Manfred Mohr
P-133b, 1972
Plotter drawing ink on paper
20 x 26 in / 51 x 66 cm

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 elements depicts the surface of an electronic circuit in columns. Part of Mohr’s early algorithmic work phase (1969-72), it emphasizes 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 this phase, the piece links line to language, process and conceptual systems.

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