It all has to do with an obsession in line-oriented
art. Technically there are two main problems in generating the work
I am interested in. I have to write programs or find programs into
which I can cast my intentions as an artist. And I have to find
output devices, onto which I can deposit the produced results (for
eternity). For both problems I have (temporary) solutions: I use
both my own programs and standard programs; plotters and printers.
Plotters (which are becoming extinct) and printers
(which replace them) are very different in the way they produce
output. From an artist's point of view, either device has strengths
and weaknesses. The plotter relies on a drawing pen. It mimics,
to a certain degree, the mechanical and sequential process of drawing
by hand, and it works with "vector data". The printer
is pixel oriented, and it works line by line from the top of a sheet
of paper to its lower rim.
Since my interest is focused on lines as a basic
generative element for art-work, the properties and the calligraphic
quality of lines - printed or plotted - are of great interest.
Comparing the properties of the lines generated
by the two classes of devices reveals how they can be exploited
for generating processes.
Some of the important properties of plotting
Only lines of a limited thickness are available and they come in
Crossing lines generate gray-scale values and
The mechanical nature of the drawing process produces inconsistencies
and slight variations in the plotted line, e.g. the starting points
of a line become distinctly noticeable or the pen may temporarily
Each pen can carry one colour only.
The printed line also has its own characteristic
properties, some are:
A homogeneous and perfect line-image is achievable
Black lines (or lines of the same color) are crossing each other
"flat", the illusion of depth is lost.
There are no limitations to the width of lines
and they may be chosen from a continuum A very large spectrum of
colors is available for prints.
There is a distinct quality to a plotted line
(as opposed to a printed line), which I like a lot, and which I
consider as an important feature of a plotter-drawing. There are
qualities in printed lines too, which I am beginning to explore.
With line-drawings in mind, algorithms and their
underlying concepts allow to formulate interesting strategies for
generative processes producing art-work, I am relying on such algorithms
to place large numbers of points onto the drawing area from which
in successive steps complicated patterns of lines may emerge. Standard
graphical operations like scale, move, clip, rotate etc. Are also
employed. On purpose, only limited means of editing are available
in the generating program, because a high value is placed on conceiving
concepts, which are then realized, if possible, in a "one-shot"
operation. A compositional mode of operation is supported as well.
It comes close to classical collage techniques (with all the dangers
Earlier versions of the program were running
on a Tektronics 4052 and later on a PC. The program in its present
form is written in Fortran using GKS and is operable on a Siemens
WS 430 workstation. It was implemented as a partnership-project
between the North China University of Technology in Beijing (Qi
Dongxu, Xu Yingqing) and the University of Kassel (Hans Dehlinger).