Chromatic Algorithms: Synthetic Color, Computer Art, And Aesthetics After Code

Hardcover | August 13, 2014

byCarolyn L. Kane

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These days, we take for granted that our computer screens—and even our phones—will show us images in vibrant full color. Digital color is a fundamental part of how we use our devices, but we never give a thought to how it is produced or how it came about.
           
Chromatic Algorithms reveals the fascinating history behind digital color, tracing it from the work of a few brilliant computer scientists and experimentally minded artists in the late 1960s and early ‘70s through to its appearance in commercial software in the early 1990s. Mixing philosophy of technology, aesthetics, and media analysis, Carolyn Kane shows how revolutionary the earliest computer-generated colors were—built with the massive postwar number-crunching machines, these first examples of “computer art” were so fantastic that artists and computer scientists regarded them as psychedelic, even revolutionary, harbingers of a better future for humans and machines. But, Kane shows, the explosive growth of personal computing and its accompanying need for off-the-shelf software led to standardization and the gradual closing of the experimental field in which computer artists had thrived.
           
Even so, the gap between the bright, bold presence of color onscreen and the increasing abstraction of its underlying code continues to lure artists and designers from a wide range of fields, and Kane draws on their work to pose fascinating questions about the relationships among art, code, science, and media in the twenty-first century.

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These days, we take for granted that our computer screens—and even our phones—will show us images in vibrant full color. Digital color is a fundamental part of how we use our devices, but we never give a thought to how it is produced or how it came about.            Chromatic Algorithms reveals the fascinating history behind digital ...

Carolyn L. Kane is a postdoctoral fellow at Brown University and assistant professor of visual communications at Ryerson University in Toronto.

other books by Carolyn L. Kane

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Kobo ebook|Apr 1 2011

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:328 pages, 10 × 7 × 1.2 inPublished:August 13, 2014Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022600273X

ISBN - 13:9780226002736

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Introduction. How Color Became Code

 

Part 1. Chromatic Visions (400 B.C.-1969)

            Colors Sacred and Synthetic

                        Classical and Modern Color: Plato through Goethe

                        Industrial Color: Synthetics through Day-Glo Psychedelics

            Synthetic Color in Video Synthesis

 

Part 2. Disciplining Color: Encounters with Number and Code (1965-1984)

            Informatic Color and Aesthetic Transformation in Early Computer Art

            Collaborative Computer Art and Experimental Color Systems

            From Chromakey to the Alpha Channel

 

Part 3. “Transparent” Screens for Opaque Ontology (1984-2007)

            Digital Infared as Algorithmic Lifeworld

            The Photoshop Cinema

            Postscript. A New Dark Age

 

Acknowledgements

Notes

Bibliography

Index

Editorial Reviews

“Kane’s fascinating book is the perfect example of what twenty-first century media history and theory should be—wide-reaching; attentive to the details of media and software technologies; bringing into conversation art, science, and code; and combining analysis of particular artifacts and artworks with institutional history. This is one book you must read, both for its methodology and ideas and the histories Kane uncovers. A fantastic achievement from a brilliant young scholar.”