Frieder Nake

Basic Info

Name: Frieder Nake
Country of Origin: DE

Description

Frieder Nake belongs to the founding fathers of (digital) computer art. He produced his first works in 1963. He first exhibited his drawings at Galerie Wendelin Niedlichin Stuttgart in November 1965. His early work was influenced by Max Bense’s Information Aesthetics. Until 1969, he went through a succession of increasingly complex programs, from machine language to PL/I. His main work phases are identified by the collection of programs, compArt ER56 (1963-65), Walk-through-raster (1966), Matrix multiplication (1967/68), Generative aesthetics I (1968/69). He declared not to continue producing computer art in 1971 when he published the note, There should be no computer art in page, the Bulletin of the Computer Arts Society. His reasons were mainly of political origin: He did not see how he could actively contribute to computer art and, at the same time, be a political activist against capitalism. He resumed publishing on computer art in the mid 1980s with the break-down of the radical left. With the start in 1999 of project »compArt: a space for computer art«, Nake returned to his roots as a theoretician, writer, creator, and teacher in the domain of digital art and way beyond. He is head of »compArt: Center of Excellence Digital Art«.

Frieder Nake has been a full professor of computer science at the University of Bremen, Germany, since 1972. Since 2005, he has also been teaching at the University of the Arts, Bremen. His teaching and research activities are in computer graphics, digital media, computer art, design of interactive systems, computational semiotics, and general theory of computing. Nake was represented at all important international exhibitions on computer art. He has published in all the areas mentioned above, with a preference for computer generated images.

“The drawings were not very exciting. But the »principle« was!“ (Nake 2004/2005).

Born 1938, he lived in Stuttgart in the late ’60s and produced Matrizenmultiplikation portfolio.

This is one of many works of computer or algorithmic art that Nake made between 1963 and 1971. All of these include abstract images produced using a computer, a tape machine and a drawing machine. Other artists such as A. Michael Noll and George Nees were also working in similar ways during this period. The title of this portfolio refers to Nake’s practice of producing numerical matrices and then programming a computer to multiply the numbers various times. The title therefore draws the viewer’s attention away from the finished picture and towards Nake’s computational process. This emphasis is perhaps explained by his statement in 2010 that ‘every individual piece of algorithmic art is no more than only one instance of the potentially infinitely many from the class of works defined by the algorithm. The tragedy is that the algorithm itself does not often show visual qualities. Its qualities are the potential to generate visual works. But each of its visual products is a shadow only of the algorithm’ (Nake 2010, p.56).

The art historian Grant D. Taylor has argued that Nake’s computer-based methods ‘break with the traditional process of building an image from visual structures, because the input data is merely computing operands’ (Grant D. Taylor, When the Machine Made Art, London 2014, p.78). Nake has gone further, arguing that in computer art, ‘The individual human subject simply did not exist anymore, once he or she had set the boundary conditions for the image to be computed’. Nonetheless, in the same text he also acknowledged that his computer art remained somewhat ‘traditional’, since it ‘resulted in paper work to be put up on the walls of a gallery’ (Nake 2010, p.62).

Further reading
Frieder Nake, ‘Notes on the Programming of Computer Graphics’, in Jasia Reichardt (ed.), Cybernetic Serendipity: The Computer and the ArtsStudio International Special Issue, London 1968, pp.77–8.
Frank Dietrich, ‘Visual Intelligence: The First Decade of Computer Art (1965–1975)’, Leonardo, vol.19, no.2, 1986, pp.159–69.
Frieder Nake, ‘Paragraphs on Computer Art, Past and Present’, Cat 2010: Ideas before Their Time: Connecting the Past and Present in Computer Art, Swinton 2010, pp.55–63.

Explore Artworks By Frieder Nake

Hommage to Kazimir Malevich No. 7

artist’s name, title, and edition information printed below the image signed, dated, and numbered on accompanying certificate of authenticity paper: Fujufilm semi-matt 190 g inkjet paper, edition: 40 unique copies + 4 artist proofs On large screens we see dynamic images generated by the program at the moment of their appearance. The picture “happens” endlessly […]

Hommage to Kazimir Malevich No. 8

artist’s name, title, and edition information printed below the image signed, dated, and numbered on accompanying certificate of authenticity paper: Fujufilm semi-matt 190 g inkjet paper, edition: 40 unique copies + 4 artist proofs On large screens we see dynamic images generated by the program at the moment of their appearance. The picture “happens” endlessly […]

Untitled (Circles and Lines)

artist’s name, computer identifier, and plotter identifier printed lower right   hardware: Standard Elektrik Lorenz ER56 software: COMPART ER65 plotter: Zuse Graphomat Z64

Hommage à Paul Klee

a serigraph after an original unique plotter drawing of the same title artist’s name, computer identifier, and plotter identifier printed lower left hardware: Standard Elektrik Lorenz ER56 software: COMPART ER65 software output machine: Zuse Graphomat Z64 This screenprint was created from a plotter drawing produced using a computer program, or algorithm, written by the artist […]

