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Amiga Data Storage Graphics

Previously Unknown Warhol Works Recovered From '80s Amiga Disks 171

Posted by timothy
from the amiga-forever-kinda dept.
First time accepted submitter mooterSkooter (1132489) writes "Magnetic Imaging tools were used to recover a dozen images produced by Andy Warhol on his Amiga computer. I would've just stuck the disks in and tried to copy it myself." Read more about it from the Frank Ratchye Studio for Creative Inquiry, which says "The impetus for the investigation came when [artist Cory] Arcangel, a self-described “Warhol fanatic and lifelong computer nerd,” learned about Warhol’s Amiga experiments from the YouTube video of the 1985 Commodore Amiga product launch. Acting on a hunch, and with the support of CMOA curator Tina Kukielski, Arcangel approached the AWM in December 2011 regarding the possibility of restoring the Amiga hardware in the museum’s possession, and cataloging any files on its associated diskettes. In April 2012, he contacted Golan Levin, a CMU art professor and director of the FRSCI, a laboratory that supports “atypical, anti-disciplinary and inter-institutional” arts research. Offering a grant to support the investigation, Levin connected Cory with the CMU Computer Club, a student organization that had gained renown for its expertise in “retrocomputing,” or the restoration of vintage computers."
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Previously Unknown Warhol Works Recovered From '80s Amiga Disks

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  • Amiga Floppies (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tekrat (242117) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @09:42AM (#46832255) Homepage Journal

    They could have just used the disk drive. 99% of my Amiga floppies still work just fine.

    The Amiga 1000 was a surprisingly durable machine, and frankly, Commodore, despite anything you could say about them making "toy" computers at a target price used very high quality components.

    A modern PC's power supply will burn out long before a 25-yr old Commodore power supply will.

    • Re:Amiga Floppies (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Kl00dge (2923239) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @09:49AM (#46832319)
      You apparently never had to put your C64 power supply in the refrigerator.
      • You apparently never had to put your C64 power supply in the refrigerator.

        I've heard of drilling through the potting material to remove and replace a fuse buried in there, but never that. What was the hope behind the refrigeration of the "brick"?

        • by Kl00dge (2923239)
          It was farily common, at least among people I knew, for the power supplies to overheat. I believe it was the early units. It would just shut down and we'd stick them in the refrigerator or freezer for a few minutes so we could get another 45 minutes or so out of them.
        • by JMZero (449047)

          We just put a fan on ours, and it stayed up. But yeah, the power supply was the only thing Commodore hardware I ever heard of problems with.

        • by Sipper (462582)

          I've heard of drilling through the potting material to remove and replace a fuse buried in there, but never that. What was the hope behind the refrigeration of the "brick"?

          Yes, the C64 power supply was potted -- and after digging through it what had to be replaced wasn't a fuse, it was a 5v linear regulator. The problem with the C64 power supply was that the Linear regulator was designed for 1A, but Commodore was using it to pass 1.2A. This shortened the life of the part, and when it failed it required a huge effort to dig through it to find the part that was bad and replace it.

          But I did exactly that. And unfortunately one generally had to do that if they wanted to end up

          • by sjames (1099)

            Same here. A bigger regulator with a proper heat sink solved the problem for good. It didn't help that the original heatsink was embedded in the epoxy.

      • by Sipper (462582)

        You apparently never had to put your C64 power supply in the refrigerator.

        The C64 power supply used a 5v linear regulator rated for 0.2A - 0.3A less current than the C64 itself drew through it, so the part would have premature failure because it was underrated. Apparently/supposedly the difference was expected to be dumped as heat, and the supply was potted which made it very difficult to get to the part that failed and replace it... but doing so was necessary because the replacement supplies had the same design flaw. I did that replacement and after doing so the power supply l

      • by pjt33 (739471)

        By the Amiga 500 they'd improved. All I had to do was put a rubber hot water bottle (filled with cold water) on the power supply to act as a heat sink.

    • Exactly what I thought. I would have just tried the disk in an Amiga with a HD attached, made an image and copied that over to try out in an emulator. Magnetic Imaging devices indeed! Well, makes for a more interesting story I suppose.

