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In the early 1960s digital computers became available to artists for the first time (although extremely costly and cumbersome, and programs and data had to be prepared with the keypunch, punch cards then fed into the computer; systems were not interactive and could produce only still images). The output medium was usually a pen plotter, microfilm plotter, line printer or an alphanumeric printout, which was then manually transferred into a visual medium…

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My Two IDs

Michael Gibertini taught me the trick. On our survey to register for Northwestern U, where I went to school for my first two undergraduate years, the ID card was printed from a few responses on a computer bubble sheet. It contained a name and serial number, among other things. For the last question on the questionnaire, where a good student wrote a career choice, Gibertini taught me to always choose “Other” and then fill in some confusing choice like “Shepherd” or “Lighthouse Keeper” on the survey in the “space provided.” This would then confuse the keypunch operator and, we hoped, send many institutional attentions our way in the form of free career counseling with cute girls, tuition forgiveness, and discounted breakfast food. That’s what I believed, at least. Life has taught me I’m not that important nor is the Institution that attentive.

We stood in line, registering for our sophomore year in the spring of 1976, fully informed and bored. We felt assured that the bicentennial revolution began with us and our little Frank Zappa-inspired pranks. My hair grew inches; my shirt was suddenly chosen for its relative worthlessness; my look went from Godly purposefulness to Random disgust and existential revulsion. Somewhere in between these two IDs I soaked up Bertrand Russell, James Joyce, and Francois Truffaut. All this first-time experience added up to the attitude that you can see in my face. My incoming freshmen picture says, “What will I learn from my University experience?” My sophomore picture says, “What the f*** could I learn from you?” My freshman picture says, ” How you do you feel?” My sophomore picture: “What the f*** are you looking at?”

Beloved graduated Munster Seniors, now counting the days until your first college class! Yes, you will change this much in your college years. Use it. It’s the most powerful time of your life. Everything else flows from what you do now. I wish the guy who snickered and told the University on his sophomore student questionnaire that he wanted to be a “free-range cowpoke” was still with us, but that Kevin is gone. But you get Facebook; we will see the pictures—make sure to take pictures! I will be watching your sojourn from afar. Write this chapter well. The rest of the story is based on it.

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