Armin Medosch on Wed, 9 Nov 2016 15:25:17 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> Cybernetics and the Pioneers of Computer Art

dear Thomas,

I really hate to say this, because I really respect your work, you are
a very good researcher but this piece once more perpetuates the myth
of a purely Western computer art and cybernetics. A few years ago this
might have been an oversight, one could have said there was not enough
information, but now it starts to look like it is done on purpose, or
there is an unwillingness to learn that there was a cybernetic
movement in the former East, that an absolute hotspot of art,
cybernetics and information theory was New Tendencies in Zagreb from
1961 to 1978, whereby in particular in summer 1968 there was an
exhibition and symposium in Zagreb on 'computers and visual research'
followed by a much larger exhibition and symposium in May 1969 with
participation if dozens of artists and in the symposium of, among
others, Umberto Eco, artwork by artists such as Gustav Metzger and an
outdoor computer controlled 'media facade' by Vladimir Bonacic, all
that documented not only in a catalogue of which exists also an
international version but in 9 issues of the journal Bit International
(which you actually have in your bibliography), of which the first
three issues were entirely dedicated to information aesthetics.

All this is documented for English readers in the book that was
conceived by Darko Fritz and then put together by Margit Rosen under
the title "A Little Known Story ...", and now also in my book New
Tendencies - Art at the Threshold of the Information Revolution
(1961-1978), both books came out at MIT Press and they actually
complement each other, one is a document sourcebook, my book a
historicial and political contextualisation. In addition to that
Monoskop is tirelessly putting out material on art, cybernetics an
information aesthetics in the East and new stories are written or wait
to be written, such as the amazing Argentinian CAYC group and also new
material gets published on the Japanese, south Asian and Eastern
European context, see for instance the historical section of the
latest issue of Acoustic Space #15 Open Fields ... and this is just
what I know off the back of my mind. I don't know who is helped by
perpetuating a purely Western centric version of the history of
cybernetic art. There is also more work coming out on cybernetics,
sans art, in the east, which was a really strong movement among the
intelligentsia and had a big impact also on culture via science

Of course you are entitled to hold lectures of any content that you
like but maybe give it another title such as "The story of Western
cybernetics and Western pioneers of computer art in a Cold War
context" or some such thing but please do not claim that these were
THE PIONEERS and thus sidelining artists such as Bonacic, Zdenek
Sykory, Waldemar Cordeiro and many others.

For those interested in that other, a little bit more inclusive story
please check out my book
kind regards


On Mon, Nov 7, 2016 at 10:05 PM, Thomas Dreher <> wrote:
>    The English translation of my lecture on "Cybernetics and the Pioneers
>    of Computer Art" (Sprengel Museum Hannover, 16th October 2016) is
>    online.
>    URL:

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