      • by Darinbob (1142669)

        Those are rare though and hard to find, probably full of dust, and not the sort of thing you want to stick a valuable floppy disk in. (those artists who examine Warhol's work are very careful and treat it all like something amazingly precious, even his old underwear, which I am not making up)

      • by AK Marc (707885)
        Floppy reading is a destructive process. In a healthy disk, the disk will not be damaged by it. But you could have a disk with the information on it, but not durable enough to be read with a standard disk drive.
      • by sjames (1099)

        If the data is irreplaceable and potentially valuable, magnetic imaging is safer than running the disk through an old drive. So, retrieve MY doodles using an old drive, use imaging for Warhol's.

    • Re:Amiga Floppies (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bws111 (1216812) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @10:19AM (#46832573)

      I hope your not an archeologist or forensics expert. The first thing to be concerned about, when dealing with a one-of-a-kind artifact, is to minimize any POSSIBLE (not probable) damage. There is a non-zero probability that using a disk drive could cause damage. There is less of a possibility that magnetic imaging would cause damage.

    • ALL computers in the 80s were built like that. To this day, I still have an IBM keyboard from the early 80s that I'm pretty sure I could hammer nails with.

      • by qwijibo (101731)

        Of course you could still hammer nails with it, but can you plug it in and *type* on it?

        I used to know people who would carefully disassemble their old IBM keyboards, run the parts through a dishwasher and reassemble them, fully functional.

        These days, I'm not sure if some keyboards could stand up to the compressed air in a can cleaning.

        • by idontgno (624372)

          Of course you could still hammer nails with it, but can you plug it in and *type* on it?

          If it's one of the classic Model "M"s, you could type by hammering nails with it, if you're skilled enough to strike the nailhead with the specific keys you want.

          Nowadays. Feh. I have given up on decent keyboards. I will settle for less violently sucky ones. And have to look pretty far afield to fine one.

    • by Misagon (1135)

      99% of the Amiga floppies I still have work fine, but back in the day, I had to throw away 99% of my floppies quite early because of read/write errors.

      • by idontgno (624372)

        Proof-positive that Darwin was right. Natural selection yielded a subset of the species with strong survival characteristics, while winnowing out the weak.

        Yeah, even today, I'm terribly surprised and disappointed if any of my Amiga floppies fail while I'm reading them. I suppose I should hurry up and copy them onto a hard drive as image files before something I care about dies.

    • A modern PC's power supply will burn out long before a 25-yr old Commodore power supply will.

      Nonsense. Back in the early 90's I sold consumer electronics for a living, and we did a brisk business in aftermarket and grey market power supplies for various Commodore machines - because the stock power supplies burned out with depressing regularity and stock replacements were expensive and difficult-to-impossible to obtain from official sources.

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      Two problems, first they didn't want to damage the disks, and second the .pic format is pretty rare (and not well supported even in early Amiga days).

    • by jandrese (485)
      Certainly you're not talking about the C=64 power supplies that were notorious for burning out after only about a year of moderate use?
  • Plastic "art" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hessian (467078) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @09:49AM (#46832323) Homepage Journal

    The Amiga and its demo scene were more art than Warhol ever will be.

    His commentary on crass commercialism basically became crass commercialism itself. Why shouldn't it? It was the same basic idea.

    As a wise man once said, "He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you."

    • Re:Plastic "art" (Score:4, Insightful)

      by CastrTroy (595695) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @09:56AM (#46832413) Homepage
      From looking at the "art" it looks to have little artistic value. Warhol didn't have any particular skills in computer art, and the software was quite limited in what you could do at that time. It's nothing that anybody else messing around with the same program couldn't have produced. Just because Warhol is a notable artist, does not mean that every piece of art he produced is worthy of our attention. Some people are great authors, but that doesn't mean their shopping lists or twitter posts, are literary works to be cherished.
      • You could remove the word 'computer' form that post and it would be just as true.

        But a Warhol is valuable, Art is in the eye of the beholder. Some people apparently think giant soup cans are works of genius. No accounting for taste.

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          Art is in the eye of the beholder.

          False. It's hilarious reading all these comments from people who think they know about something they are completely ignorant about.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Pretty much.

        There is a reason Warhol decided not to release those images. Saying that this is something other than just a bit of fooling around to learn the tool is an insult.

