Software / Information Technology : Its New Meaning for Art
New York, NY : The Jewish Museum, 1970 ; exhibition catalogue ; wrappers ; offset-printed ; staple bound ; black-and-white ; 37 x 26.5 cm. ; 73 pp. ; edition size unknown ; unsigned and unnumbered info New York, NY : The Jewish Museum, 1970 request price Condition: Fine. [Object # 9787]
Jack Burnham, Vito Acconci, David Antin, John Baldessari, Robert Barry, Scott Bradner, Donald Burgy, Paul F. Conly, Agnes Denes, Robert Duncan Enzmann, Carl Fernbach-Flarsheim, Giorno Poetry Systems, John Goodyear, Hans Haacke, Douglas Huebler, Allan Kaprow, Joseph Kosuth, Les Levine, Theodor Nelson, Jack Nolan, RESISTORS, Allen Razdow, Sonia Sheridan, Theodosius Victoria, Lawrence Weiner, Ned Woodman
Tabloid sized exhibition catalogue published in conjunction with show held
at the Jewish Museum, New York, September 16 - November 8, 1970. Traveled
to The Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, December 16, 1970 -
February 14, 1871. Curated by Jack Burnham, with texts by Karl Katz, Jack
Burnham, and Theodor H. Nelson. Includes work by Vito Acconci, David Antin,
John Baldessari, Robert Barry, Scott Bradner, Donald Burgy, Paul F. Conly,
Agnes Denes, Robert Duncan Enzmann, Carl Fernbach-Flarsheim, Giorno Poetry
Systems, John Goodyear, Hans Haacke, Douglas Huebler, Allan Kaprow, Joseph
Kosuth, Les Levine, Theodor Nelson, Jack Nolan, RESISTORS, Allen Razdow,
Sonia Sheridan, Theodosius Victoria, Lawrence Weiner, Ned Woodman.
"Software is an exhibition which utilizes sophisticated communication
technology, but concentrates on the interaction between people and their
electronic and electromechanical surroundings." -- from foreword. Similar
to other important exhibitions of the period that merged technology and
art, such as "Information" at The Museum of Modern Art, "Conceptual Art and
Conceptual Aspects" at the New York Cultural Center, and "Art & Technology"
held at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, "Software" was the foremost
show of its kind and included an early appearence of Nicholas Negroponte -
who would later go on to help found Wired Magazine twenty-three years
from: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html? res=9F0CE0D6113DF932A25755C0A965958260
Since its founding in 1904, the museum has had several incarnations. It was
originally founded by and housed in the Jewish Theological Seminary, a
great center of research and learning on the Upper West Side. In 1944, it
received a home of its own from Mrs. Felix M. Warburg, opening its doors to
the public in 1947. In the late 1950's and 60's, the museum played down its
focus on Jewish culture, becoming a famous showcase for avant-garde
American art. (It gave the first museum exhibitions to important artists
like Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns and Philip Guston.) In the early
1970's, the museum rededicated itself to its original mission, mounting a
series of ambitious exhibitions dealing with the Jewish experience and the
work of Jewish artists.
Jewish Museum timeline from: http://www.performarts.net/ejournal/The%20Jewish%20Museum_%20A%20Timeline.pdf
1959 Alan Solomon becomes Director and confirms the Museum’s
commitment to exhibiting the work of New York City’s most
1963 Vera and Albert A. List underwrite a building expansion that provides flexible modern galleries and an outdoor sculpture court. The Museum organizes the Recent American Synagogue Architecture exhibition, including designs by Louis Kahn and Barnett Newman.
1964 Jasper Johns’ first solo museum exhibition is presented.
1965 Sam Hunter becomes Director of The Jewish Museum.
1966 Primary Structures, the landmark exhibition that defined the Minimalist movement; the first major exhibition of the paintings of Ad Reinhardt; and the exhibition Lower East Side: Portal to American Life are organized.
