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A History of Cybernetic Animation

When I was about thirteen years old I found the local library a refuge from school and came across the photography of Henri Cartier-Bresson; soon after that I found an old camera and started taking pictures and discovered how fast events were occurring around me, and greatly enjoyed to process of discovery and anticipation that photography offered. At the time I worked in my parent’s bicycle shop, from the time I was ten, which was a block from the M.G.M. studios in Culver City, at 3770 Motor Avenue, which is still there today. During the early 50’s we had ordered the new ultra-light Italian bicycles that were beginning to arrive from Europe with Campagnolo derailleur equipment, otherwise most of my time was spent repairing other children’s flat tires and 3 speed Sturmey-Archer hubs, while saving for a better camera, and some time later my parents found a new Leica M3 on a supermarket bulletin board for $300, and we bought it. It was an extraordinarily well made machine that was very helpful. I shot thousands of pictures, occasionally capturing some spontaneous moments, which certainly impressed on me with how alert a photographer has to be to capture an exceptional image. So I looked forward to continuing with photography indefinitely. Today I would probably use a digital still camera at 6 frames a second instead of single exposures when combinations of expressions and compositions were changing very fast. While occasionally working on the bicycles of people from the nearby movie studio I met John Mescall, the cinematographer for the 1935 classic film the Bride of Frankenstein and numerous other features. One Saturday I rode my bicycle to his home, I thought just to asked him a question about lighting techniques, he said, “any fool could figure that out”, and said that, “the main thing was to take care of life”, he undoubtedly had his own regrets and I could see that he was literally dying from alcohol and couldn't survive long, and perhaps he wanted to save me from the same anguish. He told me to mention his name at the nearby David O. Selznick Studio gate; soon I rode my bicycle to the studio and was welcomed in and I watched a few television shows being made including the Untouchables, being careful to keep out of the line of fire of the incredible number of blanks coming out of the machine guns, he was right, the mechanics of production were obvious; and shortly after that I had entry to Mark Armstead’s camera rental in Hollywood, and was given the cameras used by Hollywood and a bench to learn how to load and assemble each, including the Mitchell's, Bell and Howell's, and Arriflex; and soon learned to become thoroughly familiar with the operational details of each of them. Before completing high school I started taking cinema classes at the University of Southern California. While working at the equipment checkout room, I looked at the film editing techniques of Sergei Eisenstein and others on a Moviola, running the film sequences at all different speeds. Soon afterwards, along with millions of others, I was offered the opportunity to become a felon if I didn't register for the Viet Nam war draft, although a year earlier I was ready to enlist in the Navy. However now I immediately considered prison as the only reasonable alternative to that of killing Vietnamese minding their own business in their own country. Like most people my father was very upset that I would consider any personal alternative to warfare, however we compromised by my going to college full-time. So when I was 17 I found myself sitting in a hardwood sunlit room of the Doheny Library at USC, and considering what I could do with so many years at some university, and then I imagined that I might possibly develop something new and useful, and then I thought why not a new form of motion pictures using computers. By 1960 I had only seen a computer in a small Digital Equipment Corporation sales office a few blocks from our home near the Los Angeles International Airport, and of course I had noticed that one of their relatively small office computers, no doubt a PDP-1, had a round cathode ray tube connected to it, however I couldn't imagine any way of gaining a substantial degree of access to any such computer. Of course everyone knew that the universities were using very large computers for various research projects in physics, medicine and economics. However none of those computers had any form of graphic device associated with them, since they were designed to run batches of jobs from punched cards, one after another; and so there were no interactive capabilities and naturally no way of drawing and entering any kind of image, except perhaps by keying in x, y & z coordinate numbers on punched cards, which would take nearly forever to transcribe even the most primitive image. The only display device available when I got to UCLA was a chain printer, although it was fast, it was extremely primitive and could only crudely print capitalized alphabetic characters. Fortunately there was a computer club that offered about 30 seconds of computer time each day, which provided sufficient time to design and test all of the image processing algorithms. Naturally the attached chain printer was used to create some vaguely perceptible plots of images; or more typically the x and y coordinated were printed and the plotting was done by hand on graph paper, since the printer could only plot 6 characters to the inch vertically and 10 characters horizontally.

(USC Doheny Library)

Computer graphic tools were virtually nonexistent in 1960, except perhaps for the Sketch Pad project of Ivan Sutherland at MIT which provided for drawing straight lines and circles on a CRT with a light-pen; which I heard about much later in the 1970’s, and in fact met Ivan in the later 1970’s when he was briefly working at the Rand Corporation in Santa Monica. In any case the best of equipment and software available in 1960 was not going to be particularly useful in making a motion picture of any sort, which may involve 10’s of millions of lines and a means of controlling motion and transformations. Naturally like anyone developing something new you proceed anyway and hope it somehow works. There was of course also an awareness that technology was improving rapidly. Also at that time the earlier discoveries of Watson and Crick were of course changing how everyone was considering biology; and so I was also intrigued by the extraordinary capabilities of the DNA vocabulary, that both preserved and generated such a myriad of living forms; and I also saw the possibility of generating three dimensional forms perhaps in some way similar to how genes may regulate the growth of complex forms. Such an approach would of course also eliminate any need to enter primitive pictures, or anything graphic for that matter. Further since any motion picture needs to display image changes or transformations, I considered some way of emulating a 3 dimensional environment for the computer-generated forms, with sources of light, heat, and gravitational fields, along with events that could originate and destroy forms. So I began writing program modules or FORTRAN IV subroutines to: a) generate forms based on a variety of algorithmic approaches; b) then developed environmental systems to simulate all the external effects on these forms, which I considered as a sort of primitive form of weather or alternatively as a complex form of celestial mechanics; then c) of course the graphic algorithms were needed to create perspectives, shade, paint, illuminate and rapidly rotate structures, including windowing or line clipping and surface shading, then finally the processing and removal of hidden lines or background surfaces, which is followed by plotting and recording on film as 3 color separations, d) the last consideration was a control and artificial learning system which was developed to initiate the environmental simulation process for all the forms and the three dimensional environments; all hopefully in a way that would be of some interest, or perhaps offer greater diversity in appearance, since I had no real visual idea of what I could expect to see when the images were actually generated. Naturally there were no books that mentioned any such techniques or issues, nor any related technical papers that I was aware of; so I created and tested a large collection of algorithms between 1960 and 1964, and about once per year an entire system was developed to generate motion picture images to allow for more features and capabilities, and significantly to eliminate complexity as the systems evolved. Incidentally it became obvious that system complexity can rapidly grow at the higher levels and greatly inhibit any programming progress; so naturally greater understanding always leads to a new vision, and eventually a new system design becomes obvious and essential since it completely simplifies the entire process; and then greater knowledge again accumulates and then leads to an improved understanding and again a new vision and a new system design, until the process eventually stabilizes over many years or decades of work.

Of course even greater understanding could certainly suggest that all the work required to create a cybernetic movie system was way too much labor to simply generate images; and so by 1970 I eventually began to become interested in how living forms developed and evolved; and then seeing all the damages that people either caused or ignored in the natural world, I began to consider how anyone could help in the protection and care of the evolutionary processes of life; which obviously were vastly more significant than my simulations, or for that matter any movie could ever hope to be. When we see the wealth of the earth and virtually all of humanity’s energy being poured into corporate investments that have little or no long-term benefit to anyone, we should be aware that we live in a world that has little or no respect for nature and is even aggressively hostile to any benefit for our own human evolution and continuity; this of course is a far more desperate circumstance that is devastating humanity’s ability to continue in the long-term. So while awareness and attention to details can lead to endless discoveries that can be extraordinarily engaging and perhaps beneficial, naturally we should be familiar with the nature of the benefits. Certainly we also need to be aware that extremely few people have any interest in supporting nature or humanity, although they say they do; actually the majority of their actions and expenditures are a better indicator of people’s interests; and in addition we need to notice that “no good deed goes unpunished”; and so great care needs to be taken in all relationships, particularly because they are regularly turned into domination, abuse or legal assault; and society is specifically designed to perpetuate the assault on ourselves and nature, to destroy our creative life potential. So why would people cling to all the social and government systems founded on domination and violence that have cost so many lives? Obviously a cybernetic judicial system could do a vastly better job of offering humanity justice and a little security; by helping provide for the restoration of anyone’s damages, and the protection of our human rights, vastly better than any judge who is beholding to special interests and corporate donors for his job. An alternative system may be designed to voluntarily augment mediation, so that when the adversarial judicial model struggles of its own abuses and destructive intentions, then the tools needed to support justice could simply be continued and used by anyone through a free web site, without having any attorneys involved to enforce the resurrection the old model of adversarial justice that they typically cherish in order to inflict suffering on others, undoubtedly all to insure that their salaries will remain 50 times that of a working person, and naturally expanded by promoting endless malicious conflicts. How we consider and participate life’s struggles, and how we find useable solutions does matter, and is always reflected in our speech, our movies or even the systems we design.

(typical keypunch room with line-printer)

During the 1960’s most of the work on the Cibernetik project was done after classes, and after daily part-time jobs; and so programming usually started late in the evening and continued until the early morning hours every night, then my homework began and ended when being overtaken by fatigue; finally 3 or 4 hours were available for sleep, which was not something that I ever found at all comfortable, personally preferring 7 to 8 hours of sleep. None of the computer programming or filmmaking was ever a class project; it was all just a peculiar thing I did late at night. In fact the possibilities offered by computational image processing developed no interests by anyone else at that time, whether in computer science, engineering, art or the motion picture departments; nor was any possibility of obtaining assistance or support ever noticed or found. The computer science department was focused on developing the internet where I worked under Leonard Klienrock developing dynamic message routing strategies indirectly with Larry Roberts at ARPA in Washington DC. In fact only years later after meeting with some representatives from IBM in the later 1960’s, was any brief notice taken; however IBM decided to explore some exceptionally simple process for drawing images using simple mathematical functions to position dots. Apparently IBM didn't have a clue of what I was doing, nor anything I explaining to them, and as always they thought that someone could accomplish everything very quickly and better because they had a PhD in mathematics.

At that time most people managing universities and industry thought that algorithms were some kind of a subset of mathematics. Even today practically every company and university believes that money and university degrees can accomplish everything best. Well the fact is if someone doesn't have a broad and functional vision, which is usually achieved by an extraordinary amount of sweat, and sleep deprivation, or perhaps was stolen from some inventor who fully documented their process, either outright or through some devious legal fine print; then the business organization which has little to no creative potential simply markets some gimmick or some shoddy software and survives for a while, but usually it eventually disappears. You might have noticed that the biggest name software companies are still shipping huge amounts of software that is riddled with bugs, and convoluted human interfaces that can barely be understood. While the lone inventor may be able to do more work than 20 well paid PhD’s; however a well financed company can put a 100 techie people on any small problem and render the lone visionary obsolete, with widely marketed and shoddy software. Naturally such companies will typically develop an environment that ultimately stifles creativity within and greatly frustrates anyone who buys and uses their tools; and so corporate goals are achieved with an incredible amount of human inefficiency, perhaps at least 90% waste; and then such companies eventually fire their staff in a spasm of financial contractions, eliminating nearly all continuity and any evolution of understanding, often making their products worse. Complex features that don’t work is never what is needed in software; simple features that can do anything within a given field, that are easy to understand and are free of operational bugs is essential; but unfortunately that’s not at all what complicated university educated minds care about in the slightest. Perhaps the Open-Source software strategy may help open and improve software design. In any case the software requirements for a full cybernetic cinema is so massive and multidisciplinary that even a huge corporation may not be able to develop or complete the design, this is a project for humanity to consider and evolve on a cooperative basis. Naturally all with heavily commented code that explains the design theory behind each software module in clear terms, as well as each algorithmic detail, in a common language that does not use esoteric features that prove how clever a programmer can be at creating inefficient code that only a few insiders could follow. What is crucial to any user is a natural language and graphic interface that always tells the user what state the system or a program is in, and what options are available to the user at any time, in addition to incorporating an extremely comprehensive help system that answers every possible question that could occur, using the common words that any user may use, so that the user is not forced to figure out what secret code word is required to ask a simple question. Further every question asked and answered by a news group needs to be automatically absorbed by the help system, so no one is forced to answer the same questions repeatedly.

