The "Manifesto of Computer Art" was performed first time at the IMAGINA festival (Monte Carlo), and published in the catalog of the DIGITART II. exhibition (Budapest).
THE MANIFESTO OF COMPUTER ART
Computer Art has not come into existence yet.
That's exactly why we have to write, talk, and think about it, to call it into being.
The computer was not invented for us, the artists. The computer was made for military purposes, it has served scientific purposes, and when a flicker of hope for artistic use appeared for the first time, it fell prey to propaganda and commercial film making straight away.
In order to create art with the computer, we will have to cast off all clichès of present commercial forms.
The computer is just a means. We are wrong if we want to use it to conceal a lack of vigour in our message under a more fascinating guise.
If we just use it to make our work easier, we give in to our innate idleness.
We have to be fully aware of ourselves and of the world around us to be able to use it adequately.
People say the computer will transform the world. By this they mean the same as what they proclaimed about radio and television; that communicating even huger masses of information can only be a positive line of development.
In reality, though, the computer can be one of the most effective means to increase the danger of war, the stress on mankind. It is also a means for further manipulations in the mass media.
The computer is a typical example of an instrument Man has created and now does not know how to use.
We have to face up to the fact that the computer will by no means change Man, the decisive unit of our world.
We can make another go at the eternal subject, perhaps shooting the film from a slightly different angle.
Taking a picture of an object with this new medium might bring to light some details never seen before, and the ones known might be put into new perspective.
If we approach the computer with our old way of thinking, grounded on old means and devices, we will be knocking our heads against brick walls and miss a magnificent opportunity to create a new world.
Establishing new quality is much more vital - at least from an artistic point of view - than turning out products of the traditional kind a hundred times as fast as before.
Computer art has not been found out yet. Let us find it out for ourselves.
Traditional art trade, criticism and art history have not yet built walls around this kind of art. It is in our hands how we will shape their future relations.
(The task of sensible criticism would be to measure pieces of computer art by the measure of art. Artistic quality should be decisive and not the label "computer-made".)
These pictures have not yet been bid for at auctions. We should realize that it is not the prime objective to transform these works of art into marketable goods.
Censors' attention has not yet been so clearly focused on these works of art. Why should we be censors of ourselves? Why should we build barriers in our own minds?
The right form for exhibiting computer art is unclarified so far. The solution to this problem also lies in our hands.
Why should we think that better equipment will make better works? Good equipment is by all means justified, but is only secondary to the force and clarity of concept.
The computer can become a new means to understand the world. Long forgotten knowledge about geometry, mathematics, logic and about the thousandfold forms of reality might once again come to light.
Science and art can be joined again.
We may lose the unique irreproducable stroke of the artist, but we will gain a new way of thinking. Perhars we will realize that the artist's stroke might not even be of such value, and that works of art have always shone through with their content.
We can become aware of the working of hidden mechanisms. Using a drawing programme, I can become conscious of the subconscious processes which direct my hand when painting.
Forced barriers, such as picture resolution and colour, can encourage you to be inventive. These limitations can help us realize what advantages brevity of expression can have, how few elements can be used to form an image, and how simple means are enough to make a picture.
Working with the computer can be a pleasure. It is an extremely interesting invention, a source of experiences which could never be accomplished through any other means.
When we have made a three dimensional model on the computer we have had a share of an experience so far unknown to the human mind: we can create a statue while sitting in front of a two dimensional screen, a statue which expands in all dimensions, has a surface, has mass, colour, is capable of absorbing and reflecting light, which is therefore a real statue, but is simply non-existent to our notions. Through this experience we can realize how far we have ventured into a new world. Then all clinging to traditional notions will be nothing but petty hair- splitting.
Whereas a video and a film projector can only be played forwards or backwards, frames of films stored in the memory of a computer can be projected in a random order. A computer can not only run forwards and backwards but also sideways, downwards and upwards. No other device has ever been capable of this so far. Let us not pass by this new three-dimensional forrn of projection procedure but take advantage of it.
The new method of projection alters the dramatization.
Traditional film music is transformed from the very roots.
The terms between the artist and the viewer have to be newly shaped as soon as we turn away from a simple plot with a single thread.
Movement on the computer has no beginning and no end. There is no filmstrip, no celluloid or metal tape of measurable length. Why should we then cling to customs dragged along by the limitations of the filmstrip and the videotape?
Let us establish a much better relationsnip with programmers. They become our co-workers even when we buy programmes ready-made, and our work will bear their initials as well.
Programmers develop software for us to use. Unless we know the capacities of the computer, we cannot sufficiently formulate our needs. Unless we sufficiently formulate our needs, we will receive nothing but traditional repIies, programmes following the usual logic.
Electronic brushes will then follow in the footsteps of traditional brushes, instead of finding their own special ways.
Electronic film making will then follow in the footsteps of traditional film making, although we have seen the new paths, yet undiscovered.
We should not let customary programmes force us to make customary films.
Only in very few works made with computers can you be enriched and feel the artist's desire to conquer the world, the desire to create a new work of art with a new medium.
We could even take an example of computer drawings made for purely scientific purposes: the motive is obvious, the demand for clarity of thought compels the scientist to create a simple and precise formulation of his ideas. Our aim is not science but creation.
Artists' responsibility is the responsibility of those who create signs; the signs we leave behind will make people of the coming centuries know we have lived and thought.
Budapest, 15 January 1989
Translated by Emőke Greschik
Copyright 1989 by Tamás Waliczky