LINCOLN, MA.- DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum
presents and exhibition that director of the Boston Cyberarts Festival and former deCordova curator of New Media, George Fifield, curated of the earliest computer drawings, prints, and animations by the fields innovators. Curated from the Providence-based collection of Anne and Michael Spalter, Drawing with Code is one of the first American museum exhibitions to document broadly this early period of new media art. The exhibition will be on view through April 24, 2011 to coincide with the 2011 Boston Cyberarts Festival. DeCordova has been supportive of new media artwork since the 1980s and, since its inception in 1999, has subsequently participated in every Boston Cyberarts Festival.
Drawing with Code features computer-generated art from the 1950s to the mid 1980s alongside the more recent work of these early practitioners. Starting with the seminal Electronic Abstraction 4, 1952, by Ben Laposky, a silver gelatin print of an abstract image from an oscilloscope screen and possibly the earliest artwork in existence made using a computer, the exhibition presents 40 works of 21 pioneering artists, including Jean-Pierre Hébert, Manfred Mohr, Vera Molnar, Mark Wilson, Stan VanDerBeek, Roman Verostko, and Edward Zajec, who had the foresight to see the creative possibilities of the dawning computer age. As our lives are becoming increasingly digital, it serves us well to remember a time when computers were clunkierif not simplercreatures. This was an era when, in the words of programmer and artist Harold Cohen, You used card-punch machines to punch your program onto IBM cards
There was little chance you would get any results the same day, [and what you would often get] was a cryptic message saying that there was a missing comma on card seventy-three. The prints and drawings in Drawing with Code represent some of the most elegant and innovative images from this bygone computer era.
Drawing with Code provides a window into the past with some of the best examples of an incredibly productive collaboration between technology and art. In addition, the exhibition presents a group of the earliest computer animations produced at Bell Labs under the auspices of Kenneth Knowlton. Knowlton was a pioneer researcher in computer graphics at Bell Labs Murray Hill facilities in New Jersey and invited a number of artists to the lab, including Lillian Schwartz and the experimental filmmaker Stan VanDerBeek. While primitive by todays standards, these animations revolutionized the field and paved the way for the wealth of computerized media we see today.
Director Dennis Kois noted: DeCordova has been an enthusiastic supporter of computer-generated art and new media since the 1980sin 1994, George Fifield curated an exhibition at deCordova with now Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs Nick Capasso entitled Computer in the Studioand we are proud to now blaze a trail in documenting the history of the medium. The Spalter collection is among the most important troves of this early, and now rare, material in the world.
This exhibition is organized by guest curator George Fifield, independent curator of new media, founding director of Boston Cyberarts, Inc. and adjunct faculty at the Digital + Media Department at the Rhode Island School of Design. Fifield has a long-lasting relationship with not only deCordova, but also with Anne and Michael Spalter; Continuum, an exhibition featuring part of the Spalters extensive collection, was included in Fifields Cyberarts Festival 2009 and was comprised of experimental digital computer animations from the 1960s.