A history of technology and art. Part 2

John Cage the American composer worked with the concept of ‘found’ elements and instructions connected to randomness. He composed music which allowed musicians to create parts of the composition, so the piece of music was always unique, and used found pre-existing sounds. Many digital artist work with sampled elements, audio, still images, film etc.

The elements of ‘controlled randomness’ that come out of the above artist points to one of the basic principles and typical examples of digital medium: the concept of random access as a basis for processing and collecting together information.

Grahame Weinbren said ‘the digital revolution is a revolution of random access’, it is instant access to media elements that the user can use in infinite combinations.



Nam June Paik’s ‘Random Access’, 1963, (above), is where the user plays any part of the fifty strips of audio tape stuck on the wall, with a tape head taken from a tape player which is wired to a pair of speakers.


John Whitney, Charles Csuri and Vera Molnar from the 1960s still influence digital artist today. Whitney (1917-1996) is considered ‘the father of computer graphics’. Whitney used old analogue military computing equipment to create the short film ‘Catalog’, 1961 (above).


Charles Csuri’s ‘Hummingbird’, 1967 is a sequence of 22 birds in a circle. Csuri first started creating digital images in 1964 with a IBM 7094 computer. The computer output were ‘punch cards’, which were the instructions to drive a drum plotter.



~ by deodesign on August 18, 2007.

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