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Computer Art For a CS Dept Office? 366

philgross writes "My university's Computer Science Department has just renovated its main office, and is looking for artwork for the walls. Do you have any recommendations about your favorite posters or images that address the algorithms, the history, and/or the aesthetics of Computer Science?"
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Computer Art For a CS Dept Office?

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  • Several Suggestions (Score:5, Informative)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOsPam.gmail.com> on Monday June 16, 2008 @05:25PM (#23815575) Journal
    M. C. Escher
    There's the famous well known M. C. Escher famous for placing strange loops in his work thus making his tessellations and peculiar drawings centered on curious near mathematical conundrums (Mobius Strips [mcescher.com], infinite limits [mcescher.com], undefined boundaries [mcescher.com], etc). For the most part, I believe he did woodcuts [mcescher.com] so if you're thinking about originals ... well, woodcuts are an odd market.

    Fractal Art
    There are several variants of this and you could buy some or create it yourself (not hard to find scripts that do this). It ranges from in your face [fractalism.com] to subtle [fractalartcontests.com]. This is common and widely created.

    Slashdot Story Art
    A while back, there was a story on some humorous computer science-y art [slashdot.org] you could ask the original artist for permission to use.

    Or you can just look at various [sanu.ac.yu] collections [sciencenews.org] for your own tastes.
  • by EvilGoodGuy (811015) on Monday June 16, 2008 @05:27PM (#23815591)
    Depending on how formal you want it to be. The TA area at GA. Tech is filled with comics like www.xkcd.com While many will not be appropriate items like the mapping of IP ranges would be excellent.
  • xkcd (Score:4, Insightful)

    by smallferret (946526) on Monday June 16, 2008 @05:27PM (#23815601)
    Why not just wallpaper in xkcd comics?
  • posters (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Middle - Adopter (906754) on Monday June 16, 2008 @05:28PM (#23815607)
    If your school just spent a lot of money making the building look nice, you might want to go with something a wee bit more classy than posters on the walls. Just sayin'.
    • Re:posters (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Gilmoure (18428) on Monday June 16, 2008 @06:04PM (#23816023) Journal
      Throw a challenge to the art department: Represent modern computing.
  • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Monday June 16, 2008 @05:28PM (#23815613)
    http://en.easyart.com/art-prints/Maxi-Posters/Oh-Shit!-71886.html [easyart.com]

    To remind people that mistakes have consequences and to think through what they are doing.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 16, 2008 @09:34PM (#23817751)
      "And welcome to the Dijkstra Hall of Computer Science! Construction has just finished, and we're delighted to have you here! We're going to start at the top and work our way down to the lobby, where there's refreshments for everyone here taking the tour. This here is our Department head's office, a room second to none in the country, I might add. From here he can monitor the clusters on the fourth, fifth, and nineteenth floors from his quadruple monitor display system. (A couple of them are off, but I'm sure those two G5's under the desk there will keep them company! *snicker*) And on the right you'll see a few pieces from the Director's favorite museum, the Stedelijk Museum. Please notice that coffee table, especially. Lots of funding went into that leg rest! Okay, let's head out! But on your way out, please take care to notice the 6 foot by 4 foot poster of a train crashing through a building with exclamatory "OH SHIT!"; that gem was wrestled off the hands of "easyart.com" and is quite possibly this buildings greatest asset, wouldn't you agree? "Framing that sonnuva bitch", our Dean has said, "was the best goddamn idea I've ever had. Bar-none! Check out those track lights! Damn."
  • How about some nice, big fractal images?
  • computer art (Score:5, Informative)

    by Goeland86 (741690) <goeland_86&yahoo,fr> on Monday June 16, 2008 @05:28PM (#23815621)
    A while back there was a post about people doing "mathematical" art, and I'd recommend looking at those people and contacting them to see if they're willing to send you prints. In particular, I know Jeff Ely does great stuff that way, usually involving newton's method for polynomial solving, and fancy other constructs using simple objects. I think it'd suit the general "geek" atmosphere you would need in a CS department.
  • http://www.pascal-central.com/pascal-syntax.html [pascal-central.com] or a picture of it here: http://pascal-central.com/images/pascalflow.jpg [pascal-central.com] You need to fix it firmly to the wall since it carries some strong type.
  • by Tumbleweed (3706) * on Monday June 16, 2008 @05:30PM (#23815647)
    ...are fractal imaes and x-ray photos of CPUs.

