#58 Up & Running

58-up-&-running500x750i


#58 Up & Running
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Phish­ing mal­ware attacked Amper​Art​.com in Sep­tem­ber 2019, shut­ting the site down for sev­er­al weeks. It took quite an effort to remove all the infec­tions and restore the site to nor­mal, after which it was migrat­ed to a new host­ing com­pa­ny and for­ti­fied with all sorts or anti-​malware and virus fire­walls. Now that Amper­Art is once again Up & Run­ning, here’s a sto­ry about a spe­cial place where I used to vis­it my com­put­er genius friend after high school.


In the 1970’s one of my best friends worked as a com­put­er pro­gram­mer for the Glen­dale Uni­fied School Dis­trict. I’d fre­quent­ly drop in on him and enjoy the phe­nom­e­non of feel­ing like I was in the con­trol room of a sci-​fi flick.

The dis­tric­t’s Com­put­er Con­trol Cen­ter was a large room with an ele­vat­ed floor that was air-​conditioned under­neath to keep the mas­sive elec­tron­ics cool. I guess you could say the com­put­ers on that ele­vat­ed floor were lit­er­al­ly Up & Run­ning. There were banks of huge reel-​to-​reel machines that hummed and clicked in syn­chronic­i­ty. Besides those state-​of-​the-​art won­ders, data was stored on punch cards that sort­ed through a large machine sound­ing like cards shuf­fling at a casi­no, and on paper strips punched with lit­tle holes resem­bling a tickertape.

Every­thing you see here is on a tiny chip inside your smart phone.

But the eeri­est thing about this room was the strange green glow ema­nat­ing from the com­put­er mon­i­tors. Noth­ing like what you’re view­ing right now. Every screen dis­played rows and rows of same-​size let­ters and num­bers, a sin­gle font if you can call it that, in this cath­ode tube green glow. You even had to know a com­plex com­put­er lan­guage to type any­thing (I am indebt­ed to who­ev­er invent­ed wysiwyg). 

Amper­Art #58 Up & Run­ning is rem­i­nis­cent of those green-​glow mon­i­tors. See the faint num­bers in the poster image where it oth­er­wise appears black? That’s where the char­ac­ters have been burned into the phos­pho­rs of the cath­ode ray tube. No full-​color web­sites in those days! How­ev­er, with a lit­tle artis­tic tal­ent and a lot of patience, you could actu­al­ly draw pic­tures like this:

CAT on CRT

Here’s an inter­est­ing his­to­ry of cre­at­ing art with let­ters & num­bers, going way back to the days of typewriters. 


Dedicated to Joe Freezon, best friend, computer nerd. RIP
Production notes for #158 Up & Running:
Original size: 20x30 inches
Programs: Adobe Illustrator & Photoshop
Font: Green Screen (background code*), main text lettering by Chaz
Ampersand: custom design by Chaz
Credits:
Green Screen font* by James Shields (click to see all his fonts)
*an exact copy of the standard IBM PC text mode font
Note: &” replaces “and” in most or all text, including quotations, headlines & titles.
You may repost the image & article. Please credit Amper​Art​.com.
To download a full-​size high-​resolution 11x17-​inch poster suitable for printing & framing, click on the image.

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4 thoughts to “#58 Up & Running”

  1. Very cool Amper­Art and infor­ma­tion to go with it! Loved hear­ing about Steve and your col­lab­o­ra­tion. Also, I real­ly enjoyed your inspi­ra­tion for the piece…excellent expla­na­tion and very clever, as usu­al. I’ve always been fas­ci­nat­ed by the world of “Ones & Zeros” but agree your title of “Up & Run­ning” fit it all best.

    1. If and when I do a piece called “Ones & Zeros” or when­ev­er I plu­ral­ize “zero” I will spell it as you do, with­out the “e.” Your spelling made me curi­ous, and sure enough, “zeros” is the pre­ferred ver­sion, even though “zeroes” is also cor­rect. From now on it’s “zeros” for me. I like the way it looks, too.
      That’s the sec­ond spelling rev­e­la­tion I’ve encoun­tered this year, also relat­ed to Amper­Art. Last month I dis­cov­ered “gray” is pre­ferred in Amer­i­ca while “grey” is more com­mon in British. Now I spell it “gray” which has always felt more like the col­or – bland, like most things American.

  2. I enjoyed your expla­na­tion of the back­ground and col­or­ing select­ed for this art­work. I am always amazed at how cre­ative­ly you see things.

    1. If you recall, when com­put­er print­ers were dot matrix, “pic­tures” were cre­ative­ly com­posed of var­i­ous let­ters of the alpha­bet, ren­der­ing each char­ac­ter’s space very light (a peri­od), very dark (an M or W) or any val­ue in between depend­ing on the make­up of the char­ac­ter. The same effect has been done with basic type­writ­ers. Many of these “works of art” had a dark back­ground using all M’s or W’s, and the image appeared as white when just the space­bar was used. That is what I repli­cat­ed here, only on the mon­i­tor before the sig­nal went to the print­er. To fur­ther bring forth the top­ic of our dig­i­tal world, all the char­ac­ters in this Amper­Art piece are bina­ry 1’s and 0’s. I could have eas­i­ly titled it “Ones & Zeroes” but “Up & Run­ning” refers to the fact the cpu was replaced or the code was fixed and every­thing is run­ning smooth again…until a capac­i­tor blows or the next virus strikes.

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