Press Review

Computer art wizard expands our parameters of consciousness

Electronic art wizard Roman Verstko is a visionary capable of expanding the consctiousness and parameters of what art is and where it can lead us. Verostko, a professor at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design for over 20 years, executes his paintings with a multi-pen plotter coupled to a PC. His plotter, a computer-driven machine, drws from an array of 14 technica pens loaded with inks mixed in his studio. Verostko writes his own software which is capable of executing work in lieu of his own hand. This includes brush strokes made with Chinese brushes mounted on the plotter's drawing arm.

"My approach to art holds a reverence for the materials of earth and a sense of wonder about most things including circuit boards and computer languages. I strive to create well crafted works with iconic qualities that evoke mystery and act as signs pointing to some greater reality," said Verostko. "The texture and quality of materials are carefuly chosen and transformed in the process. For me, the work should have an aura that would draw the casual viewer to pause for a moment and recognise that thw work embodies a human endeavor going beyond material concerns"

Although he is now married, going beyond material concerns is certainly one of the reasons

Verostko spend 16 years as a Benedictine monk. Although Verostko's electronic artwork has only been developed during the past decade, his examination of control and uncontrol, order and chaos, yin/yang, heaven/earth, man/woman - explored in his work will certainly influence how we view the world. "Through this process, in a kind of spiritual quest, one has to empty the self of thinking, be entirely present to the moment, and strive to be one with one's world," said Verostko. "To be one with the brush, the crayon, the panel the universe, in a free flowing gesture, was indeed the goal."

Verostko writes about the process of uncontrol: "In the initial phrases of the computer work, I sought to write a simple programme just to sample the use of the computer as a medium - that is, just to get the computer process to generate the work. Step one was to make a scribble loop that would express the inner workings of the computer, similar to the way a Paul Klee doodle expresses the inner life of Paul Klee. That venture was not very successful, but it yielded insight into computerized automatic processes. Successful computer automatism would have to imitate 'automatic art', a genre of artistic activity that began early in this century.

"Automatic art, tachism, and abstract expressionism are terms loosely associated

with the idea that one can express something of one's psychic life, something that lies under, above or beyond conscious life, by working in a dreamlike or trancelike state. Such drawing, similar to doodling in an absent-minded state, was practiced by the Surrealists in the 1920s and even earlier by some of the dadaists."

Out of that artistic milieu came artists who learned to enter the frontiers of their inner world; through dreams and free associations, both artists and poets opened a new artistic frontier. My first computer efforts were simple routines to get the computer to mime some of these artistic forays that took place early in this century."

A pioneer in the field of computer art, Verostko is at this precise moment in time probably creating "art history". "These forms are the icons of the new science of chaos. they reflect the mysterious processes within which our world has evolved," said Verostko. "They participate in shaping myths that spring forth from the human-machine dialectic. An iconolgy of these images will see them ultimately as one more step in the evolution of human consciousness exploring the nature of how things get to be the way they are."

The EDGE December 1992/January 1993