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Experimenting with computer films

16 mm Computer Generated Algorithmic Films 1972-1975

During my one-man show at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris in 1971, I met the CEO of C.G.M (La Companie Generale de Micromatique), a data storage and preservation company, which specialized in micro films. He invited me to experiment on their brand new machine DATAGRAPHIX 4460 to make computer animations. I gladly accepted and during the next 4 years I made several short computer films. It was a very painful experience since the process was very slow and the turnover dragged out over many months.
Article citing Manfred Mohr's use of the Datagraphix machine, 1973

For the film, each frame, generated by the algorithm, was drawn with a light beam on a small high resolution screen with an attached camera which automatically photographed each frame onto celluloid film. This film was then transfered through a contact copy onto 16mm film to create the animations.

Projection of the computer generated algorithmic 16mm film "Cubic Limit" (1973-1974) at the Carroll / Fletcher Gallery, in the show Manfred Mohr | One and Zero, London, UK, 2012

Photo courtesy Carroll / Fletcher Gallery     (click for larger view)

The original 16 mm film (around 4 min), 'Cubic Limit' (1973-1974), is now converted into digital format. The quality of the copy is not good, but nevertheless shows the film from that time. It is installed on youTube with a header and trailer. Images from this film were published in the catalog "Cubic Limit", 1975 (see below).

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Click here to see film script and images

The earlier 16mm film (around 4 min), 'Square Roots' (1972-1973), was my first attempt to make a computer movie. I abandoned this short film because I felt it was too narrative. Subsequently I made the more abstract film 'Cubic Limit' (above). Nevertheless, although unedited, this is a short amusing film which has some of the 2-D elements which I later used in 'Cubic Limit' in 3-D.

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This short 16mm film (around 1 1/2 minutes) is 'Transition I' (1972-1973). As an inauguration gift, I linearly transformed a sketch of the new city hall into the coat of arms of my hometown Pforzheim. Images from this film are published in the book: Pforzheim 1973 (see below).

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This very short footage (around 1/2 minute) from 1972 is a study of a cube linearly transforming to random points and back.

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This footage 'Complementary Cubes' (around 5 1/2 minutes), from 1973 - 1974, was originally written for the film "Cubic Limit" but was not used in the film. It shows 2 sequences of subsets of all the combinations of 2 rotating cubes, one with 'n' edges and the other with '12 minus n' edges. Images from this film were published in the catalog "Cubic Limit", 1975 (see below). Images from this film were subsequently used in artworks: transformations of texts and images", 1976 and signs and co-signs", 1976.

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© 1975 by Manfred Mohr

First published:
The sequences from the films "Cubic Limit" and "Complementary Cubes" (above) were published in the catalog
- Manfred Mohr, "Cubic Limit", Galerie Weiller, Paris, 1975 with the caption: Images du Film (16 mm) 'Cubic Limit'    (catalog and shows)

The sequences from the film "Transition I" and other drawings of linear transformations were published in the book:
- Pforzheim 1973, Festschrift der Stadt Pforzheim, 1973    Click to see

A drawing related to the cubic limit film:
P-153, pen plotter drawing, 1974    Click to see