Charles Csuri, James Shaffer

Random War


Artist / Artist group
Charles Csuri, James Shaffer
Random War
print, computer-generated, Lithography
Material / Technique
computer-generated Zeichnung; lithograph of a plotter drawing; computer: IBM 7094; output device: drum plotter; printing ink on paper
Dimensions / Duration
50,5 x 75 cm
ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe


Idea and programme by Carles Csuri and James Shaffer (Ohio State University)

A drawing we. made of one toy soldier which provided data for the basic element of the composition. A random number generator was used in the programme to determine the distribution and position of the soldiers on the battlefield. One side is red, and other black, and the names of real people were given to each soldier. Their military ranks were assigned by the random number generator. The programme also had an automatic control for perspective A picture 30 1(X) inches of the battle was produced, and he printout give the following information:

Total number of dead on each side

Total number of wounded on each side

The number of dead and wounded in each of forty sectors of the battlefield

Identification of the dead and wounded in alphabetical order

The survivors in alphabetical order

Random War is an imaginary war, with few variables-but it is a short step to a real situation if one introduces more variables into the programme. One could introduce military intelligence reports with an estimate of the enemy's capabilities and the tactics they may employ. The computer can handle information about terrain, types and number of weapons, physical conditions of troops and so forth The battle can be simulated on the computer, and computer generated film could give a visual display of the contest. Further decisions could be made before the real battle begins. Once the real battle starts (one hopes that computer simulation would make such a step unnecessary) the computer could predict the outcome and its consequences many hours before the battle ends. The military computer could process one per cent of each of the variables and predict the outcome, much in the same way that national television computers have predicted the final results of political elections.

Random War-Red/black. Motif Edition No. ME 02/6