1967 The exhibition Masada: Struggle for Freedom is presented.
1968 Karl Katz becomes Director of The Jewish Museum.
1970 Software, a pioneering exhibition about information technology and interactive art is organized.
1971 A permanent installation of archaeological artifacts is opened.
1972 Joy Ungerleider becomes Director. The Museum negotiates the acquisition of nearly 6,000 ancient artifacts found in Israel. The Museum curtails its exhibitions of avant-garde art to refocus on the Jewish community.
1975 Jewish Experience in the Art of the 20th Century exhibition.
Contents of box of (time relevant) documents at JTSA:
see also: 1970, Information show, the Museum of Modertn Art, NY
see also: c.1968, Cybernetic Serendipity show, ICA London
Burnham interview excerpt from: http://www.t-h-e-n-e-t.com/html/_film/pers/_pers_burnham.htm (mostly in german...)
D.: And then you gave up making art, gave up being in the art and technology business. What means this term art and technology business? You realised it is a dead end. Please could you describe this more precisely?
I don‘t think it‘s a dead end, you know. On many panels I said: Look,you know, this thing could blossom, it could go on, it could be very interesting. I don‘t see it for my own sake. At that time I became interested in Duchamp, I became a grant from the Guggenheim to work on a book on Marcel Duchamp, I became much more interested in structuralism and linguistics and became interested in mysticism too and I went in those areas, I thought they were fruitful for me. Also I began to see this problem: The most sophisticated artists in the twentieth century have all been artists Paul Klee, Picasso, Marcel Duchamp, Jasper Jones who had a fine appreciation of the whole history of western art. They weren‘t that naives. And the computer artists I saw working were naives. It‘s as if they took a dog and cut off his tail and said: Well, who worked with the tail of the dog? You know it‘s dead. It doesn‘t make any sense. They didn‘t have the understanding of the whole dog. You know, they took a part of a system and said: We gonna make art out of this.
D.: Is it only a problem of artists who work with computers or a problem of engineers, scientists and technological people in general?
No, it‘s this kind of problem: It‘s a software-hardware problem. People on
a level of Jasper Johns or Anselm Kiefer or Paul Klee or Picasso or a dozen
others Mondrian, they are working at a very, very high level of software.
Most of the computer artists I see are working on a high level of hardware
but the software is like, you know, Kinderspiel, you know, it‘s nowhere,
it‘s so simple.
1962 Writer Umberto Eco (born 1932) uses the term arte programmata ("programmed art") to refer to works exhibited at the Olivetti Company showroom in Milan by artists including Bruno Munari (1907-1998), Enzo Mari (born 1932), and other members of two groups founded several years earlier: Gruppo N and Gruppo T. The works are inspired by kinetic art and are often produced in multiples.
A show at Cordier & Eckstom gallery (NYC) in 1964 assisted by Billy Kluver.
Note that Duchamp showed here a lot too...mentioned in Burnham -- Beyond
A show at Albright-Knox gallery (Bufallo) in 1963
...mentioned in Burnham -- Beyond
There are two(?) books by J. Reichardt from 1971
(the same year as "The Computer in Art"):
Cybernetics, Art and Ideas
Cybernetics, Intuitions and Art
which may be the same thing since only the latter has any listed ISBN, publisher, or date online.
Post 1970 it seems that most Art/Tech effort was expended in
network communications (Carl Loeffler, 1974, Art Com) and video
The Kitchen was founded in 1971.
There was a recession in the USA in the early 70's and it may be that corporate interest in supporting aimless artists dried up. Also electronic tools, audio and video, were becoming commercially available and afordable. Most of these tools were targeted at traditional uses, e.g., keyboard synths and cinematic effect generators. They were easy to use for such purposes and hard to use for anything else unless you started hacking them. The personal computer became available in the mid-late 70's and followed the same pattern, providing mass appeal applications while being reasonably difficult to program for anything else. Some folks built their own equipment (Steve Beck, etc) but used it to produce intricate images/sounds rather then exploring the systems themselves.
In the 1980's video games occupied the graphics folks and musicians went for the sequencers. As an example, early computer-based musical sequencers couldn't handle micro-timing or non-tempered tunings.
Circa 1990 tools like Photoshop revolutionized image production but didn't really do anything new with the medium itself.