When introducing digital art to an unfamiliar audience, every piece becomes a manifesto of its own - it simultaneously informs, provokes and educates the viewer. When East London gallery SEVENTEEN put up "Intentional Computing", Paul B. Davis’ first ever solo show in 2007, this was precisely the challenge it faced. In Britain’s oddly conservative art scene, the show acted as a demonstration of the infinite possibilities and theorization of digital creativity. A brief retrospective of one of London’s most adventurous galleries brings out the problems such artists face as well as the complexities technology- savvy audiences are learning to incorporate into their viewing experience.
“Much of the work we began to show at SEVENTEEN was at first alien to people in London,” says Paul Pieroni, co-curator of SEVENTEEN, who had been a fan of Davis’ work with the collective, BEIGE, for years: “I liked the fact that it takes technology not on face value, but in terms of its place within a more diffuse contemporary culture.” "Intentional Computing" featured some of Davis’ NES hacks, as well as glitchy, pixelated videos, reminiscent of the artist’s early encounters with technology. It also raised debates about issues of commodity and reclamation. By quoting recurring parts of his technological environment past and present, including the computer games (Nintendo et al) of his youth, Davis was rejuvenating a practice innovated by major pop artists such as Eduardo Paolozzi’s work in the early 50s as well as his later mosaics, or Richard Hamilton’s famous collages.