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 -- 100 words maximum.
Starting from the first graphic sign (additive) traced by the prehistoric man on the surface of the caves and the graphic sign (subtractive), the famous cut in the canvas by the artist Lucio Fontana, the best of the international pictorial research on the two-dimensional surface has been expressed. I believe that nowadays the traditional means for painting reached the end (at least for now) of their communicative potentialities and are inadequate for a contemporary pictorial language.
The new interpretation of the most recent contemporary art history allowed me to highlight the influence of the scientific research and the technological results had on Art of 19th and 20th century. Some examples follows:
- French Impressionism has been influenced by photography.
- Cubism and Futurism have been influenced by cinema.
- In Dali’s Surrealism, the “Limp Clocks” have been painted few years later after the enunciated Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, which just modified the concept of time.
- The concept of “entropy in the art&rdquol is expressed in the Informal painting of J. Pollock.
These observations addressed my research towards the contemporary technological and scientific reality, and I found in the computer the possibility of realizing a new expressive form in the visual art, realized with the wireless technology in art.
In 1990, I began to focus my attention on the development of computer technological in order to investigate the potentialities to be used in my artistic research. So I started a collaboration with the computerART Lab of CNUCE/C.N.R. (today, ISTI—A. Faedo Institute, National Council of Research) in Pisa, Italy, directed by Prof. Leonello Tarabella who has been applying the Wireless Technology in Computer Music for years.
Does the computer allow you to think visually about some topic or process in new ways? How has this influenced your work? Describe your ultimate accomplishment.
Computers allow to reduce the time which elapses between the idea of an artistic image and the realization of it. Behind this research there are men and researchers who hardly worked for realizing an original software application. The PAGe (Painting Aerial Gesture) system, a program for electronic recognition of the gestural expressiveness, has been designed as a result of my collaboration with the computerART Lab of the C.N.R. in Pisa. Dr. Davide Filidei implemented it and also presented it as his degree thesis in Computer Science at the University of Pisa.
Thanks to the cART Lab in Pisa, I could make use of the most recent technology to develop a program able to detect the position of the hands in the space, and use this information fro creating digital images to send to a video projector. This allows to paint with digital brushes (made up of pixels and algorithms) and to leave traces of the graphic sign in time.
The performances are made of colors, gestures, images, sounds, and fully implement that synaesthetic approach to Art, artists and scientists aimed for long time. About that Mario Costa, professor of Aesthetics at the University of Salerno, Italy, writes: “With Marco Cardini the synaesthesia is an accomplished fact, and it ends up entirely in the running of electronic interfaces. In conclusion, the Abbot Castel, Skrjabin, and Cardini give an answer to the same problem and solve it with the technological means that they had at disposal from time to time.” (see “RISK”, December 1999—Ed. il Clavicembalo, Milano).
In the performances realized with the PAGe system, a hand gesture is transformed into electronically generated images and sounds in real time. It is interesting to note that, if it is true that the patterns of visual and sound matter have been previously pre-set, in any case each performance results different from the previous ones.
There exists a deep difference in respect to cinema and videos: the PAGe system allows to control every single pixel , or a collections of them, which contributes to the whole image because the access to information is direct on the matrix. It is the gesture that characterizes the performances which never appears in an identical way.
In the performances, in addition to fully implementing the idea the synaesthesia, it is possible to render “concrete” the ephemeral in a temporal trace.
In the Cybernetic Paintings, on the other hand, the frames produced by the performances, realize the whole human need of the object. As a result of the assembling of images and gestures, the cybernetic paintings re-intruduce also the tradition of the “family portrait”, a sort of an immaterial blend of memories, faces, situations, all superimposed in the electronic memory of a hard disk: the “binary” memory of each of us as in a snapshot of multiple times.
Has the field of computer 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.
I am not an expert in computer science. I can only claim that computers offer today many possibilities for the artistical expression both for realising images and for producing music.
Certainly, it is not enough to own a piano to be a composer. And it is not enough to have a computer to be a computer-artist.
In any case, not being a computer scientist, as an artist I think that the efforts addressed to the realization of new computers, based on the quantum mechanics physics, perhaps will give us the possibility to see the images and and hear sounds generated directly by our own minds and, obviously, in real time.
About my research I would like in the next future to have the possibility of upgrading the system of gestural recognition PAGe, which at the moment is a prototype. In addition, I would like to consider a possible application in the artistic disciplines, in the various school levels, and eventually to experiment it in Art Therapy.
I also aim to realize the PAGe-3D by creating a software which would add to the characteristics of the current version of PAGe, the possibility of “fully immersing” the audience in colors and images.
Describe your dream environment for enhancing your project ideas. What are your preferred tools for creating and how do they work? What tools (hardware/software) you have used initially had the strongest impact on your work?
The right environment where I realize my projects is a big room surrounded by humanity, which could offer a wide possibility for movement and at the same time for concentration. This environment is equipped with computers, lab-monitors and laptops of the last generation, a professional video projector, a wide screen, a stereo hi-fi audiosystem, a DAT sound sampler, a mastering device, a scanner, a printer for artistic prints, a digital camera, a digital videocamera.
As regard the software, beside PAGe, I use Adobe Photoshop, Sound Maker, Sound Studio and Word as side tools, and every other program which allows to me to advance in my research.
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?
Every little advance of technology involves an advance which is not proportional in the progress of computer art.
Each new language, every new graphic card, every new technological means, can lead to new possible realizations of artworks.
However, everything it’s up to the man and its ability of multiplying “n” times what the computer offers to everybody. It is up to the artist to establish that “n”.
How would you characterize the milestones (every ten years) in the development of computer technology? Which ones were most influential in art/graphics?
Computer technology begins with the Eighties with the introduction on the market of the first personal computers, for the first time objects within the reach of everybody (Vic 20, ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64).
These objects, a little rudimentary when compared to nowdays computers, on the other hand let many people realize things that before were reserved only to few privileged ones.
In the Nineties the PCs reached a mass development, thanks especially to their introduction in the schools. At the same time, the world of Macintosh developed as well, reserved to a limited stream of users, but addressed mostly to an artistic use.
Art and graphics have been influenced by this technology always more, year by year, in a exponential trend. I do not know much more on the development of computer technology, but I know that at the beginning of the Nineties the computer computation power allowed me to trace a graphic-electronic sign in real time, that is, to the movement of my hands in space corresponded a graphic mark on the video terminal. Simply amazing!
Which persons would you indicate as the pioneers in the particular areas/stages in which decade?
I know that many applications in the area of Cybernetic Painting have been realized. However I can claim the originality of my project, the PAGe system, based on wireless technology and applied on visual arts. The need of finding new expressive ways pushed me to look for a new means which let me to create (pictorially) an innovative sign in the panorama of figurative arts, a contemporary graphic sign which could represent the poetics of our time. I discovered in the computer the tool with which generate this new sign that I like to call “eletronic-contemporary-sign.” Anyway, I consider my research as the “prehistory” of a new artistic adventure. The primordial artistic sign traced in the caves belongs by now to the collective historical memory. Therefore, I consider important to look for a solid connection between the eletronic-contemporary-sign and the primitive one in order to continue the stimulating and creative comparison between the artist and the public. I do not know about the pioneers of the different fields or of the experimental paths which contributed to the development of art with the computer technology. But I am in any case grateful to their work that indirectly but definitely contributed to accelerate the technological development for the invention and realization of Cybernetic Painting.