Pioneers of Digital Art and Animation

Pioneers of Digital Art and Animation
Moderated by Ed Kramer and Bonnie Mitchell
Event Date/Time: Friday, October 28, 2022 – 4PM EDT/20:00 GMT
**Session Video**

(Check for your local time)

Los Angeles, USA.........Fri, Oct 28, 2022 at 1:00 pm PDT
Denver, USA..............Fri, Oct 28, 2022 at 2:00 pm MDT
Chicago, USA.............Fri, Oct 28, 2022 at 3:00 pm CDT
New York, USA............Fri, Oct 28, 2022 at 4:00 pm EDT
London, United Kingdom...Fri, Oct 28, 2022 at 9:00 pm BST
Paris, France............Fri, Oct 28, 2022 at 10:00 pm CEST
Session Description 

From the earliest days of computing, a special breed of technically-savvy artists used the computer to create works intended to be recognized as art. Their artwork and animations were meant to be appreciated not only for technical achievement, but as works with innate aesthetic value.

This SPARKS focuses on the work of artists and animators who worked in the 1960’s, 1970’s, and 1980’s. We will learn about their experiences working in a time where software had to be developed and specialized hardware had to be developed or accessed from research labs. These artists and animators were pioneers, inventing new directions despite the resistance of the art and technical communities. From algorithmic art to animation, video and interactive art, these artists legitimized the use of the computer as another tool in the artistic grab-bag of techniques. 

Serendipity – Early work of Charles Csuri
Wayne Carlson
texturePERHAPS, Chuck Csuri, 2002, From the collection of Bonnie Mitchell

Chuck Csuri started his artistic career as a painter but in the early 1960s, he started playing with emerging computing technology as a tool to realize his art. Even as he began these experimental endeavors, and carrying through the next 60 years, he was fascinated with what he called “unexpected artistic results” that resulted from using the computer. He always commented on the excitement that came with serendipitous results. This talk will discuss this aspect of his work. Wayne Carlson worked with Chuck for over 30 years, first as a research student in his lab, as a partner in his business, and as an academic colleague at The Ohio State University. Wayne is a mathematician and computer scientist, and their relationship exemplified the interdisciplinary focus that Chuck always had in his artistic and academic goals. He always partnered with technical minds that could help him realize his artistic vision.

Website: Charles Csuri’s Artistic Work
SIGGRAPH History Archive: Charles Csuri

Computer-IcĂ´ne, Vera Molnar, 2020 Photo by Critiano Corte
Vera Molnar: from Trapèzes (1974) to Computer-Icône/2 (1975) to Icône 2020 (2022)
Francesca Franco

Francesca Franco is a Venetian-born curator, producer and art historian based in Italy and the UK. Her latest curatorial work is Vera Molnar: IcĂ´ne 2020, an exhibition that explores the history of Molnar’s first ever glasswork in a career that spans over 80 years, “IcĂ´ne 2020”, featured in the current 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. Taking the new commission as a centre point, this talk explores the process that made this sculpture possible, bringing together preparatory sketches, original plotter drawings and documentation material that reveal the complexities behind the making of IcĂ´ne 2020, encouraging new thinking about sculpture and the unimaginable ramifications of computational art. Starting from Molnár first successful computer-based artwork created in 1975 (Computer-IcĂ´ne/2), which in turn originated from a series of computer plotter drawings made in 1974 (Trapèzes), IcĂ´ne 2020 takes for the first time one of Molnár’s key original concepts based on the dichotomy, and subsequent search for balance, between order and disorder, to three dimensions as a sculpture.

Website: Vera Molnár: Icône 2020

The Algorithmic Revolution and the Artist
Roman Verostko
End piece, #79, Roman Verostko, 1990 From the website of Roman Verostko

Roman Verostko, born 1929, maintains an experimental studio in Minneapolis where he has developed original algorithmic procedures for creating his art.  Aware of the awesome power of algorithmic procedure he began experimenting with code and exhibited his first coded art program, the Magic Hand of Chance in 1982. In 1987 he modified his software with interactive routines to drive paint brushes mounted on a pen plotter drawing arm. Awards include: SIGGRAPH ACADEMY (Aug, 2018); “Distinguished Artist Award for Lifetime Achievement (SIGGRAPH, 2009), Golden Plotter Award, 1994 (Germany). Invitationals include:  “Digital Pioneers”, V&A, London, 2009; The Algorithmic Revolution” (ZKM, Karlsruhe, 2005), “Code: the language of our time” (2003, Linz, Austria), Artec 1995, Nagoya, Japan) and “Genetic Art-Artificial Life” (1993, Linz, Austria).

