Schip's Systems Art Area


From the Wikipedia page :

In systems art the concept and ideas of process related systems and systems theory [c.f Cybernetics] are involved in the work take precedence over traditional aesthetic object related and material concerns. Systems art is named by Jack Burnham in the 1968 Artforum article "Real Systems Art". Burnham had investigated the effects of science and technology on the sculpture of this century. He saw a dramatic contrast between the handling of the place-oriented object sculpture and the extreme mobility of Systems sculpture. This systems art operates according to Thomas McEvilley by "transferring an object or site from one semantic system to another; it, like so much else, derives ultimately from Duchamp, in this case from his example of transferring everyday objects into the semantic system of art"

From the definition :

[Systems art is a] Term loosely applied to art produced by means of a systematic or highly organized approach to an image or concept. It is often manifested by repetition, series, simplification and progressive variation. Other related terms include systemic or systematic painting, one-image or serial art. It is perhaps rooted in Cubism and its exponents’ objective of exploring the notion of painting as its own independent system. Systems art was further explored in Constructivism. Artists who may be associated with the term include Josef Albers, Donald Judd, Carl André, Sol LeWitt, Gerhard Richter, Mario Merz, Kenneth Martin and Mary Martin, among many others.

So. Which is it then?

My story so far:

My friend Lindsay sent me a book Science and Technology in the Arts Today, sections of which read as pretty much contemporary even though it's from 1972, and there are a number of artists that I've never heard of -- including the cover photo piece which is very similar to things I've been thinking about doing. There was a ref to Jack Burnham's Beyond Modern Sculpture book of 1968 -- I think I'd heard of Jack due to his being a Duchamp scholar, but not that book. He curated a show at the Jewish Museum in 1970 called Software and hypothesized something called Systems Art which is -- given loose re-translation of ideas and language -- what I've been going on about for the last few years myself: pulling ideas from cybernetics, robotics, and complex systems into the arts.

On a Feb 2009 trip to the Bay Area I went to Moes looking for the Burnham book and found Stephen Wilson's 2003 book Information Arts, a huge compendium of techno-art from the late-80's through the 90's, but most of it has nothing to do with the Cybernetic variety. Typically, I then visited my friend Brooke who always eventually starts dragging books that he thinks might be interesting out of his cave, and there it was, even though I hadn't mentioned it to him. So I now have a copy of the Burnham.

Burnham mentions Grey Walter, a British neurophysiology researcher who developed some small autonomous robot cars that could wander and re-charge themselves -- IN F**KN 1949 using 2 VACUUM TUBES and 3 RELAYS -- I'm sure I must have heard of this guy but forgotten entirely. Even more strangely enough one of these cars is listed (elsewhere) as having disappeared after being sent to a museum in NY circa 1970 -- to the Software show? And he is an unsung hero of the Artifical Life folks too.

To add further weirdness what was probably the first major "computer-art" show, Cybernetic Serendipity curated by Jasia Reichardt, opened at the ICA in London in August of 1968. The show traveled to the USA and ended up providing the founding exhibits for the Exploratorium in San Francisco in 1969. Ten years later I tried, and ultimately failed, to rebuild Albert, a robotic head which was supposed to follow visitors as they walked by. I also extinguished a fire underneath what was probably another of the pieces from the second firefighting experience.

It all died on the vine. I extrapolate a number of reasons, money, technical difficulties, and critical theory being among them. The Software show was such a technical disaster that it apparently contributed to the Jewish Museum's board of directors decision to stop doing cutting edge contemporary art shows altogether.

So here I am, again, out there operating on my own, wondering why no one is interested in this stuff. Everyone I talk to seems to know nothing about any of this, even if they have heard-of/met/studied-with Jack Burnham. Even the folks that go on about "Science and Technology in the Arts" have difficulty calibrating their experience with my idea that art-machines should have a life of their own...I mean, where else but in the arts can a robot just let it all hang out and not have to go find someone and blow them up?

See my notes.


