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The Mechanical Mind in History$
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Phil Husbands, Owen Holland, and Michael Wheeler

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780262083775

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262083775.001.0001

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The Mechanization of Art

The Mechanization of Art

Chapter:
(p.259) 11 The Mechanization of Art
Source:
The Mechanical Mind in History
Author(s):

Paul Brown

Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262083775.003.0011

This chapter presents an idiosyncratic account of the development of “the mechanization of art.” It shows that Norbert Wiener’s and W. Ross Ashby’s ideas were quickly appreciated by a number of artists, such as Nicolas Schöffer, who in the mid-1950s pioneered a kind of autonomous kinetic art, cybernetic sculptures. The chapter traces the cultural, as well as scientific, antecedents of this work in an account of how the mechanization of art developed over the centuries. It focuses on its growth during part of the second half of the twentieth century—a period that saw the influential 1968 Institute of Contemporary Arts (London) exhibition Cybernetic Serendipity, which featured Gordon Pask’s installation Colloquy of Mobiles. It notes at that a number of artists working in this field, such as Edward Ihnatowicz, pioneered approaches to autonomous systems, prefiguring today’s growing dialogue between artists and scientists in this area.

Keywords:   Norbert Wiener, W. Ross Ashby, Nicolas Schöffer, kinetic art, cybernetic sculptures, Gordon Pask, Edward Ihnatowicz, autonomous systems

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