Apple Computer may have
quietly killed its easy-to-use programming tool, HyperCard,
but it has an afterlife -- in art.
The near-redundant, 18-year-old technology
has found a new lease on life at the cutting edge of European
British artist Richard Bolam uses HyperCard
to create generative art using ancient Mac Classics.
Bolam, who lives and works in the British
city of Sheffield, is gaining recognition as an artist successfully
working with technology -- old technology.
"I enjoy embracing the technology of
old Macs," Bolam said.
A recent work, Hyperscape 1,
was shown at Sweden's Malmö Konsthall as part of the
is a generative art installation, which runs on eight compact
Macs. One Mac runs a program Bolam wrote in HyperCard, Apple's
abandoned hypermedia software.
The HyperCard program determines the screen
output on the other seven machines. All the screens start
out black and steadily fill with semi-random shapes and
images. The master Mac running HyperCard proposes certain
image manipulations -- inverting areas of the screen, tracing
edges or copying parts of images -- and the other machines
decide whether or not to accept the changes.
The result is abstract, random and dynamic
-- an ever-changing montage of broken and distorted shapes
spread across the eight screens.
Bolam said the idea is to illustrate how
humans process information.
"If you put a series of objects in
a line, your brain looks for similarities as they've been
queued," said Bolam. "(It's) obviously organized.
Hyperscape 1 is the opposite: Because the (screens)
are all similar, the brain looks for differences."
In the art world, Bolam is an oddity. Many
artists working with technology do so with the latest and
greatest -- Macs, Maya and Macromedia Flash. But Bolam's
tools are not only outdated, they were never intended for
creating art in the first place.
"I could work with Mac Classics for
the rest of my career and never repeat myself," Bolam
said. "People haven't given up on drawing and painting
-- the possibilities haven't been exhausted. I feel the
Fellow artist James Wallbank is upbeat about
Bolam's unusual approach to art.
"In a way he's a pioneer, but the territory
he's exploring is what other people have passed by,"
Wallbank said. "His work is about opening up an entire
new landscape based on what people have abandoned. HyperScape
asks a simple question -- 'Who says faster is better?' It
changes imperceptibly slowly, but when you go back to it
it's completely changed and you think: 'Who did that?'"
Bolam has experimented with HyperCard's
modern clones, Revolution and SuperCard, but won't give
up on Apple's antediluvian effort.
Bolam's next project -- Hyperscape
2 -- extends the generative idea to audio, although
Bolam has been forced to make some changes.
"It's set to reset every few minutes
and start again; otherwise it would get quite irritating,"
While critics and contemporaries have reacted
positively, Bolam said his real concern is the general audience.
Bolam said art should not alienate, and he thinks he's achieved
that, with one notable exception.
"My father is nonplussed by it,"
said Bolam. "But in some respect it's all his fault
anyway, as he introduced me to computers in the first place."