Dushko Petrovich Reviews MIT Press Book About New Tendencies and Bit International in the Boston Globe

Bit International (via computerkunst.org)

Dushko Petrovich, editor of Paper Monument, reviews “A Little-Known Story about a Movement, a Magazine, and the Computer’s Arrival in Art: New Tendencies and Bit International, 1961-1973” (MIT Press) for the Boston Globe:

From 1961 to 1973, a loosely organized group of artists and scientists coalesced around the radical idea that the emerging technology of the computer could be used to make a different kind of art. Known simply as the New Tendencies, this heterogeneous movement included dozens of men and women from the far reaches of the industrialized world. Often working under collective monikers such as Equipo 57 or Grupo Anonima, most of them were as ambivalent about individual fame as they were about the artistic status of their activities, which they preferred to call “research.”

However they saw their own work, their visual innovations were quickly recognized as cutting-edge art, and in a matter of years began appearing in landmark exhibitions at venues such as the Louvre and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Almost as quickly, however, these early experiments were overtaken by what they made possible, and the idealistic foundations of computer art got hidden beneath the more elaborate operations that followed...

Curiously, the first worldwide movement of computer art focused many of its forward-thinking activities in a city not particularly known for technology, in a country that no longer exists. Beginning with the 1961 New Tendency exhibition mounted by Matko Mestrovic at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb, hundreds of artists, critics, and curators started gathering regularly in what was then Yugoslavia, united in the belief that you could generate visual art using this strange, almost philosophical new machine. Like-minded experimenters flocked from all over Europe, and from as far away as the Americas and even Japan, to organize a groundbreaking series of exhibitions and symposia while also publishing an influential magazine called Bit International.