February 2011 Archives

Krzysztof Wodiczko's Tijuana Project

In 2001, Wodiczko projected the faces of women on the surface of an Omnimax Theater in Tijuana. In his work, he confronts the viewer with his large scale projection, as well as gives a voice to the female workers of the city of Tijuana.

Adriene Jenik and Lisa Brenneis Desktop Theater

In the 1997 piece Desktop Theater, Jenik and Brenneis use the internet to stage a performance with avatars inside a chat room.


Bill Latham H00D2

In H00D2 (1995), Latham digitally manipulates the image by using a set of algorithms to produce artificial organisms.

Charlotte Davies Osmose

Charlotte Davies 1995 piece Osmose was an interactive virtual reality in which the user wears a "head-mounted display" and a tracking vest to monitor their breathing. Once "inside" the piece, the user is able to navigate different levels through their own breath and body movement.

Jeffrey Shaw The Legible City

In Shaw's The Legible City from 1989, the user rides a stationary bicycle and navigates one of three cities, Manhattan, Karlsruhe, or Amsterdam. The bicycle is able to navigate through text of words and phrases that are directly proportional to the architecture of these cities. The user is handed over agency over which text he or she will choose, but the text is predetermined.


Institutions for Digital Art

There have been several institutions put into place to showcase digital art such as the ZKM in Karlsruhe, Germany, the ICC in Tokyo or the Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, Austria which are produced with support from organizations such as the Banff New Media Center in Canada, Canon Artlab in Japan, or V2 in the Netherlands (Paul 71).

Eduardo Kac Teleporting an Unknown State

In Teleporting an Unknown State (1994-6), Kac has placed a single seed in the gallery on a pedestal. Via the web, users are able to log on and turn a light on or off, thus affecting the growth of the seed by the push of a button.


Marina Abramovic's Rhythm 0

In Abramovic's Rhythm 0, she lays out a series of objects within the gallery for those in attendance to use on her body as they chose. Among those objects was a gun with a single bullet. Audience members cut the performance short three hours in when the gun was held to her head. Here, much like John Cage's 4' 33' piece, the work is determined by the audience.


Richard Serra Television Delivers People

In Serra's 1973 piece, Television Delivers People, the video is scrolling text, on a television screen, telling the viewer of their own consumption, that they have been tricked by mass media, and that every action taken by society at large is a result of the television. The message also states that television is driven by image, which drives the viewer, yet there is no image in his piece. It is also a longer piece which is meant to be watched in its entirety.

Dan Graham's Two Consciousness Projection

In Two Consciousness Projection (1973), Dan Graham has begun to explore the active viewer vs. the passive viewer. Two people are asked to speak about the other while being videotaped in front of an audience. Their faces are projected on live video screens. While one speaks of the other, the other's reaction is shown, and vice-versa. They create the performance, while simultaneously view the performance (Goldberg 162).

Steina and Woody Vasulka's Calligrams

Like Stan Brakhage had done with the medium of film, The Vasulkas began to manipulate the form of video in Calligrams. During the transmission of the recorded video, they would manipulated the image with different tools, creating abstract shapes, and distorting the sounds being received. The tools they used to create the effects they wanted were: The Field Flip-Flop Switcher (1971), the Dual Colorizer (1972), the Multikeyer (1973), the Programmer (1974), and the Rutt/Etra Scan Processor (1974).

Vito Acconci Claim

In his piece, Claim, Acconci sits in the basement of a gallery, blindfolded with a crowbar, while he is being recorded on a live feed to the gallery above. He recites, "I don't want anybody to come down here, I want to believe this, I have to believe this." He must defend the space and himself, while at the same time, he cannot, as his eyes are obstructed. Like Abramovic and John Cage, he places the piece in the viewers' hands.


Graphic User Interface

In the 1970s, Alan Kay developed the Graphic User Interface or GUI out of Xerox PARC in Palo Alto, California. This is was the "desktop" metaphor with its layered windows which would be popularized by the Apple Macintosh computer in the 80's (Paul 11).

Xerox PARC

Xerox Palo Alto Research Centre was a research institution that resulted from the Vietnam War in the 1970s.

The Paik-Abe Synthesizer

The Paik-Abe Synthesizer was built in 1969 and named after Nam June Paik and Shuya Abe. It was a self-contained unit and it allowed the user to add color to a monochrome video image, and distort the image (Meigh-Andrews 116).


