Talk

Geoff Davis talking about Micro Arts, his 1980s computer art group

Computer Arts Society, 9/6/2020

Video to be posted here soon.

geoffdavis5  gmail  com

or use Contact on the this site.

Micro Arts – produced a range of computer art for popular micros, and a paper magazine. Programmed, curated by Geoff, with contributions from friends, male, female, UK, US, France.

Aim was to start a new computer arts group, educate and perhaps sell a few art data cassettes. Later it all went onto Prestel national teletext.

Modelled on art groups London Video Arts and London Film-Makers Co-op; and indie record labels. This was my social background at the time.

Was intended to be a community, inclusive, diverse, populist, grass roots political. No ‘authority’. Not academic, I left University in 1980 and wasn’t thinking of it. No CAS at the time.

Was well reviewed by mainstream computer press, see Reviews.

No internet so hard to market.

Many outputs:

  • algorithmic art and animations, MA1 and MA3 by Martin Rootes)
  • conceptual (long form 2 years, math/code art, Dada word generator etc.), MA2
  • graphic feminist/political animations, Money Work System from SCUM Manifesto, MA2
  • text generation from a story about the 1980s epidemic of prion mad cow disease BSE, MA4 (for exhibition, and distributed on Prestel only).

I had a few stories published, this is one of my competing activities. See my section in People.

The print Magazine was free. Full of informative articles, not reviews. (Magazine is on this site.)

Prestel was on invitation from EMAP but that took some of the momentum out of it, then I started working commercially again.  See Prestel page.

Also got involved in so-called ‘pirate TV’ NetWork 21. (No pirates, but lots of art, fashion.)

For more from the various contributors see People page.

CAS was not around at this point. Only contact I had was Harold Cohen (art machines) by letter in US,  who was famously uninterested in ‘computer art’ as a scene. He told me all art was about marketing. He was in academia, which operates as a huge marketing funnel (as well as providing work for artists).

Personal history

Before Micro Arts I was working in commercial COBOL programming (using pencils) on a Univac 1100 mainframe, and also Vax minis.

After Micro Arts, networking (at Prudential, first use of networked ‘personal computers’ IBM PC ATs in dealing room, no-one there had experience of micros, it was large IBM mainframe site).

Later, worked in new computer graphics lab at Sheffield Hallam University, Psalter Lane art college (12 x Unix Apollo workstations,  2D and 3D modelling and animation, CGAL (Peter Comninos) etc.).

Later still, London Institute teaching, then web industry, apps.

Now computers and text researcher at UAL CCI, Camberwell art college. Still in early stages.

1980s

Huge change in tech from 1980 (mainframes, coding with pencils) to 1990 (workstations). Micros appeared and improved over decade.

Warhol used Amiga, etc. – computers becoming unavoidable in art, design, music, film, smaller businesses.

Early artists moved into commercial work.

What is use now?

Archive, historical.

Educational examples – what can be done with relatively simple computers – hands on – Raspberry Pi

Artworks and merchandise on sale here soon  – archival prints, reprint of Magazine, MA1, MA2, MA3, MA4 Data Cassettes, Magazine 2, previously unpublished.

 

 

Research at UAL Creative Computing Institute CCI Camberwell and other news

I’m now a researcher at University of the Arts London, Creative Computing Institute at Camberwell Art College. I’ll let you know more as this develops. Topic is AI and text generation, with various outputs. This follows my 1985 text generation program Cow Boils Head, and the work in my Middlesex Uni MA on zooming and multi-layered texts, Calm As A Dead Clam.

Calm As A Dead Clam Geoff Davis 2003
Calm As A Dead Clam Geoff Davis 2003

See here (on author site) for more on the MA interface design.

I also have a new site for my general writing and art under the name Geoff Davis Org

I’ve been published on and off (mainly off) since the 1980s, everything was in print but new editions will be published in ebook format by Story Software this year and next.

More to follow…
Geoff Davis

Pete Shelley XL1 computer art with music Buzzcocks

Pete Shelley, the Buzzcocks founder and writer, went solo and produced records such as Homosapien (banned by the BBC). It makes you wonder what the BBC is banning nowadays, for our own good, supposedly.

It seemed a good idea to make a ZX Spectrum lyrics/graphics piece for the LP (coded by friend Joey Headen). The computer program code was recorded on the 1983 Genetic/Island vinyl LP. This created lyrics and visuals. It was coded for an Sinclair ZX Spectrum (48k, issue 3).

This video has the album with the computer graphics and lyrics.

Video of computer generated art MA1:1 Abstract Originals 1984

Another video this time of MA1 ‘Abstract Originals’:1

The first generated art on MA1 Geoff Davis ‘Abstract Originals’.

No sound.