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This page contains all the SIGGRAPH Art Show writings and talks from 1980 to the present.

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Title: Cinema and the Code
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 1989: Art Show
Writing Type: Art Paper
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

The author and his colleagues suggest a criterion for evaluating artistic achievement in the medium of the digital moving image as distinct from other forms of cinema. This criterion is the extent to which the formal possibilities of digital imaging are employed as syntactical or linguistic elements, not simply as ‘special effects’. Four digital imaging techniques are discussed as possibilities for a new syntax and, hence, for the expansion of cinematic language.

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Title: Computer Art in the Context of the Journal Leonardo
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 1989: Art Show
Writing Type: Art Paper
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

Since 1968, the journal Leonardo has published over 150 articles dealing with the uses of computers in the fine arts. Discussing the work of artists published in Leonardo, the author responds to a recent assertion by art theorist David Carrier that”… it is genuinely unclear to me whether any art using computers is truly significant”. It is argued that the significance of computer art must be viewed in a number of contexts. Within the context of the development of the computer itself, advances in computer graphics and animation have provided the artist with a powerful plastic medium under the artist’s control.

Most artworks produced, except in animation, either realise artistic ideas developed before the advent of the computer or are artistically equivalent to work produced in other media. The impact is significant in the context of the commercial and applied arts. Contemporary artists, as the colonisers of technology, are producing significant artworks as collaborators in Renaissance teams of artists, scientists and technologists. In the larger context of the history of art, however, the significance of contemporary computer art work is not yet clear. It is argued that artistic significance should be sought in works that could not have been made without the use of a computer.

Such works must involve the particular attributes of computers, such as their application in interactive situations, their capability for artificial intelligence, their function in networks with telecommunications media, and their ability to allow the synthesis of sound and vision in timebased art forms. The lack of adequate theoretical, historical and critical frameworks is currently the largest impediment in assessing the significance of computer art.

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Title: Computer Imagery: Imitation and Representation of Realities
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 1989: Art Show
Writing Type: Art Paper
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

Contemporary theory in philosophy, aesthetics and cognitive/social sciences stresses the embedment of cultural and historical conventions in art and technology. Computer imagery for aesthetic/artistic or technical/scientific purposes have these conventions embedded in them and consequently reflect larger models of humanly constructed cultural reality. Careful analyses of the form, content and practice of computer graphics are proposed to reveal views of reality embedded in technology and in models generated by the technology.

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Title: Dataism
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 1989: Art Show
Writing Type: Art Paper
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

Dataism is a term coined to designate computer art. In contrast to the iconoclasm of Modernism, in general, and Dadaism, in particular, Dataism restates traditional aesthetics through formal practices. Dataist works are not singular objets d’art, but algorithmic procedures and digital data bases that have a symbolic description. They can be perfectly duplicated and widely distributed. Dataist artworks can appear to exist in three dimensions and move in the time dimension, but they may be entirely synthesized, that is, a manifestation of imagination.

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Title: Emergent Aesthetics - Aesthetic Issues in Computer Arts
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 1989: Art Show
Writing Type: Art Paper
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

The production of art, as much as any other production, takes place in the context of human interaction-with others, with nature, with tools, with artifacts, and with ideas from times passed. Artistic work, more than any other, is probably a projection of the experiential structure of the act of producing artifacts (or events) with qualities socially acknowledged as artistic and values culturally celebrated as aesthetic. Throughout history, the patterns of human interaction have continuously changed, and so has art. Nonetheless, changes like the ones we experience today are unprecedented, requiring that we understand that the condition of art is probably more dependent than ever on the condition of humanity in general, and of science and technology in particular.

