From 1975, an essay by Charles Csuri (computer artist, famous for his ‘Random War’ works) on the use of Statistics in art. He talks about the impact of the use of computational technologies in art in two ways. Interaction in art is shown to transform the viewer into an active participant in the works, allowing for a shift in their perception:
A case can be made for the idea that art can alter perception, and that since perception is an active organizing process rather than a passive retention-of-image causation, only by actively participating with the art object can one perceive it—and thus, in perceiving it, change one’s reality structure
He uses the example of the AID (Automatic Interaction Detector) program from 1963 to show how the user can affect the view of data, moving it in three dimensions, and altering it over time, a precursor to many visualisation tools now.
Csuri discusses the impact of information for art too, expressing many of the arguments for the use of ‘Big Data’ that are put forth today namely that “we have developed an enormous capacity to create large data-bases and programs that print out mountains of statistical information. While this capacity is a phenomenal one, we generally have difficulty in knowing how to interpret such data”.
Beyond this, though, he elaborates on the potential of this space for artists in a way that is rarely done in the current fervour for representation:
Rather than looking to the visual form or the external appearance of reality, the artist can now deal directly with content. It is a new conceptual landscape with its mountains, valleys, flat spaces, dark and light with gradations of texture and color. With computers, the artist can look at statistics representing real-world data about every facet of society—its problems reflecting tragic, comic and even surrealistic viewpoints. The artist has opportunities to express his perceptions of reality in a new way.
For Csuri, data and statistics are a new, exciting space for artistic expression, a way of expanding and modulating their perception and expression, a tool to augment, not merely represent, reality.
Read the essay here: http://www.atariarchives.org/artist/sec25.php