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Paul Mellon Centre | British Cybernetic Art
May 25, 2022 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
Part of the Liquid Crystal Concrete lecture series.
Catherine Mason will give a talk on British Cybernetic Art: The Origins of Digital Art before artist Ernest Edmonds joins her in conversation.
There is more than a fifty-year history behind contemporary digital art and an important part of that history is British; it originates in the somewhat forgotten science of cybernetics and is intimately connected with art schools. The field of cybernetics came to prominence postwar, and the study of how machine, social and biological systems behave offered a means of constructing a framework for art production in which artists could consider new technologies and their impact on life. Concepts of behaviour and process, media dexterity, interdependence and co-operation began to enter art. Pioneers include Roy Ascott, Gustav Metzger, Stephen Willats and others who saw art as a system involving feedback between creator and audience. Their ideas were largely promulgated through experiments in art schools, adapting Basic Design pedagogy for a new technological age.
A direct link can be traced from tutor to student through art schools from postwar artists, (including Richard Hamilton), who, inspired by science and what might be termed a “man machine interface”, began considering the use of computing but did not yet have access to it, through to artists in the early 1970s, who were able to access the technology (predominantly in polytechnics). The proposed session will elucidate the crucial role of cybernetics in art schools, including Ealing College of Art and the work of Ascott, in incubating cross-disciplinary collaborations which contributed much to Britain’s later leading role in the education and production of digital arts.
Tickets are free, hybrid event.