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Title: Fractals and an Art for the Sake of Science
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 1989: Art Show
Writing Type: Art Paper
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

A new form of art redefines the boundary between ‘invention’ and ‘discovery’, as understood in the sciences, and ‘creativity’, as understood in the plastic arts. Can pure geometry be perceived by the ‘man in the street’ as beautiful? To be more specific, can a shape that is defined by a simple equation or a simple rule of construction be perceived by people other than geometers as having aesthetic value – namely, as being at least surprisingly decorative – or perhaps even as being a work of art? When the geometric shape is a fractal, the answer is yes. Even when fractals are taken ‘raw’, they are attractive. They lend themselves to ‘painting by numbers’ that is surprisngly effective, even in the hands of the rank amateur. And the true artist’s sensibility finds them a novel and attractive support.

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Title: Mathematics As an Artistic-Generative Principle
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 1989: Art Show
Writing Type: Art Paper
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

The author defines a mathematical discipline that is devoted to the generation of artistic images. The practical implementation of the underlying theory is possible today with the aid of computer graphics systems.

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Title: The Image in Art and 'Computer Art'
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 1989: Art Show
Writing Type: Art Paper
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

In this essay the author takes a cursory look at the increasing range of applications of computers to art and design practice and questions some of the assumptions that have been made about their use. The proliferation of computer imagery in society as part of the video culture and its effects on our attitudes towards digital representation are emphasised. This leads to a redefinition of the intimacy of the relationship between artist and art object. Such issues contribute to the comparative study of digital media and physical/mechanical media and the computer’s impact on the creation and apprehension of imagery.

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Title: The Proceduralist Manifesto
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 1989: Art Show
Writing Type: Art Paper
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

‘Computer art’ has become a meaningless term, because soon virtually all art will be computerized in some way or another. The author introduces the concept of proceduralism as a label to represent a special class of art, one that constructs images using abstract qualitative and quantitative parameters, rather than simulates classical drawing and painting. This approach to making art ditters radically from drawing and painting approaches because the picture-making process is detached from the picture. The net result is that an entirely new area of creativity has been unveiled for the artist. As such, proceduralism is a logical successor to conceptual/process art; it is a major art movement and a new medium.

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Title: The Tao of Postmodernism: Computer Art, Scientific Visualization and Other Paradoxes
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 1989: Art Show
Writing Type: Art Paper
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

The author suggests that a paradigm shift must occur in art criticism to assimilate the nonlinear branching of aesthetic activities in our era. These activities include computer art and scientific visualization, and they reflect many issues addressed in postmodern dialogue such as our image-synthetic, “simulacrum” society. Postmodernism unexpectedly informs most disciplines, including the natural sciences, and is a cultural systemic norm that relates to our electronic information age. The Taoist concept of oneness is used as a metaphor for the interrelatedness of electronic-mediated societies, and this social connectedness explains the enfolding and complex nature of contemporary aesthetic activity. A cybernetic paradigm might provide a better model for criticism than modernism or postmodernism, since this paradigm presents a holistic view that concentrates on creativity and the organization of interrelated systems. The convergence of art with science is assumed as a logical interdisciplinary outgrowth of this electronic oneness.

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Title: The Wizard of Ethereal Pictures and Virtual Places
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 1989: Art Show
Writing Type: Art Paper
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

Renaissance artists constructed pictorial space using algorithms based on Euclidean geometry. Computer artists use algorithms based on the analytic geometry of Descartes to compute pictures as well as the subjects in them. An examination of the workings of these two different types of algorithm reveals that the computer offers a radical new approach to making art, which is not yet well understood. Postmodern algorithms for picturemaking are more evanescent than their Renaissance counterparts because computers process information conceptually instead of storing it physically. The computer is neither a passive medium nor a pliant tool, but an active creative partner.

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Title: Computer Aesthetics: New Art Experience, or The Seduction of the Masses
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 1986: A Retrospective
Writing Type: Art Essay
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

In the early twentieth century, Modern artists, notably Suprematists, Cuba-Futurists and Constructivists, rejected scientific perspective and descriptive art [1]. Although this dismissal of the world of appearances in art was never accepted by the general public, Modernism evolved from that rejection.

