Recode: Feu d’Artifice 1978

By mark webster / March 14, 2013 / Sessions / No Comments

We have the great pleasure of inviting Bernard Demiaux for a special Processing Paris Session in which we recoded one of his early works from 1978, Feu d’Artifice (Fireworks). This work was one of the first colour works, programmed in Applesoft Basic with an Apple ][ and with 48k of memory. The main algorithm behind this work remains relatively simple yet remains very much in vain with Bernard Demiaux’s contemporary approach to his artwork.

Feu d’Artifice appeared in PAGE. Computer Arts Society Quarterly January, 1980 with the following description of the algorithm.


First Stage :
Starting from a basic idea, the artist does some preparatory conceptual work in the form of drawings, rough sketches and various other attempts. He defines the constraints of his creative work and that which he wants to express or omit. (For example the definition of the initial generating forms).

Second Stage:
Setting up the formal computer language for these forms, the colours and the controls for their envisaged composition. Eventually returning to certain elements defined during the fists stage.

Third Stage:
Artist/Mini-Computer dialogue. Given a work program adapted or chosen by the artist (program of forms or colours, in low or high resolution), the computer will establish the relation between the data of the composition defined during the first stage and his work program. The program will process the data and suggest combinations to the artists. As a function of his investigations, the artist will be able to explore one part of testing rather than another.

In exploring a path, the artist will have new ideas which he may or may not reintroduce as data. He will think of new composition controls which will enable him to quickly put into effect his ideas. He will then be able to decide whether he will keep the results of his testing path. If he is not satisfied, he will pass to the exploitation of another testing path.

At the end of the process/dialogues, he will thus have from his investigations one or two possibilities corresponding to his creative controls defined in the first stage : or modified along the way.

Fourth Stage:
A synthesis by the artist of the different possibilities issuing from the 3rd stage and the choice of one possibility or the continuation of the investigation.

Bernard Demiaux.

Program diagram on the left.

Original graphic drawings on the right. 

Recode of Feu d’Artifice 1978. Image on left is a translation of the work by Mark Webster. On the right, Bernard Demiaux’s work.

During the session we got together to recode this work using Processing. Time was short but the initial ideas were there and you can find the results or even participate in a retranslation of the work at the address below on GitHub. In both of the examples above, the original colours were respected, which were restricted at that time to white, black, orange and purple. The pinkish colour, not inherent in the program was due to filming. In the recode, we decided to add it. In the version above to the left, I decided to create a firework effect, keeping all the while with the basic algorithm. 

In another version written by Louis Eveillard, you can draw shapes directly with the mouse, movement and speed generates different shapes. The drawing is played back as an animated sequence and you can add to this developing more complex compositions. Even if the original work was an autonomous piece, it’s a nice touch in light of Bernard Demiaux’s later works. Especially in the context of his book, ‘Le programme et la main’ (The Program & The Hand) in which he describes his return to gesture and objects as an artist and perhaps in a way rediscovering his fine art background and love of nature.

Recode of Feu d’Artifice 1978 by Louis Eveillard. This is a capture of four different frames.

For all code and documents as well as photos of the evening, please see the following links.

>>> GiHub Source Code
>>> Documents
>>> Photos by Thibéry Maillard

////////////////////// Recode

Recode is an original idea and student project initiated by Matthew Epler. He is currently researching and archiving early computer art works at ITP in New York. Please visit the project website and don’t hesitate to get in contact if you think you can help out or would like to organise an event.

>>> Short article on the Recode Project