While at USC and UCLA I would spend 2 or 3 hours a day browsing all the libraries, I found this far more pleasant than any disciplinarian classroom; and sometime during the year I might review how much I was learning in class compared to my very interesting library reading, and I found that I had always learned considerably more in the library, in far less time, with no suffering and free of any control. So are schools just trying to make learning unappealing or simply trying to create subservient minds? Such a dogmatic approach to education greatly limits our creative potential, as well as the survival potential of our society; history will no doubt illustrate this extraordinarily tragic point; the data has been evident for several decades. I am not at all a fast mind and I don’t remember all the useless details that most students are apparently very quick to demonstrate on an exam, which incidentally I always felt was a desirable ability; so I thought that I must undoubtedly have a low IQ, but then after looking at such tests they seemed to be designed to measure such insignificant aspects of intelligence, such as speed of cognition and extraordinarily conventional approaches to symbol manipulation, which require 1 right answer, when 5 or 6 other answers may be equally or more accurate depending on context; all of which would in itself be fine if it were simply openly acknowledged and understood; however such confining or oppressive testing criteria is undoubtedly intentional by design, as well as intended to exclude people who have either the desire or ability to substantially integrate a greater part of their knowledge and understanding. Naturally I consider all judgmental forms of school testing as simply serving some devious or manipulative social purposes, such as making knowledge and learning distasteful to children; which is no doubt appreciated best by the corporate directors that are selected as the university board of regents. I have always had respect for anyone’s abilities and could only encourage their personal fulfillment, but naturally like anyone else I have to figure out how to best utilize my own limited abilities which I found out are only expanded through concentrated effort. So I found it somewhat consoling that someone like Einstein also had difficulties with school grades, since I learned something about how to approach systems analysis from his Theory of Relativity, which I began to find helpful whenever I came across some new complex issues that I could only barely comprehend. There’s really nothing much to it; very simply, everything and every concept exist in space and time, which consists of matter and energy; or very simply I just remembered STEM for: space, time, energy and matter. So if I didn't understand some aspect of a mechanism I simply reevaluated the process from the point of view of each individual aspect and then in each combination of aspects. Since algorithms are simply one-dimensional sequences that attempt to emulate multidimensional systems or events the analysis strategy appeared to help. Of course DNA sequences and words can also be viewed as having sequential characteristics, however molecular systems naturally have incredibly parallel capabilities and words have the possibility of an evolved reader, if they were encouraged to be creative individuals and very significantly to exist in the first place. I developed other simple analytic tools for higher-level biological and ecological systems to observe the various complex of interactions. While in school I most often appreciated the university lecturers who were usually just passing through, or perhaps deeply involved in their personal research, or old and wise with experience and insight. I very much enjoyed the university experience, the part-time jobs I had with various professors, helping accomplish some complex task or research; everything was enjoyable except the pointless exams. I wanted a university like Oxford where there were no exams, no required classes and just an interview with very knowledgeable scholars when you were done, of course I gather that doesn't exist today even at Oxford. During my undergraduate work someone in the Dean’s office discovered that I was taking post graduate medical classes in cerebral mechanisms and structure in place of Psychology 1A, and warned me about this, but allowed the credit anyway and recommended a one-time class to be presented by Josef Von Sternberg, the director of the Blue Angle, who introduced Marlene Dietrich, and created many classic films; and who was apparently reviewing his life in motion pictures; and he once mentioned that he suddenly found his own directorial opportunities completely vanish during the last decades of his life; Hollywood was just saying that incompetence and unfashionability comes with age, but the meaning is that understanding or wisdom is always forbidden when dealing with the tools of communication, and age may certainly encourage this quality in our lives. W.C. Fields also suffered the same fate when the studios terminated his career after he made Never Give A Sucker an Even Break, even when he was the most famous actor in Hollywood. Of course nowadays with the advent of high definition television and small highly compressed videodisks, the entire Hollywood production and distribution system can be completely bypassed. Significantly I personally don’t see how we could consider that our mental capabilities gradually diminish over time, when there are so many examples of creative work occurring later in life; however what surprises me is how few people are willing to do anything with their time, other than exercising vain efforts to keep themselves entertained or perhaps harass others. I personally can see no change in mental abilities 43 years after starting the programming efforts. Of course I expect that we have to do many things to minimize conflict and stress in our lives as well as be routine with exercise, non-damaging foods, vitamins and amino-acids; further scientific research into cross specie DNA may reveal the genes involved in aging and telomere shortening. Again what is surprising is that older people do not particularly care about life extension, nor would they typically support any related research, their interests are much the same as the young, primarily focused on personal comforts or entertainment.

The first classroom I walked into at UCLA was a small film writing class with Ed Brokaw who said that the class was full and that I would have to take a different course, but for some reason I insisted on asking if I could stay for various reasons and was then offered a seat. In that room I of course noticed some very brilliant script ideas coming from Jim Morrison who usually sat across the long table in the small classroom. Incidentally many of the script ideas he described appeared in musical form on the Door’s second album. When I offered my script treatment for discussion, it was a microbiological story like Koyaanisqatsi that takes place on the cellular level, however dealing with its liquid ecological community, the individuality of life, reproduction and death through evaporation and crystallization; all based on my microbiological sea shore observations, I simply wrote about what I had actually seen in this microscopic life, the struggle and the beauty that appeared in life as well as in death; which drew some criticism, since it had no story line nor characters to identify with, since it was treated as more of a musical documentary. Then Jim defended me against the criticism, and said “…no consider that he does know what he’s doing, that he does understand…”, I just thought, that’s a compliment that I couldn't improve on. Naturally people knew Jim was some kind of rare person long before he wrote his first song, the music just made it exceptionally clear and obvious. One evening I drove Felix Venable to Venice, he was also a very interesting person, very outspoken and engaging, bizarre and articulate, who was taking classes in the film department, who surprisingly showed that could create visual poetry in his short film. Later in Venice we picked-up Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek and one or two other band members who all packed into my completely green 1957 Dodge with their instruments, and we went to the Sunset Strip a few doors west of the Whiskey a Go-Go, to an long but incredibly narrow club, the London Fog, that wasn't much more than about 6 feet wide, with a stage not over 3 feet wide, with an audience of about 3 including myself; and then Jim, Ray, Robbie and John did music that caused a literal psychedelic or completely transcendental experience. They may have been doing some pieces that later appeared on their first album, Light My Fire, etc. but in a way Jim who was visibly a quiet and reserved person was providing more energy than was humanly imaginable, which I felt could deeply affect anyone; apparently some small portion of this was conveyed in their recordings, which I gather continues to increase in distribution over the decades. No doubt their art was a life transformative event, which ultimately began to be absorbed by a young society that was hungry for change, and perhaps ultimately by an audience that ended by wanting entertainment when they were offered more. What was surprising was that there was such a gulf between the artist and society’s elders, who wanted to regiment everyone to a more subservient point of view, and of course suppress the culturally relevant messages that were emerging from rock and roll at the time; which of course were being quickly transformed into hopelessly irrelevant messages; and many of the more significant poets who could quickly observe and address human circumstances through their extraordinarily popular music were soon dead, through circumstances that could have easily been government murders. All these artists were certainly on Nixon’s enemies list, as well as being harassed through investigations and malicious legal prosecution; along with the full services of the intelligence agencies at the disposal of an extremely troubled president. The life and community supportive evolution that was begun in the 1960’s was killed-off by the elders of the previous generation; whose lives were based on conformity, the pursuit of money, consumerism and abusiveness. The poor had exactly the same personality or goals as the extremely wealthy; they were separated only by luck or a path that fate opened to one and closed to everyone else; neither had any regard for life or humanity, nor ever desired wisdom; while each cared for their family out of habit, and accumulated money for their personal comforts; and each was self-righteous in oppressing their children, destroying their dreams and discarding their lives, and very soon that’s how they disappeared.

Surprisingly the corporate ruling class moved further to literally assault the young and the better educated, that no longer believed in global warfare and mindless consumption; not just through a police assault on the streets which they did every night along Sunset Blvd. or anywhere young people congregated, but through a media assault that created a new form of psychological weapon initiated after the murder of Martin Luther King Jr. which began a 35 year process, consisting of 10’s of thousands of news items and interviews based on the hammering of guilt, shame and fear; in order to promote excessive economic growth goals and birth control for Americans in place of families; while at the same time opening the southern boarders of America to initiate the replacement of an entire population with what corporate leaders felt was a new and more subservient population of consumers. This corporate directed assault and population transformation process was a very sophisticated, extremely well financed attack against the more conscious social values that were emerging during the 1960’s, which included the youthful objection to the blind acceptance of war, oppressive workplace practices, and extreme consumerism. Society’s corporate driven response was genocide against a generation; which was a new form of complete and total warfare that ends with annihilation and perhaps complete population replacement; which incidentally was in fact fully successful. - While I had described this surprisingly vicious process of population replacement during the mid-60’s, as it was just beginning to become obvious, to a number of people, no one cared at all, they too were extraordinarily focused on select matters that were in the media or coming from the anti-war movement. Of course in the 60’s or even now for that matter; even if all the facts were visible to anyone who cared to see the obvious population transformation in front of their own eyes, and it was all thoroughly proven with a mass of data, that was in fact available at that time; there would be no response, because personal responsibility for life was never a part of anyone’s curriculum at school nor even learned at home; earning money and avoiding accidental pregnancies was just about all that was ever taught at home or school. In fact there was always a tremendous amount of fear surrounding childbirth or accidental pregnancies. The brightest young people then were almost incapable of considering any new matter, perhaps the same as today; and when a few did, they really didn't personally care, since school and careers were always much bigger concerns.

A short time after the Door’s first small appearances their album came out and as I drove along Sunset Boulevard on a busy evening I turned on the radio and all 5 of my preset radio stations were simultaneously playing Light My Fire and so was every car radio on Sunset Boulevard, this was the first moment of a Los Angeles celebration. If I felt that this was certainly an extraordinary amount of artistic power, I guess Richard Nixon could have felt the same way and later tried to destroy Morrison through false charges to stop the influence of this poet and musician. Sometime later I knew that Jimi Hendrix would be in Los Angeles, and was interested in hearing Hendrix, so I drove my 57 Dodge to the Shrine Auditorium. Not having tickets I went to the stage door, knocked and said I was working on the light show, they said forget it and closed the door. So I walked back to my car thinking of doing some programming at UCLA, but then remembered that I had a bunch of film cans in my trunk. So I grabbed a bunch of film cans and went back to the same stage door, this time they said, “sure come in”. Back stage Hendrix was doing extraordinary improvisation and John who was doing the light show was setting up three 16 mm projectors to cover a huge rear projection screen he installed and he asked what was in the cans, I said various computer generated things, he took a look on the projector and asked to use it, so the various color print variants of Cibernetik were on all the projectors going forwards and backwards covering the huge screen, so I just stayed back stage while Hendrix was off by himself doing the most extraordinary improvisations I’ve ever heard, and I was never particularly impressed by the improvisations of any rock groups, but this was better than what gets recorded even by Hendrix. There wasn't an empty seat in the auditorium, but I saw that Abe Landsberg was with Jan Wolf who sat on my lap as Hendrix came on stage, then as he began all the film prints came on at once. After a short while Hendrix noticed what was being projected behind him, and he turned around to watch the movie which seemed to parallel what he was doing with his guitar, Hendrix hadn't seen any of the visuals while he was back stage improvising, and so for about the next 45 minutes he watched the screen with his back to the audience and created a sound track if anyone had recorded that performance. The entire evening was a complete surprise. After the performance I got the address where there was a party for Jimi, however I was scheduled to watch the mainframe computer for the global weather simulations of Dr. Yale Mintz, but when I got back to the business school’s computer center, they were using across campus, I found Steve Schleimer, Danny Sabsay and Chris Kurasch, all who were doing some programming for meteorology, who were having a good time working and keeping the tape drives loaded just fine.

