Hiroshi Kawano was one of the earliest pioneers of the use of computers in the arts in Japan, and indeed the world, publishing his first ideas about aesthetics and computing in 1962 and computer-generated images in 1964. This paper provides an introductory overview to Kawano’s work and influences from his earliest studies in aesthetics and his interest in the work of Max Bense in the 1950s, to his change of approach in the 1970s through his developing interest in artificial intelligence, until his final exhibition, a retrospective of his work held at the ZKM | Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie in 2011. This paper utilizes previously unused sources including interviews conducted by the author with Kawano in 2009 and subsequent correspondence, as well as Kawano’s rich archive that was donated to ZKM in 2010.

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