Required Reading: Computational Periodics (1975) - John Whitney

Film strip of John Whitney's Arabesque, 1975

We may assume that a time will come when that which I am about to describe will name itself—but for now: 'Computational periodics' is a propositional and tentative term which may help to designate a new unified field for a heterodimensional art; a field whose special dimension is time. An art which is temporal, as music itself; being, that is, spatio-temporal. An art whose time has come because of computer technology and an art which could not exist before the computer. Even though this art will be found in the notebooks of Leonardo and has been in the collective imagination, like the flying-machine, since his epoch it was a technological impossibility until the development of computer graphics.

Rhythm, meter, frequency, tonality and intensity are the periodic parameters of music. There is a similar group of parameters that set forth a picture domain as valid and fertile as the counterpoised domain of sound. This visual domain is defined by parameters which are also periodic. 'Computational periodics' then is a new term which is needed to identify and distinguish this multidimensional art for eye and ear that resides exclusively within computer technology. For notwithstanding man's historic efforts to bridge the two worlds of music and art through dance and theatre, the computer is his first instrument that can integrate and manipulate image and sound in a way that is as valid for visual, as it is for aural, perception.



Originally via DINCA