Above: Exhibition Leicester June 2021 LCB Depot
Micro Arts was a group for computer artists in the 1980s in the UK founded and produced by Geoff Davis. It was a forum and educational resource for new artists from UK (mainly), France and USA. Micro Arts distributed digital art and text story generators on data cassettes and later on national Prestel teletext (a pre-web on TV sets). The computer art was made for public use on for home micros such as Sinclair Spectrum and BBC Micro. There was also a print magazine with many educational articles and art prints, and published the first instance of Quantel Paintbox used by an artist.
Above: Micro Arts work in Computer Arts Archive 2021, Geoff Davis and Martin Rootes software releases 1984-1985
Above: Quantel paintbox art 1984 from Michèle Gauthier Carr-Brown, featured in Micro Arts Magazine
Geoff Davis is now an AI and text researcher at UAL CCI London. He has designed and produced creativity software with Story Software. He taught at several UK art colleges. He is a published author, see more about Geoff Davis books and writing. His Story Software Zooming image and notes app Notes Story Board app.
Micro Arts has been exhibited in 2021 and is in the Computer Art Archive, part of the Computer Arts Society CAS.
Micro Arts academic paper in EVA London conference 2021 – see details of Micro Arts paper here.
New work by Geoff Davis / Micro Arts is for exhibition at end 2021.
Above: Exhibition Leicester LCB Depot 2021
There is an exhibition of Micro Arts at LCB Depot Leicester June 1 to 26.
For more info and photos see the Blog 8-bit exhibition Leicester June 2021
Micro Arts book – second edition
This is due in July 2021. If you have the first edition please contact me and I’ll send you the new one. It has the 1980s Timeline (see the menu here) in it and some news about the 2021 developments.
Micro Arts NFT digital collection is being prepared now (August 2021). Some simple cards are at:
This is on OpenSea and is a flat card NFT collection, not for sale. I am also doing this on a Proof of Stake platform Kalamint using Tezos. These are just trials.
The full collection will be prepared with 3D graphics, and launched by end 2021.
Micro Arts in National Art Archive
Micro Arts is in the new Computer Arts Archive (British Computer Society)
Visit Computer Art Archive here.
Micro Arts was founded, run and programmed by Geoff Davis, along with an diverse group of young artists and programmers. It released computer generated art, conceptual pieces and story generators on data cassettes and Prestel TV teletext, and provided a forum for computer artists and musicians. Micro computers were newly available at low cost and led to a radical change in the use and consumption of computer graphics and computer controlled systems.
The range of publicly released computer art was very wide.
- generative visual art with user control – MA1 ‘Abstract Originals’ – 7 programs – see video section
- conceptual and challenging programs – MA2 ‘Various Unusual Events‘ – 6 programs
- feminist agitprop – MA2 ‘The Money Work System’ animation of the SCUM Manifesto Valerie Solanas (Andy Warhol connection). This also included a Universal Basic Income (UBI) concept used in later fiction
- math/data art – ‘Carry On Computing’ (in MA2) – January 2020 reissued as print in the code::art magazine by Sy Brand (blog on soon)
- story text generator – MA4 ‘Cow Boils Head‘ – endless fiction
- slow art – ‘Minimal‘ – 23 months to draw one screen (in MA2)
- art animations – MA3 – based on Duchamp, Mondrian and Muybridge – BBC Micro (2 MHz MOS Technology 6502/6512) – 4 programs (these by Martin Rootes, who also made animations for the Hacienda and Leadmill clubs)
- had a print magazine – ‘Language as a Virus’, ‘Electronic Beowulf’, ‘Micro Music’ and many other articles
- innovative graphics for NetWork 21 pirate TV in London (Geoff) and Manchester Hacienda, Sheffield Leadmill (Martin)
- inclusive, not exclusive, no membership, open source (before it was named) software, publicly available on national Prestel teletext and via mail order data cassettes
- widely reviewed in the national computer press such as Computing and Computer Weekly, and niche magazines like Blitz, Sinclair User etc.
Above: Quantel paintbox art 1984 from Michèle Gauthier Carr-Brown
In the early 1980s computers and computer (or ‘video’) graphics of all types were making it into public awareness. The new micro computers such as the Sinclair Spectrum, Amiga, BBC Micro and many others were mostly used for games, although 3D journeys of exploration were arriving in cloaks of pixilated mystery. Pong, Space Invaders, Manic Miner and The Dark Crystal arrived around this period.
Micro Arts was one of the first producers of computer art and ‘creativity apps’ in 1984, presenting a wide range of generative computer art for the microcomputer, including evolving computer art, animations and generated text stories. These were distributed in compilations, to entertain and educate. The Micro Arts generated abstract art could be used to make ambient visuals, with menus to control colours, speed etc. Micro Arts also produced text story generators, animations and more.
The history of this period is summed up well by Paul Brown of the Computer Arts Society (CAS):
“My reading of this is: by the mid 1980’s the original objectives of the CAS – ie. to promote the use of computers to creatives – had become obsolete thanks to cheap ‘personal’ computing and creative apps. When CAS was relaunched 20 years later the main objective was to research, archive and maintain the history.” 
MA1, MA2, MA4 were programmed by Geoff Davis using a Spectrum 48 – a Zilog Z80 A CPU running at 3.5 MHz, with 48k of RAM. Programming was in Sinclair BASIC with ‘peeking’ and ‘poking’ values directly into the memory. MA3 was programmed by Martin Rootes on the BBC Micro.
 Paul Brown of CAS, email to Geoff Davis June 2019.