Thesis Info

Thesis Title
Computer graphics – aesthetic experiments between two cultures
Christoph Kluetsch
2nd Author
3rd Author
Number of Pages
University Bremen
Thesis Supervisor
Prof. Sigrid Schade
Supervisor e-mail
Sigrid.Schade AT
Other Supervisor(s)
Prof. Frieder Nake
Language(s) of Thesis
Department / Discipline
fine arts / art history
Languages Familiar to Author
German, English (fluent), French and Italian (basic)
URL where full thesis can be found
computer graphic, generative esthetics, information esthetics, Stuttgart school, New Tendencies, art theory, Max Bense, Abraham Moles, Frieder Nake, Georg Nees, A. Michael Noll, Manfred Mohr
Abstract: 200-500 words
During the 1960s, a new form of art emerged, which now is seen as a forerunner of digital media art. However, in this thesis it is argued, that early computer graphics stands in a much more complex context. To show this, five contextualizations and four pioneering work bodies are presented. – First it is argued that computer graphics emerged in the context of C. P. Snow’s ‘two cultures’. The cold war conflict and the abyss between the humanities and the natural sciences called for a ‘new breed of creators’, bridging the two cultures by investigating and producing art based on scientific methods. Second, the philosophical and art theoretical background of the so-called Stuttgart school is introduced. Max Bense’s and Abraham A. Moles’s information aesthetics positioned approaches by Claude Shannon, Norbert Wiener, and David Birkhoff within a larger framework of semiotics, process ontology, and social sciences. Their goal was to determine objective numeric ‘aesthetic measures’ based on communication theory, perception theory, cyber-netics, and mathematics. Third, the purely descriptive approach of information aesthetics was transformed into generative aesthetic. The central manifesto was formulated by Max Bense in 1965, at the occasion of the first computer graphics exhibition worldwide in Stuttgart. Fourth, generative aesthetics and early computer art were both rooted in science and in the postwar art scene. The Bauhaus had a revival at the Ulm ‘Hochschule für Gestaltung’, as the New Bauhaus at Chicago spread its influence to new art and science centers at MIT and Harvard. Together with the New Tendencies movement in Europe, the international concept and op-art, as well as the Art and Technology movement in the USA, a framework was created that allowed art to be seen as ‘visual research’. Fifth, the concept of an objective (i.e. science based) art and aesthetics is linked to theories of art by Wölfflin and Panofsky as well as Kandinsky and constructivism. – In the second part of the thesis, these contexts serve as a theoretical background for a detailed analysis of pioneering algorithmic art represented here by works of Georg Nees, Frieder Nake, A. Michael Noll, and Manfred Mohr. Interviews were conducted to connect documents of the time with retrospective insight.