Larry Cuba (1950-)

3/78 (Objects and Transformations) (1978). 6 minutes.

Two Space (1979). 8 minutes.

Calculated Movements (1985). 6 minutes.

Next to the factor of artistic taste, the most important aspect of Larry Cuba’s success in Computer Graphics probably rests in the fact that he himself programs his own films. Beginning with the "pioneers" — like Stan Vanderbeek and Lillian Schwartz who both used Ken Knowlton’s Beflix program to create numerous "computer graphic films" which all look painfully alike, awkward in their accretion of oozing grids — most artists have relied on software packages prepared by a technician or endemic to a particular hardware system. Their artistic compositions had to cope with the parameters, demands and limitations of a program over which they had no control. John Whitney, one of the senior pioneers of Computer Graphics (for whom Larry Cuba prepared the program of the 1975 Arabesque), complained until his dying day about the limitations of his hardware and software, which never allowed him to create simultaneous real-time parallel visual and auditory compositions — and, for example, usually left him employing an automatic color-mapping instead of a more sophisticated nuancing of hues that might have suggested an equivalent of auditory tone colors.

In his own films, Larry has avoided aspects such as texture and color which can not be adequately modulated to produce genuinely satisfying artistic effects. In 3/78 and Two Space (1979) he uses only points of light against a pure black background, which if properly printed on dense black-and-white film stock and correctly projected onto a film screen (no video substitutes, please), produce after-images in the viewers’ eyes that sometimes trace trajectories, sometimes add luminous sparkles of gold and iridescent colors to the dots — a kind of predictable optical phenomenon also employed by James Whitney and Jordan Belson for "magical" effects in their films.–William Moritz