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Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa

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Algorithmic Signs
Ernest Edmonds, Manfred Mohr, Vera Molnár, Frieder Nake, Roman Verostko

curated by Francesca Franco in collaboration with Stefano Coletto


The Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa is pleased to announce the exhibition Algorithmic Signs - Ernest Edmonds, Manfred Mohr, Vera Molnár, Frieder Nake, Roman Verostko. This exhibition, held at the Bevilacqua's historical gallery in St. Mark's Square, Venice, explores the history of pioneering generative art and its contribution to the broader field of contemporary art from the 1960s to the present. The artists who pioneered this work are sometimes known as The Algorists. The history is exemplified in the creative work of five international pioneers in the world of digital arts Ernest Edmonds (b.1942), Manfred Mohr (b.1938), Vera Molnár (b.1924), Frieder Nake (b.1938), and Roman Verostko (b.1929). Coming to the computer from completely different backgrounds and experiences - monastic life, jazz music,traditional painting, philosophy, mathematics, and logic studies -they began to experiment the creative use of the algorithm and computer code to construct their works and make art.
50 years after the first experiments in computational art, international interest in the history of this subject remains strong and at the same time almost uncovered. This exhibition is the first to describe one of the possible histories of this almost unexplored but extremely dynamic field of contemporary art, from the perspective of some of its most celebrated pioneers. Focussing on the relationship between computer programming, art and creativity, the presentation of each artist will explore the role of programming in their work, looking athow their practice has kept pace with the rapid advance of technology in recent decades.
Algorithmic Signs offers the viewer the rare opportunity to see the histories and developments of the fascinating art created though the algorithm inan accessible and stimulating narrative and looks closely at the role of coding in contemporary art practice. The exhibition follows the personal achievements of each artist, their original inspirations, and how they develop in parallel with technological advances. It also brings together for the first time ever the artists' common ideas and differences, and tales about how their paths have crossed over the years.
The Institution Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa has been always been involved in supporting the creative use of digital new media in art for a long time (an interest already shown in previous events, such as Tomorrow Now and other more recent projects). The Bevilacqua La Masa is there fore thrilled to present Algorithmic Signs, an exhibition that by looking at the history of early computational art through the work of some of its most celebrated pioneers, will help generate new meaning and understanding to contemporary art practices.  Being aware of the relationship between the artistic practices and  the devices of Information technology  helps us to understand  the radical and cultural Transformation process, started quietly in the 60s, and now widespread in all fields of knowledge.

About the Artists:
Ernest Edmonds' art explores colour, time and interaction in the context of colour field painting and systems art. His work extends the Constructivist tradition into the digital age in a powerful and enduring investigation of mathematical and computational systems. 

Manfred Mohr is a pioneer of computer-generated algorithmic art. After discovering Max Bense's Information Aesthetics in the early 1960's, Mohr's art transformed from abstract expressionism to computer generated geometric art. Mohr programmed his first computer drawings
in 1969. In 1971, Mohr had the first one-person show of digital computer generated art in a Museum, at ARC, Museé d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France.

Vera Molnár is one of the pioneers of computer and algorithmic arts. Trained as a traditional artist, in 1968 she began working with computers, and began to create algorithmic paintings based on simple geometric shapes and themes.

Frieder Nake belongs to the founding fathers of computer art. He produced his first computer artworks in 1963. His early work was influenced by Max Bense's Information Aesthetics. Nake participated in all major international exhibitions on computational art, including the first computer art show at the Venice Biennale in 1970.

Roman Verostko is best known for his richly coloured algorithmic pen and brush drawings. As a Bush Fellow he worked with Gyorgy Kepes at MIT's CAVS (Center for Advanced Visual Studies) in the summer of 1970. Later that year he studied FORTRAN at the Control Data Institute in Minneapolis and exhibited his first fully algorist work, "The Magic Hand of Chance", in 1982.

About the Curator:
Francesca Franco is a Venetian-born art historian based in the UK. After studying Art History at Ca' Foscari University of Venice she wenton to study at Birkbeck University of London where she gained an MA in Digital Art History and a PhD in the History of Art. The central theme of Francesca's research is the history of art and technology and the pioneers of computer art. Increasingly it concerns issues of generative and interactive art and the connections between Constructivism and Systems art in early computational art. A major focus has been the history of the Venice Biennale culminating in a series of publications in books, academic journals and art magazines. Her first solo-authored book, Generative Systems Art: The Work of Ernest Edmonds, will be published by Routledge in 2017. Her second monograph, The Algorithmic Dimension - Five Artists in Conversation, will be published by Springer in 2018. www.francescafranco.net


Title: Algorithmic Signs. Ernest Edmonds, Manfred Mohr, Vera Molnár, Frieder Nake, Roman Verostko
Curator: Francesca Franco in collaboration with Stefano Coletto
Organisers: Istituzione Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa
Collaborations: Victoria and Albert Museum (London), Carroll / Fletcher Gallery (London), DAM Gallery (Berlin), Anne and Michael Spalter Collection (USA)

Location: Istituzione Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa, Galleria di Piazza San Marco, Art Gallery, Piazza San Marco, 71/c, Venice. 
Opening: 19 October 6:30 pm. 
Exhibition: from 19 October to 3 December 2017, from Wednesday to Sunday, from 10:30 am to 5:30 pm, free entry. 
Info: Istituzione Bevilacqua La Masa, Palazzetto Tito, Dorsoduro 2826, 30123, Venezia T. +39 041 5207797, press@bevilacqualamasa.it, www.bevilacqualamasa.it.


Roman Verostko
'Frog Jump, 12'
76x56 cm 
from DAM Gallery, Berlin


Manfred Mohr
P-21 'Band-Structure', 1970
Plotter drawing, ink on paper 
from Carroll / Flecther Gallery, London


Ernest Edmonds
'Shaping Form'
from Ernest Edmonds's personal archives


Frieder Nake
'Hommage à Paul Klee'
ink on paper 
from Frieder Nake's personal archives


Vera Molnar
'Lettres de ma mère'
from the Anne and Michael Spalter Collection, USA