Kurd Alsleben is a professor emeritus at Hochschule für Bildende Künste (HBK), Hamburg, Germany. He studied fine art at Staatliche Akademie der Künste in Karlsruhe, Germany, and has worked ever since in fields between art and various more technical fields. This existence as a mover started in 1956, when he cooperated with Eberhard Schnelle (Quickborn, Germany) on “office landscapes”. He switched from office architecture and organization to physics, when he started work in 1960 with his friend, Cord Passow, at the German Electron Synchrotron (DESY). There they had access to analog computers which they used for the generation of freely moving lines. A small set of plotter drawings done around 1961 made Alsleben a character in the world of digital art. Other early encounters were with Helmar Frank and Abraham A. Moles who may have influenced his specific approach to information aesthetics. In 1965, Thomas Maldonado invited him to become a docent at Hochschule für Gestaltung in Ulm, Germany. Almost unbelievable: his areas of teaching there were structure theory and Boolean algebra. In 1970, he got the position at HBK in Hamburg. His interests shifted back to computers, and in 1985 he acquired an early Apple MacIntosh to now motivate students to do aesthetic work on hypertext. Together with his wife, Antje Eske, they founded, in 1985, the Interdisziplinäre Computerei (interdisciplinary computer shop). It became the starting point for a flood of often weird projects, all circling around the art of communication and conversation. In 2006, Kunsthalle Bremen dedicated a large retrospective show to Alsleben and Eske.
Alsleben’s book, Ästhetische Redundanz (1962), is one of the very first by an artist writing about information theoretic aspects of aesthetics. The early 1960s are the time when Moles and Bense develop their different approaches to aesthetics as information aesthetics. Alsleben is an almost singular point in that peculiar landscape.
1928 Born in Königsberg (Neumark, then Germany, today Chojna in Poland). Refugee to the West, apprenticeship as a baker.
1949 Study of fine art under Otto Laible at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Karlsruhe. Visiting lectures by Max Bense at the Technical University in Stuttgart. For years, he practiced studies in European museums.
1956 Cooperation with Eberhard Schnelle (Team Quickborn). Office Landscapes. Collaboration with Helmar Frank for Bense’s journal “Grundlagenstudien aus Kybernetik und Geisteswissenschaft” (Fundamental Studies of Cybernetics and the Humanities). Design of Information-Typography.
1961 Five plotter drawings, generated by an analog computer, in cooperation with the physicist, Cord Passow (born 1927), at the German Electron Synchrotron (DESY) in Hamburg. Also in touch with H. Frank and Abraham Moles.
1962 Ästhetische Redundanz – eine Reflexion der künstlerischen Anwendungen der Informationsästhetik (Aesthetic Redundancy – a reflection on the artistic application of Information Aesthetics). An artist’s response to Max Bense’s Ästhetische Information (Aesthetic Information). The book contained four of the line-drawings, done by an analog computer.
1965-1968 Structure theory and Boolean algebra at the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Ulm.
1968 Visiting lecturer at the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin.
1969 Gold Medal for Experimental Aesthetics at the international congress for methodology of aesthetics, San Marino.
1970-1994 Professor at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Hamburg.
Since around 1980, Alsleben has viewed and explored the computer as a medium of communication and conversation. For this reason, he produced no further plotter drawings. His rejection of tangible works drove him to establish an art of communication and conversation, depending on the use of computer technology. He and Antje Eske are restlessly pursuing their very special line of thought and act.
Kurd Alsleben lives and works in Hamburg, Germany.