    BUT, you could also get some big-ass posters of Space Wars and a session of Adventure, perhaps Asteroids, Missile Command, Space Invaders and PacMan as well. A Commodore 64 bootscreen or an Amiga bouncing ball or Guru Meditation Error (bonus points for a LCD/Plasma screen with the blinking red box!) or a screenshot of a game of Rogue. Tell it like it is - don't get 'arty' about it. That's not what we're all about.
  • Dilbert (Score:5, Insightful)

    by donutzombie (647763) on Monday June 16, 2008 @05:31PM (#23815655)
    Dilbert everywhere. Let the students know what they can look forward to.
  • A few suggestions:

    Fractals are ALWAYS cool. Especially the Mandelbrot set.

    Maps of the internet are readily available, and if you can line several of them up they can be very educational.

    Find and print out a high resolution map of the concepts in Alice in Wonderland. (extra credit, harder to find)

    Have someone scan in the back of a circuit board, then blow it up to poster size. It just plain looks cool.
  • Piet Contest? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOsPam.gmail.com> on Monday June 16, 2008 @05:32PM (#23815673) Journal
    You could take a very interesting approach to this and employ Piet [dangermouse.net] which is a type of programming language that results in writing programs utilizing colors and blocks and traverses them as the program runs, resulting in some nice looking 'modern' art [dangermouse.net]. The neat thing about this is you could open up a contest to your developers to come up with beautiful ways to write simple programs and procedures and then vote on the most beautiful ones. To me, something coded to be both beautiful and functional would be highly desirable. The fact that it would come from within your developers would probably add to the effect among your staff.

    Plus, it'd be super cheap!
    • by mcmonkey (96054)
      Piet was the first thing that came to my mind.

      The second was the old poster, "A human never stands so tall as when stooping to help a small computer."
  • Tinney prints (Score:5, Informative)

    by base3 (539820) on Monday June 16, 2008 @05:33PM (#23815677)
    Robert Tinney [tinney.net] did the covers for Byte Magazine in the late 70s/early 80s and is selling prints of some of them now.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by kaaona (252061)
      Absolutely. Robert Tinney's artwork graced the covers of Byte magazine and several computer parts catalogs during the early days of modern computing. His "Breaking the Sound Barrier", "Computer Piracy", "Seventeen Seventy-Six", "Future Past", "Transmission Lines", and "Inside IBM" are among his many timeless classics that would be very at home in a CS department.
    • by sconeu (64226)
      Thank you!

      I couldn't remember the guy's name, but I was thinking "BYTE covers".

      Mod parent up!!!
  • POV-Ray (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Applekid (993327) on Monday June 16, 2008 @05:33PM (#23815685)
    There's a lot of ray-traced images from the POV-Ray galleries which closely follow not only the mathematical basis from which computing as we know it was born, but have been beautified so even those who don't know the geeky underpinnings can appreciate them... preferrably before they learn them.

    A lot of them have high quality prints available, and even some free (as in beer) ones will have the original .POV file so you can render it at any resolution you see fit for whatever gargantuan dimensions you'll send to the printing office and make them cry. ;)
    • by soliptic (665417)

      There's a lot of ray-traced images from the POV-Ray galleries
      So what you're saying is.... metallic spheres on checkerboards? ;-)
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Tablizer (95088)
        [POV-Ray galleries] So what you're saying is.... metallic spheres on checkerboards? ;-)

        That's so 80's. Now there's pirate ships, Lochness Monsters, bonsai tree gardens, light-houses, gargoyles, etc. At this link they are purchasable as posters:

        http://www.zazzle.com/products/gallery/POVcomp.asp [zazzle.com]

