Space Art is a genuine oddity of a program. It isn't a game, it isn't really a utility, although the pictures generated by the program can be merged with the user's own programs if required, and it isn't an astronomer's reference guide. Its author, M.V. Gavin (Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society) has created a program that is a form of computer auto-art. Various features have been used to create an endless supply of visuals connected with space. These features include a sun and its reflection in the sea, the Northern Lights, planets, moons and Saturn In various phases, a space platform, starship, various spacecraft and Jet fighters. Nearer to home the features include a distant city of the future, desert, sea and headlands jutting into the sea, and mountains.
The drawing is designed to give a 3D effect, which works very effectively on some of the pictures. The pictures take between 10 and 50 seconds to appear depending on the complexity of the elements, and watching each one build up is half the fascination of this program. Remember those items on children's television where an unseen hand makes a drawing appear as if by magic?
Eclipse refer to this program as a 'kaleidoscope', and it's a good description of the effect. There is literally an endless stream of images being generated from the visual vocabulary, none of them the same. Each picture remains on the screen for six seconds after generation. This speed of turnover has rather good commercial potential for dubs and shops as a window display material. While it is on screen a prompt appears at the bottom telling you to press any key if you wish to save the picture. Should you do so, the prompt changes and asks you to give a file name to the picture for later loading. When this has been typed in, pressing any key will allow you to save the data to tape if you have one ready in the cassette recorder. The moment saving is complete the computer gives a beep and busily gets on with the task of building the next picture. This beep is especially useful if you have a monitor or television with a powerful interference field which destroys the quality of the recording, and has to be turned off during a SAVE. The saved SCREENS can be loaded back at any time into the main program by BREAKing Space Art and typing in as a direct command:
FOR F= 1 TO 10: LOAD "" SCREENS: NEXT f
then pressing ENTER. Restarting S Sp is done by using Independent of Space Art the SCREENS can be loaded using LOAD""CODE. In this way they could be used as title SCREENS for home written programs if a suitable one fits the program.
Space Art is certainly an oddity and It does have limited application for the general user, but it is fun to watch, some of the images are genuinely surreal and it is capable of generating a picture of beauty. If it had been highly priced it wouldn't have been much use to anyone, but at £2.95 it may well appeal to many who want to use the pictures in title screens or use them as guides for drawing up their own, or, perhaps, those who just like watching pictures appear.