Chromatic Algorithms : Synthetic Color, Computer Art, and Aesthetics After Code
The first computer-generated color was developed in the late 1960s, and many viewed these electronic hues as revolutionary, psychedelic vehicles to fuse human and machine consciousness and expand the perceptual field in art, science, and industry.Chromatic Algorithms explores the ways in which a few brilliant computer scientists and experimentally minded artists transformed postwar number crunching machines into tools for producing luminous colors. Their radical new Computer Art” seemed to open the doors onto an unlimited field of aesthetic possibility. However, with the advent of personal computing, the Graphical User Interface (GUI), and the standardization of digital color, this experimental field all but closed.
By the 2000s, luscious and automated hyper-colors enticed artists, designers, architects, animators, and others to work with digital colors in many creative ways. Yet in this shift to industry standard digital color, a gap emerged between the colors, growing brighter and bolder on screens and in public spaces, and their corresponding abstraction in code. How and why did the user interface become more transparent just as its underlying operations became more complex and opaque? Can this fundamental disparity be located in new media art, and if so, what critical value does it offer? To answer these questions and more, Carolyn L. Kane boldly moves across the philosophy of technology, aesthetics, color studies, and new media history and theory.