The History of Computer Graphics and Digital Art Project
Describe your field. Why are you interested in Computer Art/ Computer Graphics and what (event, need, idea, hope, obstacle) caused your involvement? Summarize your line of development (the essence of your input to the field) in relation to concurrent technology.
Over the years I have been perfecting digital creative venues as a painter, cartoonist, graphic artist, photographer, writer and filmmaker. My early interest in Digital Art and CG started back in 1974, when I was accepted as a programmer at a very young age (16 years old) by IBM World Trade Corporation, Dominican Republic, and saw an immense ink plotter drawing a seemingly unending architectural blueprint. Such unusual and almost magical portent, for those days, and in a remote underdeveloped Caribbean island, triggered the muse and nurture new unimagined ways to create binary and ASCII art, extremely raw, and frequently incomprehensible to must. My first short story and hybrid graphical-poems were created by punching 80 column card decks and then processed the bulk in an IBM 370-115 CPU and visualized on continuous form paper thanks to a huge IBM 3203/600 Lines Per Minute hammer-printer. Available press archives showed that at the time those were the first such initiatives, at least in Latin America. Also, I did pioneering drawings in rudimentary .BMP format (for raster graphics) in 1983-1984 with “Insects”, the first Latin American digital comic strip, and “Underworlds” (Submundos) a comic sci-fi based on my short stories, both created in an IBM PC, with Windows 1.0 and MS Paint.
Does the computer allow you to think visually about some topic or process in new ways? How has this influenced your work?
After 1984 the personal computer with a CRT screen, very basic software, and limited graphic cards, became a rudimentary tool for artists (usually lonely creative human beings focused on a specific inner process or a set of abstractions), serving both ways: A extremely powerful, dynamic, flexible visual tool, and a portal to new creative paths. I consider my work for the last 30 years, retrospectively, computer-dependant or computer-assisted, as a whole.
Has the field of digital art and graphics progressed in the ways that you expected? What has surprised you? What do you like about its progress, and what do you wish had happened differently? What do you think the future holds for visual computing in science/art? Please make some predictions or wish lists for the near- and long-term future.
Computer graphics is blessed by the forwardness of a competitive industry and the savvyness of the modern pioneers that gradually designs, and periodically announces, versatile tools to facilitate a multitude of tasks, matching our fingertips with our intimate artistic dreams and yearning creative desires. The creative community have a lot to thank the computer industry for the last 25 years.
I started working with digital tools from scratch, and many beta and first versions startled me over the years, among those PC MS Paint, Painter, Illustrator, Corel Draw, Maya, Final Cut Pro, Motion, among many others.
The processing power is also worth praising. Yesterday’s supercomputers are today’s dinosaurs.
What’s not to be surprising? Constant technological improvements, awaited by millions every 3 to 6 months, are indeed cause of awe, a modern-day social phenomena.
For the future, the intuitiveness, ease of use, ergonomics, and closer correlation between man and machine, have ample latitude to be dramatically improved. Organic/biochemical components, interacting with minerals that are part of the internal computer circuitry nowadays, might improve processing speed to compose and retrieve complex cinematic images with ease.
Digital cinema, soon enough, should finally replace celluloid film.
Internet data transfer should overcome its actual technological limitations. A digital pink elephant should cross frontiers in a second with excellent resolution and not a glitch. Global interpersonal high resolution telecommunications should be part of our quartz watch long time ago, paying homage to Dick Tracy.
Digital art should, not far from now, stop to be disregarded as a minor creative expression compared to traditional media. And so on.
Describe your dream environment for enhancing your project ideas. What are your preferred tools for creation, and how do they help you? What tools (hardware/software) you have you used that have had the strongest impact on your work?
A dream environment will be one with no down time, monitors perfectly calibrated to replicate the colors of a rainbow, no data storage or memory limitations, electronic (coffee-stain resistant) surfaces were you could draw with your bare hands, voice-operated and/or intuitive backup and retrieval automatic systems. All that for just US$5.00, free equipment maintenance and free software upgrades.
Preferred tools in my case are 4k/2k raw digital video cameras, any digital photographic cameras with a good set of lenses, Painter for 2D, Montage for screenwriting, Final Cut Pro for editing, Photoshop for cleaning and compositions, Illustrator for graphic humor, Maya/3D for modeling and animation. Preferred processing hardware is Mac, for it’s versatility, ease of use and consistency over the years. All of the above helped to effectively convey my creative ideas over time in one way or the other.
Describe how you think specific advancements in technology, (such as wireframe, hidden line removal, scanner, laser, HTML, Java applets, or any other advancement), determined the way the approaches to creating art/graphics evolved?
More often than not, limits are set by the mind not the material or tools at hand. The creative process should be unleashed without any given preconceived dependency. You can create art with a twisted pair of copper cable and a rubber band if you like. Perception, conception, composition, final intention, are seminal in the creative process, and any past technological advance that helped to achieve those decisive stages with obvious aesthetic value, should be praised. Same applies to the ever changing dynamic pieces of digital art in the future.
Technological history shows that a conjunction of genius, time and discoveries, are a tight sequence of events with no apparent correlation at first but meaningful later on. No single and helpful advancement in technology would work if not in perfect interaction with other elements, big and small. The right piece of hardware with the right piece of software will do for the creative process of many; advanced systems too, for others.
How would you characterize the milestones, (every ten years), in the development of computer technology? Which ones were most influential in art/graphics? Describe your ultimate accomplishment.
The leap between crude digital image representation and limited sets of graphical formats to a more sophisticated depiction of figures and abstraction. From raster graphics (pixels) to vector graphics (geometrical primitives based upon mathematical equations) in the 80’s and 90’s.
Image display and manipulation thru rendering software and digital filters in the 90’s. Art digitalization and dissemination using global networks in the 90’s and the first decade of the XXI century.
The sophistication of 3D modeling and the wide spread conception of animation as a new fully-digital venue in the XXI century, characterized for being human-actor independent, and remarkably convey a myriad of human emotions and subjects physical displacements with extreme credibility.
Which persons would you indicate as the pioneers in the particular areas/stages?
- The Knoll brothers with Photoshop (originally Display/Imagepro).
- Mark Zimmer and Tom Hedges, founders of the Fractal Design Corporation (Painter), and later John Derry.
- Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider for seminal work oriented to what today is known as Internet, the magnificent source of collaborative digital distribution of human knowledge
- The combined efforts of the developers at Apple, IBM, HP, ATT, Cowpland Research Laboratory, MS labs.