war stories, page 1
PARC was my first digital image. I made it on January 6, 1975 around 3:30 AM at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center. It was the first time in mylife I'd been in a room with a computer . After a few hours of working with the PARC system, I was sold on the concept that digital imaging was the next big step in the evolution of art.
Bug 3 was my first 3D character, an articulated insect I built in 1976 at Information International Incorporated (Triple-I), the first all-digital Hollywood studio. Creating art at Triple-I was incredibly difficult. I worked on a huge DEC 10 computer right out of a Fifties scifi flick, complete with blinking lights and spinning tape drives. It had a megabyte of RAM, a stupendous amount of memory back then. Bug 3 took me over a year to put together.
In 1977 I was invited to be the Artist in Residence at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena. Aku was the first picture I made there. I worked on a Digital Equipment PDP 11/45 minicomputer the size of a horse. There was no commercial imaging software in those days. The programs were all one-of-a-kind applications handcrafted by individual programmers. Getting information about how the system functioned from them was like pulling teeth.
The programs I worked with at JPL were the most advanced 3D imaging applications of their day. In spite of their sophistication, the software was fairly fragile. Pictures often didn't render on the screen the way they were supposed to. Sometimes I liked the unpredictability of the situation. When Navajo emerged from the rendering pipeline, it wasn't what I was expecting at all, but I was just crazy about it.
After a while my whole approach to composing images underwent a conceptual transformation. I transitioned from the painterly notion of arranging forms on a surface to perceiving pictures as frames that open onto immersive worlds. Composing morphed into spatial exploration. Transjovian Pipeline came out of that process. Pipeline became my signature work and was reproduced in hundreds of books and magazines around the world.