Exhibition – ZKM | Medienmueum 23.02.’08- 18.01.’09: [Nove] tendencije Computer und visuelle Forschung Zagreb 1961-1973 //

With the present exhibition the ZKM | Karlsruhe dedicates itself to the most important international artistic currents of the 1960s, the New Tendencies, and their significance for the history of computer-based art. In 1968 the movement decided to incorporate into its program the computer as a medium of artistic work so as to thereby assert its avantgarde claim and to contribute to the definition of a technology which, as one quite rightly presumed, would define the future of civilization.

Commencing with an exhibition of Concrete and Constructive Art, Nove tendencije, in Zagreb, in 1961, the New Tendencies rapidly developed into a dynamic movement dedicated to ‘visual research’. Around the mid 1960s, the New Tendencies triggered an international Op-Art-Boom, which was endorsed by participation in an exhibition entitled The Responsive Eye, at the New York MoMA, in 1965. However, success brought the New Tendencies no closer to its aims: the assertion of ‘art as research’ and the establishment of new forms of distribution beyond the art market, which should be accessible to everyman. The organizers of the New Tendencies decided to bring their strategy up-to-date and, in the summer of 1968, initiated in the context of the fourth exhibition, Tendencije 4, the program‘Computer and Visual Research’. Until 1973 the supporting institution of the New Tendencies, the former Gallery of Contemporary Art Zagreb – today the Museum of Contemporary Art – had dedicated itself to artistic research by computer with a series of international exhibitions and symposia. At the peak of the Cold War artists and scientists throughout the world presented their work in Zagreb. The New Tendencies thus established a unique platform for the exchange of ideas and experiences from the area of art, the natural sciences and engineering. With the multi-lingual journal Bit international(1968-73, 9 numbers) Zagreb became a point of initiation for aesthetics and media-theoretical thought.

The organizers of the Zabrab Tendencies initially sought to consciously accompany and form the historical transition in which the computer was perceived as medium of artistic creation. They set computer generated works in relation to Constructive and Kinetic Art (1968/69) and to Concept Art (1973). The arts of the electronic media were not considered as an isolated phenomenon but rather incorporated into the history and discourse of fine-and performing arts. ZKM is comitted to this principle and initiated an exhibition series in the Media Museum that started with The Algorithmic Revolution (2004) and is now be persued with Bit International.

In cooperation with the MSU | Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb and an international network of collectors and private archives, the exhibition provides an overview of the (New) Tendencies and its program ‘Computer and Visual Research’: graphics, paintings, films, sculptures as well as computer-generated lyrics and literature are once again, for the first time in 40 years, made accessible to a wider public.
Text: M. Rosen

Curators: Darko Fritz, Margit Rosen, Peter Weibel
Project direction: Bernhard Serexhe

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A Little-Known Story about a Movement, a Magazine, and the Computer’s Arrival in Art: New Tendencies and Bit International, 1961-1973

A Little-Known Story about a Movement, a Magazine, and the Computer’s Arrival in Art

New Tendencies and Bit International, 1961–1973

Edited by Margit Rosen

This book documents a short but intense artistic experiment that took place in Yugoslavia fifty years ago but has been influential far beyond that time and place: the « little-known story » of the advent of computers in art. It was through the activities of the New Tendencies movement, begun in Zagreb in 1961, and its supporting institution the Galerija suvremene umjetnosti that the « thinking machine » was adopted as an artistic tool and medium. Pursuing the idea of “art as visual research »” the New Tendencies movement proceeded along a path that led from Concrete and Constructivist art, Op art, and Kinetic art to computer-generated graphics, film, and sculpture.With their exhibitions and conferences and the 1968 launch of the multilingual, groundbreaking magazine Bit International, the New Tendencies transformed Zagreb—already one of the most vibrant artistic centers in Yugoslavia—into an international meeting place where artists, engineers, and scientists from both sides of the Iron Curtain gathered around the then-new technology. For a brief moment in time, Zagreb was the epicenter of explorations of the aesthetic, scientific, and political potential of the computer.

This volume documents that exhilarating period. It includes new essays by Jerko Denegri, Darko Fritz, Margit Rosen, and Peter Weibel; many texts that were first published in New Tendencies exhibition catalogs and Bit International magazine; and historic documents. More than 650 black-and-white and color illustrations testify to the astonishing diversity of the exhibited artworks and introduce the movement’s protagonists. Many of the historic photographs, translations, and documents are published here for the first time. Taken together, the images and texts offer the long overdue history of the New Tendencies experiment and its impact on the art of the twentieth century.

About the Editor

Margit Rosen is a Researcher and Curator for ZKM | Center for Art and Media Technology.
http://www.new-tendencies.org/