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Title: Computer Graphics as Artistic Expression
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 1986: A Retrospective
Writing Type: Art Essay
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

Computer graphics has been in existence for more than twenty years. From the beginning, people experimented on ways to use the new medium – in addition to scientific, technical and commercial application – for artistic goals. Around 1965, Germans Frieder Nake and Georg Nees and the American, A. Michael Noll, strove for that goal; they were followed by individuals such as Kenneth Knowlton, the team of Charles Csuri and James Shaffer in America, and the Japanese Computer-Technique Group. All of them were represented in the large exhibition “Cybernetic Serendipity” in 1968 in London.

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Title: TV NEEDS MTV LIKE MTV NEEDS COMPUTERS
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 1986: A Retrospective
Writing Type: Art Essay
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

J. S. Bach’s last unfinished work, THE ART OF THE FUGUE, is a magnificent network of simple theme and variations that are interwoven, transposed, inverted, and retrogressed. Some believe that Bach’s counterpoint, which consists of a complementarity of voice-parts, exhibits an affinity with algorithmic computer-program instructions and procedures. I agree, and I believe that a video counterpoint offers a special complementarity between its own musical and its visual voice-parts.

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Title: Visions of Mind
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 1986: A Retrospective
Writing Type: Art Essay
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

Computer art is unfolding on the basis of scientific and engineering achievements of pioneering personalities, whose vision suggested that it should be possible to wrest something other than calculation speed and numeric precision from those crude and clumsy computers; something that could be turned into meaningful images. They set out to build dedicated machines to interpret an intuitive stroke with a pen or a snapshot taken through the lens of a camera. They designed displays that show more colors and change images faster than the human eye can distinguish. They devised software to generate pictures that appear just like photographs of reality. All of this has been accomplished within the short timespan of two or three decades. The history of computer graphics reads like a tremendous technical success story.

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Title: Why it Isn't Art Yet
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 1986: A Retrospective
Writing Type: Art Essay
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

For twenty plus years, I have participated in “computer art” as a developer/ experimenter /inventor of languages/interfaces/techniques, as a collaborator/teacher/writer, and as a “computer artist.” As a result of all this, I finally feel like an established practitioner in an enterprise that doesn’t (at least not yet) exist.

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Title: Computer-Aided Industrial Design
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 1984: CAD Show
Writing Type: Art Paper
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

Computer-Aided Design (CAD) is destined to become the standard industrial design medium, for the same reasons it is revolutionizing other design and engineering fields. And many industrial designers are eager now to adopt it. Yet, only a fraction of CAD technology’s potential has found its way into the industrial design studio. High costs are partly to blame, but even as costs decline, a more fundamental reason accounts for the slow adoption: the industrial designers’ needs are so disparate that no single CAD system available today, has scope enough to fulfill them all.

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Title: Information, Computers and Design
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 1984: CAD Show
Writing Type: Art Paper
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

The Dilemma of the Specific and the General
In the Yucatan peninsula, corn is planted by Indian farmers in the same way it was done hundreds of years ago. The farmer wears a sack filled with seed slung over one shoulder. As he walks the field’s rows, he uses a long stick to make holes in the ground into which he drops seeds. Although the stick is a simple tool, it is not naive. It has features that make it well-suited for its task: it is long enough so the farmer can make the hole without bending to the ground; and, the end of the stick is sharpened to a point to make the hole for the seed.

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Title: What Good is a Computer to an Architect?
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 1984: CAD Show
Writing Type: Art Paper
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

What good is a computer to an architect? Palladio found pen and paper perfectly adequate, after all. And it is hard to imagine Frank Lloyd Wright at a keyboard. (It just doesn’t go with a cape and cane.) The most sophisticated piece of technology on most architects’ desks, even today, is an electric pencil sharpener.

