The computer is dramatically changing the way we make art. Letting go of control and unleashing the power inside the machine is an intoxicating adventure where uncertainty takes center stage. Each challenge becomes a matter of how much we lead, follow or get out of its way.

With this early experiment in simulation, "One Thousand Question Marks", the computer was liberated to randomly rotate and place one thousand question marks in three space. The color of each question mark was also randomized. The final image was rendered in 1984 at Digital Productions in Hollywood, California and mastered on 4 by 5 film with a digital film printer.

"One Thousand Question Marks" by Shelley Lake

"One Thousand Question Marks" was made in 1984 at Digital Productions in Hollywood, California. John Whitney, Jr. and Gary Demos were the founders of Digital Productions in 1982. Gary Demos was the chief engineer behind DP3D, the proprietary software used to make this image. The hardware employed was a Cray X-MP, at the time the fastest supercomputer in the world, capable of more than one billion calculations per second. At Digital Productions we created 27 minutes of computer generated imagery for "The Last Starfighter" in the span of two years. "The Last Starfighter" was one of the first feature films to make extensive use of three dimensional scene simulation and won an Academy Award in 1985 for Scientific and Engineering Achievement.

This style of generative art delegates considerable authority to the computer. The choice of content, design, spatial constraints and random number generation, requires human collaboration. The outcome is a creative partnership, whose man-machine proportions are currently governed by the artist.

"Geometric Primitives" by Shelley Lake (1984, Digital Productions)

"One hundred Thousand Dollars" by Shelley Lake (1984, Digital Productions)

"Instruments" by Shelley Lake (1984, Digital Productions)