Even the most intangible and atemporel objects of study have histories. The utopian dream of floating in a dematerialized digital cocoon is now being replaced by its contextualization in a clear historical timeline. Two exhibitions this year retrace this history. One, Thinking Machines: Art and Design in the Computer Age, opened at New York’s MoMA last November. Concentrating on the formative period of 1959–89, and mainly drawing from the museum’s own collections (John Cage, Richard Hamilton, Alison Knowles, Stan VanDerBeek), it places works of art side by side with contemporaneous computer designs with a view to breaking the “black box” and revealing how much the insides of these machines influenced the perceptions and thought processes of artists, architects and designers.
And this summer, Paris’s Centre Pompidou is also examing this history, one that according to Marcella Lista, new-media specialist and curator, “contains as many approaches as local incarnations.” So in response to MoMA’s design and visual-art focus, the Pompidou is exploring “the immaterial part of this heritage.” A group show entitled Coding the World – Mutations/Creations, curated by Frédéric Migayrou, brings together 19 practitioners who generate work through digital tools. “This lineage reveals the influence of the conceptual tradition, which was marked by Les Immatériaux, a 1985 Pompidou show curated by, among others, the philosopher Jean-François Lyotard. But avant-garde music is also very present, accentuating the overall impression of a panorama dominated by abstraction,” explains Lista.
IKEDA creates his monumental audiovisual installations by converting digitzed data into sound and visual signals.