        Another approach is the "short code contest" (link below). This is where the contestant has to limit the size of the POV code that generates the image. Along with the image, perhaps on a plaque below, you could post
  • When I was in school, one of the labs had framed posters of the dies of various Intel processors. If I remember correctly, they were all older processors starting with 8088 and going up to maybe one of the 486 processors. I don't know where they got them or if they're still available, but they were awesome. It was especially cool to compare the posters and see how much the designs advanced between processor generations. Actually, if anyone knows where to buy posters like that, send me a link. I'd like
  • Bill Gates? (Score:5, Funny)

    by The Real Nem (793299) on Monday June 16, 2008 @05:35PM (#23815701) Homepage

    How about some nice Bill Gates [scurvydawg.com] pics?

  • despair.com (Score:3, Interesting)

    by confused one (671304) on Monday June 16, 2008 @05:36PM (#23815717)
    any number of options from http://despair.com/ [despair.com]
  • by should_be_linear (779431) on Monday June 16, 2008 @05:36PM (#23815721)
    I have Munch [wikimedia.org] on my wall. Very relaxing and inspiring when you are behind schedule.
  • Porn, printed as ASCII art on a dot-matrix printer.

    See the third item here, titled "I didn't ask..." [thedailywtf.com]

  • by lophophore (4087) on Monday June 16, 2008 @05:38PM (#23815739) Homepage
    I worked at DEC Spit Brook for a while... All the conference rooms there were themed on a person important to computing, for instance, the Babbage Auditorium, conference rooms for (Grace) Hopper, (Herman) Hollerith, etc. Most of the rooms were named after computing or mathematical historical people, for instance, Konrad Zuse (as I recall, there was an original painting by Zuse in that room), Ramanujan, Heisenberg, and Schroedinger (don't look inside!) and some for people who were not dead (though Grace Hopper did actually see her conference room) like Metcalfe and Boggs, Gordon Bell, Jean Sammet, etc.

    Each room had a likeness of the person, one or more plexiglass plaques describing their accomplishments, and artwork related to their inventions/discoveries. It was always interesting to go into a new conference room and see who it featured and what they did.

    (We had Edison, but I don't remember their being a Tesla room... Any former inhabitants of ZKO recall?)

  • While not overtly artsy, I've always been fond of the posters that Javvin makes [javvin.com].

    I've got their network protocols map on the wall of my office.
  • http://store.xkcd.com/ [xkcd.com]

    At the bottom.
  • ThinkGeek have a range of posters by Despair Inc.

    http://www.thinkgeek.com/interests/exclusives/8aec/ [thinkgeek.com]

    Although Dilbert is always good.
    • by gmuslera (3436)
      Despair.com posters would be my suggestion too. Not only great photos, but also work as fun and warning when you read/think on them.
  • David Em (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anomalyst (742352)
    He has been doing digital art for over 30 years:
    http://www.davidem.com/em_gallery_page/em_gallery.html [davidem.com]
  • by TrueJim (107565) on Monday June 16, 2008 @05:43PM (#23815803) Homepage
    I've decorated several new offices by going to eBay and finding vintage advertisements from the industry I'm working in. They usually go for about $4 a piece. I take them to a local framing shop and put a nice matte & frame around them...mattes add some color if the ad is black & white. Use all the same frame and it looks like they're part of a set.

    Is cheap, looks cool, looks professional, and educates you on the history of your discipline, all at the same time.
  • Next to fractals, how could you get anymore CS than context-free grammers?

