Jul
15
1969
<em>+/-, Random Numbers #2</em>
 

Manfred Mohr
+/-, Random Numbers #2, 1969
Paper collage
25.63 x 19.72 in / 65 x 50 cm

In 1969 Mohr’s work entered a critical stage of development, existing somewhere between the computer and the hand-made. At that time, input devices were more common than hardware outputs for machined code, resulting in his paper and wood constructions for P-05 and P-06, respectively. Mohr had written nearly 25 programs by 1970, when he finally gained access to a Benson plotter and Zuse plotter, two early pieces of sophisticated equipment, although both are considered obsolete by today’s standards.

Mohr calculated this image using a program that he authored in the FORTRAN language. Cut by hand, white construction paper was used to represent integers, both positive and negative, that were generated randomly by the algorithm he wrote. Within the matrix, random numbers determine the position, height and width of the rectangular bars. A baseline, representing zero on the horizontal axis of a grid, runs along the center of the picture.

The algorithm used in this work was only fifth one written by Mohr. Typical of his early algorithmic work, this piece links line to language, process and conceptual systems of logic. The 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.

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