Manfred Mohr
P-021+, 1970
Plotter drawing ink on paper
19.75 x 19.75 in / 50 x 50 cm

Mohr’s work is an important bridge between handmade manipulations and machine-calculated structures in art. His demonstrated interest in process, language and line texture are revealed in in early abstract painted works, prior to his discovery of the computer as a tool for art. This particular drawing is part of Mohr’s early algorithmic work phase (1969-72, following an interest in hard edge painting) which emphasized a “formalism” of the software medium: logical and automatic construction of pictures. In this work phase, the left-to-right linear composition is also influenced by Mohr’s observation of the way a computer-controlled drawing machine (the Benson plotter) drags ink across the paper, as if it were written in a script.

Typical of his early algorithmic work, this piece links line to language, process and conceptual systems. Mohr calculated the image using a program that he authored in the FORTRAN language. With a choice of different line characteristics, an alphabet of randomly generated elements is created.

The concept for this drawing, specifically, introduces Mohr’s idea of an abstract text or script. Its imagery is composed using the following algorithmic elements: horizontal, vertical, 45 degree lines, square waves, zig-zags, and various probabilities for line widths and lengths. The elements are arranged in a horizontal direction and have a high probability to move from left to right, with limited probability for backtrack.

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