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Commentaries Readers’ comments offering substantial theoretical and practical contributionsto issues that have been raisedin textspublishedin Leonardoare welcomed.TheEditorsreservethe righttoedit andshortenletters. Letters should be written in English and sent to the Main Editorial Office. COMMENTS ON “THE EXPANDING MEDIUM: THE FUTURE OF COMPUTER ART” In responding to H.W. Franke’s excellent paper (Leonardo20, No. 4, 1987)I would like to consider three sets of questions. The first set concerns hardware. Franke mentions ray tracing, which is important for the design of 3D sceneries. He notes that, for the time being, ray tracing is too expensive to use with animation and too slow in connection with interactive dialog-oriented visualized events. There are hints in the literature, however, that connection machines, based on clusters of processors, will be used for ray tracing Apparently the construction of advanced flight simulators may be of importance too. These will include a special ‘foveal projector’ displaying an area with high resolution exactly in the line of the observer’ssight, superimposed on a background projection [2]. Franke believes that “home-environmentsimulators ” will be developed in the next generation. What, however, will be the force-vectors of controlduringthat time? Must people’s interest be aroused and kept alive, or is there a hard core of promoters already strong enough to guide the process of evolution into its automotive phase? The necessity of powerful specification and programming languages for the design of multimedia processes poses another set of problems. Two current developments in computer science may be of help. On the level of computer programs, the development of objectoriented programming allows the construction of message-exchanging and cooperating visual-auditory objects. On the higher level of specification, there is logical programming, by which from merestatements about objects and events computer programs can be inferred automatically. In addition, computer linguistics will place other tools at our disposal. Would Franke agree that one day, as part of one of his ‘spheres of action’, we willsimplysay, “Hills pleasein the background! In the middle ground [I]. 0 1988 ISAST two horses grazing. From the right woman is drawing nearer. She ..,”? When one remembers that art is an essential, not an accidental, vein of cultural life, one comes to still more important questions. Assuming that people in the future devote themselves to Franke-stylecomputermultimediagames, I would consider it outright dangerous to let them drift into two separate streams: one person only playing and savouring, the other, game-designing, plotting, accumulating know-how. Would Franke agree that anyfutureplayer’s career must begin with the acquisition of a ‘driver’s license’?That as part of her examination she must produce a complex game of her own design? Franke’s scenario almost inevitably reminds us of the Glasperlenspiel of Hermann Hesse. There every player has designed all of his own games by himself. REFERENCES 1. W.D. Hillis,“The Connection Machine”, Scientific American (June 1987) pp. 86-93. 2. R.N. Haber, “Flight Simulation”, Scientific American (July 1986) pp. 90-97. Georg Nees Im HeuschIag 13 0-8520Erlangen FederalRepublic of Germany REPLY TO GEORG NEES Georg Nees is one of the few who followed the development of computer art up to the “theatre of events”, or, “home-environment-simulators”, and that iswhy I am especiallygrateful to him for his supplemental remarks. Concerning the next fewyears, I do not believe that development will be carried out by artists;interest ismuch too lowfor that. Essentially the question will be how to adapt usable systems, such as simulators , to the goals of art as far as possible. At any rate we can expect a much higher readiness on the part of the entertainment industry to apply the new methods and thus to adjust them to trivial pleasure. Today it is difficult to predict which form the approach to interactive multimedia plays will take later on. That will depend finally on the attitude of the relevant institutions, either to accept orto continue to reject the artistic design methods presented by the computer. In any case it is fascinating to synthesize our own worlds at will and perhaps to realize-as in a game with glass beads-our capabilities and possibilities ; but at the same time, and exactly because of the...


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