Click and Drag Mouse

In 1968, Douglas Engelbart introduced the ideas of bitmapping, windows, and the click and drag mouse. This established a direct connection between the electrons running through the computer and the image on the screen.

Guy Debord/The Situationists

Guy Debord was one of the founders of the Situationists, and published The Society of Spectacle in 1967, describing the state of influence that media and pop culture had taken over the general populace. The Situationists looked to blur the lines between art and life and construct situations within the everyday placing value in interaction.

Sony Portapak

The Portapak was introduced by Sony in 1967. "The first Portapaks were entirely in the hands of the military and they were used basically to check where their napalm or bombs had gone. Like virtually everything in our society, the driving force is actually conquest" (Meigh-Andrews (61). However, the Portapak made video art available to the masses, placing it directly in the hands of the artist (9). Namely artists working against pop culture and mass media. A growing number of homes had televisions in them, and what was being viewed on the television was being filtered. The artists could now choose what was being recorded and projected, as well as manipulate that transmission. Significant events that were broadcast, such as Abraham Zapruder's recording of the Kennedy Assassination in 1963 demonstrated the power of what a camera could record.



The Fluxus movement was interested in the exchange of information and making that information accessible to all, however, the movement was also interested in redefining art, like its predecessors, the Futurists and Dadaists. George Macuinas wrote the "Fluxus Manifesto" in 1963, defining the term "Fluxus," which resulted in "the cadres of cultural, social, and political revolutionaries into united front and action." Fluxus artists include John Cage and Nam June Paik.

Nam June Paik's Random Access

Nam June Paik has been called "the founding father of video art" after purchasing the first available Sony Portapak (Meigh-Andrews 16). His work investigates the formal quality of the medium of video and sound recording, dissecting it piece by piece, in order to reassemble it in new ways.
In Paik's piece, Random Access, he takes cassette tapes apart, places them flat against a wall, and provides the spool for listeners to rub against on the tape and listen to what these fragments sound like.


Robert Rauschenberg's Pelican

In 1963, Rauschenberg, Alex Hay, and dancer Carolyn Brown performed at a skating rink. Brown wore ballet shoes, while Hay and Rauschenberg skated around her, donning parachutes on their backs, which restricted their movement. As seen in Oskar Schlemmer's Glass Dance, Rauschenberg is restricting the body and objectifying it, as it becomes a restriction upon the dancer, Carolyn Brown. However, here, Rauschenberg is also concerned with the environment in which the performance takes place.


The Judson Dance Group

The Judson Dance Group formed in New York City in 1962. It was influenced by the Dancers' Workshop Company which formed in 1955. The founding members were Ann Halprin, Simone Forti, Trisha Brown, Yvonne Rainer, and Steve Paxton. They viewed "dance as a way of life, that use[d] everyday activities such as walking, eating, bathing and touching" (Goldberg 139). Performances were often improvised, and dancers were encouraged to allow their senses to respond to their surrounding environment.

John Cage's 4' 33'

In 1952, Cage would perform his piece 4' 33', in which a performer, in this case, David Tudor, sat at a piano for four minutes and thirty three seconds. Those in attendance come to understand that any noises they make come to create the composition within that time limit and all "noise" was considered music.

Allan Kaprow's 18 Happenings in 6 Parts

In 1959, Allan Kapprow, like John Cage, wished to place more responsibility on the observer. He sent invitations stating, "you will become a part of the happenings; you will simultaneously experience them." This paralleling the simultaneity of the Dada movement. Upon arrival to this mysterious event, "some guests received envelopes containing paper, photos, wood, and other media." There were three rooms in which events were to take place, including some acting. Chairs were placed facing each other, forcing a sort of dialogue. Each happening in each of the rooms was begin and end with the sounding of a bell, and each group would rotate from room to room with some direction. The performance piece was placed on the observers. Kaprow warned, "the actions will mean nothing clearly formulable so far as the artist is concerned." This early happening would influence future events of this nature.



The launch of Sputnik by the USSR in 1957 during the Cold War prompted the United States to take action to be the leader in technology. The Advanced Research Projects Agency was formed within the Department of Defense. The RAND corporation developed a concept for a self-governed Internet. By 1969 it was created and named ARPANET, formed by four supercomputers at UCLA, UC Santa Barbara, Stanford Research Istitute, and the University of Utah.


