Early Computer Art

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Early computer art generally refers to computer art made from the 1950s through the 1980s, before personal computers were widely available and used. Much of this art was created by engineers and scientists, as computing resources were accessible only in university and research laboratories. However, Jean Tinguely was one of the first established visual artists to use robotic machines as a way to generate drawings in his “Métamatics” series (1955–59). In 1968, the landmark exhibition “Cybernetic Serendipity” at the ICA London showcased innovations in both art and technology, exhibiting Tinguely’s painting machines and Nam June Paik’s “Robot K-456” alongside computer art produced at Bell Labs and the Boeing Corporation. First entering the mass market in 1977, personal computers offered artists greater access to digital art tools than ever before. Andy Warhol’s digital drawings from 1985, for which the artist used a Commodore Amiga 1000, exemplify the possibilities available to artists through personal computing.

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