Pask is the prototypical new media artist for the 21st century. His talents embraced pure science and philosophy (Conversation Theory 1975); multimedia/synaesthesia machines (Musicolour 1953); idea-processing (Thought-Sticker 1976), large-scale interactive, cybernated installations (Colloquy of Mobiles 1968), and much, much more. Pask was one of the second-generation cyberneticists (with Stafford Beer, Heinz von Foerster, Jack Burnham, Ludwig von Bertalanffy etc), but was unique in that he produced artworks, machines and installations that embodied the very principles of feedback and cybernetics that were the subject of his theoretical investigations.
The hypertext and hypermedia pioneer Ted Nelson – one of the core architects of modern computing and hypermedia – has this to say of Gordon Pask:
“In a field of brilliant eccentrics, Pask has no difficulty standing out… Pask is one of the Artificial Intelligencers who is working on teaching by computer, about which more will be said; but the original core of his interest is perhaps the process of conceptualisation and abstraction. Pask has done a great deal on the mathematics of self-contemplating systems, that is, symbolic representations of what it means for a creature (or entity omega) to look at things, see that they are alike, and divine abstract conceptions of them…”
(Nelson: Dream Machines 1974)
Gordon Pask + Susan Curran: Microman – Computers and the Evolution of Consciousness 1982
Ted Nelson: Computer Lib/Dream Machines 1974
For a good historical summary and future-projection of cybernetics see:
Kevin Kelly: Out of Control – The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems, and the Economic World 1994