The American Algorists: Linear Sublime
October 26 - November 27, 2013
The MFA Computer Art Department at the School of Visual Arts (SVA), in partnership with the New York Digital Salon (NYDS), presents “The American Algorists: Linear Sublime,” an exhibition exploring the elegance that can be achieved with a line through the use of programming a computer and printing the work on paper with plotters, inkjet printers or other media. Curated by Grant D. Taylor, associate professor of art history at Lebanon Valley College, the exhibition will be on view October 26 through November 27 at the SVA Flatiron Gallery, 133/141 West 21st Street, New York City.
“The American Algorists: Linear Sublime” features the work of digital art pioneers Jean-Pierre Hébert, Manfred Mohr, Roman Verostko and Mark Wilson. They belong to the Algorists, a group of artists producing work using mathematical algorithms that was co-founded by Hébert and Verostko in 1995. Their creative histories go back decades; Verostko and Wilson exhibited their work in the First New York Digital Salon, and Mohr has appeared in several NYDS shows. Mohr received the SIGGRAPH Distinguished Artist Award in 2013; Hébert received the award in 2012 and Verostko in 2009.
The New York presentation of the exhibition marks the 20th anniversary of the New York Digital Salon. According to Bruce Wands, chair of the MFA Computer Art Department and director of NYDS, “Computer art was initially seen as a trend. But today, art made with new technologies is viewed simply as contemporary art. Emerging artists have never known a world without computers, and therefore do not draw the lines of distinction that existed previously. What is incomplete is the art historical record.”
In conjunction with the show, a panel discussion co-moderated by curator Grant Taylor and NYDS director Bruce Wands will take place on Saturday, November 9 at 2:00pm. Panelists include the artists Jean-Pierre Hébert, Manfred Mohr, Roman Verostko and Mark Wilson; A. Michael Noll, a scientist and engineer from Bell Telephone Laboratories who created one of the first digital artworks ever—also on view in “The American Algorists”—in 1962. A reception will follow the panel discussion at 6:00pm. All events, free and open to the public, will take place at the SVA Flatiron Gallery.
“The American Algorists: Linear Sublime” was organized by the Suzanne H. Arnold Art Gallery, Lebanon Valley College, Annville, Pennsylvania, where it was on view from August 30 – October 20, 2013.
Jean-Pierre Hébert had 30 years of drawing and watercolor experience before turning to digital conceptual algorithmic art with an HP 9830 in 1974. In 1978, using his first plotter, he produced his first series of small works in ink and paper. He exhibits extensively, and his work is included in the digital art collections of the Mary and Leigh Block Museum in Chicago and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Hébert, who also works in sound installations and algorithmic visual music, is frequently juried in the SIGGRAPH Art Gallery. In 2012 he received the SIGGRAPH Distinguished Artist Award.
Manfred Mohr, the 2013 recipient of the SIGGRAPH Distinguished Artist Award, is considered a pioneer of digital art. Initially an abstract expressionist painter and jazz musician, he became interested in computer-generated algorithmic art in the 1960s. With encouragement from the computer music composer Pierre Barbaud, Mohr programmed his first computer drawings in 1969. He co-founded the “Art et Informatique” at the University of Vincennes in 1960 and had a solo exhibition at ARC-Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in 1971. He has appeared in numerous solo exhibitions internationally, and in group exhibitions at the Leo Castelli Gallery and The Museum of Modern Art. He was the subject of a 2013 retrospective at ZKM | Media Museum in Karlsruhe.
Roman Verostko, who participated in the first New York Digital Salon, was a painter in his early career and began using synchronized audio-visual programs since 1967. He began experimenting with code and exhibited his first coded art programs in the early 1980s. In 1987 he modified his software with interactive routines to drive paint brushes mounted on a pen plotter’s drawing arm. Verostko is the recipient of the 1994 Golden Plotter First Prize and has been included in many international exhibitions including “The Algorithmic Revolution” at ZKM (2005) and the Ars Electronica shows on “Code: The Language of Our Time” (2003) and “Genetic Art- Artificial Life” (1993).
Mark Wilson purchased a microcomputer in 1980 and learned programming in order to create art. His computer-generated works have been widely exhibited in the U.S. and Europe. In addition to participating in the first New York Digital Salon show, he has appeared in seven SIGGRAPH shows and the Victoria and Albert Museum’s “Digital Pioneers” exhibition. Publications include Drawing with Computers (Putnam, 1985). Recipient of a 1982 Artists’ Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, Wilson has taught, lectured and served as visiting artist at a number of institutions including the School of Visual Arts, the University of California at Santa Barbara, Yale and Carnegie-Mellon.
For the past 20 years, the New York Digital Salon has served as a catalyst for greater public awareness of digital art and helped fill in the gaps in contemporary art history. It promotes the creative use of technology and innovation in contemporary art and contributes to cultural growth through educational and public programs, exhibitions and screenings, both nationally and internationally. The NYDS maintains an extensive online archive and resource of digital art, artists and essays. A project of the SVA MFA Computer Art Department, the NYDS has received support from the NEA, Rockefeller Foundation, NYSCA, NESTA-UK and the School of Visual Arts. www.nydigitalsalon.org
The MFA Computer Art Department at SVA emphasizes creativity and a multidisciplinary approach to making art with computers and emerging technologies. Dedicated to producing digital artists of the highest caliber, the department has distinguished itself with seven Student Academy Awards. Graduate students’ creative work has appeared in many international venues, including the Student Academy Awards, SIGGRAPH Electronic Theater, Art Gallery and Screening Room, Prix Ars Electronica, Whitney Biennial, Annecy, Ottawa and the New York Animation Festival. www.mfaca.sva.edu