Computer Graphics in Context – CG550

CG 550 Significant Early CG Artisits

Graphics in Context – CG550

Influences and

Significant Early Computer Graphics Artists and Scientists

MuybridgeHorses in Motion

Stop Motion Photographs

Shot with multiple
cameras as horse passed over trip wires attached to each camera.Until
this time it was thought that all of the horse’s feet never left the
ground at the same time.

1882 MareyRunning


The “photographic gun” was used to capture
the linear trajectories of moving objects in a single image.

1882 MareyMovement



1913 BallaSwifts: Paths of Movement
+ Dynamic Sequences

oil on canvas
38.5″ x 47″

1969 Balla
Girl Running

Aluminum, 40 x
40 x 1 1/2

1912 Marcel
Nude Descending a Staircase,

oil on canvas

58″ x 35″

Ben LaposkyOscillation Number Four
– Electronic Abstraction


“Oscillations” were the first graphics made
on an analog computer. For many years, they represented the most advanced
acheivements of what was known as computer art. His oscillations are
photographs of electronic wave forms displayed on a cathode-ray tube.

Hardware: oscilloscope with sine wave generators

W Franke


Franke worked from 1973 – 1997 at the University of
Munich, lecturing in computer graphics and computer art. His pioneering
electronic abstractions paralleled those of Ben Laposky, leading however
to his own personal and varied oeuvre. Franke has also written widely
on computer art. His first book Computer Graphics – Computer Art
was the earliest comprehensive text on the subject.

New Visual Age: The Influence of Computer Graphics on Art and Society
by Herbert W. Franke, Leonardo, Vol. 18, No. 2, pp. 105-107, 1985.

1958 John
Whitney Sr.
From the Digital Harmony

From his earliest
experiments with the medium of computer graphic systems, John Whitney
Sr. has balanced a cutting edge use of technology with a strong sense
of artistic control and integerity. Considered by many to be the “father
of Computer Graphics”, John Whitney, and the entire Whitney family,
have successfully linked musical composition with experimental film
and computer imaging. Since his recognized works in the first International
Experimental Film Competition in Belgium, 1949, to his masterpiece Arabesque
in 1975, John Whitney remained a true pioneer until his passing in 1996
at age

page of john Whitney Jr. quicktime movies

“The compositions
at best are intended to point a way toward future developments in the
arts. Above all, I want to demonstrate that electronic music and electronic
color-in-action combine to make an inseparable whole that is much greater
than its parts.” -John Whitney Sr.

set-up for filming computer animation from a monitor screen, during an
artist residency at IBM Labs.Right:From sequences of Spirals, a piece
of “visual music” created by Whitney on a computer program he designed
in the late 1980s.

1979 Larry
Two Space

frame from film

heir to John Whitney. Sr.’s abstract film tradition. This entire film
consists of white dots moving on a black field. The dots perform a series
of rythmicall choreographed movements, accompanied by Javanese music.

1963 Edward
E. Zajac
Simulation of a Two-Gyro,
Gravity Gradient Attitude Control System

frame from film.

This scientific film, is a study of satellite motion.
It is frequently credited with being the first computer animation.

Hardware: IBM 7094 computer, Stromberg-Carlson 4020
microfilm recorder. Software by the artist

Edward Zajec was among the pioneers in the 1960s. His
focus has been real-time artworks originating in his paintings, which
used repetition and redundancy, then developed with the use of computers
from 1968. While his films have some aspirations in common with those
of John Whitney Sr., his point of departure is the use of the computer
in real time, and a different algorithmic or rule-based approach.

1963 Ivan

Ivan Sutherland using Sketchpad, the first truly interactive
computer graphics system. The user of Sketchpad, the precursor of all
modern interactive computer graphics systems, was able to draw with
a light pen on the computer screen and see the results almost immediately.

1965 A. Michael
Guassian Quadratic

Photograph 11 x
8 1/2.

Copyright 1965 by A. Michael Noll

The Guassian Quadratics series was among the earliest
examples of computer generated imagery and the first to have its own
copyright. Noll attribites has fascination with this work to its resemblance
to the Cubist infrastructure of Picasso’s Ma Jolie , one of his favorite
paintings at the MOMA.

PicassoMa Jolie

1967 Frieder
Matrix Multiplication

Plotter drawings:
felt tip pen on paper,
each 10 x 10

Frieder Nake is Professor for Information Systems at the University
of Bremen, Germany, and has had a long involvement with digital art.

He and fellow pioneers Michael Noll and George Nees organised the seminal
computer art exhibition at the Technische Hochschule in Stuttgart, in

Primarily a mathematician, Nake’s plotter prints in 1967, for example,
explored the visual expression of matrix multiplications, imagery that
has an undeniable artistic intention.

1969 George
Computer Sculpture

Aluminum, 40 x
40 x 1 1/2

Georg Nees was pupil of Max Bense, the founder of Information Aesthetics.
Nees, together with Herbert Franke and Frieder Nake were pioneers of
Computer Art in Europe. They arranged the first exhibition of computer
art at the Technische Hochschule in Stuttgart, Germany in 1965. “

(Cubic Disarray) 1968-1971

65 A. Michael
Computer Composition with

Photograph 11 x
8 1/2

1917 Piet Mondrian
Composition with Lines

Oil on canvas

1966 Leon Harmon
Kenneth C. Knowlton
Studies in Perception

x 70 1/2

1967 Studies
in Perception: Gargoyle



1967-69 Stanley
VanDerBeek and
Kenneth C. Knowlton
Poem Field

frame from film

Vera MolnarVera Molnar started working
with computers ijn 1968. Her work during this period focused on the
breakup of repeating units, often expressed as a series of increasingly
fractured images.

image obtained by a painter using a computer stops being an accumulation
of unknown badly defined forms and colours. It becomes instead a pattern
of thousands of distinct, intermittent, and quantified points. The position
in space, the colourimetric values of these thousands of points, are
perfectly defined and numerically accountable. In this way, the painter
controls each one of these points. At any moment, the artist is able
to modify the value of one or several points, or even the total number
of them. As a result, innumerable successive approaches (many sketches,
to use the accepted history-of-art term) can be shown on the screen.
Proceeding by small steps, the painter is in a position to delicately
pinpoint the image of dreams. Without the aid of a computer, it would
not possible to materialize quite so faithfully an image that previously
existed only in the artist’s mind. This may sound paradoxical, but the
machine, which is thought to be cold and inhuman, can help to realize
what is most subjective, unattainable, and profound in a human being.

The First Hummingbird,
The parameter
space for the original line drawing was manipulated such that it first
appears as a scribble. Then progressively the parameters are altered such
that the drawings in stages reaches its final representation. As animation
it had many of the features of what we call “morphing” today.

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