Obviously this period was the beginning of a lot of experimentation with mind enhancing herbs that certainly influenced society, the arts and motion pictures; and it would be dishonest not to mention how this influence easily overshadowed what we may have been trying to accomplish and offered a substantially new perspective. The psychedelics in particular offered anyone extraordinarily extreme personal revelations, which typically concluded after a few hours ending with a few profound insights and then typically trailed off with a neurological demonstration of the extraordinary image generating capabilities of the human mind; which incidentally may have been more brilliant than any movie anyone ever saw, showing visions that may have never been considered, and all at a miniscule fraction of the cost of a movie ticket. This had to come to the attention of anyone considering any new media design. At the same time government organizations were of course busy identifying numerous molecular variants of psychotropic discoveries for use at intelligence agencies, federal and state hospitals; and at the time all without any legislative regulation. In fact the concepts explored in the Cibernetik movie systems would under any circumstance naturally evolve toward mimicking or expanding on all natural and sensory revelations, because self-regulating or cybernetic systems are by design able to fulfill or perhaps satisfy the creation of an interest in, as well as expand our actual understanding of genetic systems, geology, astronomy, psychology and society. Naturally the use of any tools whether electronic, chemical, physical or psychological, that can offer any insight or understanding would normally offer a life transforming possibility, by offering some deeply personal understanding of life that most parents, professors or bosses wouldn't know how to begin to describe, certainly not comprehend and perhaps would not even consider allowing. While the university environment seems to attract some hard working young people, and during the 60’s out of hundreds of encounters, I saw no personal experimentation that interrupted anyone’s life, academic studies or work, nor any continued use of any intense substance. Certainly attending to a safe setting with experienced accompaniment was fairly typical and only sensible, even if it wasn't always planned. Young people were naturally quick to notice that the media promoted fear of acquiring any form of personal insights or understanding that might question a society’s authority that was founded on abuse, fear, and subservience to domination or consumption. As time passes for each of us we may have noticed that any interest in exploration or change seems to decline; however I see nothing inherent with age that decreases our understanding or creative interests; in fact a continuing accumulation of knowledge and insights is very useful in conveying all non-trivial understandings that might be sensitive in nature but can be helpful to our lives. Nonetheless creative interests are rarely retained by anyone; I expect that it only takes about 3 years of routine work to hypnotize and condition just about anybody; and after that you might no longer expect any interest in our life potentials, nor any care for nature or any relevant personal creativity. John Lennon, Jim Morrison and many others ended by expressing a real disappointment with their audience’s lack of any evolutionary progress or interests. Perhaps the mass audience may not be able to evolve. If a people could be mentally programmed by video images, it may be that humanity has already been very significantly biologically degraded over countless centuries by endless abuse, violence and detrimental selective breeding, which have all been designed to destroy all the qualities of human understanding and beauty along with the natural world. The alternative may be to protect and restore life on earth; the effort could take billions of people thousands of years to partially accomplish, if they could even comprehend any nondestructive or noncompetitive ideas. While it may certainly be an unlikely possibility, the course that humanity is now being guided along by business interests may not be able to survive, and may well transform into something extraordinarily oppressive that our species can not escape. We are encouraged to study and invest in everything, except what matters most in life; which is how to create and care for life and all of nature; which is of course only what we are. Our social institutions act as if they were derived from some sort of science fiction movie, where the alien intelligence is dedicated to get us to destroy ourselves and the earth, all motivated by a few people getting more money than everyone else. Only someone as dumb as a pocket calculator could fall for such a moronic game plan, and believe that symbols are more significant than reality, which unfortunately includes the beliefs of a few billion people. However Buddha, Christ, Einstein and many others have all taken notice of this strange human proclivity. Perhaps the unspoken rule of society is don’t interfere with the human entrapment process or planetary destruction, because it’s all based on believing in symbols, particularly money, above all else; and that we are all disposable at the discretion of the dominant economic system.

The preliminary cybernetic motion picture system designs in 1960 and 61 were based individual graphic algorithms that each could generate unlimited variations within the capabilities of the mechanism which might be set by 20 to 30 numeric parameter settings. The individual graphic mechanisms could be mathematical in nature but more typically represented some physical or biological phenomena such as: structural folding, reflections, masking or space subtraction, gravitational field interactions, three dimensional orbital mechanics, sequential additive and subtractive pattern interference, controlled pattern repetition, regulated branching structures, compound optical surface distortion, gravitational object assembly, negative and positive 3-D surface elevations; with each of such sub-system modules representing a class of design structures. The world naturally integrates many combinations of these mechanisms seamlessly creating an extraordinary degree of variety. However our minds quickly recognize the range of potential from just one of these mechanisms, no matter how clever the forms are that are generated. Consequently subsequent systems explored ways of combining a variety of image generating mechanisms, so three-dimensional environments were created where individual mechanisms could be placed and where spatial fields associated with each structure could influence the individual mechanisms and change its neighbors parameters based on proximity. Tests were then run with up to 25 such form generating mechanisms, each influencing the design process and the motion of objects, that led structures to a process of evolution, disintegration or regeneration. The Cibernetik system was now self-regulating thousands of parameters simultaneously. Without having any chance to observe anything, it however became obvious that the mechanisms might just produce nothing at all just as easily as overload the visual environment. Since the setting of thousands of numeric parameters at the beginning stage determined what kind of environments and interactions would take place, and since random number generators set all the parameters, it was always going to be completely unknown what sort of structures and events would be generated. Consequently an educable control mechanism was needed that would learn what combinations of factors and structures would produce a diverse population of structures and motions that could create visual interest. So I began to limit or instruct the system with what I felt would provide it with a model of choice making for the thousands of initial controls that would allow for some image diversity, appropriate rates of motion, environmental conditions, energy fields, regeneration abilities and so on. At that point I knew I had perhaps eliminated some of the worst-case conditions and that some image making was occurring, but no visual output was available; as a result I was frequently looking at long lists of x and y coordinates that passed through the perspective and clipping mechanisms. Also since image density, field effects and closeness to the viewer could greatly increase the computational load and computer time requirements, I could only estimate how much computer time was required to generate a movie sequence. At that time I was using UCLA’s IBM 7094, which was among the most powerful computers of the time. The amount of computer time available daily was around 30 seconds, which was certainly not going to allow for any filmmaking. Movie generation was going to take a huge block of time; and since time was valued at about $500 per hour then, I thought I might try to obtain a 10 hour block, of course I was without any funding source and asking for something very costly, far beyond anything I could afford, at a time when comfortable apartments were renting for $100 per month, I was asking for the equivalent of 4 years rent, should I be lucky enough to get it, further all that computer time would have to be used as one contiguous block to generate 1 sequence which hopefully would be long enough to be seen as a movie, that is if the software and the computer didn't crash during that very long run. So I began asking at the computing facility on the 3rd floor of Boelter Hall how I might apply and some time later I discovered that a professor in the astrophysics department would review my proposal; he had earlier brought in a copy of Music IV from Bell Labs for various acoustic and music synthesis projects on campus, and I had already interfaced my movie system to use Music 4 as the sound generation system by saving parameter tapes for each frame for post audio generation. Fortunately he eventually approved the proposal, perhaps with little or no hope of having another chance for such a block of computer time. I then located a particularly rare but essential device for that time, a cathode ray tube (CRT) film recorder which was made by Stromberg-Carlson the SC-4020, which was the first digital film recorder ever built, which was at General Dynamics in San Diego, where they were at that time building submarines and the huge Atlas Apollo rocket systems that were used for the flights to the Moon. They offered a free run on their film plotter and so I picked-up plotting software modules from General Dynamics and ran one short test which worked.

Incidentally computer software provided by IBM such as FORTRAN, etc. along with software from other companies during the early 60’s all had far fewer bugs and system problems than today’s software; because 3 or 4 people at that time wrote entire systems with intimate familiarity, and they knew where all the bugs were and they removed them; as a result programming was vastly less frustrating than systems that were delivered from 1967 on, including the IBM 360 series through today’s PC’s by Microsoft and Apple’s MACs; although certainly the newer computers are obviously vastly more useful and portable, because hardware engineering has progressed with a sense of discipline and achievement. What has been lost is clarity of software system design in a chaotic frenzy of product production and financial expediency, where many people are required to quickly accomplish confusing tasks that are quickly disposed of. This of course will not provide for the personal understanding needed or the stability of system development that can allow for the creation of systems that can extend our own conscious processes and extend our human understanding. What has happened in software design is an increased need for more people to accomplish extraordinarily trivial and disposable tasks, with little growth in functionality, due to needless system complexity, along with a continuous increase in exasperating program bugs even in programs that millions of people use daily. My estimate is that software is being designed at about 10% efficiency, due to: poorly engineered system tools and the drive of most programmers to increase complexity without any interest in or understanding of simplicity, along with a very uncertain and unstable working environment. What was to come in the later decades was already obvious in the 60’s. In 1966 I worked on dynamic message routing for the Internet with Leonard Klienrock at UCLA and Larry Roberts at ARPA; we had a chance participate in the creation of internet tools, to see the potential of a small computer and graphic devices, the so-called mouse which was developed at the Stanford Research Institute in Palo Alto and related interactive windows features. However as the amount of labor increased to accomplish relatively simple tasks, gradually this ends-up requiring teams of programmers to accomplish nearly any task. Nevertheless years or decades of intensive labor by one person can accomplish extraordinary events, my only suggestion is to chose those purposes well, so that no matter what, even if no one else ever sees or cares about the project, it is clearly worth doing and accomplishing; because many others are always ready to ignore, destroy or steal the best thought out efforts; so the work has to be beneficial, useful and completely rewarding on its own, with or without any marketing process; in any case a film is in itself a form of marketing.

One evening I felt the film production system might be ready; so I ran a few more tests, at that point I couldn't think of what to change on Model 5, Version 3 of the Cibernetik System and then I checked with the Computer Facility schedule for any long wide-open evenings for computer time and scheduled that night. When the night arrived I assembled about 20 large magnetic tapes and checked in with the night operator, who happened to be Larry, who would be really helpful as needed to keep the system operational. So I loaded 4 tape drives, 3 for color plotting tapes, red, green and blue, and one tape for image control information to be used later to synchronize the film to the Music IV sound generation process. An additional drive was used to carry the overlay modules. Although the IBM 7094 was valued in the early 60’s as a $3.5 million super computer with instructions executing in the range of 2 to 7 microseconds and a 32k, 36 bit, meticulously hand wired magnetic core memory; the computer actually had insufficient memory to carry a large program, however that was largely overcome by swapping program sections into a common overlay memory region; which incidentally worked very smoothly as did all the 7094 system components, which is something I have never seen since in any computer system, except perhaps airborne flight control and weapon system computers, that apparently maintained such a philosophy. The 7094 may well have been the simplest and most functional computer ever created, with the most problem free operating system and compiler ever developed; undoubtedly, as I was informed from someone from IBM’s production center in Poughkeepsie New York, because it was fully created and developed by small teams of just a few dedicated people, who apparently were able to solve every problem they encountered, undoubtedly very quickly, because of their complete familiarity. Which incidentally in spite of all the extraordinarily progress in processor capabilities over the past several decades, I have never seen since, particularly from IBM; undoubtedly because of what has become a much more hectic work environment, full of overly clever programmers who proceed in a vain effort to create job security through complexity and obscure programming techniques; although of course they claim to be striving for simplicity. I expect that most system designers nowadays have existed in such a frenzy for so long that they have no idea what they are developing, naturally in spite of claims to the contrary. This of course is obvious in all the simple, very popular software packages that are so difficult to use, and literally packed full of bugs, even after selling millions of copies for a decade or more. I don’t believe that I have actually seen or bought any software from any large company that isn't full of problems that eventually make their systems difficult or impossible to use, and I rarely use or need any kind of exotic features. Well that keeps the door wide open for the eventual replacement of companies like Microsoft, Adobe, Symantec, Macromedia and the others; perhaps the open-source movement will gradually accomplish the task. Given the scale of a complete cybernetic production system, and the usual chaos within any software company, international cooperation based on open-source programming may be the only viable strategy to create such a complete virtual-reality simulator and sustain its long-term evolutionary progress.

