working artists


Hans Dehlinger
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artist's statement | technical statement | process

technical statement

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 are:
Only lines of a limited thickness are available and they come in discrete steps.

Crossing lines generate gray-scale values and depth
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 fail
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 involved).

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).