02 Nov 2010 /

cybernetic serendipity

By jasia reichardt

An exhibition of computer art, curated by Jasia Reichardt, Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), London, 1968.

Although “Cybernetic Serendipity” was not the first computer art exhibition as such (earlier exhibitions and projects were held in U.S. and Germany), it occupies a seminal place in the history of computing and art. Rather than focusing on solely on computer-generated artwork, the exhibition chose to draw a thematic attention to cybernetics—then a new field of scientific inquiry concerned with “control and communication in the machine or in the animal” (Norbert Wiener, Cybernetics, 1948). Novelty, the exhibition explored cybernetics in relation to creativity by dividing the exhibition into three curatorial sections: computer generated work, cybernetic devices—robots and painting machines—and machines demonstrating use of computers, and the history of cybernetics itself.

“Cybernetics—derives from the Greek “kybernetes” meaning “steersman”; our word “governor” comes from the Latin version of the same word. The term cybernetics was first used by Norbert Wiener around 1948. In the same year, his book Cybernetics was subtitled Communication and Control in Animal and Machine. The term today refers to systems of communication and control in complex electronic devices like computers, which have very definite similarities with the processes of …”

Share this