click me

Artists and Shows

edit Software Information Technology / Its New Meaning for Art; Sep 16 - Nov 8, 1970; Jewish Museum NYC
edit Software; show overview highlight ppt like presentation
edit Software; documentation Excerpts from doc for Software show
edit ZKW musuem -- Zagreb BIT International show web page
edit Information Show at NY MOMA. Jul 2 - Sep 20, 1970
edit Information, show catalog MOMA library ref card for catalog call: NX427.N7 I5 1970
edit Cybernetic Serendiputy Photos and press release for show at ICA London; Aug 2 - Oct 20, 1968
edit Cybernetic Serendipity catalog pdf; seems to be the scanned real thing (local copy)
edit Open Systems -- Rethinking Art c.1970 Tate modern show, Jun 1 – Sep 18, 2005
edit 9 Evenings: Theater and Engineering DVDs of the EAT program, October 13-23, 1966
edit Art and Technology Program for LACMA show in 1970 resulting from their artist/corporate collaboration project
edit Art and Technology Book by Maurice Tuchman curator of LACMA show
edit Complexity show 2002 -- pdf quide
edit Evoluon Senster (by Edward Ihnatowicz) possibly the first computer sculpture at Philips Evoluon center 1966
edit Nicolas Schöffer home page made first cybernetic art in 1954 for the 1st Salon Bâtimat, Paris (France)
edit James Seawright -- wikipedia early cybernetic-techno-sculptor
edit Michael Schippling my own page
edit Simon Penny contemporary UCI professor of Art/Tech
edit Life 3.0 2000 A-life show description
edit Ken Rinaldo A-life artist at Ohio State
edit Real Artificial Life as an Immersive Media Louis-Philippe Demers. Bill Vorn, 1995 -- description of three coupled sculptures
edit Fish-Bird: Human-Robot Interaction in a Contemporary Arts Setting Rye, Velonaki, etal, 2004 -- interactive robotic installation
edit Norman White machine art work from 60s to 90s
edit Machine Life catalog of 2004 Canadian show
edit Eric Singer and LEMUR NY based electronic music and robotics artist

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Article Links

edit Jack Burnham Interview Interview by Lutz Dammbeck (2001)
edit The House That Jack Built Jack Burnham's Concept of Software as a Metaphor for Art
edit Jack Burnham Access to the writing and thinking of Jack Burnham
edit An Imitation of Life Sabbatini, RME: The First Robots of Grey Walter
edit Systems Art Main Page
edit Radical Software Historic video magazine first appeared in Spring of 1970
edit Software Art an introduction September 24th. 2003 -- Andreas Broegger takes a closer look a the different phenomena known to some as software art
edit All Systems Go: Recovering Jack Burnham’s Systems Aesthetics L. Skrebowski, 2006, Tate Papers
edit Detached from history Jasia Reichardt and Cybernetic Serendipity from Art Journal
edit Michael Gasperi Grey Walter Machina Speculatrix Page
edit Simon Penny -- interactive art leonardo
edit Burnham Page info and same 2001 interview, in german
edit BIT International The Ultimate Avant-garde: New Tendencies show and Bit International
edit Systems Aesthetics: Burnham and Others Matthew Rampley paper, Jan 05
edit Wikipedia Information Art Information show, conceptualism, etc links
edit art + aesthetics of artificial life list of artists claiming Alife affiliation
edit Detached from history: Jasia Reichardt and Cybernetic Serendipity Art Journal , Fall, 2008 article on show and curator
edit Art & Science Collaborations Inc (ASCI) organization home page
edit Leonardo Journal home page
edit Two Cultures links and discussion further info on CP Snow science/humanities split
edit Robots in Art compendium of robot art...see especially Eduardo Kac chronology
edit Prehistories of new media nina wenhart blog entries on techart history, notes for class at AIC 2008
edit Complexity Theory -- A Science of Cultural Systems? MC Journal article with some content
edit Observing Systems-Art from a Systems-Theoretical Perspective Halsall paper from CHArt 2005 conference
edit Signals magazine 1964-1966 ed David Medalla, London -- kinetic and media art
edit Behavior, Purpose, and Teloglogy; Rosenblueth, Wiener, Bigelow founding article on cybernetics -- Philosophy of Science, 10(1943), S. 18–24.
edit Systems Esthetics Burnham article from Artforum Sept 1968
edit From Systems-Oriented Art to Biopolitical Art Practice S.Buchmann paper at Tate Modern 2005 Systems conference
edit Foundation and development of robotic art Eduardo Kac -- Arts Journal Fall 1997
edit Macy conferences on Cybernetics summary of meetings 1946-53
edit Dartmouth Conference on AI Initial proposal for 1956 conference
edit Principles of Self-Organizing Systems Ross Ashby, founding paper, 1947 Journal of General Psychology 37, pp125-128
edit Artist and Computer Leslie Mezei 1975 Toronto -- re-evaluation of roles from an early adopter
edit Systems Aesthetics + Cyborg Art S Penny from Sculpture January/February 1999 Vol.18 No. 1
edit The Construction of Change Roy Ascott, 1964 -- discussion of art/sci/cybernetics
edit Telematic Embrace: A Love Story? Edward Shanken, c2000 -- discussion of Ascott
edit Listening to Cybernetics Christina Dunbar-Hester, 2007 -- paper on 1950-1980 music and cybernetics, good ref section
edit Media Art Histories Archive huge collection of papers on media arts
edit The Sciences and the Arts Harold Cassidy, 1962 -- paper based on book of same name; indirect response to CP Snow, indicator of state of the art in early 60s
edit Cybernetics - Art - Design Cybernetic Serendipity social network page
edit YASMIN cybernetics online discussion group seems to have relocated here, there was a discussion of -- Cybernetic Serendipity in 2008...
edit Embodying robotic art: cybernetic cinematics Skogerson, G, 2001, IEEE Multimedia journal article
edit Autonomous Mutations blog with huge biblio list at end of page
edit Burnham: Panacea That Failed scan of article from: Myths of Information 1980
edit artificial intelligence research as art -- Stephen Wilson 1995 article
edit Hans Haacke 1967 Artist statement, clearly describes Systems thinking in the arts
edit Hans Haacke 1977 Haacke, ten years later, taking the entire Consciousness Industry to task
edit Frank Popper on Interactivity From: Art of the Electronic Age (1993) -- social and aesthetic implications...
edit Behaviourist Art and the Cybernetic Vision. Roy Ascott (1966) describing Cybernetic Art
edit Cybernetics and Art: Cultural Convergence in the 1960s Shanken, etal (2002) -- How the two came together, and then dissipated.
edit From Network Bands to Ubiquitous Computing Rich Gold and the Social Aesthetics of Interactivity by George E. Lewis From G.Born etal 2017