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Title: A Medium Matures: The Myth of Computer Art
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 1983: Art Show
Writing Type: Art Essay
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

We embark upon SIGGRAPH’s second decade with a growing conviction that the leading edge of culture us no longer defined by the fine arts community — by what’s being shown in galleries, purchased by museums, published in art magazines or talked about in SoHo lofts. The excitement and power and significance today seems to lie in electronic technology, especially the computer, which we are convinced will reveal the way to unlimited new aesthetic horizons and produce wholly new art forms. And yet the idea of computer art — of an art unique to the computer — remains after twenty years an unrealized myth, its horizons barely in view, its forms still to be manifest. For, ironically, most of what is understood as computer art today represents the computer in the service of  those very same visual art traditions which the rhetoric of new technology holds to be obsolete.

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Title: Artists/Technologists: The Computer As An Imaging Tool
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 1983: Art Show
Writing Type: Art Essay
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

Despite the fact that the computer is a relatively recent invention, the debate over whether or not computer-generated art works can truly be called “art” has roots in a much older argument about technology. The usual objection to “computer art” is based on the fear that somehow the com­puter  — like Hal in the film 2001 — will take control, eliminating the role of the ar­tist. A less paranoid but equally misplaced response construes the absence of hand­work to represent easy art, requiring less skill than more traditional forms. Similar ob­jections were raised when photography was discovered. In 1859, Charles Baudelaire considered photography as nothing less than a major threat to the entire fine art tradition.

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Title: Mapping A Sensibility: Computer lmaging
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 1983: Art Show
Writing Type: Art Essay
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

“The work of art,” as the surrealist André Breton said, “is valuable only so far as it is vibrated by the reflexes of the future.” These “reflexes of the future” have introduced, since the early 1900s, increasingly powerful visual technologies. To rephrase André Breton — in certain critical epochs, art anticipates effects that are only fully realized by newly emerging technology and new art forms.

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Title: Art and Technology: Bridging the Gap in the Computer Age
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 1982: Art Show ’82
Writing Type: Art Essay
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

Much as the majority of the art public has tried to ignore the art and technology phenomenon, it is no longer either possible or fashionable to do so. The large retrospective of video artist Nam June Paik at the Whitney Museum in New York in the Spring of 1982 was just one of numerous recent examples of the acceptance of the new technology in a traditional art environment. A lack of familiarity with the actual process by which the works are made, has caused the word “computer” in connection with art to be met with particular distrust out of the ill-founded fear that this mystifyingly complex machine might soon replace the artist in the creation of art. Yet in spite of the electronic implementation, computer-aided art is still in many ways as much a handcrafted product as conventional art forms but simply processed in a different manner. Furthermore, because most artists are as of yet unacquainted with the mechanics and potential of computers, their accomplishments on com­puter systems, which may assume various forms including color xerography, photo enlarge­ments, plotter drawings or video, to name only a few, are often the product of intense collabora­tion in a laboratory-like environment between the artist and someone technically proficient in the computer field. This practice is in antithesis to the myth of the sculptor or painter struggling preferably in solitude in a studio to realize his artistic concepts in pencil, paint, metal, stone, or other common materials.

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Title: Computers and the Visual Arts: A Retrospective View
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 1982: Art Show ’82
Writing Type: Art Essay
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

“In the computer, man has created not just an inanimate tool but an intellectual and active creative partner that, when fully exploited, could be used to produce wholly new art forms and possibly new aesthetic experiences.”

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Title: Toward Autonomous Reality Communities: A Future For Computer Graphics
Author(s):
Exhibition: SIGGRAPH 1982: Art Show ’82
Writing Type: Art Essay
Abstract/Summary/Introduction:

It may live in a vacuum tube (for a few more years at least), but to hear the Mercantile Masters talk you’d think computer graphics lives in a political vacuum as well. For electronics, however, the last quarter-century has been equivalent to pulling back the string on a bow – the storing of enormous technological potential. Now the string is about to be released in the universal application of that technology: the next 25 years will be the flight of the arrow, propelling us into the Electronic Age and precipitating an historically unprecedented revolution in commu­nications. And in the shadow of the Communica­tions Revolution we begin to understand the awesome cultural and political implications of that protean force we refer to so feebly today as computer graphics.

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