Hommage à Paul Klee

a serigraph after an original unique plotter drawing of the same title artist’s name, computer identifier, and plotter identifier printed lower left hardware: Standard Elektrik Lorenz ER56 software: COMPART ER65 software output machine: Zuse Graphomat Z64 This screenprint was created from a plotter drawing produced using a computer program, or algorithm, written by the artist […]

Matrizenmultiplikation (Matrix Multiplication) Serie 19 Blatt 2

All of the prints feature compositions of small square outlines of various different colours, which are thinly applied onto white paper. Each composition is surrounded by a thick border of blank paper. In some compositions the squares only have vertical and horizontal lines, while in others they are oriented at slanted angles. Some of the […]

Matrizenmultiplikation (Matrix Multiplication) Serie 19 Blatt 1

All of the prints feature compositions of small square outlines of various different colours, which are thinly applied onto white paper. Each composition is surrounded by a thick border of blank paper. In some compositions the squares only have vertical and horizontal lines, while in others they are oriented at slanted angles. Some of the […]

Matrizenmultiplikation (Matrix Multiplication) Serie 12 Blatt 2

This print is part of a portfolio called matrix multiplications containing twelve images, produced by the German artist Frieder Nake All of the prints feature compositions of small square outlines of various different colours, which are thinly applied onto white paper. Each composition is surrounded by a thick border of blank paper. In some compositions the squares […]

Matrizenmultiplikation (Matrix Multiplication) Serie 12 Blatt 1

This print is part of a portfolio called matrix multiplications containing twelve images, produced by the German artist Frieder Nake All of the prints feature compositions of small square outlines of various different colours, which are thinly applied onto white paper. Each composition is surrounded by a thick border of blank paper. In some compositions the squares […]

Matrizenmultiplikation (Matrix Multiplication) Serie 11 Blatt 3

All of the prints feature compositions of small square outlines of various different colours, which are thinly applied onto white paper. Each composition is surrounded by a thick border of blank paper. In some compositions the squares only have vertical and horizontal lines, while in others they are oriented at slanted angles. Some of the […]

Matrizenmultiplikation (Matrix Multiplication) Serie 11 Blatt 1

All of the prints feature compositions of small square outlines of various different colours, which are thinly applied onto white paper. Each composition is surrounded by a thick border of blank paper. In some compositions the squares only have vertical and horizontal lines, while in others they are oriented at slanted angles. Some of the […]

Matrizenmultiplikation (Matrix Multiplication) Serie 12 Blatt 3

This print is part of a portfolio called matrix multiplications containing twelve images, produced by the German artist Frieder Nake All of the prints feature compositions of small square outlines of various different colours, which are thinly applied onto white paper. Each composition is surrounded by a thick border of blank paper. In some compositions the squares […]

Matrizenmultiplikation (Matrix Multiplication) Serie 12 Blatt 4

This print is part of a portfolio called matrix multiplications containing twelve images, produced by the German artist Frieder Nake All of the prints feature compositions of small square outlines of various different colours, which are thinly applied onto white paper. Each composition is surrounded by a thick border of blank paper. In some compositions the squares […]

Matrizenmultiplikation (Matrix Multiplication) Serie 19 Blatt 5

All of the prints feature compositions of small square outlines of various different colours, which are thinly applied onto white paper. Each composition is surrounded by a thick border of blank paper. In some compositions the squares only have vertical and horizontal lines, while in others they are oriented at slanted angles. Some of the […]

Matrizenmultiplikation (Matrix Multiplication) Serie 19 Blatt 4

All of the prints feature compositions of small square outlines of various different colours, which are thinly applied onto white paper. Each composition is surrounded by a thick border of blank paper. In some compositions the squares only have vertical and horizontal lines, while in others they are oriented at slanted angles. Some of the […]

Markovketten 35 (Markov Chains)

signed and titled lower left print no. 35 of 40 from a series of unique works created from the program Walk through Raster II, originally created in 1966 by Nake and revamped in 2004. Since the Etzold Collection contains a bundle of early computer art from the 1960s and 1970s, the request for loans for […]

Markovketten 34 (Markov Chains)

signed and titled lower left print no. 34 of 40 from a series of unique works created from the program Walk through Raster II, originally created in 1966 by Nake and revamped in 2004. Since the Etzold Collection contains a bundle of early computer art from the 1960s and 1970s, the request for loans for […]

Markovketten 29 (Markov Chains)

signed and titled lower left print no. 29 of 40 from a series of unique works created from the program Walk through Raster II, originally created in 1966 by Nake and revamped in 2004. Since the Etzold Collection contains a bundle of early computer art from the 1960s and 1970s, the request for loans for […]

