Manfred Mohr
P-148h, 1973
Plotter drawing ink on paper
32 x 31.5 in / 82 x 80 cm, framed

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.

More about the algorithm:
The drawing is constructed from a series of 2 horizontal solid lines spaced a distance apart. For each pair of lines, a random sequence of 0’s and 1’s is generated such that a short line is drawn at the bottom of the top line if the number is 1, and at the top of the bottom line if it is 0. As an aesthetic decision to not start or end with a solid horizontal line, the top and bottom of the drawing have missing complementary lines.


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