How an AI drawing program shook the art world in the 1970s

Originally published at: How an AI drawing program shook the art world in the 1970s | Boing Boing

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Is that image with colored blocks one of them? I did some similar computer art back in the 80s. I think the first time I used the computer for art was on my uncles Macintosh.It was so old I think it was monochromatic still… I remember making a dragon and making a bunch of squares and rectangles, filling each shape with a different fill texture available. I may have a print out of them squirreled away somewhere.


Ironically that’s a modern “AI” product, and it more closely resembles the human-made computer art of the '70s.

AARON was more traditional (and looking very… '70s in style), even creating its work via a plotter and paint.

Edit: But yeah, that header image misled me, even though I actually knew about AARON (and knew it didn’t have output like that), and thought the article must be about something I hadn’t ever heard of.


I downloaded the Windows version of the program in the 90s. It was very cool, although basically just constantly generated the same people, and weird plants. It was pretty cool.

This is what they looked like (from A Gallery of Finished AARON Paintings):


Getting a Peter Chung/Egon Scheille vibe.

reminds me of this novel:

Wow, it’s very instructive to see more of the actual work of AARON (I keep wanting to say it Ay-Ay-Ron a la K&P). Not so “computery” and definitely reminiscent of other artists. The first thing I thought of was Patrick Nagel, whose work has always been described as anatomically impossible, formulaic, mechanical, etc. If any AI was going to draw hOt ChIcKs for poster art, that’s it. Maybe we’ve been living with AI “art” this whole time…

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