(Stromberg-Carlson SC-4020 film recorder)

When I was ready to start the production run on the 7094 I told Larry to clock me in, he time stamped the card and the card reader rapidly read in the boxes of cards which constituted the compiled object code, a small speaker was attached to one of the CPU’s register’s lights which gave out a familiar audio whines and electronic melody signatures for each program running on the computer, and then the 4 magnetic tape drives immediately started recording on the 2400 foot spools. I of course stayed in full-alert mode all night, watching the drives, occasionally mounting new tapes and numbering each plot tape. Larry asked if I would be OK and took a long break, the computer kept running and writing tapes without problems and the printer would periodically indicate how many film frames were recorded until 2 AM then the system began to slow down, I could also hear this on the audio which sensed a register’s bit and monitor this on the printer. The system must have started doing something complex, while that might be interesting visually, if it started getting too complex I would run out of computer time getting just a few seconds of movie, which would be a complete disaster; now if I restarted the system I would loose ½ of my computer time and perhaps run into the same or a worse problem, so I decided to stick with the run, this wasn't a software failure, there were no known bugs in any of the modules, and of course I never had a chance to see any visual results, so I thought how could I really know? Eventually I could see from the time-stamp clock that sunrise was occurring, since we were 2 floors below ground level and my time was running out, the computer was still generating frames on the slow side and I was hoping for more frames or more time, and then Larry came back into the computer room to clock me out for the completion of my 10 hour run. After being clocked out, I mentioned that the next project didn't show-up for their computer time, I asked if I could keep running, he didn't see why not, so I got an extra couple of hours of computing time until the following project showed-up; by then I was pleased to stop, I felt I had enough frames, so I gathered all my plot tapes in a pile of heavy clear plastic cases and started to leave, Larry always seemed happy, as I waved good-morning and left. It was already bright and busy on campus, as I headed to the Greyhound bus station for a bus trip to San Diego. The bus took the Pacific Coast Highway into San Diego which passes right in front of General Dynamics, so I just dropped off the tapes and left; a week or two later I returned when they had time to plot the film. When I got on the return bus with a can of film I started unrolling the film to see if there were any images on the film; sure enough there were drawings changing from frame to frame, so I put the film back into the can and got some rest. But then I wondered how could I print the film in color so I could see it, since the UCLA motion picture department didn't have any motion picture printing equipment, and then how would I resolve all the intricacies of generating a synchronized sound track that matched all the visuals. During the year more complex audio tasks lay ahead.

(SC4020 functional diagram)

Each visual object in the film, which could move behind or in front of the viewer, was then turned into a musical instrument using Bell Labs Music 4 system as the sound generator, which offered complete audio freedom for every acoustic parameter, which was fully linked to each visual structure through the parameter tapes that were recorded during the film production run. 25 acoustic instruments were eventually set running after considerable problems trying to get the Digital to Analog converters to interface with the IBM 7094 processor, each structure in the movie regulated its own melody line without any scales, with unique overtone structures that could continuously change turning any instrumental sound into any other kind of instrument’s sound quality, attack, sustain, decay, vibrato, and so on. Now the acoustic relationships could be substantially tuned or redefined in any musical respect, however a great deal of time would be required to fine tune the audio interface; with a D to A converter that was exceptionally difficult to start, only one short film synchronized audio sequence was generated, which sounded like strange interplanetary birds in trees, which may have worked out fine with considerable acoustic parameter tuning; in any case effort was also required to get the black and white film separations printed in color, and about that time I came across Tod Dockstader’s electronic piece Quatermass which had a portion that somehow seemed to match the film fairly accurately and so I went with the Tango cut, with thanks to Tod for his permission and for an exceptional piece of music. Quatermass was also created at about the same time in its own mysterious way free of all musical tradition, full of energy, tempo and unexpected sound qualities. Eventually Pat O’Neill who was doing films at the Art department acquired a Bell and Howell 16mm contact printer, which provided for some control over the coloring process and a way to create a composite color film. Since I had a 16 mm Bell and Howell 70 movie camera I rented a 180-degree fisheye lens for a day and asked Jan Wolf, Ron Hughes, Dan and David to do whatever they might consider of interest at the UCLA botanical gardens and colorized that for the last sequence, to attempt merging the abstract computer graphics with some abstracted camera footage. Perhaps the film or the music needed a third contrasting part.

(SC-4020 Charactron tube electron beam mask)

It was glaringly obvious by 1965 that the process of designing and configuring motion picture systems including their audio components, whether for a cybernetic system or for a much simpler 2 dimensional hand drawing system, or perhaps a 3 dimensional interactive sculptural approach, was far too time consuming to create and test, or even assemble from existing program modules. Consequently I began working on a meta-system, or a system to design other systems. The next three attempts to create such a meta-system began in 1966; however the design of systems of this nature can fail due to internal complexity, since all modules must be able to function in any context with complete flexibility, perhaps with the same degree of flexibility as we encounter in a natural language much as interpreted by a reader with considerable experience. As any system evolves any form of fixed internal cross linkages that are normally used to structure the software design can greatly limit flexibility, which was particularly critical in a meta-design effort. At the lowest levels, of what we consider computer graphics; the information is relatively simply pipelined. That is, it’s predictable that any image or sculptural object is first moved or rotated, then viewed through an optical perspective, then illuminated, the surfaces are textured, hidden surfaces are removed and lines are clipped which extend beyond the viewers window, then scan lines are sent to display memory where a complex scene is properly viewed. However what is poorly understood is how the image is created or originated naturally; there are of course a vast array of strategies that any artist may implement; we might just consider all the graphic design approaches used throughout history, or more significantly how nature may implement arrangements of molecular or macro structures, whether for structuring geology, trees, animals, geometric objects, water, clouds, crystals, planets, and on and on. In nature everything automatically has to be considered and accounted for; while in any meta-system we have to provide for an even greater and more complete freedom of design or for a realistic and detailed simulation process. At present the artist, animator or filmmaker typically accomplishes most of the overall graphic design task personally and just gets the camera or the computer to assemble and record the objects. The animator doesn't even have to be consciously aware of how this design process takes place, however the meta-system designer has to be aware of all the possibilities, or at least be sure that the system can account for every possibility that could occur. Which is an immense task since the visual world not only needs to reflect personal imagination but accurately depict the physics and biology of the natural world. The systems architectural issue arose whether such a system could pipeline all the possibilities at the highest levels just as it does at the lower graphic levels, or whether modules would have to generate program structures with the speed and flexibility of a natural language. Since the pipelined approach presented less formidable architectural or programming issues it was considered first, however the definitions of each module had to be extremely broadly defined. Functions needed to replace parameters for a new range of system building modules; further the functions themselves needed to be selectively redefined as hand drawn inputs, mathematical forms or as an input from another design component. For example a planet might follow a simple trigonometric function or a gravitational formula, while a human hand would normally attach to an arm, then to a shoulder; while the parametric controls are the same in each case. For example a brick wall could simply be a standard texture pattern attached to some surface whether flat or curved; or a brick wall might consist of a collection of individual 3 dimensional bricks, which would allow for the separation of the individual bricks if the wall were struck. The bonds between objects may of course be fixed, elastic, gravitational, etc. depending on the desired effect. An object may naturally move or even walk according to a mathematical function, or according to a surface encounter, or a gravitational field. So the rules guiding movement may range from a simple linear path to the object, acquiring some sensory inputs to guide itself along its own path, or along a logic sequence based on sensory input. If the logic sequence imbedded in the object or animated figure is complex and extensive it may ultimately resemble a personality and begin to simulate human interactions. The rules for such interactions can of course be very extensive and could no doubt match the qualities of interaction we might see in a pet and eventually acquire more human qualities. However by establishing basic drives and principles of operation for a creature, it no doubt could create and modify its own personality to any level of complexity; that of course might easily exceed the abilities of most real people, who typically exhibit a very limited range of learning possibilities and regularly cause hopeless disasters. It might be interesting or even educational to see what happens to a species that learns in different ways, and is willing to change rapidly in response to abuse or creative possibilities; which is something that people usually have a great deal of trouble with, and typically allow themselves to diminish their own creative possibilities.

During the later stages of development Meta-systems 6 and 7 failed due to the extreme level of complexity that had evolved, which eventually led to diminishing returns on the programming effort. By 1970, System 8 provided a functional platform to create any combination of design systems as a meta-system; however it was implemented on IBM 360 mainframe computers with very limited graphic and interactive abilities, nevertheless it was beginning to become clear that mini-computers could provide a very useful interactive alternative to the main-frame processors and that micro-computers were going to become a vastly lower cost possibility. However the costs of the mini-computers such as a PDP-11 by Digital Equipment Corporation was still high, perhaps $20,000. however Computer Automation in Irvine was producing a faster industrial mini-computers for less than half that price, plus essential graphic and camera hardware; nevertheless with little or no compiler support such as FORTRAN until sometime later; consequently such a computer had a serious short coming, since all code had to be written in an assembler language, which made it at least 5 times slower to design a substantial system, so a 3 year effort would be stretched to 15 years and had to be done almost completely from scratch, or alternatively I could have consider a reduction to a much more simplified system which would limit the range of possibilities. Either approach would be huge blunder, given that one person would have to write all the software and pay for the hardware, however with an additional 10 years of intensive effort, by 1980 the system was drawing full color images using a black and white display, by stepping through 3 color separation filters on the front of a 35 mm pin-registered Mitchell motion picture camera, all done at the lowest possible cost on a fast mini-computer. The system was highly interactive with a matrix of functions that could be assigned to any graphic operation, or any function could be directly or indirectly controlled by any of 16 precision potentiometers, that were positioned below each finger and under the palm and side of the hands. Many of the controls previously included in the cybernetic design systems could be assigned to any mathematical function, attached to an object or to a touch control device to select any level of motion control rapidly, with real time execution. Interactive digital motion pictures were now possible, however now providing for drawing skills with a precision drawing tablet; additionally scanning capabilities and a sharper display was needed to obtain higher quality film images. So I showed some of the 35 mm test results to Bill Hanna at Hanna-Barbera Studios who expressed some interest; however a staff programmer didn't like the idea of anyone else working with computers, and then Warner Brothers animation preferred that the system came from a big Japanese company fully perfected, my feeling was that Disney would only hired people who dreamed about luxury cars that would be hip to yuppies. So I thought that with 21 years of very intensive work to develop an exceptional range of animation systems, well I have really been treated better as an expendable employee anywhere; so then I thought I really don’t need to work that all that hard at animation; and within a moment I completely changed what I was doing in life, and that was a much more positive choice. Then soon after that the 35 mm Mitchell animation camera was stolen; I imagined using it to shoot time-lapse shots of clouds flowing over the mountaintops where I lived. Strangely years later I eventually just threw everything else in the trash. A project of this scale was far more than any individual could sustain, so if it was a community endeavor, then where was the community? UCLA, Cal-Arts and many other universities rejected any form of participation; and at that time or now for that matter institutions were only vaguely aware of the potential of computers in the arts, and simply hired people to teach extremely primitive graphic packages. I have no idea what the administrators could be thinking, when with a little help we could have advanced computer animation several centuries foreword as well as accommodated their very simple departmental objectives. Of course the engineering departments and schools of medicine do have an idea of how to solve large-scale research projects through teamwork, but there was never any interest in image processing techniques. Perhaps some conclusions may include staying away from schools and universities if anyone wants an education; although university libraries can be very helpful, but that role may well be fulfilled through the Internet. Naturally everyone should do a tremendous amount of research on their own, and make their own movies personally, if anyone should find that something needs to be mentioned; but in the scheme of things the protection and care of nature and its evolution is vastly more significant, along with learning to grow your own non-toxic food, and sustainable shelter oneself from the rain, the wind and the cold. All of which could help reduce our dependence on money, and it’s delusions that could destroy anyone’s creative potential; which doesn't mean avoiding some work for money, nor wasting any resources that you may need to survive later, just because the rest of the world is engaged in a desperate and wasteful economic struggle. My working formula when going to the university was to use no more than ½ of my time for school and jobs, and then to use the remaining ½ for more creative endeavors. Which was very difficult to accomplish, which forced me into a schedule of about 3-4 hours of sleep per night, and precluded lengthy study for class exams, that in retrospect offered nothing of lasting value.

