Manfred Mohr

I saw this post on Manfred Mohr's (very!) early digital art literally minutes after picking up a book about Mohr's work from the library yesterday. Total coincidence.

p231, Manfred Mohr
p231, Manfred Mohr

I like a lot of the pioneering digital artists' work. I think the restraints gave them a lot of focus. (Limits boost creativity.) You don't see many of those first generation guys still producing like Mohr does though. It's also refreshingly unusual that Mohr hasn't gotten bogged down in self-consciously retro, 8-bit, glitch kitsch.

(Dear [far too many digital artists]: I also remember that sprite animations were once a cutting-edge thing. Move on.)

Back when I was taking Computational Geometry I remember getting sidelined working out an algorithm based on the six dimensional rotations in Mohr's space.color.motion. At some point I need to dig my notes out for that and implement it.

If you like Mohr you may want to check out this interview as well. I like what he says at the beginning about taking a simple idea and running with it. Also the questions about an artist working like a scientist were good. This also stood out:

So I went higher and higher in dimension and it got more and more complicated. I could do different things, but I could not explain to people because it was so complicated. '6-D cube, what kind of crap are you talking about?'

I've had that experience. Here's a free tip for you: do not try to explain something to a room full of psychologists by beginning "So if you were to imagine yourself moving around on the surface of a 35-dimensional hypercube..."

This interview also displays the link between algorithmic art and political economy. Mohr sets up a system, and lets it do its thing. The artwork emerges from the software. Legislators and regulators and executives set up a system and it does its thing. The economy emerges from society. Mohr's work, like all good algorithmic art, reminds me of Hayek's description of spontaneous order: "of human intent but not of human design."

PS Prosthetic Knowledge points out that Mohr also maintains a very thorough YouTube channel. Would that all digital artists did similar.

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