Geeta Dayal reviewing early art about computers

Thursday 18th May, 2023 - Bruce Sterling

*That was pretty good.


Caplan’s scathing essay brings up many sharp and trenchant criticisms. My overall take is more charitable; despite its limitations, I largely see Coded as a fun exhibition, but occasionally too dense with curatorial and art historical references. For a viewer with a vested interest and background in the subject (I, for one, am nerdy enough to have marinated myself in vintage catalogs for computer-art exhibitions), tracing those citations can be enjoyable, to an extent, like playing a trivia game. For instance, I saw in Victor Vasarely’s luminous, pulsating, illusorily three-dimensional painting Vega-Kontosh-Va (1971) a nod to LACMA’s vaunted Art and Technology program, which ended in 1971 and counted Vasarely among its participants (though Vasarely’s fantastical and ambitious proposal was not realized). Kienholz’s quirky sculpture was displayed at MoMA’s The Machine as Seen at the End of the Mechanical Age in 1968, and there are references to the watershed Cybernetic Serendipity exhibition curated by Jasia Reichardt at the ICA in London that same year. (Jones had originally planned for Coded to debut in 2018, to align with the fiftieth anniversary of Cybernetic Serendipity.)…