Micro/Macro Series

In the early 1980s I began to experiment with the 3M BFA Computer Paint System, a very early computer paint system that predates the personal computer revolution. I was one of three artists who were invited to play with the pre-release system, and I continued to work with it for over a decade. Although computer paint systems did not become widespread until the advent of MacPaint in 1984, the first such system was actually built in the 1970’s by Shoup and Smith at Xerox PARC and New York Tech. The system that I use was originally developed by Artronics, a company that was later bought by 3M. The hardware is a 2-foot square box with a dedicated Intel 8086 processor running the CP/M operating system, with a 512×512 framebuffer and 128KB of memory, which sold for $32,000. There are two monitors, one for commands and one for displaying the image. The system allowed me to draw directly with light, making marks with a light pen on a digital tablet.

Continuing with the exploration that I began with the microdrawings, I used the tiny point of the light pen to explore the possibility of working simultaneously with microscopic and macroscopic imagery, sometimes in the very same work.

I began by repainting the Genesis 83-1 painting from scratch with the light pen. I then worked on a series of variations, ending with about thirty Micro/Macro images. The underlying theme for the series was the global interaction of Eastern and Western cultures in a dynamic equilibrium.

The 20″x25″ Cibachrome prints were created by photographing the color display screen.