Manfred Mohr, ‘P-049/621290’, 1970-drawn to canvas in 1990, bitforms gallery
Manfred Mohr, ‘P-049/621290’, 1970-drawn to canvas in 1990, bitforms gallery

Mohr's work is an important bridge between handmade manipulations and machine-calculated structures in art. Following a series of geometric experiments, a shift toward hard-edge painting by 1967 immediately preceded Mohr's use of the computer as a tool for art. In this period of work, his fascination with modern electronic hardware emerges, seen in his use of iconic shapes resembling schematics. Mohr's interest in electronic and circuitry, in part, predisposed him to being so adventurous in using computers for his art in the late 1960s.

Mohr calculated this particular picture using a program that he wrote in the FORTRAN language. Using a choice of different line characteristics, an alphabet of arbitrarily generated signs is created Part of Mohr's early algorithmic work phase (1969-72), it emphasizes a "formalism" of the software medium: logical and automatic construction of pictures. Typical of this phase, the piece links line to language, process and conceptual systems.

More about the algorithm: The given elements are horizontal, vertical, 45 degree lines, square waves, zig-zags, and the probabilities for line widths and lengths. In each position, on a very dense imaginary matrix, a sign is composed from 0-7 elements from the above alphabet. When 0 lines are chosen, a circle can be drawn having a randomly chosen radius and center.

About Manfred Mohr

Influenced by his experience as a jazz musician and by German philosopher Max Bense’s theories on rational aesthetics, Manfred Mohr has been an innovator in the field of computer-generated art. To manipulate, for example, the myriad variations of the 11-dimension hypercube, Mohr created algorithms in FORTRAN programming language and printed them on flatbed plotters before the advent of laser printers. Mohr’s “Klangfarben” series (2008) features paintings and digital animation of brightly colored diagonal lines and intersecting planes against a flat black background.

German, b. 1938, Pforzheim, Germany