From Brush in Hand to Brush in Machine: 1947 to 2011

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Roman Verostko
Thursday, 15 September, 2011 - 10:45 - 11:45
The ISEA2011 keynote speech by Roman Verostko outlines sources that dominated his pursuit as an artist for over 60 years.

The video documentation of Roman Verostko's keynote speech From Brush in Hand to Brush in Machine: 1947 to 2011 at ISEA2011 is available online in four parts. Please click on the the following links for Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV.

In this presentation Verostko outlines sources that dominated his pursuit as an artist for over 60 years. He identifies “form-generating” ideas from early 20th Century pioneers of non-objective art that influenced his pre-algorist work. He illustrates how those underlying concepts shaped his approach to structuring algorithms for creating his art. His presentation illustrates the transition from what he calls “art-mind guiding hand” to “art-mind guiding machine”. By doing so he identifies the power of algorithmic form generators and the unique qualities of form they can yield. This session includes a brief addendum on his 2008 project, the Upsidedown Book and Mural for which he resurrected pre-algorist drawings and transformed them with digital tools.


Born in the USA in 1929, Roman Verostko is best known for his richly colored algorithmic pen and brush drawings. As a Bush fellow at MIT in 1970 he set out to “humanize our experience of emerging technologies”. Now, 40 years later, his quest to do so continues in his “mergings” of “mind & machine”. Primarily a painter in his pre-algorist work, he also created electronically synchronized audio-visual programs in the 1960’s. In 1970 he followed a course in Fortran at the Control Data Institute and exhibited his first fully algorist work, “The Magic Hand of Chance” in 1982. His generative software controls 14 pen plotter stalls achieving exquisite penmanship and expressive brush strokes guiding both ink pens and brushes with plotters. His recent show at the DAM in Berlin, “Algorithmic Poetry”, celebrates nature via visual forms generated with brushes and ink pens driven with his algorithms. In 2008 he merged past and present by transforming his 1970’s drawings into a stunning array of digital images for an Upsidedown Book and Mural for the Fred Rogers Center, Latrobe, PA, USA.

2009 SIGGRAPH Distinguished Artist Award for Lifetime Achievement; Artec ’95, Recommendatory Prize, Nagoya, Japan; Golden Plotter Award, Germany, 1994; Professor Emeritus, MCAD, 1994; Prix Ars Electronica, Honorable Mention, 1993; Director, ISEA 1993; Bush Fellow, Center for Advanced Visual Studies, MIT, 1970; Outstanding Educators of America, 1971, 1974.