Andrew Johnston (PhD candidate, U. of Chicago)
“Coding Patterns: The Algorithmic Mechanisms of John Whitney, Larry Cuba and Early Digital Animation”
Respondent: jonCates (SAIC)
Thursday, Nov. 4 @ 6:30pm
The School of the Art Institute, 112 S. Michigan Ave, Room 1307
This paper examines the development of digital filmmaking and animation technologies in the 1960s and 1970s through an analysis of John Whitney and Larry Cuba’s films. Whitney made some of the first digital animations while an artist in residence at IBM from 1966-1969 and later worked with a variety of programmers through the 1970s, including Larry Cuba on "Arabesque" (1975). Through an analysis of the materials employed in the construction of Whitney and Cuba’s films, my paper attempts to make an intervention into contemporary discourses that highlight the ephemeral nature of digital film or that neglect the importance of how specific platforms and programming languages affect both visual aesthetics and notions of digital technology. I show how these filmmakers were each deeply invested in working through a negotiation with digital technology that attempts to reveal both the mechanism’s expressive logic and its limitations while simultaneously exploring the nature of animation.
jonCates, Associate Professor of Film, Video, New Media & Animation at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, will respond.