Los Angeles

Sol Cenowski

Gallery De Silva, Santa Barbara

A new device for drawing, a computer, is being used by two young Santa Barbara scientists who call themselves Sol Cenowski. (It was inevitable that sooner or later this would happen.) These two young men work in a nuclear research development firm in the Goleta Valley, and became intrigued with the possibility of using one to program drawings, using their mathematical equations with an eye to esthetic results.

The programming of the largest computer in the area demands a great deal of education and experience. It is also an expensive experiment because renting a computer is a costly business. The construction of the picture has to be devised entirely from straight lines so the imagination and ingenuity of the programming team is important. The toughest problem is the involved mathematical bookkeeping that must be done in order to keep track of the large amount of data that has to be fed into the computer. The writing of the program or coding of the computer is done by mathematical equations and is a specifically controlled movement. The team has now completed 6 drawings that have some interesting possibilities and visual effects; they are somewhat limited to an almost beginning alphabet, for the men are still learning the capabilities of both themselves and the computer.

The programming for one of these drawings takes three or four days and the actual running of the computer about 30 minutes. The operation of the plotter drives a drafting machine on a moveable drum that makes fine, delicate lines of different lengths and directions. It is a kind of precision line drawing with an occasional jiggling of the line or a change of tone as a side effect where the machine changes direction or overdraws an already existing line.

The size of the drawings is also limited by the size of the plotter, in this case 11 by 17 inches. Because it is a continuous movement it is actually a maze, so if one had the inclination and patience the form of the drawing could be traced through from the starting point to the finish. Different colored inks are employed in some of the drawings that do not particularly enhance the effect of the delicate lines and patterns. The subject matter is either realistic, such as aircraft or musical instruments, or it may be an intricate abstract pattern.

It would be interesting to speculate on what a computer might be able to produce given an artistic genius with mathematical know-how and financial means. The machine provides a virtually unlimited range of patterns and textures. It is the combining of the potential resources of the computer with the esthetic development of the programmer that might develop into something exciting.

––Harrlette Von Breton