In 1946, the University of Pennsylvania presented the world's first digital computer known as ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) and in 1951, a patent was written for the first commercially available computer called UNIVAC (Paul 9).

The Cold War

The Cold War extended between the years of 1947 and 1991 and was a continued state of political and economic tension between the Soviet Union and the United States.


In a 1945 Atlantic Monthly article, Vannevar Bush wrote about an object called the Memex that is able to "browse documents and allow users to create their own trail through documentation" (Paul 8) as well as enter data. This device was never created, but was a precursor for the modern day computer.

Norbert Wiener The Human Use of Human Beings

Norbert Wiener published The Human Use of Human Beings in 1950. The book discusses the mechanization of the human, as well as the facility for communication between man and machine. He also published Cybernetics two years earlier, which discussed the need for balance in a society headed for entropy. Cybernetics introduces the use of a mathematical language in terms of information exchange.

John Cage

John Cage studied Fine Arts at Pomona College in California. His interest lied in making music out of found sound, or everyday sounds, such as 'wind, a heartbeat, and a landslide.' He was asked to perform at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1943. His music was improvised and 'non-intentional.' He placed the act of listening to the music on to the listener, and handed the piece over to each person, giving him or her ownership. His work is reminiscent of Russolo's "The Art of Noises."

Hypertext and Hypermedia

In 1961, Theodor Nelson created the words "hypertext" and "hypermedia" to describe the space where word, image, and sound could be electronically transmitted to anyone connected to a "docuverse" (Paul 10).

Claude Shannon - Information Theory

Claude Shannon develops Information Theory in the late 1940s, based on George Boole's Boolean logic. Shannon realizes it can be used to build an information storage device which leads to the development of the modern day computer. "Shannon demonstrated that any message can be reliably transmitted providing the right code can be devised" (Meigh-Andrews 104).

World War II - 1939-1945

World War II began in 1939 and lasted until 1945. It procured many technological advances that would facilitate the military industrial complex and contribute to advances toward the modern day computer.

Black Mountain College - 1933

Black Mountain College was based in North Carolina. Josef and Anni Albers taught at the school, transferring from the Bauhaus, and taught content based interdisciplinary performance.

Oskar Schlemmer's Triadic Ballet

In 1922, Schlemmer choreographed a ballet consisting of three dancers, eighteen costumes, twelve dances, and a corresponding musical style to the "mathematical and mechanical outlines of the body" of the dancers." The performance was a geometric exploration of space.

Xanti Schawinsky's Circus

In 1924, Xanti Schawinsky conducted a puppet theater dressed in black, so as to appear invisible. The puppets were constructed out of everyday found objects, such as a traffic signal. It was to appear as though it was a painting in motion, an investigation of the dimensionality of the space.

Oskar Schlemmer's Glass Dance

Oskar Schlemmer wanted to emphasize the body as object in his 1929 piece, Glass Dance. Performed by Carla Grosch, 'wearing a hooped skirt of glass rods, head covered in a glass robe and carrying glass spheres,' restricting her movement, she had become more of a machine. The piece had mimicked its precursors in Italian Futurism with its associations with machinery and industrialism.

Oskar Schlemmer

Schlemmer developed his own theory of performance. He likened painting to the god of intellect, Apollo, and theater to Dionysus, the god of the harvest and madness. He writes of paintings exploring a two-dimensional space, while performance being able to 'experience' space. Schlemmer explains that 'out of the plane geometry, out of the pursuit of the straight line, the diagonal, the circle and the curve, a stereometry of space evolves, by the moving vertical line of the dancing figure.' This writing mimics Marinetti's manifesto, "Futurist Dance" of 1917, in which he writes of the 'geometry of the dance, free of mimicry and without sexual stimulation.'

The Metallic Festival

The Metallic Festival was held in February of 1929. The school was decorated in metallic colors, the invitations printed in a shiny metallic, the entryway to the school was turned into a metallic chute of sorts, and the main room housed a band. The Metallic Festival can be seen as a direct reaction to industrialism.


The Bauhaus was a teaching institution located in Weimar Germany that opened in 1919. It taught on a postwar Socialist model of collaboration. Artists such as Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, and Oskar Schlemmer attended the school. The goals behind the performances were "an extension of Expressionist theatre of the previous five years in Munich and Berlin... language was reduced to emotionally charged stammering, movement to pantomimic gestures and where sound, colour and light merely reinforced the melodramatic content of the work."