    From the Website:
    Contextfreeart.org [contextfreeart.org]
    Context Free is a program that generates images from written instructions called a grammar. The program follows the instructions in a few seconds to create images that can contain millions of shapes.
  • by compro01 (777531) on Monday June 16, 2008 @05:46PM (#23815839)
    http://oreilly.com/pub/a/oreilly/news/languageposter_0504.html [oreilly.com]

    http://www.levenez.com/lang/ [levenez.com]

    An instructor at my college has those running along the hallway outside his office.
  • by brunokummel (664267) on Monday June 16, 2008 @05:47PM (#23815871) Journal
    No matter what your tastes are..you must have an AWESOME POSTER [imageshack.us]
  • Tufte! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by lemur666 (313121)
    Edward Tufte's favorite graphic, of course:

    Napoleon's March [edwardtufte.com]

    A big part of software design is towards the ultimate goal of displaying data and information in a clear, informative manner. So why not display one of the finest examples of that?

    And who cares that it's not "high tech"?
  • Datawocky (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bughunter (10093) <bughunter&earthlink,net> on Monday June 16, 2008 @05:48PM (#23815877) Journal
    In my university computing lab, circa 1985, someone had posted a photocopy of a poem and illustration from the July 1982 issue of BYTE magazine.

    The title of the poem was "Datawocky" [a clear satire of Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky"], and it had a rather surreal illustration that I am still looking for.

    The infinite series of tubes has preserved the poem [skepticfiles.org], sans fictional attribution, but I can not find the illustration.

    DATAWOCKY - by Jack Stack

    'Twas global and the megabytes
    Did gyre and gimbal on the disk
    All mimsy were the prompts and codes
    And the software was brisk

    Beware the microchip my son
    The bits, the bytes and bauds and such
    Beware the CRT and shun
    The qwerty keyboard's clutch

    He took his self-pace book in hand
    Long time the menu key he sought
    Then wrestled he with the toaster drive
    And sat a while in thought

    Then as he sought that glitchy bug
    The microchip, with gates aflame,
    Came whiffling through its I/O plug
    And processed as it came

    Asynch, Bisynch, all protocols,
    His binary went snicker snack,
    He felt it crash, and with a dash
    He came galumphing back

    And dids't thou tame the microchip
    Come interface my beamish boy
    O frabjous day, Caloo! Callay!
    O database, O Joy

    'Twas global and the megabytes
    Did gyre and gimbal on the disk
    All mimsy were the prompts and codes
    And the software was brisk

    As a standalone poem, it's a bit insipid. But a copy of the original article, with illustration, is a work of art that I have been searching for, unsuccessfully, for years now.
  • When I worked at the University of Memphis, they used old hard drives and such. They disassembled them, glued them to a board, and then put them in shadow boxes.
  • Back when I was in college he suggested putting 'Computer Science' in binary on the floor tiles in the hall way.
    • by JSBiff (87824)
      While that's clever, anyone who is NOT a computer science or math major would completely, totally, miss the point of that art. You *might* want something that will be just a little more. . . accessible, to the general public.
  • Anything BUT (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Linker3000 (626634) on Monday June 16, 2008 @05:52PM (#23815927) Journal
    Anything but that bloody duck hitting the computer with a mallet.

    Actually, let's face it - everyone's 'done' chip dies, fractals, ray tracing etc. (no offense other guys), so why not go for some non-IT-oriented aspirations: landscapes, beach scenes etc. because you'll be stuck in front of IT all day anyway - hey, maybe get someone with 'shopping talent to put the odd bit of technology 'on the beach', 'under the waterfall', 'on the moon' etc.? - and if you want some 'homage', how about some pictures of Babbage's Difference Engines, ancient navigation aids, Stonehenge, Ancient Abacus, Mayan Calendars, old chronometers, a Megalithic Passage Tomb (Newgrange, Ireland)?

    • Actually, let's face it - everyone's 'done' chip dies, fractals, ray tracing etc. (no offense other guys), so why not go for some non-IT-oriented aspirations: landscapes, beach scenes etc.

