Saturday, July 12, 2014

Re: [Yasmin_discussions] jasia reichardt re-collects

> a number of yasminers were at
> the Digital Revolution opening at the Barbican in London-would be great to have
> comments

Roger, Yasminers

As many of you know I have a work in the Digital Archeology section of the Digital Revolution show and, because it is a recent re-creation of a 1977 work, I thought it may be of interest to this discussion. As I'm currently in Australia I won't see the show until mid-August.

Called Builder/Eater it was originally made to run on a Nova 2 Minicomputer with 16KB of memory. It was coded in assembler and used a video display system created by Julian Sullivan that drove a 96 x 96 pixel 1-bit display on a 9in Sony studio monitor (this was only the second frame-store display system in the UK after Cambridge Uni's Bugstore used famously by Conway to develop The Game of Life). Because it demanded exclusive use of this equipment Builder/Eater was only exhibited for short periods between 1977 and 1979. In 1978-79 I made another version using a home built 16 x 16 led display driven by a dedicated Hitachi 8085 8-bit micro single board kit. I believe this was one of the first artworks ever to have an embedded microprocessor. This version was exhibited a number of times in the late 1970's and early '80's.

The code consisted of two concurrent processes - both were random walks and one - the Builder looked for pixel that were OFF and turned them ON. The Eater looked for pixels that were ON and turned them OFF. The work was one of my first real-time generative/code artworks (the first was the NW Export Award in 1976). All these works are now long lost and only exist as a few 35mm transparencies that I took to document them. There is a detailed description of the NW Export Award in PAGE 59 here (see page 12):

For Digital Archeology I was invited to re-create the screen-based version of Builder/Eater. I found a job lot of nine old Sony 9in monitors on Ebay and when tested three were in good enough condition to show the work. I recreated the code in Java using Processing from my memory of the original. It runs on a Raspberry Pi computer under Linux with a PiUSP board to handle power on and off in a gallery situation. The Pi gives a composite video out and this drives the monitor via a RCA to BNC cable.

When I first got the reconstructed system working I was astonished by the verisimilitude to my memories of the original.

Builder/Eater got a brief mention in New Scientist this past week:

As Frieder has already noted recreations of this kind can't go on for ever. CRT monitors are now getting rarer and are unlikely ever to be remade. I'm sure collectors of Paik's work are very aware of this problem! The work when shown on a contemporary led monitor has a totally different character - but is of interest and I'm now working on new versions of the code using greyscale and colour which were impossible in the original 1-bit mono version

If anyone would like further information or images please get in touch as Yasmin doesn't allow attachments.

FYI - my son Daniel's early web artwork Noodlebox created 20 years later in 1997 is also in the Digital Archeology section of DR.

All best

Paul Brown - based in OZ June to mid-August 2014 ==
OZ Mobile +61 (0)419 72 74 85
Skype paul-g-brown
Honorary Visiting Professor - Sussex University

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