»Digital Mona Lisa« by H. Philip Peterson | i |
 
creators: H. Philip Peterson
title: Digital Mona Lisa
year: 1964
material:

drawing, b/w, computer-aided
size: 129 × 80 cm

algorithm: a scanning and printing routine, low level
artwork type: drawing
Description

Computer-aided drawing, produced on a Calcomp 30-inch plotter.

Because of the technique of its generation, the Digital Mona Lisa is also known as Mona by Numbers.

H. Philip Peterson of Control Data Corporation (CDC) utilized a CDC 3200 computer and a scanner (he called “flying-spot”) to create in 1964 a digital transposition of Leonardo da Vinci’s painting, “Mona Lisa” (done in 1503/04). He thus created a digital representation of the analog original. The production process took 14 hours to complete the image of 100,000 pixels. They were plotted on a Calcomp plotter using numerals, sometimes overprinted by others, to approximate the required grey level density (cf. www.digitalmonalisa.com). See also
www.computer-history.info/Page1.dir/pages/Michael.html

The production procedure was, most likely, this: A photographic reproduction of the original painting (a slide) was scanned, thus generating a large array of grey-level pixels; the grey values were represented by numeral characters, and perhaps printed over to get good enough an approximation to the grey value; on the plotter paper, these numerals became the material making visible the digital encoding.

The three illustrations are showing the image in increasing detail. The numerals become visible in the left-most version.

Rights

Claims of ownership are made by a Matt Haider (by a comment in March 2016) and an Andy Patros (in an email message of 21 August, 2016). Numerous copies were produced.

Owned by institutions
Comments
anonymous
posted almost 4 years ago
Hi, I actually found an authentic original "Digital Mona Lisa". I have an email from the owner of digitalmonalisa.com and he agrees it is the real thing. I am sort of wondering what my next move should be as it is apparently so rare that even he doesn't know the value or how many were made etc. I assume from the brittle paper and possible UV light damage that only a handful survived. Any further knowledge would be much appreciated. Matt Haider
anonymous
posted almost 4 years ago
An interesting case, indeed. I have no idea how to find out. There is no well established market for any kind of digital art, although a few artists are selling quite well. This work is really a technical procedure only, a proof of what can do (and could do in 1964). The only idea that comes to mind may be to see a gallery like bitforms in New York and ask them whether they are able to estimate such a piece. – Frieder Nake
anonymous
posted almost 3 years ago
I have found another original print . Any interest ?
anonymous
posted almost 3 years ago
Fantastic! Where do the prints come from? Unfortunately, we do not have a budget for acquisitions. Frieder Nake
anonymous
posted over 1 year ago
I have an original "Mona by the Numbers" I was exporting CDC & Univac computers and computer parts world wide out of JFK Airport. This copy was given to me from CDC Minneapolis MN. Its in great condition. I too would like to know if there is any value to it.
anonymous
posted over 1 year ago
There are meanwhile, 50 years and more after the first experimemts in digital or algorithmic art, a number of collections in museums and also collectors specializing in this kind of art. Still, a market does not exist. But, as mentioned before already, a few galleries concentrate on algorithmic art. "Mona Lisa" is, of course, more digital than algorithmic. You should talk to DAM Galleries in Berlin (office@dam.org) or bitforms gallery in New York. Frieder N.
anonymous
posted 10 months ago
My Dad worked for CDC in research and development in Minneapolis, MN and then in Ontario, Canada. I have a “Mona Lisa” digital print. I had it framed in 2010. I would love to find a computer museum that would be interested in acquiring it.
anonymous
posted 5 months ago
From Spain. I am another original Mona by the Numbers owner. Glad to recive mails about this digital art piece. Thanks
anonymous
posted 29 days ago
I have one of these also, It was a gift from William Norris the President of CDC to My Aunt as a gesture of appreciation for the business She conducted with them. It has always been in a frame and is in excellent condition. I wish to discover the value as well. I can only speculate. Regards, Tim Wolford
anonymous
posted 7 days ago
I have one that i recently found cleaning out an attic. It was in the original tube with other paper work in regards to how it was made. It is numbered and dated. I am keeping it in the tube until i can have it proffesionaly mounted or someone offers something substantial for it. Otherwise its a joy to look at. Surely curious about the value.
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