      Amen. When I read the summary, my first thought was "Why SHOULD it be computer-related? Why not just art that CS majors might find interesting?" The first post suggested prints of Escher's work, which I thought quite appropriate because of their paradoxical nature, not to mention the beauty of the woodcuts, but being woo

  • Voronoi diagrams (Score:4, Interesting)

    by thehossman (198379) on Monday June 16, 2008 @05:53PM (#23815935)
    They're really cool when done using gradients.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voronoi_diagram [wikipedia.org]

    Code for generating them...
    http://www.perlmonks.org/?node_id=190245 [perlmonks.org]

    http://people.cs.uct.ac.za/~chultqui/houdini/images/heightfield_voronoi_part.png [uct.ac.za]
  • by idontgno (624372) on Monday June 16, 2008 @05:54PM (#23815951) Journal

    Line Printer Snoopy Calendar!

  • by bughunter (10093) <bughunter&earthlink,net> on Monday June 16, 2008 @05:55PM (#23815957) Journal
    Another cool idea is kind of a "digital fishbowl" -- get an old tablet PC or iMac (or even just a digital photo frame) and have it run Golly [sourceforge.net] cases (or in the case of the photo frame, a sequence of Golly generations).
  • How about getting some nice prints of some of the stuff from ACiD [acid.org]? I love that old-school ascii art...

    Or you could print Natalie Portman and hot grits on a dot matrix printer...or goatse.. It's up to you..
  • by TheSync (5291) * on Monday June 16, 2008 @06:13PM (#23816123) Journal
    I suggest a robotic head [t11s.com] that follows you down the hall while showering you with compliments. It will help to boost the self-esteem of the CS majors.

    Or animatronic fish [t11s.com] crying out in pain. It will remind the CS majors that some people do have it worse than them.

    Or a disembodied robotic hand [t11s.com] that points at you and accuses you of crimes against humanity. OK, this is just weird.
  • Need I say more?

  • Somewhere in my basement I've got some IBM promotional posters from the '80s. I especially recall one for the 3270GA that in one corner featured a version of Hokusaiâ(TM)s The Great Wave off Kanagawa. I don't recall if it was the derivative work, The Wave of the Future (http://vorpal.us/img/waveofthefuture.jpg [vorpal.us]), but it was very similar. I guess I need to go dig those out again and check their condition.
  • How do I get that red Zaku that is in their office?

    Better yet, how do I get a powered Zaku similar to the one in the office!

    • by Herkum01 (592704)

      Man, I placed this in the wrong article.

      That being said, it would still be pretty cool to have a Zaku in a CS department. Give them something to inspire those evil geniuses to build one day. Hell of a lot better motivator than dilbert wallpaper.

  • Not exactly nerdy art, but still digital art created mainly using a computer http://www.yayart.com/ [yayart.com]
  • Find an old machine that has blinkenlights.
  • by supersat (639745) on Monday June 16, 2008 @07:00PM (#23816519)
    Here at the University of Washington, our department chair has spent considerable effort [washington.edu] curating our new building's art collection [washington.edu], and the results are spectacular! Instead of going for a CS theme, he chose to feature artists that have some sort of connection with the UW, which has lead to an impressive collection of artwork.
  • Buy one of these [theredpost.com] (or build your own). It's easy to find cool images online... just look at all the suggestions. No need to limit yourself to a couple of framed posters.
  • Electric Sheep (Score:5, Interesting)

    by burris (122191) on Monday June 16, 2008 @07:13PM (#23816653)
    Find a projector or a big LCD and connect it to a computer running Electric Sheep [electricsheep.org]. Bonus points for wiring up a pair of "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" buttons next to it. Electric Sheep is a "collaborative screen saver." When the machine is idle and the screen saver kicks in, it downloads and displays cool fractal animations known as the "sheep." At the same time it is rendering frames for a new sheep and uploading them to the sheep server. When you see an interesting sheep, you can press "thumbs up" (up-arrow) if you like it or down if you don't. The sheep server uses the ratings when selecting sheep as inputs to a genetic algorithm for creating a new generation of sheep.

    It's open source and been around for a while. I believe there is an installation at the Googleplex and it has been shown at the NYC MOMA.

  • I think you ought to have a map of the Internet on your wall. ThinkGeek used to sell one, but they don't seem to have it anymore, sadly.

