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Small Computers in the Arts Network

Small Computers in the Arts Network

My contribution to each year’s symposium is linked from individual boxes. The full proceedings for every year are available at this link

The Small Computers in the Arts Network (SCAN) originated from a computer music concert held in 1978 in Philadelphia as part of a Personal Computer show and sponsored by the Philadelphia Area Computer Society. The concert was so successful that its organizers have repeated the event every year. It is now the Annual Philadelphia Computer Music Concert. We realized at that first concert that the audience was not there because of the high quality music (it wasn't), but because of the novelty of the techniques involved in producing the sounds. Since some people didn't quite understand what they were listening to, during the second year of the concert, lectures on computer music were added for those interested in the technology involved. Another problem experienced at that first concert was, what does the audience look at during the performance? Normally the audience follows the movements of the musician or singer on stage....but here was a box sitting on a front table with, at best, a few blinking lights. So, for the next year's meeting, we added talks on computer-generated graphics and video and, since then, have incorporated them into the evening concert.

Interest continued to grow and, in 1981, the organizers decided to hold their own three day event called the Symposium on Small Computers in the Arts which consisted of lectures, demonstrations, exhibits, and workshops. The subject matter was expanded to include all the arts and included some talks on dance and sculpture. 'The event was co-sponsored by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) Computer Society which published the Proceedings of the event. To keep in touch with interested persons the organizers formed an informal non-profit group, the Personal Computer Arts Group and published a small, irregular newsletter. As interest grew further, it became clear that the group could better serve its purpose by incorporating as a non-profit, educational organization. This led to the formation of the Small Computers in the Arts Network, Inc., or SCAN, in August of 1985 and the obtaining of its tax-exempt status in 1987.

Today SCAN is an organization which provides information for those interested in using computers and related technology in the arts. This includes music composition, music synthesis, music performance, graphics design, animation, video, textile design, sculpture, dance, writing, and other aspects of the arts. SCAN performs its services partly by means of a l(X)-page resource guide to the field published twice a year entitled Small Computers in the Arts News. Current subscribers are located across the country, in Canada, and in several European countries. In addition, the annual Symposium on Small Computers in the Arts is organized by SCAN and provides a forum for those working in the field to present new works, developments, and techniques. Courses and workshops are offered at both beginning and advanced levels. Demonstrations, film and video shows, a computer art gallery, and the computer music concert are also part of the Symposium.

An important service which SCAN performs is to provide information for educators who have
schools and institutions. Approximately half of our Symposium attendees and newsletter subscribers are connected with educational institutions. A speakers and consultants bureau has recently been established by SCAN to connect those who have experience in the field to those who need it.

SCAN has operated for the past nine years as a volunteer organization with a minimal budget and has been entirely self-supporting. We have recently obtained some support from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts for a much needed part time staffer. We currently have a mailing list and data base of over 1800 people across the country and internationally interested in this field.

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