Kurt Schwitters's "Ursonate"

After the Great Art Festival, Dada had spread to other parts of Europe and New York City. Kurt Schwitters had formed the Holland Dada group and in 1923 performed "Ursonate" which was another version of sound poetry. Schwitters sought to dissect language and investigate the sounds made with different letter combinations, rather than create or recreate language.

The Great Art Festival

On May 15th, 1918, the Great Art Festival was held in Berlin. Posters were hung all over the city, advertising the 'First German Postwar Renaissance of the Arts.' This was the height of Dada. At the festival, many forms of simultaneity took place, questioning the meaning of life, or art-for-art's-sake. A race between a typewriter and a sewing machine, and twelve poets reading their work simultaneously.

Huelsenbeck's Dada soiree

On April 12th, 1918, Huelsenbeck, Raoul Hausmann, Franz Jung, Gerhard Preiss and George Grosz have planned a simultaneous, anti-Expressionist, reading of Marinetti's poetry, and Grosz's poetry, while trumpets and rattles are played in the background. This demonstration has begun to take on the aggressive nature of Italian Futurism, as it is shaped out of Marinetti's writings.

Richard Huelsenbeck

Richard Huelsenbeck left for Berlin as a result of the closing of the Cabaret Voltaire. He published written work in Zurich in "En avant Dada: Eine Geschichte des Dadaismus (1920)" in regards to the concept of simultaneity and its importance in the scheme of existentialism. He writes, "the screeching of a tram brake and the crash of a brick falling off the roof next door reach my ear simultaneously and my eye rouses itself to seize, in the simultaneity of these events, a swift meaning of life."

Tristan Tzara

Tristan Tzara created a literary movement out of the Dada movement. He wrote "The First Celestial Adventure of Mr. Antipyrine", and went on to publish the Dada magazine. This was seen as a form of codification of the movement. Tzara and Ball also took over the Galerie Corray and it opened on March 17th in 1917 as the Galerie Dada with an exhibition of Der Sturm paintings.

Hugo Ball's Karawane

Hugo Ball performed his 'verse without words' at one of Cabaret Voltaire's final events in 1916. Ball wore a cardboard suit with wings. He recited an unrecognizable language and flapped his cardboard wings. He realized his means of expression was not adequate to the 'pomp of his stage setting.' He 'began to sing [his] vowel lines like a recitative, in the style of the church... hop[ing] to renounce the language devastated and made impossible by journalism.' While the forms being used by Ball and Hennings are mainly utopian and pacifist, like the Italian Futurists, their aim is the same in that it is anti-establishment.


Hugo Ball and Emmy Hennings

Ball and Hennings were a couple and the founders of the Cabaret Voltaire. Both performed regularly. Ball invented a new species of 'verse without words' or 'sound poems.' He would perform one of these sound poems called "Karawane."

Cabaret Voltaire

The Cabaret Voltaire had themed evenings that would revolve around a specific topic. Russian evenings for Russians, Sundays for the Swiss etc... The Cabaret wanted to make itself a focal point of the "newest art." The Cabaret was formed out of the Dada movement and was mostly pacifist in nature. A typical event consisted of poetry readings and music.

Frank Wedekind

Benjamin Franklin Wedekind began performing cabaret when he had no money to produce the plays he was writing. His performances were sexually explicit and offensive. He was called an 'anti-bourgeois exploiter of sexuality' and a 'threat to public morality.' His sexually explicit performances brought him closer to the arts community, including one Hugo Ball, the founder of Cabaret Voltaire.

Dynamic and Synoptic Declamation Manifesto

Marinetti wrote the Manifesto of Dynamic and Synoptic Declamation instructing potential performers how to 'declaim.' This was to 'liberate intellectual circles from the old static, pacifist and nostalgic declamation.' Marinetti proclaimed for himself the 'indisputable world primacy as a declaimer of free verse and words-in-freedom.' This text is a reaction to industrialism and capitalism, as is the first Futurist Manifesto, as Marinetti wishes to let go of the traditions of memorized text in theater and improvise.

F.T. Marinetti

Filippo Tommaso Marinetti wrote the first Futurist Manifesto, spearheading Italian Futurism, calling for a questioning of the logic of the Parisian art world at the time and a revolt against it. He went on to write many more manifestos about bodily movement (Futurist Dance), and improvised speech (Dynamic and Synoptic Declamation), influencing not only the Futurist movement, but artistic movements that would follow.

