This is taken from the DPK ..

Symbols for the Verbally Inclined

—An Introduction—

Nancy Kivette

Music for the Eye is a gallery of graceful and curious computer art
fusing the philosophy, science and vision of digital wizards, David
Levine and Todd Rundgren.  Together, they form Utopia Grokware.  Their
psycho-cosmic pictures splashed across these pages are quasi-randomly
generated and not intentionally representative or figurative; they are
instead meditative, and hopefully evocative. 

"The whole idea of Grokware is to disrupt your normal flow of thought,"
says Todd, "essentially to disengage from your agenda." Utopia Grokware
aims to "Jog Your Noggin."

For those of you who may be "disrupting" and "disengaging" for the first
time, no need to fear.  Most people new to Grokware art first marvel
over its colorful radiance, "Wow" "Beautiful" "Totally awesome!" then
inevitably whisper, "but what is it?"

Utopia Grokware takes its name from the term "grok," coined by author
Robert Heinlein to mean intuitive nonverbal understanding.  No text
accompanies the art in Music for the Eye so that you may grok each image
without distraction. 

The style of art you see in this book originated from Todd and Dave's
psychedelic screen-saver-like software, Flowfazer, a taste of which
appears in the page corners as a flip-book movie, and from GrokGazer, a
video version of advanced Flowfazer techniques set to original music by

The organic and sensual character of the pictures is actually simulated
by mathematical models whose evolution is described by changes in color
and texture.  "It's a phenomenon natural to the mathematical world of
the computer," says Dave.  It's also a phenomenon natural to the
philosophy of Utopia Grokware.  "Grokware in all its organically
imitative forms, although based on mathematics, are driven by
aesthetics," says Todd, "So its not of interest to us what the
mathematical purity is of any of the particular things that we generate. 
It's more trying to arrive at something that is evocative or just plain
pretty or funny.  All Grokware assumes that there's an evolving

An ever-evolving process himself, Todd Rundgren began his diverse career
in the late '60s as founder of the power pop quartet, Nazz and wasted
little time moving on to a career of solo recordings and productions
that includes such notables as Grand Funk Railroad, Patti Smith, Meat
Loaf and XTC.  In the course of some 25-plus years of music and
multimedia he has been a presence in such seminal events as: the first
live interactive-television concert (Warner CUBE System), the second
music video to appear on MTV (Time Heals), the first tablet-based
digital paintbox for personal computers (Utopia Graphic Tablet System),
the first fully computer animated music video produced on a desktop
system (Change Myself), and the development and release of the
first-ever interactive music CD-ROM (No World Order ).  What thread ties
these quantum firsts together? "When I create something, it isn't so
much the large gestures that make a difference.  They're so repetitious. 
In this world you run out of large ideas quickly," he says, "I
characterize artistic work in little details and interesting
juxtapositions.  In that sense, Grokware is a simple idea, but it's
these little details, starting at random, how we put the color palettes
together, with a certain amount of chaos involved, from which the final
piece evolves." It is this finely tuned yet organic approach to art that
both Todd and Dave share. 

Dave started synthesizing computer art in 1977 with his own creation,
the first high-resolution black-and-white graphics card for the home
computers of that era, sponsored by the Itty Bitty Machine Co.  of
Chicago.  He went on to study video synthesis with an early pioneer of
the art, Dan Sandin of the University of Illinois.  In 1982, after
stints as a hardware designer and systems programmer, Dave drove
cross-country to California in three days to become a founding member of
the Lucasfilm Games Division.  There he created the first high-speed
virtual-reality computer game, Ballblazer, a cult classic with complex
physics and two-player point-of-view realistic action still unmatched by
today's games.  Eventually, motivated by his original desire to create
pure art, he left Lucasfilm to invent the computer visuals he had mused
over for years. 

Grokware began with trains, puddles and silk moire.  In his early 20s,
Dave began seeing things.  He noticed a certain pattern in wood grain
and on the surfaces of oily puddles and silk fabric.  From the train on
the way to school in Chicago, he passed by buildings where he saw window
screens interfering with their own reflections, producing a mesmerizing
motion in black and white.  In order to translate the transcendent
quality of this motion on the windows to an 8-bit color Macintosh II,
Dave "based the program's geometry on an essential physical principle,
electromagnetic fields, the basis of all phenomena between nuclear and
cosmic," he says.  The effect was stunning — Earth's first
computer-generated, random, real-time video synthesis, full-screen,
color-cycling lava lamp/light show: Flowfazer.  Unfortunately it was
1988 and "At the time it was created, there was no other animation
product for the Macintosh or similar machines that was meant
specifically for entertainment and meditation with no utilitarian
purpose," says Dave. 

