Grafiche programmate (Programmed Graphics)

Posted in Artworks

In 1961 Gruppo T was invited to contribute a series of Programmed Graphics according to cybernetic criteria for Almanacco Letterario Bompiani 1962, devoted to the “applications of electronic calculators to moral sciences and literature”. Umberto Eco and Bruno Munari, the editors of the issue, used the concept of programmed art for the very first time here.

Davide Boriani set up a series of logical processes in order to produce an ideally never-ending series of variations of a standard image: a photograph in colours of the portrait of Lucrezia Panciatichi by Agnolo Bronzino, divided into 400 equal modules.

Each module is assigned a number, defining its position according to the space of the work: the codes in matrix 1 define the spatial configuration of modules.
The average level of brightness for the black and white version of the image is codified through ten values of grey: matrix 3 codifies brightness.

The average chromatic level of each module is decomposed into different amounts of primary subtractive colours: Cyan, Magenta and Yellow. These quantities are codified through matrix 6 into 10 chromatic values. The three sets of values (matrixes 1, 3, 6) are then modified according to logical patterns including a random component.

Spatial permutation
One third of the values in matrix 1 is spatially reassigned in a random sequence, composing a different range of values (spatial matrix 2).
The original image is re-rendered by configuring the modules codified according to spatial matrix 1 in the positions defined by spatial matrix 2.

Brightness permutation
The matrix of brightness values (3) is varied with simple arithmetic operations including a pseudo-randomised component: each number (n) is multiplied by 7; the numbers a, b, c, that form the resulting value (x) are summed, which leads to a value y, ranging between 1 and 10.

Values y form the numeric matrix of brightness 4, according to which the image is re-rendered by replacing the grayscale values as codified in matrix 3 according to y values from matrix 4.

Following variations of the image are obtained by reducing the 10 values of brightness from matrix 3 to three values (matrix 5). A variation is obtained by assigning the values 1 to black, 2 to white, 3 to grey.
A second variation is generated by assigning the values 1 and 3 to white, and 2 to black. Further variations are obtained by replacing the grey values of matrix 3 with strokes with different inclinations.
The angle value of each stroke is obtained from the values of matrix 3 multiplied by 20º (matrix of angle values 1). The resulting image is then varied by setting the strokes of angle matrix 1 according to values (y) from matrix 4.

Chromatic permutation
The numeric matrix 6 of chromatic values is varied according to a similar principle: n × 7 = abc; a+b+c = y.

Values y form the numeric matrix of colours 7. The original image is re-rendered by assigning chromatic values (n) already codified in the chromatic matrix 6, according to the values (y) of matrix 7.

By modifying progressively each numeric matrix according to the above mentioned processes, it is possible to generate an unlimited number of variations.

According to Giovanni Anceschi, Programmed Graphics by Boriani anticipated base concepts of computer graphics: the module, codified through values defining position, brightness and colour, corresponds to the pixel. The sequence of operations are a prefiguration of algorithms. The system of processes suggests the idea of software.