Alan Turing's Conceptual Machine

In the 1920s, Turing imagined a machine based on the typewriter that could type on an infinite reel of tape, erase text, move up and down, back and forward, and solve mathematical problems. This was a conceptualization of the modern day computer.

Dada - 1916

Cabaret Voltaire grew out of the Futurist movement and was founded by Emmy Hennings and Hugo Ball. Ball was recently let out of prison for forging foreign passports for those who did not want to go to war. Cabaret Voltaire welcomed all artists to 'come and give musical performances and readings at the daily meetings.' The meetings consisted of poetry, song, dance, and was influenced in the vaudeville tradition. The overall feeling of the Dada movement was more pacifist as opposed to the militaristic notion of the Futurists anti-establishmentarian ways.

Marinetti's Futurist Dance

Marinetti wrote a manifesto called the Futurist Dance of 1917 noting Nijinsky's 'geometry of the dance, free of mimicry and without sexual stimulation.' He also stated that, one must go beyond 'muscular possibilities' and aim in the dance for 'that ideal multiplied body of the motor that we have so long dreamed of.' Here he speaks of the mechanical body much like Balla's futurist ballet, Tipografica.


In 1915, Marinetti published a play titled "Simultaneity" in which two characters appear on stage, within two different spaces, occupying two different worlds. More performances occur in this vein, such as Depero's work "Colours" in which four different colored cardboard objects are moved by invisible strings and off stage, people provide sound effects for them as they move.

Giacomo Balla's Tipografica

A performance directed by Balla in which six performers simulated a piston, while six created a wheel driven by pistons. Balla had arranged the performers in geometrical patterns, directing each person to 'represent the soul of the individual pieces of a rotary printing press.'

Russolo's "The Art of Noise" - 1913

The painter, Russolo, wrote his manifesto, "The Art of Noise," after reading a letter from Marinetti describing the sounds of war. He stated, "in antiquity there was only silence," but with the invention of the machine "noise was born." "Pure sound, in its exiguity and monotony, no longer arouses emotion." Russolo went on to perform noise music in an act of mechanization.

The First Futurist Manifesto

February 20, 1909 - Filippo Marinetti wrote the first Futurist Manifesto against the people of Paris and the establishment of the 'cultural capital of the world.' In the manifesto, he questioned the current logic of the art world.


Italian Futurism

Italian Futurism was militaristic in nature and used an irrational questioning of logic. The group celebrated itself to the point of absurdity and was satirical in nature. Futurism's main goal was the revolt against authority, capitalism, and industrialism.

Alfred Jarry's Ubu Roi (1896)

On December 11, 1896, Alfred Jarry performed an absurdist production of Ubu Roi at Theatre de l'Oeuvre. It was a satirical farce, in which the opening line of the performance was 'merdre,' the french word for 'shit,' causing viewers to react violently.

Karl Marx Das Kapital

Das Kapital discussed the value of capital in relation to its aesthetic significance as a sign within a capitalist society.

Boolean Logic

In 1854, George Boole wrote An Investigation of the Laws of Thought. The book stated that it is possible to deduce any value from the terms 0 or 1. This logic would eventually lead to the development of binary code.


People begin to transmit pictures by telegraph in 1843. A photo development process is discovered in 1883 by Frederick Ives.

The Difference and Analytical Engines

In the mid to late 1800s, Charles Babbage and his colleague Ada Lovelace, worked on the creation of the Difference Engine, a machine intended to calculate and print mathematical tables. The Analytical Engine was intended to combine its numerical qualities as though they were letters or other symbols.


Morse Code and the Telegraph

In the 1820s and 1830s, Sir Charles Wheatstone, Sir William Fothergill Cooke, and Samuel Morse invented the telegraph. Morse developed what would be named "Morse Code." A set of signals that would replace letters and numbers.

The Jacquard Loom

The Jacquard Loom utilized a wooden card with holes punched into it that were "read" by the loom and it would then weave the pattern.


Adam Smith The Wealth of Nations

The Wealth of Nations, published in 1776, detailed the benefit behind the division of labour and its efficiency.

James Watt - The Governor

In 1775, James Watt invented the first self-regulating steam engine called the Governor.

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