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Roger Saunders

Roger Saunders
PLAD Example 1 (1973)
Computer Printout

Roger Saunders
PLAD Example 2 (1973)
Computer Printout

Roger Saunders
Character Map (1973)
Computer Printout

Roger Saunders at Event Two

'The Story of Art' by E. H. Gombrich was my inspiration to be interested in Art.

The year was 1956. A machine that could work out the day of the week from any given date – Magic or What! This is how my brother described the 'Pilot ACE' computer he had seen on a school trip to the National Physical Laboratory. My curiosity was awakened. I knew I wanted to find out about computers.

My career started at Kodak Limited in 1966 but just two years later I was on my way to Brighton Polytechnic to join the 'Computing, Cybernetics and Data Processing' degree course.

I became an early member of the Computer Arts Society and had developed an algorithm to produce designs. I called them 'Character Maps' because they were output on text printers character by character. I was able to continue work on them using the College computers.

The paper I wrote for the Computer Journal about them was published in 1972. Later this was picked up by 'Wolfram Mathematica' as a demonstrator. They are now called the 'Saunders Digit Graphics'.

My final year project was to produce an English-type programming language that artists could use to specify designs. In the occasional bulletin of the CAS called PAGE (Number 16 – June 1971), I asked for ideas as to how it might look and for desirable features. I was offered the listing of ART 1 written by Richard Williams and sent to me by Professor Katherine Nash of Minnesota University.

This was ideal as the printing engine for my project. Above you will see examples of the Programming Language for Art and Design (PLAD) that was the result.

In 1972 the 3M company awarded PLAD a prize and it gained further recognition by an article in the Computer Weekly newspaper. In response to the article there was a critical letter from a reader saying 'computers can not produce art'. I responded saying 'artists need to start learning now about these machines which will become a major factor in society.'

Artistic Technician or Technical Artist? The debate goes on.

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