Hybrid Pleasures: Early Films of Lillian Schwartz

02.02.2017 20:00

Pixillation, Lillian Schwartz, US 1970, 4'
UFOs, Lillian Schwartz, US 1971, 3'
Mutations, Lillian Schwartz, US 1972, 7'
Enigma, Lillian Schwartz, US 1972, 4'

American artist Lillian Schwartz is a pioneer in computer-generated art and animation. Her first films from the early 1970s were produced at AT&T's Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey. Mutual exchange and inspiration between scientists, engineers, and artists encouraged the development of digital image processing—which depended, at the time, on access to computing resources available at corporate or university research facilities. At Bell Labs, Schwartz worked with the S-C 4020 microfilm printer, a peripheral device connected to a mainframe computer, in order to output black and white still images of geometric patterns. The certain randomness and unpredictability of shapes generated by programming languages such as Ken Knowlton's EXPLOR were key to Schwartz's investigation of aesthetic that shares creativity between man and machine. The generative imagery was subsequently colorized and animated, and combined with images of crystal growth, liquids, laser dots or stroboscopic effects, resulting in a hallucinatory experience for the viewer of three-dimensional depth. Soundtracks of well-known electronic musicians accompany Schwartz’s four films, presented during the opening of ever elusive. Within the context of the thirtieth anniversary of transmediale, this tribute to the seminal oeuvre of Lillian Schwartz reflects the recurring theme of computer animation in the first decade of the festival.


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