In 1973 I first used a computer. With the aid of John Sellers I developed a fortran program which I called Hexagon Galaxy for creating layouts of elements spiraling out from a center changing value (color tones) according to set rules and changeable criteria. I thought of them as star formation with various temperatures or colors. At first these were small limited runs but over the years they became more elaborate with increasing criteria and the ability to combine galaxies in various ways. 1972-73 was my National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, and I studied the history of science, Fortran programming, and other subjects to help understand the relationships of Art and Science, which I had been experiencing first hand since 1965 when I first began working at the Lunar and Planetary laboratory.
Eventually, computers increased their capabilities and became small enough and more economical to purchase and printer technology got a little better (way behind computer development) I was able to get more than numerals, or alphabetic characters and primitive overprinting to give me some idea of the results of a run. And eventually I purchased a small plotter and then was loaned a larger one by Christopher Graeff. At that point I was able to plot hexagons and ‘fill’ them somewhat with color. But to get more than primary tones I ‘mixed’ them additively by making little hexagon rings of color inside the individual elements and achieve a kind of quasi-pointilist effect. Meanwhile several hexagons were colord penciled, felt penned, and painted when i felt that I had an interesting result. I was still using this program until about 1998.
Ancillary programs or subroutines were developed for keeping track of the many outputs. One of them created semi-random ‘names’ for the hexagon galaxies.
Also from early on I made a correspondence between the colors and musical scales. There is only one octave in our perception of color, so other octaves took the form of darker and lighter tones. This palette was kept to 60 tones altogether: 12 tones in the octave in five octaves. A great number scales (combination of notes used in a musical composition) was discovered from around the world (especially India) and proposed by Nicolas Slonimsky in his ‘Thesaurus of Scales and melodic Patterns’ of 1947. These many choices gave a specific structure to the color patterns beyond say triads, complementaries, supplementaries, tertiary tones, etcs. usually referred to by color theorists, and some artists.
Click on the name of the galaxy under Hexagon Galaxies to the left to see varied results achieved over the years, using the program and different rendering methods..