How has technology and math influenced art practices? “Programmed: Rules, Codes and Choreographies in Art” opens tonight at the Whitney Museum of Art and encompasses work by 39 artists that all, in some way, engage with this theme. Spread throughout the museum’s sixth floor space, the exhibition, made of up more than 50 pieces, surveys the time period from 1965 to 2018 and consists of paintings, drawings, sculptures and large-scale installations, in addition to other forms, such as video, that are more directly digital.
Featuring work by Josef Albers, Tauba Auerbach, Sol LeWitt, Cory Arcangel and Lynn Hershman Leeson, to name a few, the centerpiece of the exhibition is Nam June Paik’s newly restored “Fin de Siècle II,” a large video sculpture built from more than 200 televisions. The work, which stretches from floor to ceiling, is literally the center of the exhibition and acts as a connective tissue between the two components that make up the thematic and physical structure of “Programmed.” The first is a section titled “Rule, Instruction, Algorithm,” which focuses on artists that used digital rules and algorithms to create art objects and images. The second, “Signal, Sequence, Resolution,” presents works dedicated to “image resolution and manipulation of image sequences.”
“The histories of contemporary technological art forms are only now being written in a more comprehensive way,” said “Programmed” co-curator Christiane Paul in a statement about the exhibition, which, Paul added, “strives to illustrate how art throughout the decades has been informed by technological and mathematical concepts to provide insight into the increasingly coded structures of the contemporary landscape.”
Joining other immersive, interactive works of late (like, for example, Mel Chin’s recent public art installation in Time Square, “Wake”),
The exhibition also features an augmented reality piece by Tamiko Thiel that, like Mel Chin’s recent public art installation “Wake” in Times Square, encourages viewers to engage with the artwork through the use of their phones to envision what a future of rising sea levels looks like. Thiel’s “Unexpected Growth” contributes to a genre that utilizes technology to not only expand notions of art but to also offer a valuable critique on how human activity impacts the environment.
“Programmed” runs through April 14, 2019.