Gerhard Stickel | i |
last name: Stickel
first name: Gerhard
also known as: Gerd Stickel
birthday: May 9, 1937
birth-place: Bochum (Germany)

Gerhard Stickel was from 1976 to 2002 Director of the influential and important Institut der Deutschen Sprache (IDS, Institute of the German Language) in Mannheim. (For his scientific career look up this or here.)

Although not an artist himself, Stickel appears in this repository of digital art because of his outstanding contribution to algorithmically generated poems. He called those texts, that he began generating in 1965, “[”Autopoems":Artwork@29]".

To quote him on his view of automatic text generation:
“The computer was only used to simulate a limited aspect of the human process of linguistic formulation, in the way in which this aspect presents itself formally, and not in which it is substantially well-founded.”
“The Autopoems are therefore by no means creations of an ‘electronic brain’, but rather the product of human planning that avails itself of the astonishing performance of an installation of this kind.”

Stickel views the machine as lacking any kind of semantics. It does not aim to communicate and, depending on the way it is programmed, can only produce syntactically correct sentences (“correct” relative to the running program’s features).


1963 State examination in German and English philology and general linguistics, after studies in Freiburg im Breisgau, Bonn, and the Wesleyan University (Connecticut, U.S.A.).
1964 – 66 With the [“Deutsches Rechenzentrum Darmstadt” (DRZ):Institution@130]. At the time, they had one of the most powerful computer systems (IBM 7090, later IBM 7094). DRZ acted as the information technology center for all West-German universities.
In the department for nonnumerical data processing of the DRZ, Stickel, together with a colleague, set up a working group for the use of computers in the humanities.
1965 Developed a program for the automatic generation of poetry-like texts, the so-called Autopoems.
1966 The DRZ presents Stickel’s Autopoeme at an exhibition together with computer graphics by Frieder Nake and computer-generated music by Max V. Mathews and Ben Deutschmann.
On the occasion of this exhibition, a brochure Programm-Information PI-21 is published contributing to spreading early computer art nationally and beyond national borders.
In the sequel, a cooperation between Stickel and the Austrian artist Otto Beckmann is initiated; Beckmann creates Montages from Stickel`s Autopoems.
1966 – 69 Assistant Lecturer at the University of Kiel (in general linguistics).
1970 – 73 DAAD lecturer in Fukuoka (Japan).
1973 Begin of his involvement with Institut für Deutsche Sprache (IDS) in Mannheim whose Director he was from 1976 to 2002.
1985 Honorary Professor at Mannheim University.
1993 – 2001 Advisors in German philology of DAAD.
1993 – 2003 Councillor of research at Mannheim University.
1994 – 2002 Member of Presidential Council of Leibniz-Gemeinschaft (WGL).
2001 – 2007 Councillor of language at the Goethe-Institut.
2001 Receives the Bundesverdienstkreuz (high national medal).
2003 Member of Deutscher Sprachrat. Representative of IDS in the European Federation of National Institutions for Language (EFNIL).
2004 Receives the Ordre de chevalier des arts et lettres in Paris.
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