Hommage à Paul Klee, 13/9/65 Nr. 2 (Homage to Paul Klee)

a serigraph after an original unique plotter drawing of the same title artist’s name, computer identifier, and plotter identifier printed lower left hardware: Standard Elektrik Lorenz ER56 software: COMPART ER65 software output machine: Zuse Graphomat Z64 This screenprint was created from a plotter drawing produced using a computer program, or algorithm, written by the artist […]

Matrizenmultiplikation Nr. 2 Serie 2.5-5 (Matrix Multiplication)

signed, titled, and dated on the back of the paper artist’s name, computer identifier TR4, plotter machine identifier Z64, title, and date printed lower left hardware:  Telefunken-Rechner 4 output machine: Zuse Z64 Graphomat plotter All of the prints feature compositions of small square outlines of various different colours, which are thinly applied onto white paper. […]

Matrizenmultiplikation Nr. 1, Serie 2.5-1 (Matrix Multiplication)

signed, titled, and dated on the back of the paper artist’s name, computer identifier TR4, plotter machine identifier Z64, title, and date printed lower left TR4 indicates the Telefunken-Rechner 4 computer used to program the plotter printer Z64 indicates the Zuse Z64 Graphomat plotter printer used to draw the print on paper   All of […]

13/9/65 No. 5

signed, titled, and dated in graphite on the back of the paper artist’s name, computer identifier ER56, and plotter machine identifier Z64 printed lower right hardware: ER56 Standard Elektrik Lorenz computer output machine: Zuse Z64 Graphomat plotter

Art Ex Machina Portfolio

a portfolio of six serigraphs created after original unique computer-generated images the portfolio is housed in a custom made box with the title printed on the front along the left side the portfolio contains: a serigraph printed colophon page that is numbered 197/200 a lithographic introductory text by page Abraham A. Moles that is printed […]

Walk Through Raster

computer used to create the image: Telefunken TR4 using Algol 60 and custom software Walk Through Raster machine used to draw the image: ZUSE Graphomat Z64   In 1966, Nake used the Walk-through-Raster software in the ALGOL 60 programming language to create as series of computer-generated drawings on paper. The drawings were produced by a […]

Walk Through Raster

computer used to create the image: Telefunken TR4 using Algol 60 and custom software Walk Through Raster machine used to draw the image: ZUSE Graphomat Z64   In 1966, Nake used the Walk-through-Raster software in the ALGOL 60 programming language to create as series of computer-generated drawings on paper. The drawings were produced by a […]

Walk Through Raster

computer used to create the image: Telefunken TR4 using Algol 60 and custom software Walk Through Raster machine used to draw the image: ZUSE Graphomat Z64   In 1966, Nake used the Walk-through-Raster software in the ALGOL 60 programming language to create as series of computer-generated drawings on paper. The drawings were produced by a […]

Walk Through Raster

computer used to create the image: Telefunken TR4 using Algol 60 and custom software Walk Through Raster machine used to draw the image: ZUSE Graphomat Z64   In 1966, Nake used the Walk-through-Raster software in the ALGOL 60 programming language to create as series of computer-generated drawings on paper. The drawings were produced by a […]

Matrizenmultiplikation Serie 29 (Matrix Multiplication)

artist’s name, computer identifier TR4, plotter machine identifier Z64, title, and date printed lower left TR4 indicates the Telefunken-Rechner 4 computer used to program the plotter printer Z64 indicates the Zuse Z64 Graphomat plotter printer used to draw the print on paper  

Walk-Through-Raster Series 7.3-1

signed and dated lower right on the paper computer used to create the image: Telefunken TR4 using Algol 60 and custom software Walk Through Raster machine used to draw the image: ZUSE Graphomat Z64

Hommage a HE

artist’s name, computer identifier 7094, plotter machine identifier CALCOMP, title, and date printed lower right 7094 indicates the IBM 7094 computer used to program the plotter printer CALCOMP indicates the CALCOMP 565 plotter printer used to draw the print on paper  

Zufälliger Polygonzug – 13/9/65 Nr. 7 (Random Polygon)

artist’s name, computer identifier ER56, and plotter machine identifier Z64 printed lower right ER56 indicates the Standard Elektrik Lorenz computer used to program the plotter printer Z64 indicates the Zuse Z64 Graphomat plotter printer used to draw the print on paper   The algorithm “Random Polygon” (which is part of the package compArt ER56) is […]

Geradenscharen (Sets of Straight Lines)

artist’s name, computer identifier ER56, and plotter machine identifier Z64 printed lower right ER56 indicates the Standard Elektrik Lorenz computer used to program the plotter printer Z64 indicates the Zuse Z64 Graphomat plotter printer used to draw the print on paper  

Geradenscharen (Sets of Straight Lines)

artist’s name, computer identifier ER56, and plotter machine identifier Z64 printed lower right ER56 indicates the Standard Elektrik Lorenz computer used to program the plotter printer Z64 indicates the Zuse Z64 Graphomat plotter printer used to draw the print on paper