"Prehystories of New Media" class at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), Fall 2008 + 2009, instructor: Nina Wenhart

“Our fine arts were developed, their types and uses were established, in times very different from the present, by men whose power of action upon things was insignificant in comparison with ours. But the amazing growth of our techniques, the adaptability and precision they have attained, the ideas and habits they are creating, make it a certainty that profound changes are impending in the ancient craft of the Beautiful. In all the arts there is a physical component which can no longer be considered or treated as it used to be, which cannot remain unaffected by our modern knowledge and power. For the last twenty years neither matter nor space nor time has been what it was from time immemorial. We must expect great innovations to transform the entire technique of the arts, thereby affecting artistic invention itself and perhaps even bringing about an amazing change in our very notion of art.”
Paul Valéry, Pièces sur L’Art, 1931
Le Conquete de l’ubiquite

>> students' research papers, Fall 2008

class .06

exhibitions, pt.1

#01: summary of class 5:
- what was new about computer art:
-- new technologies used
-- new kinds of artists: basically engineers as artists
- what was old about it:
-- conventional "masterpieces"-idea (f.e. Nake's Hommage or Noll's interpretation of Mondrian --> 1 out of infinite possible results of the algorithm used becomes famous, Nake even uses it as the starting point for his ia-version of the hommage)

- compare this with Gene Youngblood's vision of the computer in art:
-- "role of artist has already changed fundamentally"
-- "the ultimate aesthetic device"
-- impact on society at large

#02: exhibitions of that time, time context:
- mid 60ies to early 70ies saw a number of computer art exhibitions
- abrupt end, technology lost its innocence -> vietnam
- counterculture
-- stewart brand, "whole earth catalogue" --> wired magazine
-- fred turner, "from counterculture to cyberculture", 2007

- overview exhibitions
-- nove tendencije, zagreb, croatia (started in 1961, focus on computer art in 1968; fromer yugoslavia, communist, peak of cold war), included conference, BIT international
------ blog-post: [Nove] Tendencije, BIT international

-- 9 evenings, E.A.T., NY, 1966
- goals:
-- redefining the possibilities of art, expanding its boundaries
-- redefining the role of the viewer, the audience as an active part of the work
----- blog-post: "Robert Rauschenberg, "Open Score", E.A.T., 9 Evenings, 1966"
----- blog-post: "E.A.T. - 9 evenings"
----- blog-post: "John Cage, "Variations VII", E.A.T, 9 Evenings, 1966"
-- original video edit by Alfons Schilling:
-- the daniel langlois foundation holds all teh documents of this event; some of the information about it is availabe online:

-- cybernetic serendipity, ICA, London, 1968
---- blog-posts:
------ cybernetic serendipity --> i brought the exhibition catalogue to class
------ blog-post: "Cybernetic Serendipity, ICA London, August 2nd - October 20th, 1968"
------ blog-post: "Jasia Reichardt, "Cybernetic Serendipity", audiofile from conference, 2005"
------ blog-post: "Cybernetic Serendipity catalogue" --> whole catalogue of exhibition scanned in (b/w), available as pdf
--- artist Gordon Pask
----- blog-post: "Gordon Pask" --> "colloquy of mobiles" exhibited at cybernetic serendipity
--- artist Edward Ihnatowicz:
----- blog-post: "Edward Ihnatovicz, SAM - Sound Activated Mobile" --> part of the cybernetic serendipity exhibition
----- blog-post: "Edward Ihnatovicz, "Portrait of the Artist as an Enineer""
----- blog-post: "Edward Ihnatovicz, "Senster", 1970"

