Personal computing may have begun in the 1980s but the history of computer art started much earlier during a period when only a few visionaries sensed the impact computers were going to have on our lives.
The Slovakia-based Translab has a good online archive of early computer art from names that aren’t widely known but were important for their early work with computers. These works date from the third quarter of the 20th C. and reveal a parallel history of electronic experimentation that doesn’t have much relation to commonly known art history.
For further reading on the topic, Wikipedia’s page on the topic is very helpful. One fact in particular jumped out at me, namely that most of the creators of early computer art were engineers and scientists — and not “artists” — who had access to university computing facilities.
According to the Translab page, the two major centers of computer art during this early period were The Murray Hill lab, Bell Laboratories, New Jersey, US (now AT&T), and Technische Universitat Stuttgart, Germany (Max Bense).
According to Wikipedia:
The first two exhibitions of computer art were held in 1965 – Computer-Generated Pictures, April 1965, at the Howard Wise Gallery in New York, and Generative Computergrafik, February 1965, at the Technische Hochschule in Stuttgart, Germany. The Stuttgart exhibit featured work by Georg Nees; the New York exhibit featured work by Bela Julesz and A. Michael Noll. Note the names of these expositions, not mentioning the word ‘art,’ because these ‘generated pictures’ were not yet seen as such.
I don’t know much about the Stuttgart space mentioned above but I can say that I’m not surprised that the Howard Wise Gallery was the venue for the one of the earliest computer art shows. During its short existence in New York (1960–71), the Wise Gallery was home to many firsts in electronic and digital art. Owner Howard Wise’s New York Times obituary mentions he was, “an art patron and a former dealer who gave important early support to the technology in art movement in the United States” and that his gallery exhibited “the first survey in the United States of contemporary kinetic art” and three years later he showed “the first comprehensive survey in this country of kinetic light art.” As if that wasn’t enough, Wise also organized the first exhibition of video art in 1969, TV as a Creative Medium, and “two years later he founded Electronic Arts Intermix, a nonprofit organization that distributes artists’ videotapes and provides editing and post-production facilities for independent videomakers … which became a model for other arts support groups in New York and elsewhere.”
While some of these early computer art projects look more like experiments than finished projects, I would love to see a comprehensive exhibition of this period that could give us a critical assessment of the success and/or failure of these projects.
Memes depicting a sinister, all-powerful Joe Biden alter ego are sweeping the internet, and the Democratic establishment is loving it.
“She dug into what she was fascinated by and obsessed with: things that existed on the periphery, people who didn’t follow the rules,” said one of her friends.
The Newark Museum of Art Presents Jazz Greats: Classic Photographs from the Bank of America Collection
Photographers Antony Armstrong Jones, Milt Hinton, Chuck Stewart, Barbara Morgan, and more capture a breadth of legendary and local musicians and performance artists. On view through August 21.
The prized antiquities, dating from the Bronze Age to the 12th century, were trafficked by the notorious British dealer Douglas Latchford.
With Paradise Camp, artist Yuki Kihara attempts to challenge and undermine colonial images of Sāmoa through a radical camp aesthetic.
Art and photographs, publications from the 19th and 20th centuries, manuscripts, posters and more are set to cross the auction block on August 18.
Combining elements of Surrealism, Symbolism, and portraiture, Vicuña’s paintings are parables of personal and political awakening.
Featuring a delicate lead performance by Christine Froseth, this is a smart, sometimes purposefully discomfiting comedy about taking control of one’s sexuality.
Masaaki Yuasa’s latest anime feature embodies a revolutionary spirit in its tale of outcasts breaking ground in medieval Japan.
Lebanese art dealer Georges Lotfi, who once helped authorities seize looted antiquities, is now accused of doing his own share of trafficking too.
An exhibition depicts how people have reimagined the medieval period in the centuries since, and how they have revealed their own interests and ideals with each new interpretation.