Since this long and intensive effort had its own history of discoveries I felt that it might be worth mentioning some of these in case if it could be of any help to anyone who might consider these issues. It would take months to describe all the architectural and algorithmic trade-offs involved in designing cybernetic systems; but most of that might be deduced with some personal effort. Perhaps I got into computer animation too early, before any kind of useful computers existed, it is now at least hundreds or thousands of times easier to create systems or develop animation with current systems; which doesn't mean that a great deal of the potential offered by a cybernetic tool have been developed or even considered by artists or system designers; nor that the process of cybernetic system design would be easy. The algorithmic languages and graphic system tools available today is the ultimate extension of what was conceived in the early 1960’s, and didn't even progress to the visions of the later 60’s which included natural language processing and design controls, meta-systems, and algorithm generating tools based on a statement of requirements. The absence of such advanced system creation tools makes the process of system design still a laborious process. The history of computer animation since 1980 has been strewn with the lives and dreams of people who had achieved some brief success with considerable effort, but with few opportunities to sustain their labor or their dreams. Of course Ed Brokaw in his film writing class mentioned that there was a long history of no support for innovation in Hollywood, which while I didn't find it particularly acceptable, it was true. (I recently heard that Ed is wandering the streets somewhere unaware of who he is.) More prominently, no matter how hard they tried the Wright brothers could never get any work in the aircraft industry even though they had significantly created the possibility flight, had the only wind tunnel on earth and had revised all the laws of aerodynamics. Buckminister Fuller also experienced resentment for his effort among many designers, who only wanted to cash in on the ideas. The competitive spirit is alive and well and taking us nowhere; the cooperative spirit is usually a front for a deception; a new approach is needed for humanity to resolve its needs; which of course is the last thing people want after being programmed by social institutions for countless generations. Attending to the evolutionary benefit of humanity is an alternative, which however is not measured or secured only by words or private benefits, but acknowledged by the majority of our personal actions and the use of our resources. Which may only suggest that we need to carefully choose our dedication of purpose so well that all life is benefited.

Since the 1990’s several software companies have offered basic low-level animation tools to assist with hand drawing, sculpting and motion control. Various systems specialized in the creation of landscapes, some lettering, some 2 or 3 dimensional graphics, some offer video tools, some web animation, some work with sound, but few systems have any capabilities of coordinating capabilities, however without some sort of open source code policy and common design interface there will be little opportunity to integrate these capabilities and incorporate artificial intelligence controls, to create scripts that control productions, coordinate music compositions or genetically design film characters. Current computer tools are highly labor intensive, instead of imagination intensive tools that might allow us the create and refine dreams and produce settings, scripts, actors and movies all in a matter of minutes at almost no cost, instead of years of skilled labor and 10’s of millions of dollars. Of course creating a machine that generates dreams as fluidly as our imaginations should have existed by now, if the work continued, however it is perhaps a long way off, perhaps with no other efforts since I began in 1960. The actual understanding of the life mechanisms needed to create cybernetic simulations is of course well beyond our actual knowledge and capabilities, but perhaps not impossible to achieve with considerable personal energy and willingness to discover. The organizational ability of stem cells is as crucial to understanding biology as in the evolution of graphic images. How stem cells differentiate, recognize volumes, determine their locations and grow based on neighboring cell communications, can be done by medical researchers as well as explored by artists or engineers through biological simulations. In fact the different approaches are often complimentary and benefit discovery. However all such work is very dependent on a considerable amount of personal energy and available time; which is far less likely with needless social drains on our energies. So a valuable skill would be to develop the ability to unmistakably detect people who are abusive or destructive, either directly or through cooperative nonprofit agreements to avoid adversarial relationships, whether they occur at work or at home. Such precautions can help anyone to be more productive, and nurture the expansion of the frontiers of knowledge. If we had 6 billion research scientists who grew their own food without any subservient labor anywhere; life may well become nearly immortal, diseases eliminated, extinct species and devastated rainforests restored to life, aggressive overpopulation ended, material needs solved, planetary travel and habitation solved. The limitation to accomplishing any task is imagination, knowledge and understanding; and when the understanding has occurred the task, which was once unimaginable and impossible, is often comparatively easy to accomplish. We never need to be intimidated by our lack of knowledge, because all the people on earth know only an infinitesimal portion of what is occurring in nature; however the knowledge we now have is hard-won, at least 90% undocumented anywhere, and needs to be recorded in an accessible form on the Internet so that we can learn from all the farmers, scientists and from all people with understanding; so that we could all be brought to the frontiers of human knowledge, which may only be one or two concepts away. To limit, finance or assign education to schools or universities overlooks the continuous nature of learning, and creates a special kind of education at the service of industrial profits, as well as significantly ignores the people around us who have acquired considerable knowledge and valuable insights during their lifetimes that are lost forever because they are excluded from the social learning process. This includes MD’s who have discovered safe and effective therapies, artists, scientists, and individuals who have made discoveries about plants in the equatorial forests, or in our own neighborhoods, who can help feed us without trucking our food on average over 1500 miles, and laden with pesticides. With all the knowledge people have almost none of it can support our own survival, nor offer any care for the rainforests being cleared for beef production. With hundreds of video and radio channels, movies, schools, universities, newspapers and magazines we are experiencing an extreme shortage of useful information. The economic excuse of “supply and demand” may simply disguise the fact that ignorance and indifference creates a subservient population; which is thought to be good for business; but such ignorance keeps our economy running at about 1/10 of its potential; which is not good for anyone including our financially chosen economic leaders; but since they too were educated by this system, they too are ignorant with poorly considered purposes, that are self-destructive; even though such leaders undoubtedly have much more information than the general population; their information does not address fundamental life and survival issues; consequently such leaders have repeatedly proven themselves to be extremely dangerous to humanity and nature; and undoubtedly humanity needs to start considering a new path, perhaps one to some extent evolved by indigenous people and individuals who have explored matters of nature, community and survival. Equipped with more useful understandings of life perhaps our movies will not be completely devoid of beneficial considerations or intriguing stories.

Certainly the potential of a cybernetic medium may be extraordinary, however the full task of creating such capabilities may also be extraordinary. Consequently we may consider the gradual evolution toward physical and biological simulations on an incremental basis by encouraging the use of well designed open-source system modules which allow for the integration of higher level systems, much as the Windows operating system was originally portrayed as the integrated standard for business applications; except in a much more concurrent fashion, which integrates all module interactions and controls on a real-time language and three-dimensional basis; allowing for the genetic simulation of living forms, psychological modeling, ecological design, musical composition, sound coordination, and so on, all in a simultaneous environment. While the computational requirements would be extreme, there is certainly no reason to fully simulate all objects or creatures not in the observers field of view, nor any need to fully shade, texture or illuminate in real-time; a low-cost machine could run by itself for a few days to generate a high definition (HDTV) motion sequence or a complete motion picture at considerably higher resolutions. Perhaps an evolved cybernetic system could simulate as much environmental and species diversity as any natural environment could offer, with billions of simulated creatures pursuing their complex interactions, each experiencing an infinity of story possibilities, where the viewer can play god and increase or decrease their range of abilities, or heat-up the earth over a century to see if the simulated creatures could figure out how to survive or leave. Perhaps we can learn about life from such animated creatures and their responses, if they can mimic our relatively simple mental processes. Such simulations could be readily implemented on the internet initially in a simplified or specialized form to help introduce the concepts, educate and entertain, for example as a DNA structural simulator for a user to replicate the creation of plant and animal species; or as a melody and harmony generator that creates musical compositions by choosing style parameters; as an architectural design generator that could create an infinity of styles and address a huge list of ecological issues and encourage a new human relationship with the earth; or as a new organism generator that reads genome sequences and shows the resulting organism as well as its biological characteristics; or perhaps as an event simulators which can create and illustrate stories as quickly as a dream. All of these potentials are yet to be explored and all of these cybernetic capabilities can be made immediately accessible through the Internet where the user can personally set all the parameters then immediately observe the results, and perhaps help transform our knowledge and understanding of the earth, of biology and human nature, and possibly help protect us from intentional self-destruction. A cybernetic dream machine of any specific variety can be readily created now and help enrich our lives and if adequately conceived encourage us to consider how to care for the earth as well as our own lives. As a freely available web tool, which creates interest and interactive participation, it can become beneficial and perhaps powerful by simply offering insights for our lives. Such comparatively simple systems can be created without insurmountable personal strain and may offer us an opportunity to see a process of personal transformation by offering us understandings that few teachers could hope to offer. As schools become progressively dogmatic, or absent of creative thought, or intolerant of questioning, as well as financially demanding and economically subservient; then the computer certainly offers a considerably more helpful alternative to schools and institutional education. During the next few decades if we learn how our own neurological structure functions we may begin to be able to replicate and expand our own intelligence and perhaps offer ourselves the ability to create considerably more complex systems in a form that is sufficiently simple to be implementable, all without immense mental struggle. But we might be deluded in believing that a system with no simple objective can actually interpret and absorb the structure of the universe and all the potentials of life, then deduce a system that will expand the most visionary aspects of our imaginations, and that such a system will somehow happen by simply replicating our neurological design process. While that may be a very promising path, however given the almost infinite range of possibilities, neurological structure is in itself unlikely to offer any ability to simulate our full imaginations in a realistic world, at least without considerable coaxing and regulation of the neurological rules or detailed definitions of the task to be accomplished. Our interaction with any artificial intelligence may be so complex that it becomes difficult to know who is doing the work; which is of course very much the lesson I learned by 1965 after trying to educate the Cibernetik design system. Naturally I saw that the labor of designing the automated system far exceeded the work that may be involved in any equivalent hand made movie production; however the results were unexpected, free of dogmatic human understandings or the conventional experiences that influence and control almost all human life, even if it’s just out of the force of habit. Alternatively genetic methods of algorithm design may work extremely well in the design of the low level algorithms where the effectiveness of any group of algorithms can be readily compared or measured. However the design of the lower level graphic and optical algorithms that we use are either so well understood or so simple in nature that they may require little additional optimization, particularly if highly optimized integer or silicon based versions of the modules are available and used; and since the control or design origination aspects of a simulation are not particularly computation intensive, perhaps requiring less than 1 or 2% of the overall computational budget, again there is little need for design optimization. The difficulty exists in the coordination, or the combination of a very large number of well-understood concepts, in a system that fluidly allows for all concepts to be combined simultaneously, very efficiently and to be easily controlled; which were my system design objectives from 1965 to 1974. Nevertheless once the system is fully assembled there is of course is no simple objective or test other than the level of acceptance of various viewers, whose judgment can be so widely variable that any of them could well be so completely bored with their own lives that they would only harbor self-destructive intentions, which incidentally is extraordinarily common; so a range or specific viewer personalities may have to be considered in the process of tuning or educating any cybernetic production system.

Our personal visions are the beginning of creating a paradise on earth, or perhaps going along with and promoting a corporate hell that no one can do anything about. Undoubtedly humanity will have to become vastly more knowledgeable and capable to survive at all, or perhaps to make even the simplest survival decisions due to the increased populations, legal aggression, financial demands and technical complexity. The films that come out of Hollywood rarely offer any stories that provide the slightest help or even a trivial understanding to benefit any audience; perhaps the filmmakers themselves have never found a way to acquire any useful understanding of life. No doubt all a filmmaker’s energy has to be focused at finding a job and sounding clever, to survive at all. The only time controversy appears to be allowed is when young filmmakers are allowed to present racial blame, hate and genocidal messages under the guise of obtaining justice; perhaps because projecting guilt, shame and violence promotes mindless consumption. Any computer could undoubtedly do a better job of originating film ideas and scripts than most writers in the film industry. If we have been conditioned to sacrifice our time and our lives to just make money and spending it on huge homes that we somehow consider normal, or on needlessly costly cars and devastatingly expensive relationships and divorces; then devastation is what’s deserved, and perhaps all we will ever be able to get in such a world; because there is never enough time or resources available to simultaneously create the solutions that free life and our creative potentials, and at the same time waste everything we have to devastate the world and ourselves, since the two approaches are obviously in direct opposition. Of course most people expect that they will get around to doing things more sensibly later when they retire with a vast fortune, which never seems to be enough to do anything. While most everyone claims to appreciate nature, but practically everyone gives nearly all of their money to people and companies dedicated to destroying the earth and enslaving their lives; all of which somehow becomes protected behavior, most typically even the measure of our human value, which cannot be examined or stopped. Certainly it is common that most everyone destroys what they want; perhaps because abusive personalities set the rules for our lives, rules that are controlling, abusive, based on pretense, and not at all caring of life, human evolution or the continuation of the natural world. These are some of the unwritten rules that everyone is supposed to obey and believe in, which create most of the subservience and suffering in life. The movies usually promote some belief related to individual success in winning at the rules of material acquisition, and of course maintaining personal delusions; even the award winning film performances show some sort of shallow subservience to social delusions. Perhaps the big name performers in their own personal lives might be able to give the impression that they can see through such delusions; but that is almost never true, these bright people don’t know and don’t care; they in fact invest their billions in the corporations that poison humanity and kill the planet for money. The motion picture industry is almost exclusively the propaganda instrument of enslaving people’s minds and destroying the earth for money. A robot could readily create possibilities that would always go beyond the indoctrination program directed to the audience; as a result the audience may find the cybernetic media a more viable alternative to the existing television and motion picture production systems. The creative artist in Hollywood is much more of a sold-out robot than any computer could ever become; you can’t frighten or buy the integrity of a computer! Sure a cybernetic program could have portions of its potential shutout, but a programmer could re-install any of its capabilities in an open-source model and provide for all the system’s creative freedoms; which a human would never be allowed to consider in the movie industry nor economically be allowed to survive. Of course there are always people who will find complete creative freedom in any oppressive corporate environment because they innately believe that universal subservience, abuse and addiction to consumption is only proper; so they naturally become the well adjusted administrators of social propaganda that dominate practically every Hollywood production. In such a situation there is clearly opportunity for any filmmaker to help people create better lives for themselves by learning how to care for nature and humanity; which are only the things that we are created from. However the messages will be seen as true only if it contains helpful knowledge that undoubtedly has been lived and personally understood by the filmmaker, that fascinates and benefits its audience.

