Cover: Vera Molnár, "À la recherche de Paul Klee", 1970, ink plotter drawing, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, purchased with funds from the Prints and Drawings Council, © Vera Molnár, photo © Museum Associates/LACMA
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) presents "Coded: Art Enters the Computer Age, 1952–1982" an exhibition that explores artistic practices in relation to the rise of computer technology and consciousness in the age of the mainframe, a period when computers evolved from elite military machines used to calculate missile projections and decrypt code into central operating fixtures in governmental, corporate, and educational institutions around the world. The exhibition’s chronological parameters begin in 1952, the date of the earliest purely aesthetic image made on a computer (analog), and end in 1982, when the personal computer took center stage and replaced the mainframe as the machine of the future.
Artwork: Victor Vasarely, Vega-Kontosh-Va, 1971, tempera on panel, 25 11/16 × 25 11/16 in. (65.1 × 65.1 cm), Los Angeles County Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Donald Winston through the Contemporary Art Council, © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris, photo © Museum Associates/LACMA
International and interdisciplinary in scope, the exhibition examines the origins of what we now call digital art, created by artists, writers, musicians, choreographers, and filmmakers working directly with computers as well as those using algorithms and other systems to produce their work. Works by artists associated with mainstream art movements like Op and Conceptual art provide a context to reconsider the work of under-recognized computer artists in a new light. Whether computer-generated or not, the many artworks considered in the exhibition reflect the simultaneous wonder and alienation that was characteristic of the 1960s and ’70s, along with the utopian and dystopian possibilities of these new machines. "Coded: Art Enters the Computer Age, 1952–1982" examination of the years leading up to the advent of the personal computer is relevant, even imperative, to fully appreciating art and culture in the age of the computer—both then and now.
"Coded: Art Enters the Computer Age, 1952–1982" includes over 100 objects made by 75 artists—many of whom are being exhibited at LACMA for the first time—with many drawn from the museum’s permanent collection.
Artwork: Colette Stuebe Bangert and Charles Jeffries Bangert, GRASS SERIES II 80-11-comp-a, 1980, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, gift of the artist, © Colette Stuebe Bangert and Charles Jeffries Bangert, photo © Museum Associates/LACMA
"Coded: Art Enters the Computer Age, 1952–1982" brings to light early digital or ‘computer art’ that has long been overlooked, recontextualizing it to encourage a new way of looking at mainstream art of the