Thursday, March 29, 2018

Thinking Machines at MoMA

Nothing is better than watching great art pieces made 30 years ago by old machines. "Thinking Machines: Art and Design in the Computer Age, 1959-1989" in Museum of Modern Art shows lots of artworks, design pieces, and equipment at the time when computers just began to be widely used.  The works in the show are made by everyone from composer John Cage and systems theorist Buckminster Fuller to IBM and Apple. The exhibited works and tools include generated geometries, video installations and digital printings that demonstrate the early versions of technology today, such as CNC machine and projector.

This exhibition explores the evolving relationships between digital tools and digital art. At that age when computers come, digital art was more focused on exploring new forms of art, like generative art, interactive art. When an old low-pixel screen is flickering and the graphic is moving. It's still hard to imagine how intelligent people are at that time. Even today, these works are inspired and provide so many possibilities for today's digital art. Overall, This exhibition is more like an overview of how 20th-century visionaries saw early computers as both powerful tools and objects of curiosity and creativity. And that's why these old computers called thinking machines.


  1. It's a good point that computers are powerful tools and objects of curiosity and creativity. It's almost a question of, are the machines the artists or are they merely mediums of art? When the artist programs blinking LEDs on to the gigantic CM-2, the machines become performers. There's also a quality of nostalgia with Thinking Machines that doesn't appear in other exhibitions within the MoMA. Computers have entered the practice of art and design, and began an age of digital developments -- new softwares and devices show up on the market each day. There's a sense of outdatedness with pixelated graphics and giant machines that doesn't equate to a painting made in the same era.

  2. When I saw this work, I strangely combined it with the current social bitcoin mining factory. A giant big machine with scattered led lights flashing on it.
    In fact, this exhibition was called an art and design exhibition, but there are many people, even today, do not think that any of the work inside can be regarded as art. You said these works have inspired many digital art work today, However, despite the fact that this type of art market has not yet been widely accepted today.