The History of Crossover Art
- Digital Art - Charles A. Csuri

In the early 1960ies digital computers became available to artists for the first time. The output medium was usually a plotter, a CRT monitor or an alphanumeric printout, which was them manually transferred into a visual medium. Charles Csuri who's background is painting started to work with digital computers around 1964.

Charles A. Csuri: Aging Process. 1968

Fig.: Charles Csuri: Aging Process. 1968


"Two drawings were digitized, one of a young girl and the other of an old woman. The program starts with the young girl and then in stages moves it toward the older woman. Gradually the drawing is fragmented with a greater displacement as it reaches the center. Then the fragments begin to incrementally change their shape until the drawing of the woman is realized. This process was used to create a short animation sequence and it was probably more effective as an animation rather than a still image."

(Charles A. Csuri)


"When I was a traditional painter I often thought there was a direct relationship between the tactile kinesthetic sense and emotion. That is, the bolder my brush stroke the greater the power and feeling. A gentle touch revealed a soft and gentle spirit. I learned there is not a direct correspondence. Emotion or spirit is not a physical weight or measure of touch. It is much more complex and mysterious. How does a writer, a composer or a dance choreographer create a work of art? One uses words to construct an idea or to express feelings. There is an abstract code for a musical score and a language to represent bodily gestures. Does the composer hear musical notes and instruments in their mind and record them onto paper? Does the dance choreographer see and feel virtual dancers moving through space?

I no longer use brushes, pencil or charcoal to create my images. Since I use a keyboard and mouse, does it follow I cannot make a meaningful artistic statement. I punch keys like a writer but my symbols are a mathematical-like code. Am I very limited as an artist because I must be logical and systematic? The computer language enables me to organize and structure the artistic content and meaning. I learned many years ago it takes time and experience before one becomes accustomed to a medium and tools. This is necessary before there can be any kind of flow or tempo to creative expression.

But, where is the spontaneity in the context of computers? I do wonder what we mean by spontaneity. Does the computer keyboard or mouse restrict my creativity because I cannot be direct? We can more easily understand the idea of the flow of words as the writer works through a keyboard. There can be an emotional surge as the writer strings words together. Then we have the composer and choreographer working with paper, pen and ink. Is spontaneity represented by the rapid recording of symbols onto paper? We know there is some kind of link between the painter's emotions and the brush. However, creativity is much more complex than the outward appearances of the tactile and kinesthetic.

Now I am working with the computer as an artistic medium. I have become accustomed to a tempo or dynamic as I set mathematical values in parameter space. There is an intellectual rhythm. Lurking somewhere in the background is my knowledge and feel for the great art of the past. When I set mathematical values, my mind is sensing choices as patterns of color and light. I see the relationships between objects as transformations involving position, rotation and scale. At a higher level it is a flow of functions, procedures and algorithms. All of this now is translated into pixels or my brush marks. The spontaneity of expression is in my mind and not in my fingers. My esthetic sensibility becomes imbedded in the computer language. The computer responds to my excitement and feeling through my instructions. It gives me real-time feedback as I see my image on the monitor. Outwardly, this has become my new canvas. I work back and forth altering the relationships between objects, colors and textures in a world space. Finally, I decide if it is art."

(Charles A. Csuri)