<< 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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>> A. Michael Noll, Computer Composition with Lines, 1964

Jasia Reichardt in "The Computer in Art", 1971:

"A. Michael Noll, member of the research staff at Bell Telephone Laboratories, having made one attempt of collaboration with an artist was discouraged to find that the artist had difficulties in verbalizing what he wanted to do.
Noll got involved in computer art by accident when his microfilm plotter went wrong and produced an unusual linear desgin. He became sufficiently interested in the possibilities of computer graphics to have taken part, together with Bela Julesz, in the first ever documented exhibiton of computer graphics at the Howard Wise Gallery in New York, in April 1965. Noll's graphics, which eventually developed into stereo pairs, his films, including an animated choreography with stick figures, and his studies on the 1917 'Plus and Minus' Mondrian drawing were thought of by him as exploratory experiments. They were intended to interest artists in the new capabilities of the computer but he himself had expressed no desire to seriously make computer art himself.
Noll points out the computer could be used to great advantage for producing the sort of art which, like Op Art, has a mathematical component, or which, like permutational or serial art, depends on the making of versions based on set parameters. Noll is one of the few people involved in computer art from the technological end who has always claimed that the roles of the artist and the egnineer are not only not interchangeable, but beyond making his techniques available and accessible, the engineer had no role in the area of creative activity generally called art. Pioneer, nevertheless, in the field of computer generated art, Noll has been one of the most articulate exponents on the subject. He gave a good example of the way in which, in computer art, order and randomness can be combined:

'Thecomputer was programmed to generate its vision of Richard Lippold's sculpture 'Orpheus and Apollo' which hangs in the lobby of the New York City's Philharmonic Hall. This work consists of long flat platesof brass that havebeen hung from the ceiling by thin wires. For all practical purposes, the plates can be represented by single straight lines. When Lippold's work is so visualized, it becomes possible to describe the sculpture in terms of imaginary trend lines about which the bars have been placed. The computer approach was to specify each trend line by giving the coordinates of its end points, and the cmputer then distributed lines randomly about this trend line, and also had random angular positions in space. In the result, a total of six such trend lines is used.
The three-dimensional projection program has the flexibility of specifying any viewing position. In this way it is possible to obtain views of a computer sculpture from any specified position without the necessity of actually constructing the sculpture. The facility should be valuable in visualizing complicated sculptures before the expense of final construction.

--> experiments, exploring
--> simulation
--> artists vs engineers

Piet Mondrian's work "Composition with Lines", 1917:

A. Michael Noll's website: http://www.citi.columbia.edu/amnoll/CompArtExamples.html

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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.