    However, if you have access to a reliable printing shop (and being a university department, you should) consider printing and/or re-rendering one of these visualizations [opte.org] for your wall.
  • Go for the good stuff:

    http://flickr.com/photos/devinmoore/sets/72157601859714574/ [flickr.com]

    (gratuitous plug)
  • Now, the FLOOR.

    Where would you be without the floor?

    Nowhere, I tell you. Because without floors, we would not have carpets. Without carpets we would not have tapestries. And without tapestries, we would have no need for a 19th-century card-programmable automated loom -- Jacquard's Loom.

    Now, without Jacquard's Loom, Babbage would not have come up with the Analytical Engine (at least not when he did), and without that, we would not have had Ada Lovelace's foray into the CS field.

    And without Ada Lovelace's sh
  • by J05H (5625)
    The original "computer artist" - Conceptual school, made highly abstract digital art from the late 70s onward, originally using JPL's animation system from making the Voyager "Grand Tour" movie. Not sure if he helped with that piece, however, as his work was much more abstract. Some of his recent work is digital but based on rock art from the Southwest.


    I'm not sure if there are posters of his work, but digital frames might be a good answer.
  • I would, perhaps, adorn the halls with now-public-domain portraits of famous logicians, a photo of Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie, Bjorne Strostrup, etc, maybe an image of an abacus, an image of a punchcard (floating across vat of mercury if you want to see something neat), posters of code from BASIC, COBOL, C, Pascal, Fortran, C++, Java, Perl, PHP and Python, maybe some Maple or Mathematica code, an image of the innards of an ic or two (perhaps an i386, an m68k, an alpha, and an amd64), and definitely a scre
  • Just to pimp some of my own work:

    I developed a system to make pretty ice blue translucent sculptures, by extending Conway's Game of Life, but plotting "time" in the 3rd dimension: (in Java "Processing" language)
    http://kisrael.com/2007/10/21/ [kisrael.com] is the basic version,
    http://kisrael.com/features/java/conwayice2/ [kisrael.com] is a bigger version that lets you set the initial seeding options.
  • Rene Magritte [wikipedia.org]

    In particular his "Treachery of Images" [wikipedia.org]

    Escher of course is traditional, but how about fonts and typographic art?

    How about Symbolist artists? [wikipedia.org]

    Gustav Klimt [wikipedia.org]
    And Jan Toorop [wikipedia.org]

    Of course, you could just take two cotton reels and a hot glue gun and put dabs of glue on the walls of the corridor and stick the cotton to it. At the far end of the corridor have a finishing line, the reels and a name plate with the words "Thread Race"

  • I have one of these posters. It looks pretty cool, and is mathematics-related:

    http://www.vcalc.net/cu.htm#Curta-Poster [vcalc.net]
  • www.despair.com. Go with the Demotivators.
  • Posters are boring, if they don't have a chip embedded in them why bother? This is a question on slashdot and people don't come up with truly geeky solutions, what's up with people!

    Why not get some friendly EE's to help wire up some framed LCD monitors so you can have computerized art.

    • Maybe some electric sheep [electricsheep.org]screen savers running
    • or take a page from any blackhat convention and display a running tally of what webpages are being surfed on the local wifi you're sniffing.
    • Perhaps a scrolling display of pa
  • Hit eBay and buy some old magazine ads for computer-related stuff. They look nice if you frame them, and it's cool to see how far we've come (and funny to see ads bragging about things like 10MB hard drives that are only the size of the average household refrigerator).
  • by Sierran (155611) on Monday June 16, 2008 @09:52PM (#23817877)
    ...covered here on Slashdot [slashdot.org]. I don't know if Linuxcare still has the posters, but that post generously offers links to the Postscript, and to code to generate the imagery from kernel source (I haven't checked the links). I have this framed in my office in 36"x48" and it looks great, in my nerdy eyes.

Don't sweat it -- it's only ones and zeros. -- P. Skelly