Archives for the Month of April, 2011

‘Daisy’, Favourite Song of the IMB 7094, the HAL 9000 and the Altair 8800

The IMB 7094
The IMB 7094

Recently we hear of the death of Max Mathews, known to some as the father of computer music and forerunner of digital sound synthesis. It was in 1957 that he programmed an IMB 704, a room-sized machine, using his Music I program, to ‘perform’ music that in his own words had ‘timbres and notes were not inspiring’. It was not actually the first time digital music was generated by a computer, the Australian CSIRAC can lay claim to the piece of fame.

In 1961 Mathews arranged an accompaniment of the song Daisy at Bell Labs on a an IBM 7094. Arthur C Clark who caught wind of this suggested Stanley Kubrick use the song in 2001:A Space Odyssey and, as we know, its featured as a slowed down version suggesting the regression and faliure of the HAL 9000 computer.

The Altair 8800
The Altair 8800

In 1975 Steve Dompier, member of Homebrew Computer Club, made a very memorable hardware hack on his newly built Altair 8800 computer – a machine that came in kit form and had to be constructed by hand. While interrogating its 72 function set, he noticed interference frequencies coming from the radio he was listening to. He noticed that a process occurring at a particular memory address would generate a specific frequency – for example memory address 075 was equivalent to an F-sharp. After finding the other memory addresses corresponding to other notes, he had mapped the musical scale which lead him to writing a simple music generation program. At the next Homebrew Computer Club meeting he showed his discovery to other member of the club. Fittingly he choose to have his Altair perform a rendition of Daisy, as if in homage to Mathews piece on IBM 7094 and and Clarke’s HAL 9000. The same night Dompier instructed his Altair to generate ‘Fool on the Hill’ by the Beatles – you can view a video here.

Flickr Fruits #36 Psychedelic Biology, Pataphysical Polyhedra & Landform Poetics

Human Sexual Behavior - Masami Teraoka (From Biology Today,1972)
Human Sexual Behavior – Masami Teraoka (From Biology Today, 1972)

50Watts Psychedelic ’72 Textbook set contains images from the first edition of Biology Today published in 1972. The images are notable for their lavish and colourful interpretations of human biological functions and phenomena, and at times the artistic style verges on the surreal. The humanist approach, evident in Masami Teraoka’s illustration echoes the societal changes occurring at the same time, the style of imagery reminding us strongly of poster graphics for psychedelic rock concerts.

Aayacata7 collates a set of antique drawings of polyhedra, and other geometric exotica in his ‘Poliedros en el arte’ set. You will find drawings by Leonardo Da Vinci which were published in Luca Pacioli’s ‘In Divine Proportion’ in 1509. There is a selection of highly crafted regular and semi-regular solids by the German Jamnitzer Wenzel which were published in Perspectiva Corporum Regularium in 1568.

The Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel contains work by an unknown artist which present geometric forms as still life compositions often with birds to create a sense of scale for each object. The balancing puzzle-like forms, pataphysically arranged, might be seen as precursor to the work of the metaphysical and mathematical works of Giorgio de Chirico.

Those who take time to scrutinise earth landforms from the window of a jet airliner in flight will enjoy Sgoralnick’s ‘in Flight’ set. A collection of pathological geomorphologies including alluvial fans, arable farming patchworks patterns, and branching drainage systems.

The Phase Transitioning Seed Drawings of Clement Valla

Seed Drawings - Clement Valla
Seed Drawings – Clement Valla

Clement Valla’s Seed Drawings document the emergent process of a chain of individuals copying a small line drawing and then passing it onto the next to repeat the process a 1000 times. Each complete drawing is an aggregate of many smaller drawings grouped together. The works were made using the crowd-sourcing online tool Mechanical Turk, which ‘allows programmers (Requesters) to co-ordinate the use of human intelligence to perform tasks which computers are unable to do’.

The drawings contain the characteristic patterns of emergent systems that have local interactions occurring between constituent parts without knowledge of the global configuration. Like a game of Telephone [Chinese whispers] the line changes over time with successive copies containing amplifications of ‘anomalies’ and ‘features’ over time. When reconfigured as a whole in a grid-like lattice we are made aware of the change in state of each line over time. There are areas of phase transition within the global structure, neighbourhoods of different kinds of lines, textures and colours evolving in characteristic from one location to another. The final outcome displays aspects of organic growth – mimicking natural emergent self-organising systems such as termite mounds, lichen growth or slime mould configurations. Whereas the former system relies on a chain of information being passed from each individual to the next (a one-to-one interaction) natural systems often rely on a more complex many-to-many network system to create the trademark aggregations.

Other works by Clement also harness the power of networked and collaborative programmable systems that question the hegemony of authorship. He goes on to note that ‘like an anamorphic projection, my programs produce distortions that reveal their own underlying logic, but also point to the system as it functions when we fail to notice it – when it works conventionally.’

Clements work was originally spotted at Infrabodies

Selected tweets #11 [Oct 2010 – Mar 2011]

X-Rac - Dr. Ray Pepinsky  [photograph by Al Fenn]
X-Rac – Dr. Ray Pepinsky [photograph by Al Fenn]

Recent selected tweets from my Twitter stream: @MrPrudence

Luminant Point Arrays – Stephan Tillmans. Tube TV screens photographed at the moment they are switched.

Variations on PI – Nils Voelker. Light-paintings based on combinatorial variations derived from Pi.

The Labyrinths of Moto Yamamoto. Large scale maze drawings arranged in salt.

Mesonic Fabrics – Biothing. Structural trajectories via simulated electromagnetic fields, emitters & Cellular Automata.

Light Montage / Soft Partition – Siwen Huang .Three dimensional optical surfaces.

Geometric tessellations and human-procedural works on paper by Devin Powers.

Aqua-velvet posts on the X-Rac and some other visualisation sculptures of Dr. Ray Pepinsky. Photographs by Al Fenn from 1954.

Darko Fritz on the Cybernetic/Kinetic façade artworks of Vladimir Bonacic from the late 60s.

Expanding Cosby Sweater – Ray Sweeten. A symmetrical oscilloscopic and sound-reactive work.

Stylophone + cross stitch == clothtylophone – Flickr set from Syano.

Eyafjallaj̦kull РJoanie Lemercier/Simon Geilfus [AntiVJ] topological wireframe mapping projection.

Traumgedanken – Maria Fischer. Dream-logic hyperlinks made of real thread.

Hemesh [Processing lib] – Frederik Vanhoutte. Half-edge datastructure implementation to generate elaborate 3D shapes.

Mesonic Fabrics - BiothingMesonic Fabrics – Biothing

Generative photography – Ishac Bertan. Long exposures of projection asynchrony.

Beehives + Mainframes. Computer control room ladies from the late 60’s.

Roots – Roman Kirschner. Dynamic sculpture formed of growing crystals that generate sound.

Tessel – David Letellier. Mirror faceted kinetic installation [suspended topography of 40 4x2m triangular mirrors].

Watch the nodel note clusters of Debussy’s Arabesque #1 unfold. Performed by Stephen Malinowski.

The colours of noise and their affects on perception & consciousness as explored by Eva Schindling.

Quasicrystal Diffraction Pattern Simulations – Michaelerule. Multidimensional tessellations at Space Collective.

Chronoscapes & Aquascapes – PerryBurge. The aesthetics of liquid turbulence & ink flow.

Conway’s Life [Blog]. Geminoid replicators, Multi-Herschel Constructions & Pseudo-Heisenburp devices for everybody!

William S. Burroughs excremental DNA is soaked in gold dust & loaded into a gene-gun to create Bio-Art!