11 December 2014 — 7 January 2015
When first I worked with computers there were two ways to make images, one was with using line printers that only printed text like a typewriter, this was and still is called ASCII art. The second was using plotters which drew diagrams using inked filled pens. I used one for years at CSIRO drawing diagrams of ocean currents and elevations, at the time I thought they were boring and being able to make pictures with pixels was much more interesting.
Later I was employed by the University of Tasmania to develop a program called “Computers in Art” in the early 1990’s. Professor Geoff Parr and I initiated a group to explore the potential of the digital print which was an emerging technology at the time. Our group, entitled DARF (Digital Art Research Facility) included Pat Brassington, Milan Milojevic and Mary Scott. We were successful in gaining funding from the Australian Research Council (the first artists in the country to do so) and spent several productive years experimenting with large digital prints. The highlight for me was being selected as the Grand Prize winner of the fourth International Sapporo Print Biennale in 1998.
In the early 2000’s my art making took a different direction into the animated image, and I undertook a PhD in software art. As part of my doctoral studies I had been learning about the very early days of what was called “Computer Art”, in particular a man called Roman Verostko who used plotters in unusual ways to make images. I was intrigued and so brought an old Hewlett Packard pen plotter from an architect on ebay. For six years it sat in the corner of my studio gathering dust, not forgotten, but waiting until its time had come.
Digital prints have become too easy, and I like making art that has a challenge, I looked at the old plotter, and thought your time has come. Twenty five year old computer technology is cranky and temperamental and it wasn’t too long with trying to get ancient disposable ink pens working that my infatuation waned. Browsing, I discovered the wall plotter and a young New Yorker called Harvey Moon. Harvey didn’t invent the wall-drawing plotter (also known as a vPlotter or Polargraph), designs go back to the early 1980’s. Currently though they are cheap and easy to make using parts developed for hobbyist DIY 3D printers, I’ve adapted a design called Makelangelo to make these drawings.
The imagery is primarily derived from a book by eccentric Italian Futurist designer, artist and inventor Bruno Munari. Munari creed was that design could be art, a prescient view of contemporary design. He wasn’t one to be confined by any labels and his curiosity and creative output richly covered two, three dimensions and time. One of his graphic design outputs was the "Supplemento al dizionario italiano”, a dictionary of Italian hand gestures. For a long time I’ve been interested in the language and particularly at the moment in the mutability of meaning, as the double speak of corporate spin and politics has reached Orwellian levels. For this body of work though I focused more on contemporary vernacular that technology has brought to our lives. I grew up in Tasmania and remember the uniquely Tasmanian vernacular, that isolated communities develop over generations. The heavy wool Tasmanian ‘bluey’, the cheerful salutation of ‘Cock’ used between males (there was no intended reference to genetalia). Now globalized English bubbles like a stew as niche interest groups evolve not just new works, but new and nuanced meanings for existing ones in online communities. Now the etymology of words and new dialects occurs in weeks and months rather than the decades and centuries previously. But there hasn't been a corresponding flux in the evolution of gesture, (except for the viral spread of the ritualised handshakes from African American culture) so these works are my ‘tongue in cheek’ mapping of contemporary idioms to physical gesture.
Bill Hart 2014
Particular acknowledgement to Marginally Clever and Evil Mad Scientist for their prior work. Creativity cannot exist without the commons.
Tools My Father Gave Me
15th February - 11 March 2013
A year ago I helped my elderly parents move from their home to an independent living facility. My father is never one to throw out anything that once was valuable or in some possible future may have some utility. Since I first moved out, from every trip home I have returned with some utensil / artefact or invention; an electric lawn mower resulting from the unholy union of an old Victa and a washing machine, a gentleman’s tie press from the 1920’s, rustic toilet roll holder that for years only used to come out when my parents came to visit…
Even with this constant flow of gifts, their modest suburban house was packed with artefacts of the previous ten decades. Most overwhelming was the workshop, where I laboured for days sorting / stacking / carting. As I worked and afterwards I reflected on the time I had spent in his workshop and the things I had learnt, the tools both tangible and intangible that go to make up a personal history.
The result is a suite of digital prints. The images are all constructed using words from books as marks, the labour undertaken by bespoke software tools I have been developing over the past decade. The prints come in pairs, each pair containing an object and a quotation from the book. The object, the quote, the book and the typeface all relate to a specific time or memory – fragments of a life.
Bill Hart has a PhD in software art and is a lecturer in Electronic Media at the Tasmanian College of the Arts. He has been experimenting with digital imaging for almost twenty years, and has exhibited his prints both nationally and internationally.
He would like to acknowledge the support of Geoff Parr in printing these images and research support from the University of Tasmania.