Art from code - Generator.x
Generator.x is a conference and exhibition examining the current role of software and generative strategies in art and design. [Read more...]

The early-to-mid 1990’s were an interesting time. “Multimedia” was a hot buzzword, and people were wondering if CD-ROM and Internet was here to stay. Macromedia Director ruled the world of interactive graphics, and World Wide Web and HTML was finally transforming the Internet into a visual environment.

Early experiments using the web for art purposes quickly became iconic: Jodi hacked HTML, Form Art was briefly defined as a genre, considered ironic approaches to art production via this new channel and artists like Stanza explored Director as a tool for generative graphics.

During this (golden) period, Vienna was a hotbed of experimentation. A large group of artists pushed the boundaries of abstraction in visual art as well as music, often experimenting with code-based tools. It should be noted that the term “generative art” was not in use at the time. Nevertheless, the work produced at the time clearly articulated generative and procedural approaches to sound and image synthesis, prefiguring the current interest in such work.

Among this loosely affiliated group were artists like Farmers Manual, Tina Frank, Monoscope, Pure, Lia and Dextro. The music label MEGO and the film label Sixpackfilm provided publishing outlets. Norbert Pfaffenbichler put together an overview of the scene in the exhibition Austrian Abstracts in 2006, which expanded on the previous exhibition Abstraction Now, focusing specifically on the activities of Austrian artists.


Dextro: Turux piece / c079

Early pioneers of generative Director programming, Lia and Dextro quickly became influential both inside and outside the Director community. Their mix of crisp pixels, erratic animation and blurred surfaces was unique at the time, presenting a perfect visual counterpoint to a musical scene experimenting with glitch and sound defects.

Together, they produced Turux, a seminal web site which featured Director “soundtoys” and generative visual sketches. Thanks to the site’s intentionally cryptic interface design and the “anonymous author” fad popular with the Vienna artists (many of which used pseudonyms or group names), the authorship of Turux was unclear to outsiders. Often, visitors had no idea if Lia, Dextro or Turux were actual people or just project names. Nevertheless, Turux became an important reference for the nascent scene, its fame only heightened by its obscure origin.

When the collaboration ended some time later, Turux remained online practically unchanged. As a document of a specific time period, it became a time capsule of styles and strategies.

The original is now offline for good, having been replaced by a placeholder. But Lia and Dextro have both set up their own archives. Lia recently launched, a partial archive of her half of the project. Included are 21 works in Director, documented as stills and interactive Shockwave movies.

Dextro’s Turux experiments have been integrated into, which presents his work chronologically organized from his early period up to now. See the Turux subpage for a list of sketches. For an example of his newer work, see c079.

23 Responses to “Classic:”
1. Marcus Wendt, November 7th, 2007 at 10:11

nice article!
if your time allows i’d love to read about more classics like that.
maybe some tomato interactive/ antirom works?

2. marius watz, November 9th, 2007 at 18:11

Hi Marcus, I’m happy you liked it. As you can imagine, writing an entry like that takes a while, so I won’t often have the chance to go so in-depth. Also, I had an insider view on this one, since I followed the Vienna scene personally since 1996.

If anyone is up to writing a similar consideration about other “classics”, I would be happy to publish them here. Interviewing the Antirom guys shouldn’t be impossible…

3. caleb wood, November 12th, 2007 at 20:11

thanks for the article! reminded me of the time doing my masters when jodi and dextro were coming online, brought back happy memories. will be checking the turux archives later

4. David Muth, November 20th, 2007 at 12:11

Yes indeed, a very nice article! And the original turux site (or something close) appears to be online again.

5. marius watz, November 21st, 2007 at 10:11

Thanks for the tip, David, it seems Dextro has put his part online again. The statement on the site points at the difficult issues that can result from collaborations, although I suspect that both Lia and Dextro as artists benefitted from the original project.

6. David Muth, November 23rd, 2007 at 19:11

It looks pretty much like the original turux site to me, containing work from both Dextro and Lia. And yes, collaborations can be tricky ;-)

7. serial consign, February 4th, 2008 at 22:02

essential online reading…

8. Panic {RE}_Programming » Blog Archive » Classic: Videos by Skot and Tina Frank, March 5th, 2008 at 19:03

[...] We have posted about the Vienna scene and the Austrian Abstracts here on previous occasions, but the video work that was central to that movement has generally not been available for viewing online. Therefore, it’s with great pleasure we see that Tina Frank has posted some early videos to Vimeo. Let’s hope other artists follow her initiative, it would be nice to have an online archive of these early experiments somewhere. [...]

9., August 11th, 2009 at 19:08

[...] Review on – [...]

10. Re-move and by Lia for the iOS (@liasomething), December 17th, 2013 at 17:12

[...] These words, written by Marius Watz on GeneratorX in 2007, were aimed to describe the early pioneers of generative Director programming which forms the basis for most of the interactive art we talk about so freely today. Unfortunately most of those experiments, that are he foundations of *new interactive art are no longer accessible since most modern browsers no longer support Shockwave. Days of Director are now long gone and only few artists, Lia being one of them, are making the effort to bring the old works to the current platforms. [...]

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