Coincidentally, Todd was evangelizing his own program, a document-based
graphical operating environment called Hypercode.  Like the primordial
stage of Flowfazer, publishers were afraid to touch it, because they
just didn't grok it. 

Flowfazer may never have come to market without the facilitation of
Michele Gray, witness to the eponymous first encounter of Todd and Dave
at an informal gathering of computer graphics nuts: Dave says Todd was
"ornery," Todd says Dave was "a wise guy," and Michele says they were
both "brilliant and creative…curmudgeons." Todd and Dave soon discovered
a common computer vision: synthesizing "videodrugs." "Something that
gets to the inside of your brain because of the perfection of the
mathematics," according to Dave, something with an "implicitly kinetic
quality about it, generated from a process," according to Todd, while
Michele recognized the beginning of an alternative software company.  In
the fall of 1989, Utopia Grokware opened its peculiar doors in
Sausalito, California. 

Dave and Todd's first collaborative effort was the free program Eyelixir
that blasts the screen with TV-type snow.  An example of videodrugs for
the Mac, it induced visual hallucinations in the viewer — precisely what
the digital dazzle doctors prescribed.  Eyelixir also advertised Utopia
Grokware's statement of purpose:

Are You a Victim of Shrinking Digital Diversity?

Do You Miss That Stimulating Buzz You Used to

Expect From Your Man-Machine Interactions?

Lost That Lovin' Feeling?

Let Utopia Grokware Jog Your Noggin.

We Will Provide You With the Tools to Rebuild

Your Mental Manifesto.

Eyelixir Is a Free Sample.

You'll Want More.

With Eyelixir set free on its subversive mission to initiate the masses,
Todd worked with Dave to further develop Flowfazer into a real product. 
In 1990 the Grokware Gurus released Flowfazer, asserting on the package,
"Some things defy description" and "It should be legal to alter your
mind." To reach a computerless audience, Todd and Dave switched to
videotape and recorded GrokGazer that same year.  Perhaps you'll
recognize GrokGazer's influence in some more recent TV identification or
promo spots. 

Furthering its seduction of the mass market, Utopia Grokware then spun
off a kaleidoscope of print media.  The first image appeared in 1991 as
a poster titled, "Scope." Its surprising success introduced the
experience to an even wider audience, and for the first time, captured
forever a meditative moment from the intrinsically elusive expression of
kinetic Grokware.  Two versions of the second poster, "Zone," were
printed, one with felt flocking over the black ink (like velvet Elvis
paintings).  The third poster, "Prism," optically twists and pulsates. 
This initial trickle of Grokware turned into a torrent of posters,
calendars, jigsaw puzzles and book covers, culminating thus far in Music
for the Eye. 

According to Dave, the popularity of the printed images is partly due to
their implied kinetic quality.  "Even the static images produce a
sensation of movement," he says, "they don't sit still on a page." Todd
adds, "I think Grokware also elicits a primal response.  It looks like
something that people naturally respond to, like the lava lamp.  As
goofy as the lava lamp was, that amorphous blobbing gets down to cell

The images in Music for the Eye have been compared to psychedelic
expressions of the '60s: liquid light shows, op art, and tie-dye
effects.  Most of the unique designs, refined definition and coloration
you see on these pages were produced by Michele who uses proprietary
tools custom made for her by Todd and Dave to "cast" an image (randomly
determine its shape), and "color" it (choose and apply a palette of
colors).  Because Flowfazer images are infinitely variable and
non-recurring, her task is to recognize and capture that one fantastic
accident when it materializes.  Michele's latest experiment involved a
"mathematical error" that turned out a beautiful form she calls, "New
Bud." Todd enhanced some of the images with 3-D tools to amplify depth,
and Dave conjured up some anthropomorphic images he calls "Alien
Buddha," "Flo Picasso," and "The Demon," which appears on the flip-book

Like any good abstract art, these pictures can be continually
transportive.  "In a world that's trying to force an agenda on you,
Grokware can put you in a different place," says Todd, "A place where
the blissfulness and detachment of the imagery is like dipping your
brain in cool water." So disengage.  Turn the page, and chill.