IC - Week 10 - William Larson

I remember researching the William Larson's works in the Sustainable Prospects module but back then his works did not resonate with me as much as now. I don't understand fully his method but what I am able to comprehend about his "electronic drawings' is quite incredible. His digital collages were created long before the computer software offered that opportunity to artists ((1969–1978)) and are "some of the earliest digitally generated works of art".

Here is a short explanation of the process of generating an image I found on the page of Gitterman gallery which represents Larson:



"Larson used a Graphic Sciences DEX 1 Teleprinter, a sophisticated early fax machine, which converted pictures, text and sound into digitally-generated audio signals. These signals were transmitted over a telephone line and a stylus burned the image onto a special carbon-based paper, creating a unique “electronic drawing.”  He was able to manipulate these images by altering the voltage of the output during the printing process, by moving the stylus during printing and by sending multiple transmissions to the same page, electronically layering images, text and visual representations of sound." (Gitterman gallery)

I find these series of works, which he called Fireflies, very inspiring. The seemingly chaotic, nonchalant configurations of forms are in fact perfectly balanced compositions. 

He combined the fragments of photographs, typography and abstract shapes into one dynamically generated image enriched with the artefacts specific to the used apparatus. The compositions, although generated by the machine and non representational, evoke the dynamics of the organic structures. The use of photographs (their fragments in fact), as a malleable tissue stripped out of the narrative aspects really speaks to me.

Althought those works are aesthetically and technically far away from my own realisations, I can see some tangential aspects like for example multiple layers, fusion between the analogue and digital, artifacts generated as a result of qualities of the tools.

About ten years later (1988) David Hockney experimented with fax machines as well, although his approach was totally different. 

Studying the Larson's works made me think again about the idea of embeding/projecting the fragments of images on top of the original one which I was playing with after the IoP Symposium at Falmouth. During one of the talks, I think it was Gary's McLeod one about rephotography, I had an idea of adding a layer of what is in front or behind the place I photographed by projecting the fragments of the image. I shared the idea with Steve Tyrell and couldn't wait to give it a go. It turned out to be not as easy as I expected and I gave up because of some technical issues - the conflicting frequencies of the recorded video, projector. I asked my colleague at work today about potential solutions and have one tip to check. There is not much time now due to upcoming assigments so it may be something to play with after the submission.