ARTIST'S LOG: REVIEW OF 1989
(A SLICE OF COMPUTER GRAPHICS/ART HISTORY)
I have had the good fortune to meet John Dunn, the programmer of Lumena 8, the graphic software introduced in 1983 that revolutionized graphics capabilities of the IBM PC (personal computer). Lumena enabled commercial artists to create work previously only possible on mini- and macro-computers starting in the $50,000 range. At that time a Lumen-IBM PC workstation could be set up for $20,000.
John and his to-be wife, Nan Love (August 7, 1988 wedding plans) have moved temporarily (?) to Hawaii to get away from the "fast lane" of Oakland and "computer land". He is the former president of Time Arts, the California software company that was founded to market his financially successful graphic software internationally. He still owns 40% of the stock. Currently he is working on version 3 of Lumena (Lumena 32). It is intended to incorporate the earlier versions (8 & 16 bit), run on the fast 20mHertz 386 microprocessor (state of the art in speed, 1988), inlcude Crystal, a 3D CAD graphic software system (sells for $5,000), new graphic features and artificial intelligence! It gets to know its artist-user! All-in-all, Lumena 32 should be worth $10-20,000 per unit. John is contracted by Time Arts to develop Lumena in 2 years. He then plans to "drop out" for 2 years to write computer music (he likes Bach) with programs he has written and also performs recitals, having the computer simulate a full orchestra of instruments. John, a graduate of the Art Institute of Chicago, is basically a certified Mensa member and a frustrated musician.
John tempts me to purchase at the end of 1989 a 386 microprocessor to run his new segments of Lumena 32. "If you buy the hardware, I'll supply you the software - all you'll need for life". "What I get out of it is for somebody to test my program and give me FEEDBACK". Total value of the system would be $40,000.
If I jump I have an opportunity to work with one of the greatest minds in computer graphics programming, presently isolated in Hawaii. I dream of doing great stuff on the new super graphics software that warrants Time Arts to use on their to-be-made color brochure advertising the advent of Lumena 32. I have a chance to use this system of the future before any other artist and probably influence some of its features. Towards that end I have begun to write sketchy raw ideas of features I would like a DREAM graphic software system to be able to perform for me as computer artists-user. Included on the following pages are ideas for the budding system that I have presented to Dunn. I expect no financial compensation but hopefully, with the inclusion of a few ideas into Lumen 32, some written credit in the upcoming user's manual. More importantly, however, is the chance to take an idea or two to fruition, available to all users of this sophisticated professional software, and thereby myself be able to use such tools in my own future computer artwork.
Dr. Rodney Chang, Lumena 32 test driver, December 1989
1999 Notes- Dunn has since been divorced and remarried and lives in
Michigan in association with the University of Michigan faculty. He is full time
into digital music programming, multimedia and performance. Time Arts and Lumena no
longer exists and may have been the seedling for Fractal Painter. Rumor is
that it was, in fact, renamed (as well as advanced graphically) Painter.
The first Lumena system ( software on a customized IBM IX 8 bit machine) was bought
and brought to Honolulu by Larry Lovett for $30,000! (equivalent to around a $700 system
today). Lovett holds the distinction as the Hawaii's first digital fine arts artist,
Rodney Chang was his student and became the first exhibiting digital artist. In
retrospect, Chang provided a manual of creative graphic ideas for Lumena 32.
Feedback came that Dunn used to end his days reviewing a few ideas per evening,
just before retiring. His wife said it used to make him chuckle and get in a
good mood. Ideas for the "perfect" fine arts software were submitted by
Chang to Dunn on his wedding day (Hauula, Hawaii) . The binded hardcover title page read -
"1000 Visual Arts Concepts for Potential Visualization by a Computer Programming
After the divorce and eventual demise of Time Arts, Dunn left Hawaii and Chang has lost direct contact with this software genius.