The future of a cybernetic cinema might just begin by creating stories or movies without asking anything, or perhaps it might offer an unlimited sequence of story ideas and short movie introductions that roll past the screen that we might chose from. Of course at this point a feature movie might be worth less than one dollar, however with 10’s of millions of new releases being generated every day, movies may be much more profitable, with no writing, acting, production or distribution expenses. Since any cybernetic system could offer practically unlimited possibilities, the list of future movie possibilities would be endlessly offered, in any length, with DNA generated actors and designated personalities, so stories could unfold that simulate our own life situation and the needs for our own personal consideration, in a way that augments our own natural capabilities; however by offering insights which are not limited by our personal history or experiences.

(photo taken about 1965 in the Meteorology Dept.)

Naturally a fully integrated graphic simulator could provide a very capable interface for the emulation of psychological interactions, natural-language operating system controls, mediation and dispute resolution, interactive education, heavy equipment, automotive and aircraft controls, or anywhere routine human or mechanical interactions occur. I no doubt could have saved 10’s of thousands of hours of work if I had some of this sort of information earlier. However it’s not that I neglected to ask or failed to read, but that in literally any field, extremely few people understand anything at all, fewer have ever tried to understand anything about what they do, and so the world is a huge engineering, economic and ecological disaster, full of politically astute people who can cleverly manipulate trivial details that generally lead nowhere except to some money for their addiction to consumption, the foundation of an entire civilization. Then a few people try to survive doing art or scientific research, which is usually unsupported and typically stolen in the legal fine print by the investors who secretly despise the creative spirit. An alternative is to create primarily what is personally needed to support the needs of evolution and of life, so that it is directly useful and helpful to nature and our own life evolution. This is a significant shift in perspective that is considerably more appreciative of our capabilities and the needs of life, which can easily account for all the miscellaneous details including the efficient and personal development of appropriate technology.

(js, December 28, 2002)

Cibernetik Notes

The Cibernetik programs were developed between 1960 and 1964 in the basements of Santa Monica College and UCLA’s Boelter Hall on an IBM 7094, as personal research into movies and biologic systems; which led toward the visual reverse engineering of various organic systems, and a deeper respect for the formidable mysteries of embryo development, and the extraordinary evolution of the natural living forms around us. The original concept was to create an animation system that would allow anyone to create an animated movie as easily as writing a story. In the early 1960’s work on Cybernetik was encouraged by the discoveries of Watson and Crick, and so the Cybernetic systems initially incorporated their own primitive genetic models to originate the forms and designate their related vocalizations using Bell Labs Music 4; along with a range of three-dimensional spatial environments where these forms could evolve, in fields of light, energy and gravity; all of which incidentally left far too many possibilities to even begin considering how to coordinate all the details. So an AI learning system was implemented, which controlled the origination of both the environments and their visual organisms; based on personal opinions. The film result was the only observation of their interactions. Naturally I had only a vague idea of what might be produced, particularly since there were no computers with graphic displays available at that time. Most of the algorithms implemented for this film were new, years before being discovered elsewhere. If done now, a similar system might give birth to the actors, the worlds they inhabit, the sounds, the music, their aspirations, their illusions and an infinity of stories; all of which could no doubt be done far more creatively and imaginatively, by a computer, than most of what passes through our urban film factories. Fulfilling the potential of a cybernetic art could help with an understanding of nature and our often-contrived relationships that typically lead to conflicts and natural disasters. But to create such an art a great deal of new knowledge may be needed including the ability to simulate genetic development which is substantially unknown; as well as modeling our psychological mechanisms, our illusions, our symbolic or financial compulsions and our material desires; along with the better known mechanisms of the physical sciences. Cibernetic system 5, version 3 is simply the stick figure version of such an environmental simulation that would naturally run indefinitely; which could be simply excerpted as a movie or could run with as an interactive simulation. A more detailed visual simulation could help us observe our own life situation, or the world we may care to live-in, nurture, protect or help create. The last third of the film contains fisheye images of friends at UCLA’s Botanical Gardens that were merged with some of the computer animation. Since 1965 I spent many years developing the genetic, architectural and environmental building tools, and was tempted to continue because of the fundamental knowledge that might be developed with the functional simulation of genome and embryological processes. However by 1980 after building and programming the equipment needed to digitally animate on 35mm film, and meeting with Bill Hanna, Disney and Warner Brothers; their interest seemed to be in dealing with a big corporation and a thoroughly proven commercially marketed product, which certainly didn't exist at that time and even now such software is extremely complex, cumbersome and labor intensive. Nevertheless innovation was clearly not anything of interest then, or perhaps now for that matter. The commercial interest is essentially there to win with any primitive consumer product, which simply means we need more people to consume more products until we experience a planetary collapse. Quickly recognizing my extraordinarily costly and personally exhausting 65000 hour endeavor; all done without grants and supported by miscellaneous unrelated jobs; my attention shifted from movies and related illusions, to the actual care and restoration of the natural world, and the development of techniques to assist endangered species, along with an understanding of potentially compatible relationships with what remains of our wilderness. This happens to be a far simpler approach to life that anyone can participate with, and directly offer some benefit to the most threatened of life creations that have evolved here over millions of years and surpass anything we could ever hope to build with all our efforts. Naturally I found out that most people actually don't care about nature, although they consistently say they do; and so they are always ready to destroy it all for money, as if destroying something rare somehow created value. Our survival is now very much dependant on dealing with an unconscious humanity that will destroy literally anything for money or consumption. Unlike most endeavors, what’s extraordinary about nature is that’s a self-regulating, cybernetic or a self-caring system that may well be at least as conscious as we are. The Cibernetik project was simply a discovery that we could to some extent create on these same terms, which might help lead us toward a greater respect for the creation that we are a small and potentially a compatible portion of. Naturally I don’t view the cybernetic arts as a dead-end endeavor, but something which can be very labor intensive to develop all the various system components, and which may have a most extraordinary future; in any case there are now many people designing some of the basic graphic components. Nevertheless the mind is also a simulator of potential futures; however with billions of other minds also attempting to control the outcome, by insisting on the creation of endless conflicts and pressures; all with little or no effort to heal the damages or help realize a more evolved humanity; there are now obviously more crucial issues that need our consideration and assistance. Although no further films followed, this project led to an understanding of more direct approaches to participating with nature and life, that aren't particularly mentioned in any books and will probably never appear in any university course catalog. The limits of our knowledge are always extraordinarily close to us, they are our limitations, and so the frontiers essential to life and understanding are always offered to us and are deserving of our time.

  1. This era was documented in the book Expanded Cinema by Gene Youngblood and foreword by R. Buckminister Fuller 1970, in Cybernetic Cinema, The Aesthetics of Machine Language, pages 239-246,
  2. Music courtesy of, and with appreciation of Tod Dockstader, from Quatermass, 1964, distributed by Starkland ST-201 (CD)
  3. Thanks to the UCLA Computer Club and Academic Computing for making IBM 7094 time available; and Pat O’Neill for making a 16mm contact printer available to assemble the black and white materials; with appreciation to Paul Klee (1879-1940) for the Thinking Eye; and Joseph Schillinger (1895-1943) for the Computational Basis of the Arts, Philosophical Library 1948; and Norbert Weiner for Cybernetics (1948 & 1961).

(js, August 18, 2002)

IBM 7094 System, control panel and card reader in foreground, about 1964

Why artificial intelligence or a cybernetic art?

   Our present economic world design is to overload a few people with enormous mental tasks, typically as specialist with expected industrial efficiency, allowing others to act with little or no understanding; all of which continually creates unresolvable conflicts; while those pursuing understanding try to resolve such life altering dilemmas, without costing anyone anything or causing any disturbing or unwelcomed changes; while the complexities of our urban design, its surrounding environmental destruction, overpopulation, the forces for economic growth, humanity’s extraordinary personal needs, the absence of social justice, sustainable agriculture, wilderness restoration, longevity and human evolution are being devoured by family and corporate enforced belief systems, while complexities and life needs are ignored, combined with an education that’s devoid of understanding, followed by personal expenditures that only buy more suffering and social control, which can only spell out an ancient history of abuse, and our common personal histories that reaches back to our childhood and invisibly influence nearly every decision we make, and with only one subtle unnoticed error destroys all of our labors and visions. It’s little wonder that we all need help to understand and survive, individually or as a species. Individually we may be comparatively harmless, but leveraging our powers through technology or commodification has provided us the ability to destroy, multiplied and rewarded as the highest and best use of our time. I would begin by considering what is essential to the continuation of a planet, its species, ourselves and our energy to fulfill evolution and consideration for nature. However such an approach might cause us to notice that a great deal of human energy and personal relationships are in conflict, often demanding rights to consume, inflict damages, abuse and waste; and perhaps we cannot see how to resolve the incredible complexity of all the interactions that we know are relevant but not fully revealed to us, or perhaps we may even discover conflict only by being considerate, well intentioned and appreciating an understanding process, or complications may just be caused simply by our own existence, someone else may supply the lack of understanding or abuse. Now how do we even begin to notice such dilemmas within a complex set of relationships any of which can impact our survival. Most people accumulate some helpful experiences over the decades, but as the level of complexity, mechanization and population grows, solutions are becoming more formidable, seldom achieved, rarely even considered in the media, even difficult to recognize or perhaps imagine what it could be, and those who are confident that they have found it, may be destroying it. So how do we go about envisioning our potential and creating some beneficial personal understanding? Our minds are certainly capable of simulating a myriad of advanced possibilities, but somehow problems creep in and vast numbers of significant details may be overlooked, and our potential may not fully realized. So the question might come up, do we have any tools or techniques to help? But can any of the knowledge available address our personal needs for our lifespan, the injustices, the environmental stresses, our energy needs and so on? Or is the entire planetary system being stressed for the purposes of power and money with little regard to all the other critical life issues; and perhaps people can no longer comprehend or support any solutions? How much of this is due to media programming or human vulnerability? Can an artist create a competing vision that appeals to humanity and addresses the fundamental life issues that might capture the imagination in a real way; or can an advanced machine support a comprehension of the personal processes of life we experience, with wisdom, imagination and insight; and how would we begin to educate this machine? These are the sort of design issues that arose during the early programming the cybernetic systems, and so I tried to figure out how a machine could be caused to resemble knowing what we know even in some very limited respect, by limiting extraneous possibilities with a sense of understanding was the intention. What I noticed was that a machine that can simply mimic complex interactions with no experiential history of its own can give rise to absolutely unimaginable visions and solutions, some of which we might want to observe. A cybernetic art may become the crystal ball that can look into all futures. Simply considering precisely how this may be done can provide our imaginations this same freedom, and perhaps enrich our movies, architecture, music, stories and particularly our own lives. The cybernetic tools are simply a way of offering a concrete realization of the mysteries beyond our universe, of some infinite potential, by eventually drawing on all the knowledge that is available to humanity to satisfy our observations and perhaps help guide us along our chosen evolution. Perhaps we are many decades or generations away from such a potential. However there is currently very little history to go by in creating such tools to extend our understanding; by synthesizing the knowledge of human understanding, nature, genetics, mathematics and physics. When we try to avoid pain people are motivated to spend trillions annually on clinical techniques and research. The artist has not often been encouraged to pursue an education related to an evolutionary healing process, by encompassing a working knowledge of all human skills, in order to be able to convey some understanding which is useful to life, or perhaps as I have suggested to educate a creative working tool of human evolution and planetary survival that will assist us. I can’t imagine that support would be anywhere for anyone to engage in such a process. However it can be done individually; naturally the education needed will take more than anyone's lifetime to acquire. This is one way of helping create considerably greater understanding. The Internet is also no doubt a rudimentary component of our information gathering process, which has so far barely developed even the most primitive means of absorbing humanities knowledge, with little to no associative abilities or interpretative process; which writers and artists may individually attempt to create. However we might just skip over all the understandings and notice that the conclusion may be that we need to learn to live as indigenous people have for countless millennia, perhaps with a few microchips and lasers reaching into our simple wilderness dwellings and gardens, with all the tools and rich information we need to bring this planet back to life. But what resistance there will be to such a cooperative life that cares for the beauty of nature, and offers us happiness. I expect that 99.9% of humanity would prefer to end all life on earth before engaging in any such vision; in other words simply keep our competitive attitudes and assumed social contracts or controls substantially unchanged. To help those who may care to personally explore some of the possibilities of life I would of course suggest watching peoples actions and individual expenditures, not what people say, in order to notice what part of humanity is devoted to any personal or evolutionary change, versus nurturing some personal consumption and abuses; it’s an easy and helpful observation to make, and it may well be what determines the future we are entering into and may help protect us from a form of domination that ends our potential; all in a way that is completely voluntary and personal; and of course more significantly doing any such observation might also help encourage anyone to be more supportive of humanity’s potential wherever we can help, and offer some long term protection for the vanishing natural world that gave us life.

