Stephen Bell | computer graphics at The Slade 1977-79




Another shape that I played around with was the circle. I found however I got the program to scale and rotated them that circles were too easily perecived as just circles and their visual relationships with each other simply weren't interesting enough to me. I wrote a version of the program that drew lines connecting circles that had similar local rotations but that didn't help.

A much more succesful shape was the helix.

As well as having a diameter, helices have length. If we also consider one complete 360 part of a helix as a 'wavelength', helices also have frequency.

The following drawings were made using helix shapes. Each helix had random length, diameter and wavelength.

I found this shape particularly rewarding to use. and it was to lead to ideas that I was to revisit in 1984


I felt that the 'helix' drawings had a calligraphic feel about them, so tried using brush-pens instead of the usual mapping pens. I think that I had recollected seeing a programme on television about a Japanese artist who had used robots or mechanical devices to control brush-pens and thought I would have a go too. I liked the way it meant that the marks had varying width and shape and the way using them compromised the fabled 'accuracy' of the computer and plotter. But what I found most valuable about them was the proprioceptive sense that they stimulated; the feeling of what it would feel like to make such marks.


The calligraphic look of the overlapping helices led me to produce a series of drawings based on the layout of text in books. To make the images look even more like text I bound them in the notebook that I had prepared for my final show. The following images are taken from that book.

The drawings on facing pages used the same sequence of pseudo-random numbers, at each location on the matrix the same shape was drawn but on the left local rotations were coverted to 90 degree steps and to the right the values could range from 0 - 359 degrees. At corresponding locations on facing drawings it is possible to identify individual helices drawn at different local rotations.



The brush pen was used with this layout too.


Part 5 | Space Exploration Game

Part 3 | making it more like drawing | the 'hatch' shape

Part 2 | background | folding sculptures

Part 1 | introduction | the ranstak algorithm