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Probably the First Computer-Controlled Aesthetic System (1953 – 1957)


Between 1953 and 1957 English cybernetician and psychologist Gordon Pask, in collaboration with Robin McKinnon-Wood, created Musicolour, a reactive system for theatre productions, or a computer-controlled aesthetic system, that "drove an array of lights that adapted to a musician's performance" (Mason, a computer in the art room. the origins of british computer arts 1950-1980 [2008] 6). This was one of the earliest examples of "computer art." The system's analog computer was transported from performance to performance.

Pask discussed and explained Musicolour in A comment, a case history and a plan (1968) written before the Cybernetic Serendipity exhibition (1968) in which Musicolour was demonstrated. However the text was not published in the catalogue of that exhibition. It was first published in Reichardt ed., Cybernetics: Art and Ideas (1971) 76-99.

Pickering, The Cybernetic Brain. Sketches of Another Future (2010) 313-324.

(This entry was last revised on 08-14-2014.)