Calculated Cinema is a film and video series that focuses its attention on the pioneering use of computers and electronics in experimental films as expressed in works by filmmakers like Oskar Fischinger (Gelnhausen, 1900 - Los Angeles, 1967), Mary Ellen Bute (Houston, 1906 - New York, 1983), John (Pasadena, 1917 - Los Angeles, 1995) and James Whitney (Pasadena, 1921 - Los Angeles, 1982), Jordan Belson (Chicago, 1926 - San Francisco, 2011), Peter Kubelka (Vienna, 1934), Werner Nekes (Erfurt, 1944), Larry Cuba (Atlanta, 1950) and Robert Darroll (England, 1946).
Beginning in the 1950s, the possibilities inherent in binary machines opened up to art and design, visual and audiovisual creation, to music and literature, writing and architecture, to choreography and most notably, to the growing intermediality between art and technology. The appearance of new peripheral interface and intertext instruments and devices opened a new front in art and aesthetics, giving rise to what is called computer or cyber art.
The concept of a calculated image departs from the usual taxonomies in the history of art and film theory and introduces the perspective of a group of digital techniques for the generation, animation and processing of images, in particular images “constructed” using arithmetic calculations and computer tools. On the one hand, they hearken back to the pioneers of images created and animated using computer procedures and to other early explorations of the principles of automation and machine-assisted creation in the domain of non-objective animation. On the other hand, they connect with the theories of metric montage put forward by Eisenstein and other Soviet filmmakers using stills as the calculation unit.
This series, then, focuses on the earliest explorations of computer machinery (and programming) and the DIY and recycling of electronic components to generate images. An attempt is made to establish relationships between the different techniques, aesthetics and artworks, even when they are separated by time. These ties go beyond the recurring presence of ethnic music and rituals, beyond a graphic universe where mandalas and arabesques abound or where there is a type of essentialist reductionism. It is no accident that many creators of computer art have declared their debt to the explorations made by the early avant-garde in aesthetic and technical aspects such as absolute abstraction, visual music, montage syntax, real-time animation and technological inventiveness.