Generative Art Recoded

“The computer may be potentially as valuable a tool to the arts as it has already proven itself to be in the sciences” Michael Noll

  1. start from the original artwork;
  2. reverse engineer the code;
  3. match the outcomes of the code with the original artwork and possibly tune the code accordingly;
  4. tweak the code to obtain derivative versions of the original.

Schotter (Gravel), Georg Nees, 1968

Schotter (Gravel), Georg Nees, 1968. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Along with a number of other practitioners working at this time, Nees was interested in the relationship between order and disorder in picture composition. Here he introduced random variables into the computer program, causing the orderly squares to descend into chaos.

Schotter (recoded from original in Processing), hex6c, 2020.
Schotter (Take I), hex6c, 2020. SuperRare
Schotter (Take II), hex6c, 2020. SuperRare
Schotter (Take III), hex6c, 2020. SuperRare
Schotter (Take IV), hex6c, 2020. SuperRare
Schotter (Processing code), hex6c, 2020.

Computer Composition With Lines, Michael Noll, 1964

Composition With Lines, Piet Mondrian, 1917. © Rijkmuseum Kröller-Müller
Computer Composition With Lines, Michael Noll, 1964. In association with an IBM 7094 digital computer and a General, Dynamics SC-4020 microfilm plotter. © A. Michael Noll 1965

Digital computers perform arithmetic operations with numerical data under the control of a set of instructions called a program. If this numerical data were the coordinates of end points of lines, then the computer could be programmed to numerically specify a picture. This numerical data could then be used to position and move the beam of a cathode ray tube to trace out the desired picture. In this manner, an IBM 7094 digital computer has been programmed to generate pictures using a General Dynamics SC-4020 Microfilm Plotter. The picture drawn on the face of the cathode ray tube is photographed by a 35 mm camera which is also under the control of the microfilm plotter. The microfilm plotter is presently limited to producing black and white pictures composed of connected and disconnected line segments. Mondrian’s Composition With Lines, a black and white painting composed of vertical and horizontal bars, was a type picture that the microfilm plotter was capable of reproducing with suitable programming of the computer.

Block diagram of method for producing computer pictures. Original illustration from: A. Michael Noll, Human or machine: a subjective comparison of Piet Mondrian’s “Composition with lines” (1917) and a computer-generated picture. The Psychological Record, 1966, 16, 1–10.
Computer Composition With Lines (recoded from original in Processing), hex6c, 2020.
Computer Composition With Lines (Take I), hex6c, 2020. KnownOrigin
Computer Composition With Lines (Take II), hex6c, 2020. KnownOrigin
Computer Composition With Lines (Take III), hex6c, 2020 (text from original paper). KnownOrigin
Computer Composition With Lines (Processing code), hex6c, 2020.

Hommage à Paul Klee, Frieder Nake, 1965

High Roads and Byroads, Paul Klee, 1929
Hommage à Paul Klee, 13/9/65 Nr.2, Frieder Nake, 1965
Hommage à Paul Klee (recoded from original in Processing), hex6c, 2020
A Konrad Zuse Z64 Graphomat plotter, the model that Nake used for his work in the 1960s.
Hommage à Paul Klee (Take I), hex6c, 2020. MakersPlace
Hommage à Paul Klee (Take II), hex6c, 2020. SuperRare
Hommage à Paul Klee (Processing code), hex6c, 2020.
Sometimes art needs some math! Making of by hex6c.

Vera Molnar, (Dés)Ordres, 1974

(Dés)Ordres, Vera Molnar, 1974
(Dés)Ordres (recoded from original in Processing), hex6c, 2020
(Dés)Ordres (take I), hex6c, 2020
(Dés)Ordres (take II), hex6c, 2020
(Dés)Ordres (Processing code), hex6c, 2020

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