prehystories of New Media Class at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and in the Media Art Histories program at the Danube University Krems.