The cartoon girl “Nefertiti” winks periodically in subtle defiance. Taken from the pages of Ivan Sutherland’s 1963 PhD thesis titled “Sketchpad, A Man-Machine Graphical Communication System”, the image of “Nefertiti” is an early illustration of the “artistic” convenience of copying an image or parts of it, instantly, multiple times with the aid of a computer program.
Ivan Sutherland included the image of “Nefertiti” in his PhD thesis as an illustration of the function of creating instances from an object or in more contemporary terms, using the cut, copy and paste command. Less than a half century later, in a cultural landscape that embraces the act of copying as an everyday banality, “Nefertiti” seems as much a lost prophecy as a figure of illustration. Her wink – a simple animated sequence of nearly identical images that successively replace each other – suggests far more than it shows. Her coquettish gesture seems a subtle inference to a form of cultural production unlikely to have been imagined in 1963 by most, much less by Dr. Sutherland, who according to his own words “…just wanted to make nice pictures.”