Personal Website: Roman Verostko
SIGGRAPH History Archive: Roman Verostko

Shifting Temporalities and Technologies:
From Image Processing to Digital Art
Maureen Nappi
Echoed Interiority, 2022. Collection of the artist.

Maureen Nappi is an artist and theorist whose work combines aesthetic concepts from painting, photography, cinema, video, and computer technology to explore still and animated states of imagery. This talk is a selected review of my work that incorporated those concerns while using traditional animation techniques with image processing and real-time animation techniques utilizing the Paik/Abe and Rutt/Etra video synthesizers to digital 2D and 2 ½D platforms such as the NYIT Images Paint system, the Quantel Paintbox, and its constitutive animation components, and Soft Image’s Flame (now AutoDesk). Serially alternating between practice and theory, Nappi holds three degrees from New York University: B.F.A., Institute of Film and Television, Tisch School of the Arts; M.A. Cinema Studies Department, Tisch School of the Arts; and a Ph.D. [in Critical Studies/ARTE in] Department of Art and Arts Professions.


Discovering Images: Improvisation in Digital Image Creation
Dean Winkler
Our America, Dean Winkler and Donald Butler, 2022

The process of creating computer imagery requires a rigid formalism akin to classical music. There is, however, a “Jazz” aesthetic that can be applied to creating digital imagery which has been the central tenet of Winkler’s video art since 1976. Beginning with real time analog synthesizers, then traditional post production hardware, then digital layering to today’s suite of desktop image creating and processing software Winkler has found ways to use these tools in ways they were not designed for, generating unpredictable results. 

The “discovery” of these unpredictable images is captured, created and then layered together to form new images. Applying this technique within an overarching structure has allowed for the creation of complete non-narrative, abstract work. Winkler will discuss his processes and show examples of the resulting art work from 1976 to the present.

Website: Winkler Video Art

Plotter Art in the 1970’s
Will Anielewicz

Will Anielewicz’s fervor for computers started in high school. Luckily, the neighborhood high school was the only one in Canada with a mainframe computer. It was love at first sight. Will volunteered to be the maintenance crew for the room sized IBM. After high school, in 1970 he enrolled in a 4-year computer science program at York University, then moved on to but didn’t complete a master’s program combining computer science, fine arts, and philosophy. Will Embraced a hippie lifestyle, played guitar and experimented with psychedelic drugs. One of the university vice presidents hired him as a statistician providing analysis of faculty salary expenditures. One task was to generate graphics to display statistics using an in-house multi-pen high precision large format plotter. The plotter was very programmable. His propensity for writing original music awoke an urge to create art with computers. Will’s lifelong adventure with CGI started with plotter art.

SIGGRAPH History Archive: Will Anielewicz
Personal Website:

Bonnie Mitchell

Bonnie Mitchell is an artist, animator and Professor at Bowling Green State University in Digital Arts, in Ohio, USA. Her creative work includes experimental visual music animation, animated interactive installation art, environmental data visualization art, net-art, and new media art archive development. Mitchell’s works have been screened or shown at numerous festivals, conferences and exhibitions around the world including Ars Electronica, ISEA, SIGGRAPH, Computer Music Association, Visual Music Marathon, Cinémathèque Québécoise and many more. She is also the co-director of the SIGGRAPH History and ISEA Symposium Archives.

Ed Kramer

Ed Kramer is the current Chair of the SIGGRAPH Pioneers, and is an Associate Professor of Game Art and Animation at the Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design in Denver Colorado. Before teaching, Ed spent 35 years doing CGI production work in television and feature films. His work includes the Columbia Pictures “Lady with a Torch” logo, and supervising the scarab beetle shots for The Mummy and the Rock Monster shots for Galaxy Quest at Industrial Light & Magic, where he was a Senior Technical Director from 1994 through 2006.

This event is co-sponsored by the ACM SIGGRAPH Digital Arts Community and the ACM SIGGRAPH Pioneers.