        While not the same situation this reminds me of people trying to analyze literature. If the writer would have intended for you to interpret the text differently he would have rephrased it. To say that the text needs interpretation is equivalent to claiming that the writer was too incompetent to get his message across.

        • by Sentrion (964745)

          Do you have any idea how many scholars and academics earn their living writing literature and creating works of art for the sole purpose of having other scholars and academics review, critique, and interpret their work, all while getting paid to sell textbooks that they write, and paid to tell students how important those works are to read and study?

          By pointing out the lunacy of this system you are endangering an entire sub-culture and way of life. They could have you burned at the stake as a heretic.

      • by jrumney (197329)

        From looking at the "art" it looks to have little artistic value. Warhol didn't have any particular skills in computer art, and the software was quite limited in what you could do at that time.

        I think you'd appreciate them a little more if you were old enough to remember just how limited the graphics software of the time was.

    • . And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you."

      *suppresses urge to make "In Soviet Russia" joke*.

    • I wish I had mod points.. but you are dead on, the demo scene was where talent lied, and just look at these 'wharholian' pieces. a copy/pasted eye, the campbell soup can (one hit wonder) done by a drunken 3yr old, and some pasted video capture of him reading the instructions. yawn.
      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        ...the campbell soup can (one hit wonder)...

        My God, so much outspoken ignorance from people who can't even be bothered to look at a wikipedia article. [wikipedia.org]

        • by 517714 (762276)

          Warhol was mostly marketing, like Kim Kardashian with a paint brush.

          But you challenged us to read, so from Wikipedia:

          "New York's Museum of Modern Art hosted a Symposium on pop art in December 1962 during which artists like Warhol were attacked for "capitulating" to consumerism. Critics were scandalized by Warhol's open embrace of market culture."

          "In 1979, reviewers disliked his exhibits of portraits of 1970s personalities and celebrities, calling them superficial, facile and commercial, with no depth or in

          • by mcgrew (92797) *

            Critics that were contemporaries with the likes of Manet, Van Gogh, and Gaugan were similarly shunned by the establishment. Meanwhile, paintings that hung in galleries and were critically praised at the time are worthless today.

            If it evokes an emotional reaction, even if that reaction is contempt, it's art. The worst insult you can hurl at a painter is "gee, that's pretty."

    • by Zanadou (1043400)

      His commentary on crass commercialism basically became crass commercialism itself. Why shouldn't it? It was the same basic idea.

      Whooooooooooooooosh.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      The Amiga and its demo scene were more art than Warhol ever will be.

      So, you hold a PhD in art history? Or have you ever taken a single entry level art history class?

      The first question was sarcasm. I did, in fact, take an art history class in college. Your uneducated opinion of art is as bad as an art historian's knowledge of quantum physics, which is somewhere between "very little" and "absolutely none".

      A man once said "Be silent and thought a fool. Speak and remove all doubt."

      • Warhol's 'art' isn't old enough to have passed the test of time.

        Art history records many examples of things that were art at the time but are now recognized as junk. Art history is not the same subject as art. It actually includes looking at trends that are stupid in hindsight. Like pop art and photo real paintings.

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          Art history records many examples of things that were art at the time but are now recognized as junk.

          Entirely true. Van Gogh was a failure who couldn't sell paintings. Gaugan and Manet were panned by contemporary critics, while the works that were critically praised and hung in expensive galleries are worthless today.

          Warhol has been dead for a quarter of a century. Maybe enough time has passed, maybe not. But these guys who have never had an art history class who think they know what art is are ludicrous.

      • by 517714 (762276)
        A boy once said, "The emperor has no clothes!" We see you chose to remove any doubt, with your appeal to authority and putting knowledge and opinion on the same level. You overvalue opinion - your own, and that of professionals in an almost purely subjective realm.
        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          In a subject that is not my field, I have little choice but to listen to those who have studied in the field.

      • Re:Plastic "art" (Score:4, Informative)

        by TangoMargarine (1617195) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @12:53PM (#46833849) Journal

        Your uneducated opinion of art is as bad as an art historian's knowledge of quantum physics, which is somewhere between "very little" and "absolutely none".

        Except for the tiny fact that art is wholly subjective and quantum physics is wholly objective, sure.

