Computer art - Pictures out of bits and bytes

Part of the exhibition
Part of the exhibition

Computer art first appeared on the scene in 1965 when three mathematicians presented computer graphics to the public and expressly declared them to be "computer art": Georg Nees and Friedrich Nake in Stuttgart and A. Michael Noll in New York. Ben F. Laposky, Herbert W. Franke, Kurd Alsleben, Cord Passow, William A. Fetter and Charles Csuri are other pioneers who developed basic methods of computer graphics.

Computer art on card

The state of computer technology at a particular time has had a great impact on this new style of art. Thus, works in the first 15 years appear to be conventional pictures which were generally output on card with mechanical plotters or - more rarely - on continuous paper with high-speed printers.

This phase of aesthetic experimentation culminated initially in the ars electronica show, which was first held in Linz in 1979. From then on, interest shifted to monitor graphics, i.e. the animation of graphics on screen. The demand from the film industry opened up a line of development that aimed to represent 3D perspective pictures realistically. The problems of high resolution and the realistic lighting of moving scenes were immensely demanding in terms of hardware and software development, and gave rise to an entirely new segment within the computer sector. Effects that are now common in films and advertising, such as the penetration, melting away or changing the shape of objects, also have their origins here.

Of artists and technicians

Although "pure computer art" was looked down upon in the early stages as the hobby of mathematicians and technicians, later on more and more artists became involved. Aesthetic computer graphics actually achieved recognition as a result of the possibilities in the area of applied art.
The computer art of the 1990s led to new artistic methods and practices, such as generative design, network art and interactive mixed media installations. Many of the new developments from this period are now integrated in controllers for games consoles, video games and web design applications.