Art1, Frederick Hammersley, and the Dawn of Computer Art
Sharing Code tells the story of Art1—a computer program developed in 1968 at the University of New Mexico—and its role in early digital creativity. The program, designed by electrical engineer Richard Williams with the encouragement of art department chair and renowned kinetic artist Charles Mattox, enabled artists who knew nothing about computers to create artworks on a large mainframe machine by sending output to a line printer. This collaboration of artists with computer engineers represents a unique period in the evolution of digital art. Art1 met with some success among a circle of artists, from Albuquerque to Minneapolis and even southern England, who used it to create hundreds of works before the program faded out of use in the mid 1970s. UNM art faculty member Frederick Hammersley took a strong interest in Art1 and in two years made over 150 works—more than any other artist—marking an important phase in his career. Sharing Code features 50 illustrations by Hammersley, Charles Mattox, Katherine Nash, and James Hill and interviews with Williams and Hill.