Two events about the historification of Computer Art
Developing a serious academically rigorous discourse, concerning the evolution of digital art, from its original elite origins to today’s ubiquitous world-culture was a focus of two consecutive evenings in Los Angeles in early 2014.
As part of USC One Archive’s three-month long retrospective series on EZTV’s early history (read the KCET Artbound article here) , these two related and back-to-back events, on April 15th & 16th focused on the dialogue between critical practice and an arts practice based on the ever-evolving journey of digital art.
The first evening, Computer Love: Digital Art in West Hollywood was a panel discussion, with UCLA Professor Rebecca Allen, LA ACM SIGGRAPH co-chair Joan Collins, art scholar Andrea Foreander, Otis College Asst. Professor Kate Johnson, choreographer Donna Sternberg and myself.
(my introductory remarks prior to panel)
All the panelists shared this is common, all were associated with exhibitions involving both EZTV and LA ACM SIGGRAPH.
(LA ACM SIGGRAPH C0-chair Joan Collins)
(Joan Collins, in her opening remarks, gives a profile of her collaborator, projection art pioneer Ron Hays, who was lost to AIDS in 1992)
(Rebecca Allen reflcets on her collaborations with Kraftwerk)
A highlight of the evening was Rebecca Allen, one of the seminal digital artist-scientists, whose groundbreaking early collaborations, including “The Catherine’s Wheel”, with choreographer Twyla Tharp & musicians David Byrne and Eno, onto her influential projections for Kraftwerk, and then co-founding UCLA’s much acclaimed Design/Media Department and serving as its first chair
(Media artist Kate Johnson discusses the process unique to projection art)
Otis College’s Kate Johnson noted that most of the artist-panelists had long standing collaborative ties to both media arts as well as dance.
(Rebecca Allen discusses her historic work while scholar Andrea Foenander listens)
(choreographer Donna Sternberg discusses the challenges and creative opportunities of multimedia collaboration)
The following evening, Computer Art: Developing a Critical Dialogue was a lecture/presentation by the emerging young British scholar Andrea Foenander. Foenandar is in the process of assembling an Anthology of Computer Art, as part of her graduate studies at the Royal College of Art, London. Part of her research has involved an in-depth research project on the seminal digital art exhibition at EZTV “LA Art 1990”, curated by Patric Prince and co-sponsored by LA ACM SIGGRAPH. Allen was among the artists in this important group show, which also included David Em, Vibeke Sorensen, Tony Longson, Shelley Lake, Victor Acevedo and others.
These two events are also concurrent and conjunction with an exhibition I curated: Hacking the Timeline v3.0: Digilantsim & the LA Digital Art Movement (1985-2005) and in anticipation of the May 31st large scale projection and live multimedia USC One’s EZTV series finale ONE Night: EZTV, LA ACM SIGGRAPH and Digital Art in West Hollywood. The evening will present a retrospective of major digital art animation pioneers, including Rebecca Allen, Joan Collins, Dave Curlender, Ed Emshwiller, David Goodsell, Shelley Lake, and Vibeke Sorensen . At ONE Night, Donna Sternberg & Dancers will premiere “Fly-BY”, a live multimedia dance collaboration with EZTV, as well as University of Michigan’s Greg Tarle and Scott Stephenson, FermiLab’s Brian Nord, Vanessa Blaylock & Co, Nina Rota, and composer David Raiklen at this event. Additionally, Kate Johnson will prmiere her projection piece “CORE”,as well as Oscar-winning sound artist Frank Serrefine, who will accompany live a tribute to multimedia projection pioneer Ron Hays. “Infinity Box”, an installation by Matt Elsen, as well as other light art will also be featured. A live performance by musician/artist Kate Crash will close the evening.
Hacking the Timeline: an on-going project…
Begun in 2005, the long-term goal of the series Hacking the Timeline is to better inform mainstream arts professionals (scholars, curators and historians) about the enormous contributions made to today’s decentralized digital world culture, by various alternative art spaces, such as EZTV. This space, as well ascontributions by various grassroots arts inititiatives, such as by what Otis College professor Michael Wright has called ‘the Digilantes’ movement, helped shape the cultural landscpae, making it ready for the popularization of our digital world . Wright, along with Digilantes co-founder Victor Acevedo, are featured artists in my Hacking the Timeline v3.0 exhibition, as are Computer Love panelists Rebecca Allen and Kate Johnson, along with Vibeke Sorensen, Shelley Lake, Dave Curlender and David Goodsell.
Among the many goals which HTTLv3.0 attemtpts to achieve, is a better recognition of the immense role that female artists played in early computer arts based practice. It is no accident that other than myself, all the panelists in Computer Love were women. These “artist-scientists“, a term I use to describe the joint educational background in both world-class arts eductaion as well as computer science, that so many of these pioneers have, is vital to a true understanding of computer art history. At a time when many women were exempt from inclusion in major museum or gallert exhibitions, they were active participants in the world of computer art.
These two events, as well as the entire three-month long retrsopective series, sponsored by USC’s ONE Arhives & Mususem, along with 18th Street Arts Center and LA ACM SIGGRAPH, are helping to broaden the understanding of the contributions made by DIY alternative art spaces, as well as mainstream institutions such as universities, corporate and government laboratories. Together, they create the continuum, or as I say the DNA that is truly at the heart of the digital revolution we now all take for granted.
The entire video documentation of the two-hour long Computer Love panel, shot by Victor Acevedo, as well as highlights from the hour and a half long Q&A following Foenander’s lecture, will be uploaded in the near future.