The Genesis of Computer Art-FORTRAN (Backus) a Computer Art Medium Creates a Mosaic Mona Lisa
Where did computer art, computer graphics and computer animation begin?
Written communication became sharable and pervasive once stone etchings were replaced with the mobility of paper and ink. Similarly once computer languages advanced from machine or assembly code to third generation computer languages, only then did computer output advance from simple alphanumerical (maybe mosaic) printouts to graphics and images with smooth curves and realism.
Computer graphical output got its humble start when alphanumeric characters hammered on TTY and line printers to represent X-Y graphs and even mosaic images. It was crude, but allowed for a more effective analysis of mathematical and scientific solutions. Computer programming languages like FORTRAN and BASIC made it easier to develop and program printers, plotters and CRT screens to display and print graphics and ultimately images.
The FORTRAN programming language – a personal and historic short review.
FORTRAN programming as an Art Medium?
So it was possible to create an alphanumeric printout picture of the famous Mona Lisa using FORTRAN print statements. This image of the Mona Lisa was done by printing and over-printing standard alphanumeric characters creating a mosaic art piece to form an image of that famous Leonardo da Vinci painting. Step back from this computer printout and you viewed a simple replica of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.
Accomplishing this rudimentary computer art would be hours and days of tedious work involving the following steps:
1) You would need to take a copy of the original image and a grid (mapping to the 133 character width of a standard computer printout page) on a piece of transparency.
2) Place the grid transparency on top of the image and then fill in the grid cells over the image with alphanumeric characters that will depict a mosaic of the original image.
3) Highlight those grid cells that will be overprinted (bold type) to create shade and texture matching the original image.
4) Now you take each line of the grid and code it using FORTRAN print statements.
5) Like a brush to canvas the computer printout image of Mona Lisa will take form after many days of coding.
For a completed version of this process and a resulting computer mosaic of the Mona Lisa check out the Pisaca Web Albums images at: http://picasaweb.google.com/carl.chesal/MonaLisaComputerArtFortran
The search has begun for access to an 80 column punch card reader.
The FORTRAN code for the Mona Lisa Mosaic is on original 90-column punch cards. Getting access to an 80-column card reader could facilitate moving the Mona Lisa FORTRAN code from its analog state to a digital version. Using an online editor, I could once again deploy the power of FORTRAN to print copies of ‘computer mosaic’ Mona Lisa. Then ‘Mosaic Mona’ would be available for the world to enjoy.
My infatuation with FORTRAN programming might have stemmed from the fact that both FORTRAN and I were coincidentally created in 1954. Thank you John Backus for FORTRAN.