One of the earliest images of Computer Art I remember from my childhood was one created using Kenneth Knowlton’s EXPLOR.

Mini-Explor was a minimal, Fortran-based version of the language from the first half of the 1970s. It’s described in an old SIGGRAPH that I downloaded a PDF of from the ACM. I’m writing a version using GNU Fortran. Here’s where I’ve got to:

Why am I doing this? It would be amusing to have a GNU Explor. And it would fight bitrot for old Explor programs. But the main reason is that it’s a learning experience like copying an old drawing or painting. I’m gaining understanding of how people saw Computer Art thirty years ago, feeling my way into that way of seeing and and that way of thinking about art. It’s a fascinating experience. The things a programming language allows you to do are the things you will prefer to do when you make work. Explor is a world of drawing pattern, copying, flipping, inverting and filtering, not of smooth curves, colour, scaling, rotating or “noise”.

Posted in Generative Art