- some more informations on exhibitions/artworks/artists:
-- Le Corbusier, Xenakis, Varese, "poème electronique":
----- blog-post: "poème electronique, Le Corbusier, Varese, Xenakis, World Fair 1958"
------- post includes videos for a reinterpretation of the work
----- blog-post: "Iannis Xenakis", including video
-- William Grey Walter, blog-post: "Grey Walter, "Elmer and Elsie", 1948/49" --> including video
-- blog-post: "exhibition: The Machine as Seen at the end of the Mechanical Age, MoMa, 1968" --> i brought the exhibition catalogue to class
-- blog-post: "re:place re:view" --> review of one of the re:place panels, focusing on early media art in spain, australia, E.A.T. and GENESYS
-- Jack Burnham's "Software" exhibition: blog-post "Edward Shanken, "The House That Jack Built: Jack Burnham's Concept of 'Software' as a Metaphor for Art ", 1998"

#03: books:
- exhibition catalogue: Karl Gunnar Pontus Hulten, "The Machine as Seen at the end of the Mechanical Age", 1968
- exhibition catalogue: Jasia Reichardt, "Cybernetic Serendipity", 1969

#05: DVDs:
- 9 Evenings, Robert Rauschenberg, "Open Score":
- 9 Evenings, John Cage, "Variations VII":

No comments:

>> recommended books

  • Richard Barbrook - Imaginary Futures: From Thinking Machines to the Global Village
  • Fred Turner - From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network and the Rise of Digital Utopianism
  • Howard Rheingold, Tools for Thought, MIT Press, 2000 or online: http://rheingold.com/texts/tft/index.html
  • Oliver Grau - MediaArtHistories
  • Oliver Grau - Virtual Art: From Illusion to Immersion
  • Neil Spiller, Cyber Reader: Critical Writings for the Digital Era. Phaidon Press, 2002
  • Stephen Wilson - Information Arts: Intersections of Art, Science, and Technology: Intersections of Art, Science and Technology
  • Gene Youngblood - Expanded Cinema
  • Ruth Leavitt - Artist and Computer
  • Jasia Reichardt - The Computer in Art
  • Jasia Reichardt - Robots. Fact, Fiction and Prediction
  • Herbert Franke - Computer Graphics, Computer Art
  • Frieder Nake - Ästhetik als Informationsverarbeitung: Grundlagen und Anwendungen der Informatik im Bereich ästhetischer Produktion und Kritik (Hardcover)
  • Norbert Wiener - Cybernetics
  • Claus Pias - Cybernetics - Kybernetik 2. The Macy-Conferences 1946-1953
  • Jasia Reichardt, Cybernetic serendipity: The computer and the arts, 1968
  • Catherine Morris, 9 Evenings Reconsidered, 2007
  • John Cage, Variations VII by John Cage: E.A.T. - 9 Evenings: Theatre & Engineering (1966) - DVD
  • Robert Rauschenberg: E.A.T. and ARTPIX: Open Score by Robert Rauschenberg (1966) - DVD
  • Noah Wardrip-Fruin - From Wagner to Multimedia
  • Erik Davis - TechGnosis: Myth, Magic + Mysticism in the Age of Information
  • Wendy Hui Kyong Chun - New Media, Old Media: A History and Theory Reader
  • R.L.Rutsky - High Techné: Art and Technology from the Machine Aesthetic to the Posthuman
  • Lev Manovich - The Language of New Media
  • Lev Manovich - Soft Cinema: Navigating the Database
  • Siegfried Zielinski - Variantology. On Deep Time. Relations of Arts, Sciences and Technologies: On Deep Time Relations of Arts, Sciences and Technologies
  • Siegfried Zielinski - Deep Time of New Media
  • Timothy Druckrey - Facing the Future. 20 years of Ars Electronica


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... is a Media Art historian and independent researcher. She is currently writing on "speculative archiving && experimental preservation of Media Art" and graduated from Prof. Oliver Grau's Media Art Histories program at the Danube University in Krems, Austria with a Master Thesis on Descriptive Metadata for Media Arts. For many years, she has been working in the field of archiving/documenting Media Art, recently at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Media.Art.Research and before as the head of the Ars Electronica Futurelab's videostudio, where she created their archives and primarily worked with the archival material. She was teaching the Prehystories of New Media Class at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and in the Media Art Histories program at the Danube University Krems.