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          Art is man-made and its scholars fully understand it. That's not the case with quantum physics, yet at least.

          • Are we talking about "fully understanding" the *history* of the piece of art, or the artwork itself? Because I can know who painted something, what materials they used, where and when they painted it, but still know nothing about the meaning of the art.

            Plus, if you just *ask* the creator what his art means, maybe they'll tell you. In which case, how can we really be said to be "studying" anything? If we had an oracle that just told us how quantum physics works, we wouldn't really need to study that either.

            B

            • by mcgrew (92797) *

              Are we talking about "fully understanding" the *history* of the piece of art, or the artwork itself?

              The artwork itself. The composition, use of color, symbolism, etc. The history only points to where a work stands in relation to works before, contemporary, and afterword.

              It was an interesting class. Not very useful, but interesting.

  • Editorializing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nimey (114278) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @09:52AM (#46832367) Homepage Journal

    I would've just stuck the disks in and tried to copy it myself.

    Possibly that's because you're an idiot. Floppies and drives degrade just like everything else and taking these extraordinary measures gives a better chance of not permanently damaging something priceless during recovery attempts.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Oh, you met the Amiga's DiskDoctor too, I see :)

      • by Nimey (114278)

        Heh, no. I was never a Miggie user back in the day, I've just got much experience with PC floppies and Murphy.

        • by Darinbob (1142669)

          DiskDoctor was supposed to be an fsck type of thing on the Amiga, only it was unreliable and buggy. That was one great thing about Amiga was that the community created all these great tool that were better than the official or default utilities. The OS kernel was great, but it had some not quite ready commercial programs that went with it and some last minute addons. Still, even the crappy stuff was much better than on the PC.

    • That is a very real possibility. However, every single random miggy floppy disk I've ever tried, even after 20 years has worked perfectly.

      I do see the point though - somebody probably thought they could make some mega-bucks from the ultra-rare Worhol images.

    • by linebackn (131821)

      I've recently read a number of floppies that are older than the ones in the TFA, and none of them have magically fallen apart.

      Technically reading a disk will put some wear on it because the heads touch the surface, but if the disk was properly stored and was of a good brand (not Wabash), that wear is negligible.

      Most serious software archivists would simply plop the disks in a floppy drive connected to a Kryoflux, or similar device, and be done with it.

      Magnetic imaging is an overkill unless the disk is from

      • Re:Editorializing (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Nimey (114278) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @10:26AM (#46832673) Homepage Journal

        but if the disk was properly stored and was of a good brand

        If.

        This is pretty typical of Slashdot, really: technical people with some education second-guessing people who do $THING for a living even though they don't have the same knowledge of the field or the circumstances, but by $DEITY they're smart people and they know things, so they're instantly armchair experts.

        • Re:Editorializing (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Rob the Bold (788862) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @11:11AM (#46833019)

          If.

          This is pretty typical of Slashdot, really: technical people with some education second-guessing people who do $THING for a living even though they don't have the same knowledge of the field or the circumstances, but by $DEITY they're smart people and they know things, so they're instantly armchair experts.

          This isn't limited to the technical community. Doctors are pretty bad about this too. Particularly in regard to the field of finance: some of them should practically hang out a "Scam Me" sign. I'm sure there are "Modern Major Generals" in almost any field who feel -- incorrectly -- their own expertise and success in one field should make equally competent in anything.

      • Then you'd miss stuff like 1-2-3 diskettes and unformatted blocks. For old crap you really only get one shot at reading it, as it'll all rot away. Best to make the best possible image. And with 6TB disks shipping really what is the excuse?
        • by linebackn (131821)

          > Then you'd miss stuff like 1-2-3 diskettes and unformatted blocks.

          And that is why, like I said, you attach your floppy drive to a Kryoflux, SuperCard Pro, or Deluxe Option Board device.

  • Souper

  • Digital Archaeology, whoda thunk it?

  • by Bender Unit 22 (216955) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @10:02AM (#46832451) Journal

    and I just learned to use flood-fill.

  • by cdrudge (68377) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @10:03AM (#46832457) Homepage

    CMOA? AWM? CMU? FRSCI? Identifying what an acronym stands for is very helpful when the acronym isn't very well known. Yes I know I can read the article and try to find it out, but it's helpful for summaries too.

