Programmed: Rules, Codes, and Choreographies in Art, 1965–2018

Solo en Inglès

“The hope was for me as an artist to lose control, and to have my control exist at the level of setting up the experiment.” —Ian Cheng

Hear directly from artists and curators on selected works from Programmed: Rules, Codes, and Choreographies in Art, 1965–2018.

John F. Simon Jr., Color Panel v1.0, 1999

0:00

John F. Simon: My name is John F. Simon, Jr.

Color Panel v1.0 was made in 1999.

I took a used Apple 280C computer. Disassembled it. Took it all to pieces. Took the case off of it, and then I reassembled it so that the screen was on the front of the panel, and the body of the computer was on the back.

I turned the screen vertically instead of horizontally, which it usually was. And then I wrote a piece of software, custom, for that display. That was my canvas, so I want to make a time-based color study. I want to make a painting that would change continually and never repeat itself. It was an experiment in dynamic painting. 

It's hard to describe how little display power and computing power there was on that computer. Even the simplest electronic device today has more power than that computer did, so I was limited in what I could do.

I had a software method that I called variable expansion, so I make a simple rule, and I get that running, and it's in a small loop, which is like a paragraph in code writing. So I have a little loop that's running. Then I begin to improvise with the loop by taking the parts that are set, and turning them into variables, expanding their range, and seeing what happens.

So in the lower left hand corner of the Color Panel I had squares of different colors bouncing back and forth in a rectangle. So there were lots of choices what to do then. Do they overlap? Did they grow? Did they shrink? How do they mix? That kind of thing.

A software panel on a white board.

John F. Simon: My name is John F. Simon, Jr.

Color Panel v1.0 was made in 1999.

I took a used Apple 280C computer. Disassembled it. Took it all to pieces. Took the case off of it, and then I reassembled it so that the screen was on the front of the panel, and the body of the computer was on the back.

I turned the screen vertically instead of horizontally, which it usually was. And then I wrote a piece of software, custom, for that display. That was my canvas, so I want to make a time-based color study. I want to make a painting that would change continually and never repeat itself. It was an experiment in dynamic painting. 

It's hard to describe how little display power and computing power there was on that computer. Even the simplest electronic device today has more power than that computer did, so I was limited in what I could do.

I had a software method that I called variable expansion, so I make a simple rule, and I get that running, and it's in a small loop, which is like a paragraph in code writing. So I have a little loop that's running. Then I begin to improvise with the loop by taking the parts that are set, and turning them into variables, expanding their range, and seeing what happens.

So in the lower left hand corner of the Color Panel I had squares of different colors bouncing back and forth in a rectangle. So there were lots of choices what to do then. Do they overlap? Did they grow? Did they shrink? How do they mix? That kind of thing.


John F. Simon Jr., Color Panel v1.0, 1999. Software, altered Apple Macintosh Powerbook 280c, and plastic, 13 1/2 x 10 1/2 x 3 in. (34.3 x 26.7 x 7.6 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from the Painting and Sculpture Committee 99.88a-c. © 1999 John F. Simon Jr.