In my spare time, you’ll find me tinkering with and fixing obsolete computers. I also go for the obsolete output devices like dot matrix printers and thermal printers. You may hate your printer now, but older output devices were less cantankerous. They were usually over engineered and built to perform and outlast.
One other type of output device that I’ve spent years exploring are pen plotters. These far gone pieces of technology used ink pens to draw lines on paper. It was often the only way to get incredibly high quality line output from a computer in a large format and in (limited) color. They fell out of favor in the late 1980s when ink jet plotters took over.
I collect plotters of all brands, shapes, sizes, and feature sets. But having a plotter is not enough. Forget opening your favorite application like Photoshop or Illustrator and hitting COMMAND-P to print the page. This simply will not work. The plotter doesn’t directly interface with your modern computer, nor do they speak the same language anymore.
To that end, I’ve spent over a year developing interfacing with vintage plotters and writing code that explores algorithmic art in many different styles, from emulating early computer graphic experiments to coming up with unique ones. There’s something so absurd and inefficient about a pen plotter. Even though it’s a mechanical device, it creates a unique, one of a kind work of art due to the variations in ink flow and the subtle cumulative error that develops during a print. They all give these mechanical drawings an almost human quality.
I’m sometimes asked if I sell the plots that I make. While it’s not my goal to mass produce these, I’d be happy to to sell you one. Most plots have a degree of randomness to them so each is unique. Pens and paper also have a quality that lends themselves to imperfections that contribute to the uniqueness of the piece. I post on Twitter under the #plottertwitter tag where many other enthusiasts also share their work.
Payment via PayPal. If you see something that you like, let’s chat at email@example.com. First to email claims a print.
Tangle Series, Squares
This series explores order and chaos by creating a set of orderly squares as an underlying structure and then decomposing it.
- Plotter: HP 7585B wide format plotter (1983)
- Ink: Koh-I-Noor archival, dye-based
- Image: 8.5″ x 12.125″
- Paper: Canson watercolor, 11″ x 15″, 140lb, acid-free, cold press
- Finishing: None, rolled, unframed
- Editions: Each plot design is unique, one of a kind, and original (1/1)
- Cost: $125 US including shipping in the US
- To order: email firstname.lastname@example.org