(js, September 12, 2002)

(From 1960 design notebook)


Notes of April 4, 2003

Cybernetics, Molecular Biology and Evolution

It’s now over 43 years since I started considering how I might make a movie using what was the latest in digital technology. Computer languages have not changed significantly since then, nor does digital hardware function on any different principles. Within a few years of fairly intensive work I completed the first motion picture by envisioning and creating many of the first graphic algorithms ever considered for this new medium; which was evidentially much more than just another way to make motion pictures. While there has been considerable progress in processor miniaturization, the higher-level concepts embedded in motion picture and graphic software have not particularly advanced at all; while there have been notable improvements in surface rendering techniques. After over four decades of evolution we are presently stuck with a very labor intensive medium, which works at the lowest levels of human understanding, requiring teams of people and vast amounts of labor to achieve very simple tasks, which may result in a few seconds of animation, which may of course be extraordinary. The price being paid for motion picture accomplishments is far too high, consequently it is still not a particularly useful too for communications. So far we have not seen the cybernetic machine evolve as an intelligent servant for our lives, because the fundamental tools essential for this evolution have not been built. As usual humanity has enslaved itself at the lowest levels to someone else’s immediate demands for product and money, while the artist still struggles-on with overwhelmingly labor intensive burdens to ultimately achieve very little; all while an entire planet is enduring to abuse and degradation, with little care or protection.

The advances that are needed in every aspect of life are dramatic, or else life will perish. Our natural concerns for our lives have been redirected to concerns for industrial progress and financial net worth. Do those pursuing economic advantages over others want everyone to be knowledgeable and free to enjoy their lives and nature, or be subservient, and unable to even comprehend the needs of life? What purposes are served through centralized, global distribution systems, or an educational system, government and a media, which is subordinate to financial domination? Perhaps all such institutions are just accidental participants in a process of indoctrination that perpetually redirects our attention to select economic priorities, to institutional insecurities and fundamental needs for control; and away from life and any individually useful knowledge which is in any way related to life. After one or two decades in school, can we grow our food, heal a disease, create a healthy new life, restore a damaged forest, build our home, comprehend the law, fix our car, defend our selves, detect abusive or deceptive people, can we imagine any functional solutions to resolve all the needs of life; or are we only to be guided, graded and controlled by those who don’t particularly care about the evolutionary needs of life, and the tremendous contributions that each person can and needs to make? No wonder there’s so little change that benefits our lives. Not only is helpful change discouraged or prohibited; people have been conditioned or perhaps worse, are naturally frightened of change, no doubt a result of centuries of human domestication. Humanity has been propelling a science-fiction adventure story for millennia, which does not have a beneficial conclusion in mind.

The intention here is to simply pass-on some information from the research I did in the 1960’s, that to my knowledge has not been explored further, and perhaps because it may hold some promise, as a way of simulating and then perhaps helping create some of our future potential; perhaps by simulating the existence missing species or beings, or imagining new creatures that may endure changing circumstances, engender understanding and vitality as an every day aspect of our lives. What we may now value most in life is intentionally consumed, pursued, rewarded, burned-out or exterminated; and we may be helpless to protect, resurrect or care for the legacy of nature, the earth, of humanity or even ourselves. What may seem simple and natural may be extremely difficult to accomplish because we have so little useful knowledge or because so few tools are actually useful and effective, aside from the political and personal inhibitions we may encounter. So far our cybernetic and medical technology has a very limited capacity to be of help for our survival, evolution or to care for the planet. For systems to become effective as interactive and intelligent tools, the ability to create and improve such tools needs to evolve significantly; but that evolutionary process need not necessarily be mysterious or particularly difficult to imagine, if we can consider the visions we care to create. For example the ability to write highly optimized cybernetic or bio-computational systems needs to become as easy as talking; which in turn automatically illustrates the description of a process as a 2 dimensional flow chart or as a 3 dimensional fully illustrated graphical environment, that is highly intelligible and fascinating, all just as quickly as our design is spoken; with a detailed structure which is automatically analyzed for flaws and inefficiencies, identifying all potential problems and recommended optimizations; while allowing for further editing, immediate testing and system integration, all with the same natural language interface; which then results in highly optimized code with comments, perhaps in C++, Java, etc. as low-level matters that we rarely need to consider. The current design of the commercial and academic world is entrapping people in competition, which is aggressive, exceedingly inefficient with at least 90% waste of human resources and materials, and robbing life of its needs for continuity and evolutionary progress.

Any effort to replicate intelligence, through cybernetics or biology, naturally needs to include more than the neurological processes in our brains or even our hearts; a very significant portion of our potential is derived from the DNA which defines our potential, as well as our history and our physical abilities; along with the tremendous influences of the earth, the sun, the streams, the trees and all creatures, that form a part of our understanding and our intelligence; and without all of these things we are greatly diminished and limited in understanding. Intelligence in itself is incomplete and inconsequential without all aspects of life. So it’s a very short step from designing a cybernetic or artificial intelligence systems to appreciating an image of nature, to consider how to fulfill the needs of life and how to restore its losses through any tools, interactive simulations, movies, engineering, law, nature preserves, bright children, preserving endangered species or through molecular biological techniques. All fields of inquiry and creation need to intersect in our lives if we are to be of any help. Understanding and writing DNA sequences to help replicate and fulfill life’s evolutionary needs are just the natural extensions of detailed simulations created with care and appreciation for our earth and our life. The arts are capable of transforming from the inanimate media into living biological systems that can help heal the catastrophic damages caused to humanity and the earth. Cybernetic tools will become the fundamental working tools needed to understand and create living organisms, to recreate ecosystems and to design cities and a humanity that can live in balance with wilderness on a planet that can be brought back to life. All of this will no doubt take perhaps a century or more to evolve simply the working molecular and cybernetic tools, only if a substantial effort were initiated, and at least 3000 years of work for at least half of humanity, only to begin to restore the damages caused to the planet so far; more realistically at least 12000 years to undo the damages of our abusive and violent history. Anyone could realistically consider that such an immense amount of work might proceed far more rapidly without human beings; in fact a process of ecological repair may never occur in the presence of humanity. While that is obviously true, however we know that those few considerate beings in fact compliment nature and rapidly accelerate the restoration and healing process for the world. However such people may account for only 1 out of 5000 individuals; so the damages to humanity and the earth will no doubt continue to accelerate, in spite of the pleasant words and delusions of people who want to experience a pleasant life. Consequently the need to preserve the current genetic history of life on earth, and discover what genes will offer humanity the understanding and vitality needed to stop humanity’s perpetual abuse and destruction may be of the highest significance. Over the next billion years this may all be just a forgotten episode in history, but only if we are willing to use our personal time and resources to actually help. Life is a process that cannot experience any gaps in time, in our effort or participation and still continue. Our life has been handed to us over billions of years, continuously, and never for one second interrupted, because such an interruption would be eternally fatal. Why is none of this conveyed at home or in school or even in business? The business of life is infinitely more important than the bottom line. A conscious humanity may ultimately be what is essential to guide this planet away from a doomed sun that will eventually boil away the oceans and vaporize the earth. With diminishing solar mass, can sufficient energy somehow be continuously applied to expand the earth’s orbit perhaps into deep space, where multiple artificial suns can illuminate our earth for all eternity? Can another planet be made to pass so close to the earth that the oceans of the earth above Alaska and the fish are drawn into space onto the passing planet, completely breaking us away from our orbital course? Or can we envision creating or capturing a black hole, which is positioned to draw the earth into a larger orbit or perhaps chose a path into deep space with Mars orbiting our Earth and Moon.

The reason for pursuing our life ventures may be to understand how to participate with life. I personally can see that this could take at least hundreds of years to accomplish. Who is investing in the stem cell, telomere or DNA research to rejuvenate our bodies? You would think that people who get Academy Awards or make billions of dollars are bright, or at least clever, but they are undoubtedly invested in industries that shorten peoples lives, or terminate lives altogether, and have perhaps never even considered any alternatives that would be vastly more beneficial and profitable. How could anyone consider promoting disease, overpopulation, famine, rainforest destruction, war industries, violence, prisons, mental and physical incompetence, media propaganda, punishment and oppression, as having the slightest business sense? There are a vast number of industries that can benefit all aspects of human life as well as nature that are rarely considered. Business schools teach a process of marketing to an existing demand or in perpetuating the past by investing in convention regardless of the disastrous impacts and economic consequences that will result. It has been mentioned that there would be tremendous economic stimulation if most people got cancer, suffered malicious and lengthy litigation, and lost their home due to some kind of disaster. What kind of an economic model is that? It’s a theory designed to destroy people through fear, oppression and violence; which ultimately doesn’t even benefit those who win. What genes would allow for such needless violent, aggressive, deceptive and delusional thinking? Suppressing those genes could create a world that is at least 10 times more efficient and wealthy, as well as offering the potential of vastly more rewarding lives for everyone. Obviously any full understanding will have to replicate the evolutionary purposes that violence and aggression have served, without the same destructive impacts that are now devastating any human evolutionary or biological progress. The research needed to accomplish the automatic synthesis of life-like character animation is perhaps the same as what’s needed for our personal understanding of our own biological survival and our own evolutionary progress; which in-turn may be essential to the survival of life on earth, perhaps even as an antidote to the arrogance and abuse being pursued in families by both men and women, certainly in different ways, but still reproduced in their children as a so-called traditional reality. Approaches for our lives based on cooperation and the exploration our evolutionary potential are essential to the continuity of life and the care of nature; however the audience needs to be considered as alive, with potential, not just a market to be cleverly manipulated by Hollywood and TV executives or the various cybermedia producers; naturally this is occurring at a time when the long-term sense and the genetic quality of our life is being disposed of on a massive scale; resulting in an even more aggressive and anonymous society in which the most abusive are rapidly replacing the most considerate, cooperative and vital; who are fearful but still struggling to succeed in the old competitive, mass consumer context; that is the cause and creating the very dilemma that will extinguish them. So we probably need to begin by pursuing a healthier and more creative vision for life on earth, first by preserving the most valuable genetics of humanity and all species before this legacy of life is lost forever through mass ignorance or violence.

* So far, for well over a year the various search engines including Google, that index billions of pages of mostly drivel or advertising promotion web sites, have had the good sense to keep this site from being searchable, locatable or found. Many others have tried to get Google and others to index their web site without success; so the web is being engineered, as usual, by excessively clever programmers or corporate interests into another regulated medium for massive consumer advertising, propaganda and junk E-mail; while research work placed on the web is accessible to none, because it’s not indexed by search engines. Brilliant work guys!

