Ben F. Laposky is referred to on Wikipedia as “the pioneer for electronic art”. Bold words, but given that in 1953 he had a touring gallery show of oscilliscope designs, it’s clear that he’s at least near the front of the pack.
This curiosity I came across is from 1961. Computer art was still pretty far off the art world’s radar but Recreational Mathematics (Issue No 4, August 1961) provided Ben Laposky a venue to discuss his process. This little journal piece features seven of the “oscillons” (numbers: 39, 11, 10, 18, 41, 16, 38) from his Electronic Abstractions exhibit.
The content of Laposky’s article is largely a readable technical explanation of the work. Eventually he shifts from referring to this work as “design” to calling it an “art form”. Furthermore he briefly calls it the reigning “fourth-dimensional art form” and appeals to relativity and “Minkowski geometry time”. He closes out by discussing his successful traveling exhibit of this work, but suggests that 8 years on it is the only art show of its kind, although the advertising world frequently co-opts the aesthetic. This piece refers to 1937 article that describes a similar design process… so the hunt continues.
For more on early computer artists visit [DAM], the Digital Art Museum’s, site as well as the Spalter Digital Art Collection’s blog. It was their collection in the DeCordova’s Drawing with Code exhibition, that turned us on to this corner of the world.