Before there was Adobe Creative Suite, digital art degrees and New Aesthetic, there was Manfred Mohr grappling with ideas of logic, programming, and what he could make computers do in the early 1970s. Now, you can watch some of Mohr’s beautiful experiments on YouTube.
Access to computing equipment wasn’t easy 40 years ago, let alone for an individual artist. Mohr began using equipment belonging to large institutions to conduct his projects. First it was using a plotter at the Meteorological Institute in Paris so create large-scale geometric drawings. Later, Mohr gained access to machines such as the Datagraphix 4460, belonging to a French data storage company, and programming in Fortran IV to produce short animations like the ones on YouTube.
Mohr’s process was unique in incorporating algorithms to produce an aesthetic experience. Based on sets of logic instructions, the animations play out with a stark minimalism — a break from the prevailing tide of abstract expressionist painting of the mid-20th century. [Manfred Mohr on YouTube via Prosthetic Knowledge]