I am trying to find a story I read once, about a fellow who finds a strange device that draws pictures. He can't figure out how it works, or what the controls do, but, through trial and error, he discovers that he can get it to print out an artistic drawing by pressing a particular button. IIRC, the man makes a (possibly short) career out of selling the art that this thing produces. He is amazed at the "evolution in style" that the machine seems to exhibit: art critics and buyers assume that "the artist" is going through phases. Over time, though, the art gets simpler and simpler. The man assumes, at first, that this is part of the "evolution." After a while, though, he realizes that, in pressing what he has assumed is the "draw and print" button, he is actually erasing patterns and artistic elements with each instance of output, so that the device eventually becomes completely useless. It was one of the first stories that made me think of how difficult (and potentially dangerous) it might be, to try to operate highly advanced (possibly alien) technology, and I'm sure its lessons were an influence on me as I labored to design simple and intuitive human interface elements in software in the 1980s and 1990s.
I read this story decades ago (my most active time of reading SF was during the mid-1960s to mid-1980s, and in the early years I read a lot of classic work from the 30s-50s); the title and author's name faded away from my memory surely before the turn of the century! Does my description ring a bell with anyone? I'd appreciate any pointers to the title and author, or even better, to places online where this story might be available or at least obtainable in printed form. Thanks in advance for any help anyone can give!