1987 Computer digital art and music


Margaret Boden – founding Dean of the University of Sussex’s School of Cognitive and Computing Sciences (COGS).

Brian Reffin Smith won the first ever Prix Ars Electronica, the Golden Nike, in Linz, Austria.

William Latham – Royal College of Art Show, Concourse Gallery, The Barbican, London. ‘The Conquest of Form’, The Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol UK.

John Lansdown wrote Teach Yourself Computer Graphics (Hodder and Stoughton).

Cynthia Goodman publishes Digital Visions: Computers and Art, a groundbreaking educational text.

Manfred Mohr – first retrospective exhibition at the Wilhelm-Hack-Museum, Germany. Renewed work on the 4-D hypercube (later 5-D and 6-D hypercubes).

Stephen Bell exhibited video, photographs and interactive installation in Fearful Symmetries, art show at 45th World Science Fiction Convention, Brighton

Margot Lovejoy – Guggenheim Fellowship 1987. A digital artist and historian of art and technology. She was Professor Emerita of Visual Arts at the State University of New York at Purchase. Acclaimed book Digital Currents: Art in the Electronic Age (Routledge 2004). Studied at St. Martin’s School of Art (now part of UAL, London).

Painting with Light – David Hockney, Howard Hodgkin, Sir Sidney Nolan, and Larry Rivers invited to use Quantel Paintbox for BBC TV series (UK). Made in 1986, broadcast 1987.

Samia HalabyBird Dog. ‘Kinetic Paintings” programmed on a Commodore Amiga 1000, which she bought in a sale in the mid-1980s. A well-known abstract painter who said of computers in art: “I wanted to do something, a challenge I posed to myself and the Amiga allowed me to fulfil that challenge.” Combined geometric shapes with motion and sound. See 1988.

Verostko and Hodos Verostko had developed software to produce drawings using a plotter. Interactive routines added to drive paint brushes on a pen plotter’s drawing arm. See 1995 the Algorists. See also Harold Cohen.

Judea Pearl and George Rebane introduced a new approach to artificial intelligence utilising Bayesian networks. Start of using machine learning to automatically learn the structure of a Bayesian network (BN), which is a task impossible for humans. In the early 1980s knowledge-based expert systems  dominated AI, and statistics were unfashionable. Pearl wrote the best-selling ‘The Book of Why: The New Science of Cause and Effect’ (Penguin 2018).

afternoon, a story (with a lowercase ‘a’) – electronic literature by American author Michael Joyce. It is one of the first works of hypertext fiction. Later published by Eastgate Systems in 1990.

Cynthia Goodman – Digital Visions: Computers & Art (Harry N. Abrams, Inc.) an important book.

HyperCard released August 1987 by Apple, free with all computers, with HyperTalk language. A stack based visual database, has proved enduringly popular with exponents of non-linear narrative and graphic and text art.

Adobe Illustrator was introduced in March. A vector drawing program, released on Apple MacIntosh, it was based on the Bézier curve and was a companion to Adobe Photoshop, see 1985.

QuarkXPress desktop publishing (DTP) software for complex page and long length magazine and book layouts in a WYSIWYG environment. For Apple Macintosh at first. The professional’s choice for many years. Many options and professional features, and plugins.

Canvas released by Deneba / Canvas GTX in November. A drawing and imaging program, this was an early desktop publishing DTP program, first for Apple then Windows. Often used in conjuntion with Adobe PageMaker. See Ultrapaint 1990.

George Lewis – Voyager  – interactive musical work. This and the works which preceded it, The KIM and I (1979), Chamber Music for Humans and Non-Humans (1980), Rainbow Family (1984, composed at IRCAM Paris) related to his work with African American and experimental musical communities. He worked with the AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians) from the 1970s. Lewis also wrote on his improvisational practice (interactive electronic and computer music) as part of his research.

Chaos: Making of a New Science by James Gleik – influential book. Butterfly effect, strange attractors, Mandelbrot sets. Popular book that inspired a certain type of fractal mathematic computer graphics.

Cakewalk 1.0 released by Twelve Tone Systems. Very popular on PCs.

Creative Sound Cards debuted with the release of the Creative Music System CT-1300 card in August. Cards (or ‘boards’) plugged into the computer chassis to add all sorts of extra features.

Steinberg Pro-24 released for the Atari ST1040. Professional sequencing.

Don Buchla released the fully MIDI enabled Buchla 700. Only 5-10 units were sold. The metal keyboard is recreated in the current Arturia Microfreak.

DAT (Digital Audio Tape) recording tape system released by Sony, found immediate success with musicians and studios, and provides the distinctive hard sound of many rave music releases at the end of the 1980s, before computer recording ‘in the box’ (ITB) took over. Did not take off as a home format, although some albums were released. In December ‘The Guitar And Other Machines’ by the post-punk band The Durutti Column (Manchester UK) was the first commercial release on DAT. Others followed but many were cancelled due to low sales.

Andy Warhol died in Manhattan February 22, 1987, at 58, from complications after routine gall bladder surgery, weakened by long-term effects of the major surgery he’d had after the 1968 Solanas assassination attempt.

Cabaret Voltaire C O D E – album released, a sort of anti-rave album (rave culture was just appearing) of paranoid voice samples and beats. Band later worried it was too slow (bpm) which added to the menace.