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edit Get Real: Morten Sondergaard, 2005 Real-Time + Art + Theory + Practice + History --
edit MIT Press Journals Search Results: "systems art"
edit Infomation Arts Stephen Wilson, 2001 -- compendium of late 20th techno-art, authors web site
edit Explorations in Art and Technology Candy & Edmonds 2001 online book with historical introduction
edit High Techne Rutsky 1999 philosophical examination online book
edit The Two Cultures CP Snow classic, reissued 1993 online book
edit Cybernetic Serendipity catalog pdf Seems to be the scanned real thing
edit The New Media Reader Noah Wardrip-Fruin, Nick Montfort 2003 online book (partial)
edit The New Media Reader online resources for book
edit Video Culture: A Critical Investigation Hanhardt (ed) 1987 -- c.f. Burnham -- Art and Technology: The Panacea That Failed
edit Postmodern Currents Margot Lovejoy 1997, postmodern technological responses
edit Multimedia: from Wagner to Virtual Reality Edited by Randall Packer and Ken Jordan 2002 -- media arts review
edit Art and Technology Maurice Tuchman, 1971 -- book by curator of LACMA show
edit Science and Technology in Art Today Jonathan Benthall, 1972 -- review of 1960s activity, pretty much the last of its kind
edit Beyond Modern Sculpture (excerpt) (thanks to Jack Burnham, 1969 -- The Future of Responsive Systems in Art
edit Beyond Modern Sculpture Jack Burnham, 1969 -- entry
edit Cybernetic Serendipity Jasia Reichardt, 1969 -- book about the show (not to be confused with The Computer in Art)
edit The Computer in Art Jasia Reichardt, 1971 -- followup to the Cybernetic Serendipity show
edit Cybernetics Intuitions and Art Jasia Reichardt, 1971 -- more followup (also named: Cybernetics, Art and Ideas)
edit Art and Science S. Graubard, ed, 1988 -- Daedalus collection of articles from various positions
edit Art and Technology Rene Berger, ed, 1986 -- collection of papers from Unity of the Sciences, Nov. 1983.
edit White Heat, Cold Logic Paul Brown, etal, ed 2009 -- history of British computer art 1960-80
edit Metacreation: Art and Artificial Life Mitchell Whitelaw, 2006 -- review?
edit Art of the Digital Age Bruce Wands, 2007 -- review?
edit The Myths of information 1980 -- K. Woodward -- essays, including Burnham "Panacea"
edit 010101 : art in technological times Catalog of SFMoMA 2001 show
edit Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art Artist writing circa 1996, large Art and Technology section
edit Eigenwelt Der Apparate-Welt ARS Electronica 1992 catalog
edit A History of Electronic Music Pioneers David Dunn -- online history lesson, excerpt from Eigenwelt catalog above
edit Art and the Future Douglas Davis 1973 "History/Prophecy of the collaboration between Science, Technology, and Art"
edit Expanded Cinema Gene Youngblood 1970, history of early alternative film and video
edit Expanded Cinema Curtis, etal eds 2011, appears to be a post 1970 update of Youngblood (!?)
edit Ghosts in the Machine Catalog of New Museum 2012 show of early machine art, with historical essays
edit Machine Wilderness Catalog of 2012 ISEA conference...notable for including my work...
edit Art of the Electronic Age Frank Popper's 1993 survey of what went before
edit Hans Haacke 2004 monograph from Phaidon Press -- excellent resource
edit Digital Art C. Paul (2004) -- somewhat one-sided compendium of computer art of the time

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