Japanese programmer-philosopher makes digital Mondrians — in 1964

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We've already seen, in the pages of Boing Boing, several unions of technology and the aesthetics of Dutch neoplasticist painter Piet Mondrian. We've seen a Mondrian PC, a kinda-sorta Mondrian Creative Zen MP3 player (remember those?), and a Mondrian cake. (I don't know about you, but I consider cakes one of the noblest forms of technology.)

But now we've got the lowdown on perhaps the earliest Mondrian-tech collaboration: Japanese philosopher-programmer Hiroshi Kawano's 1964 algorithmic Mondrians. Overhead Compartment's Claudio Rivera has the story:

Why an artificial Mondrian? Perhaps there's an obvious and immediate affinity between his iconic compositions and such computer-generated figures as those that appeared in Japan's IBM Review in 1964. But Hiroshi Kawano did not simply digitize Piet Mondrian; it could be stated inversely that he was among the first to Mondrianize digital art. The visualization of color and form for Kawano follows from an apparently vital aesthetic process in which analysis bears the same "artificial" relation to programming as reduction might bear to painting. One is inclined to ask — What other kind of Mondrian could there possibly be?

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Kawama spoke of his work in precise and programmatic terms, seemingly adopting a physics of predictive lab experimentation at the exclusion of messy empirical studies undertaken en plein air. The syntax and logical operators of the OKI symbolic input programming language, which served as his medium, constitute an experimental "style" in the artisanal, perhaps even botanical sense—a meaning retained in the Dutch "De Stijl"—and thereby invoke a rodlike connection, jamb, joint, or post. If algorithmic art hinges along such vertices, Kawano's fascination is with its pivotal motion.

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The piece's prose may take you a bit longer than usual to process, granted, but I think the appeal of Kawano's hyper-pixelated yet bleeding-edge midcentury take on Mondrian speaks for itself — just as do "real" Mondrians themselves.