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Buy a big screen, improve your mind

Let's suppose you spent a lot of money on a flat-panel display, but you feel bad that you don't spend all your waking hours glued to video games or high-def football games. Well, one way to amortize your purchase would be to spend your computer's down time showing semirandom art and music by Brian Eno.

Eno has released software called 77 Million Paintings that produces a gradually changing sequence of images and music. The combinations of images number 77 million.

"You can start to think of the screen as a painting," Eno said on the Web site promoting the project.

Eno is best known for musical works--Music for Airports and Another Green World or producing albums by the band U2, for example--but he also has dabbled in visual arts for years.

77 Million Paintings may be something of a glorified screen saver, but Eno's clout has carried the project well beyond the flying-toaster market. Installations of the work have been shown in Venice and Milan, and more are planned for the United States.

Eno is not the only musician to venture into the computer realm. David Byrne of Talking Heads fame released an artistic PowerPoint presentation called Envisioning Emotional Epistemological Information that also was exhibited in museums.