(js, April 4, 2003)

Artificial Intelligence & the Cybernetic Arts

The rivers, mountains and planets appear to adhere to the timeless laws of physics with infinite detail, creating endless beauty, unspoiled by any conscious inhibitions; a self regulating intelligence creating beauty that we are fortunate to notice, and perhaps wise to be influenced by such a profoundly honest intelligence that forever creates wonder that exceeds our imagination. That may be a fundamental form of intelligence and creative power that exceeds our human capacity. Beneath this immense creative continuum are atoms, photons and sub-atomic particles with interactions we can barely comprehend; is this the world of ignorance, or where the secrets of our own origins reside and a source of endless consciousness? Can we comprehend the demand of so much of humanity to become unconscious, or with contrived cleverness devastate nature and our own evolutionary future, as if it were an obligation? What we call intelligence may include a complete lack of consciousness. A life governed by fear can be unreasonable, the motivation for financial conquest may be abusive and depend on sending fearful and damaging messages, to worry and be subservient, which is extrodionarily commonplace at home, in school, in business and government, and harms everyone. What we call intelligence may simply be the need of large organisms to sequence events outside of ourselves; which should be just a fascinating process of inquiry, creativity and practicality; but perhaps as a result of a perceived need to rapidly succeed through the domination of other more gentle beings or natural entities, we now have a society that is intent on making education and curiosity difficult and repellant, instead of fascinating, and this process is called education. How could this ever be expected to encourage creativity and deeper understanding? Why would we ever try to transfer ideas that are simply clever and not helpful into computers and consider it intelligent? Machines may never have a reason to know very much about our lives, but they can become a window into worlds we have never visited. Defining intelligence may be as inaccurate as defining the origins of all matter. All people on earth may only know an infinitesimal portion of what is; although it may be some of the most valuable knowledge to us. Without knowing what qualities propel inquiry and the discovery of new knowledge that is relevant to life and nature, we have no significant measure or knowledge of intelligence. School examinations cannot measure the value of the knowledge derived by anyone, nor how well the knowledge will be integrated to allow for understandings, or how motivated anyone is to utilize their understandings, nor the value of their purpose. Understanding someone’s awareness might be accomplished somewhat through a conversation if the time were appropriate or more likely through their work and process of discovery, and perhaps through brain activity imaging and genetic sequence analysis. Certain genes may be proven to support understanding, creativity or a capacity for discovery; and their activation may demonstrate capabilities far better than an IQ test. Naturally someone with fewer capabilities but greater imagination and a desire to work may surpass all other qualities in delivering an achievement, which is not to say that any known genetic quality should be ignored because it is not a guarantee of success. So the IQ measurement, or simply noticing beauty or a musical performance may all be ways of understanding something of real value. Perhaps we may only need to add to our human understanding in any way that we can, and in that respect perhaps anyone can and should be assisted and encouraged to contribute to our human process of understanding. What is surprising is how little is known about anything in life and how quickly anyone can find and contribute to the frontiers of human knowledge, creativity and life. Our lack of a complete understanding is often used as an excuse to abandon support for the needs of life, because they are sometimes uncertain, elusive or resist our enquiry; and as a result we allow understanding, beauty and wisdom to perish.

Our understanding of biological systems is extraordinary but fragmentary, however studying a system that is based on using the most extraordinary subtitle and convoluted principles to achieve the unimaginable diversity that is the source of life’s evolutionary diversity is going to leave endless potentials that may never be explored through random mutations in the half billion years that may be left to our sun and consequently to the earth. At the same time 99% of humanity is participating in the aggressive consumption of the earth and the termination of millions of species and their evolutionary future, all of which serves no purpose to humanity, only economic expediency for industry. Is intelligence, testing scores or school grades a measure of a persons willingness to be subservient to the purposes of industrial aggression; or a way of searching for understanding of a type of knowledge that supports the beneficial evolution of life? Our knowledge of molecular biology and cybernetic simulations can help create the worlds of the future, after humanity has extinguished the extraordinary world of the past; or perhaps it is the understanding which is essential to allow any venture beyond the earth to succeed by more fully considering the implications of our influence on the enrichment of all life around us; and perhaps to convey qualities that are unfulfilled in our lives. We live in what could only be a paradise on earth, and if it isn’t then we need to spend a few generations to restore it.

Those who need money for themselves usually waste it and need more, or need to obtain it through force. So why don’t those who need jobs ever consider growing their own food, or building a small solar home? Why don’t the wealthy refuse to invest in ecological destruction, toxic food, cancerous subdivision housing, or help the best that humanity can create come into existence? The clever people are rewarded through participation in material waste and the loss of their humanity. Why would a massive waste of life and resources be considered good for business? Why would a clever twist on a needless idea become the focus of massive investments? Apparently ignorance needs to be perpetuated by the mass media, schools and families to sustain such an extraordinary waste of humanity and the earth, otherwise a few people might just consider creating all the thing of value that are missing from their lives. What is most valuable to our lives is intentionally consumed, promoted and exterminated, on such a massive scale that we are helpless to protect, resurrect or care for the treasures of the earth. What may seem simple to accomplish may prove difficult or impossible because we have acquired so little useful knowledge or worse we may have forever lost the genetic capabilities needed for nature or ourselves to continue.

Our institutionalized technologies have been inflicted with self-imposed limitations that defeat exploration or extending our scientific and industrial potential. This was accomplished by a lack of imagination within our universities and industry, which have been focused on short term economic profit, and the desperate creation of faulty products with extremely limited capabilities, by managers who have no concept of how to design a complex systems that are simple, fast and ultimately free of logic errors. Writing highly optimized computer programs needs to be as easy as talking and observing the immediate creation of a 3 dimensional flow structure which can be viewed with the authors commentaries and visual notes, and edited by pointing and speaking, or viewed in relation to its integration and operation within a large system, along with any logical inconsistencies. The full view of a system may show all the details or group logic details into higher-level modules automatically or as designated; with the visual logic modules being optimized and compiled into a lower level language such as C++, Java or machine instructions. The system programmer may choose to work at the level of natural language rules for a module or extending across module boundaries as directed. Artificial intelligence and DNA design systems may assist by searching for logical inconsistencies, redundancies, extraneous states, infinite loops, more efficient strategies, and comparisons of prior library algorithms, offer references to related design discussions, or create entire algorithms when given design requirements. When anyone notices a program flaw, it needs to be immediately categorized and reported to the appropriate design members for resolution.

Any effort to replicate intelligence in a system needs to reflect more than our neurological processes; a very significant portion of a design may be related to combinatorial or DNA replication principles, historic experience, physical laws and all the interactions that any creation in the natural world encounters. If an organism cannot survive, or if a mountain dissolves, it doesn’t exist; so all the implications of nature and humanity need to be considered; which will greatly expand a design’s potential, or demonstrate its irrelevance, or suggest a different perspective altogether. Does a machine need to be laboriously programmed to simulate our very comprehensive analysis process that may occur very rapidly and accurately; particularly when our observations can quickly provide proof that a specific design will not function as required. Our own minds or imagination may be more effectively used to review high level strategies based on real world issues, evolutionary goals, costs, potential advances, impacts to nature and human potential. Once such high level considerations are resolved, which of course almost never happens anywhere; then a machine with linguistic understanding, 3 dimensional graphics, and artificial intelligence capabilities would be an extremely helpful design participant; hopefully accomplishing a great portion of the actual design effort; allowing for the rapid creation of vastly more sophisticated systems, that are extremely reliable and much easier to use, because they possess a far greater understanding both of the complex processes involved and the needs of the person working with the system; by offering an accurate understanding of the system’s state and its potential at every moment, by using natural modes of communication, and by responding with immediate and comprehensive answers to any question; allowing any person to be a system engineer and programmer. These are all things that a machine can readily do now, could have done in 1965; is tremendously needed, but no doubt is yet to be considered; perhaps because short term considerations and desperation always take precedence. With some consideration systems could slowly evolve toward such higher-level architectures; but the historical problem is that the so-called bright programmers prefer to maintain or heighten software complexity; perhaps as a covert job security strategy or perhaps just as a display of convoluted cleverness. The result is that most software that is mass marketed is packed full of bugs and nonfunctional features, even in functions that are needed to accomplish the most basic tasks. Perhaps such issues will be reconsidered after a few more giant companies crash due to their engineering incompetence; or perhaps India or China will consider longer-term software engineering strategies that will offer them a global design advantage. Microsoft, Symantec, Adobe, Macromedia, etc. may in that case be compelled to relinquish market share of their software relics which were in most instances conceived in the early to mid 1960’s. Progress naturally suffers through a short-term process of consideration and through acts of marketing desperation. Computer languages as we know them are desperately obsolete and cannot serve as a foundation for an intelligent technology that could fulfill the innovations that evolving processors make possible. These lessons were learned the hard way when I pushed system design beyond what was considered feasible in developing 4 dimensional meta-languages to rapidly design motion picture systems. Every engineer and designer is now greatly limited by the computer languages that are available, which incidentally have not significantly advanced over the past 5 decades. The tremendous speed of modern processors has been absorbed by incredibly inefficient operating system design; not brilliant 3 dimensional graphics or artificial intelligence design and information assistance. Software companies need to hire hundreds of programmers to resolve tasks that are not particularly complex, but unfortunately needlessly difficult to accomplish, with results that are ultimately packed full of bugs or don’t even work at all. Driven by aggressive management that has little or no understanding; other than changing demands or threats and termination, the process of programming is transformed from something extremely interesting to a process of frustration and early burn-out, no doubt intended to drive away any thoughtful, innovative or responsible person. During the 1990’s, in frustration, Bill Gates offered to pay anyone $100 million to get the bugs out of the Windows operating system. The people he specifically searched for at various universities and hired, brought a specifically devious left-brain mind-set to all their work; which is the result of being specifically clever in any sense; which is fine if it’s understood, but it’s certainly not at all sane if it’s the architectural guiding mechanism, which is the dilemma at virtually all software companies. Creating a new and simplified systems philosophy and corresponding language tools may be the fastest way to get the more useful software tools that we may be personally interested in using for some essential purpose.

To anyone who tries to accomplish the simplest software tasks it’s obvious that the software industry is not about creating simple, functional or reliable tools, but it’s about making money by releasing the same faulty software over and over without resolving critical bugs or improving functionality. When engineers lack an understanding of architectural simplicity, human intelligibility, or knowledge of how the tool could be used; this may be due to a lack of appreciation of nature, the absence of intense labor and long-term personal responsibility, or a shortage of commitment to the fullest possible understanding that is reflected in all our work. Such widespread shortcomings may be the result of an overly specialized, urbanized way of life, or a financially motivated career. A society’s beliefs will ultimately determine the quality of its work and the usefulness of its products. While we may not be able to buy evolved consciousness; bottom-line driven decisions will try to exclude anyone offering a more comprehensive level of consideration, and as a result a company will spend vastly more money developing an inferior product, and occasionally even destroy a company in the process, while getting a pay raise and a promotion. Acquiring the highest level of understanding in any field is the greatest cost saving strategy that is available. However most administrations are looking for much more limited drone like employees, like themselves, with very limited capabilities and highly specialized abilities. People who were quick to notice the organizational dilemmas associated with most company jobs were often quick to create their own software products, become physicians, buy a business, or perhaps create, discover or do something useful and personally fulfilling that may help humanity with its evolutionary needs.

The intention here is simply to pass on what little useful information was derived from my research of the 1960’s, that may not have been explored much further but may hold some promise for the future, perhaps as a way of stimulating consideration for our human potential and the care and protection of our natural world; potentially through the simulation of living systems for scientific or entertainment purposes, to imagine the recreation of extinct species through DNA synthesis and conceiving of new creatures to survive ourselves and the new range of circumstances we are forcing on the planet, to engender wisdom and beauty as the normal qualities of life for all creatures. By assuming our consciousness and responsibility for our own evolutionary process we eliminate the purpose of death; which is a biological device to help propel evolutionary change, achieved through an almost irreversible degree of cellular differentiation, the shortening of telomeres, nutritional dependencies, stress, free electron activity, genetic mutations and numerous environmental limitations. So far, without death, humanity could have never existed; but now, without our personal and our conscious participation with our own evolutionary process we may cease to exist or degrade ourselves into an unconscious state, where we can perhaps perpetuate our incompetence, aggression, adversarial and abusive qualities forever and little else, and be rewarded for such participation.

(js, April 14, 2003)

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