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