Ciencia Arte Lenguaje

Foreword (1971)

Por Ernesto García Camarero

Publicado como prologo al "Catalogue of the Computer Assisted Art exhibition" held in Madrid en the Palacio Nacional de Congresos on the occasion of the German and Middle European hundred percent clubs and the 8th European Systems Engineering Symposium. Madrid, March and April 1971. (9)

Behind the tremendous success of the computer is the rapid and efficient production of all those tasks which have already been previously systematized and coded with precision. This poses the question of what role the computer can play in the much more delicate task which consists of the production of algorithms and of the search for the rules which define processes. In short, can the computer be creative ?

This problem has concerned man throughout history and particularly during the last century when it led to the construction of formal logic. Boole’s success with his discovery which he ambitiously called The Laws of Thought was quickly obscured by the realization that his laws were much more particular and less general than he had presumed. This stimulated the search for general laws by means of the formal road of the new logic. Frege, Russell, Whitehead, Hilbert. . . built much but the limiting theories of Godel and Church restricted their attempts. Also the lack of criteria to distinguish from among the tangle of formally possible theories those of relative importance in relation to the problems which mankind has planted in each age was a limiting factor. This science history background was an essential stimulus for scientific creativity which escapes formalization.

The situation in artistic creation is different, not because its rules are of a different nature than those governing scientific creation, but because until now the systematization of processes for the construction of plastic works has been almost nil. By this we do not deny that the plastic artist applies certain chromatic and composition rules in the realization of his work, but rather that the formulation of these laws and their application has been very insubstantial and always burdened with the vague concepts of imagination, intuition and emotion.

But the appearance of the computer has meant a notable disturbance with respect to creativity and artistic creation. The possibility of the computer’s drawing graphs, the appearance of special output features, such as the plotter and the display ; in a single phrase, the production of graphic work by automatic means, has had an impact on artists, who have posed the following question. Is it possible to produce work in this manner which could be called artistic ?

This question has spurred a reconsideration of the nature of art. The new impulse seeks definitions which are more scientific and which will mean, if the results are positive, that all previous art was regulated by unknown laws which led to vague and inexact explanations of artistic production, a situation similar to that which existed in physics before Galileo.

In this sense there is a certain tradition in the search for an aesthetic yardstick. Birkhoff in 1932 had already published A Mathematical Theory of Aesthetic and subsequently there have appeared various formulations of aesthetics, among which stand out that of Max Bense and more recently, that of his disciple Nake.

The computers presence has stimulated work oriented towards the automatization of artwork throughout the world. We cite the following people who, among many others, have dedicated their attention to graphic composition aided by the computer : Mílojevíc, Citron, Mason, Messínger, Strand, Szabo, Forest, Franke, Nake, Nees, Mezer, Fugino, Komura, Niwa, etc. Various international exhibitions have been held for the purpose of displaying the results of this work : e.g. the Arteonica Exhibition presently being held in Sao Paulo (Brazíl).

Spain has not lacked investigations in this area. Following the initial efforts of Arrechea Sempere, it is apt to point out the active group centered in the University of Madrid Data Centre whose work has appeared in the Computer Forms and the Automatic Production of Plastic Forms exhibitions. The present exhibition gives an idea of the work which is presently being carried out.

Against the criticism presented by many detractors of science that technology will eventually enslave man, it is necessary to remark that it is man who controls the machine. With the machine in the service of humanistic endeavors, the growth of the humanities will reach a level comparable with that reached by contemporary technology. This will mean a rebirth of humanity which, similar to that which took place in the sixteenth century, will be supported by an advanced technology. On that occasion : Navigation, Mechanics, the Printing Press ; today : Astronautics, Electronics and Computer Science.