    In case anyone else was wondering:
    CMOA - Carnegie Museum of Art
    AWM - Andy Warhol Museum
    CMU - Carnegie Mellon University
    FRSCI - Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry

  • What not to do (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rob the Bold (788862) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @10:09AM (#46832509)

    You've just found an undiscovered work by Andy Warhol. Do you want to:

    1. Wipe it down with Pledge(TM)?

    2. Call an appropriate professional for advice?

    Because I'm pretty sure that . . . "I would've just stuck the disks in and tried to copy it myself" . . . is the physical artifact equivalent of using some randomly chosen household cleaner. And museum curators are pretty anal about curation of their stuff.

    Also, for the love of God, do not use "DiskDoctor"!

    • I understand they wouldn't use it in this case but I always used Disksalv [aminet.net]. Looks like it is still being maintained and is now freeware. It was one of the only tools at the time that would recover to another disk rather than beat the crap out of the damaged disk while it tried to fix it. I now use ddrescue under linux for recovery but disksalv was way ahead of its time.
    • by Sockatume (732728)

      DiskDoctor practices medicine from a throne of lies.

  • Andy used to hang around the SVA (School of Visual Arts) cafeteria trying to pick up (male) students.

    I was in the film school at the time, so I didn't give a crap about who he was. There was another guy as well back then, Larry Gartel, who also used the Amiga to create digital art. He's obviously not as well known as Warhol, but thems the breaks.

    • by Pope (17780)

      Peter Max (60's psychedelic artist) used an Amiga on Missing Persons' "Surrender Your Heart" video, which at the time I thought was pretty darn cool. Plus, you know, Dale Bozzio...

  • i have a mint amiga 600!

    • by idontgno (624372)

      i have a mint amiga 600!

      Poser! They never made the Amiga in any color than dead-fish beige! (Except for the CDTV and CD32, which were "A/V component charcoal".)

      Hell, does any computer come in a primary color, other than overaggressive "compensating for something" red on certain gaming-grade systems?

      And yes, I'm joking, and I know you don't mean color when you say "mint".

      I'm just trying to forestall the inevitable "whoosh" here. Even if it kills the joke.

  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @10:39AM (#46832801) Homepage Journal

    Odds are very high that they where IFF. Commodore created a universal documented format container called IFF back in the day. The Graphics version was completely documented and is evens still supported by a lot of graphics programs.

    • by RJFerret (1279530)

      It was said in the BBC article emulators couldn't load it, and considering GIMP loads IFF, and he had a pre-release Amiga 1000 with unreleased software, it's entirely possible it was from before the Interchange File Format was standardized.

      Sure enough, turns out to be the case, paraphrased from the PDF linked above, An older format deprecated by 1990 was called PLBM (PLanar BitMap, compared to the ILBM interleaved bitmaps you might recall as typical IFF). This format is much more poorly (sic) documented.

  • by PPH (736903) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @12:05PM (#46833431)

    ... his 6.44E9 CPU cycles of fame.

  • I've had the pleasure of working with the CMU CC for the past several years, broadcasting their Demoparty, Demosplash, on Scenesat the past several years. These guys are seriously passionate about retrocomputing and The Demoscene. They have released some neat Demos for the Apple Lisa and the Vectrex. Good to see them getting some recognition here. They're nice bunch of guys, and the Warhol museum certainly picked the right people for the job, right in Pittsburgh.

    If you're in the Retro computers and the Amig

  • http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media... [bbcimg.co.uk]

    That Venus is not the work of Andy Warhol if I remember correctly. (Well, he might have done the HAM-fisted cut and paste of the third eye in the middle of her forehead..)

    I remember seeing it on the cover of one of the Amiga magazines as the full reproduction. I realize that Warhol stole most of what he did from other artists, but surely this has to be a joke.

  • When you only have 16 colors, everything looks like a Warhol work.

  • Seriously ? They could have just asked. They didn't have to go to all that trouble to recover the images. Not only were there backup disks made at the time, but the images were converted and stored as IFF files after the Amiga's launch. I know a few ex-Commodore people who have signed backup disks from Warhol from the training sessions for Warhol, and from the launch itself. The graphics program he used at the launch was an early beta version. It had a more than a few bugs. Area fill in particular

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