Programmed: Rules, Codes, and Choreographies in Art, 1965–2018

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

The latest exhibition of Whitney is well crafted curation of the computational art over the last fifty years. The theme focuses on how coding has been used to create magnificent pieces of art not just in its production but also its presentation. Being a part of a time that is so heavily driven by automation, the exhibition shows how rules and instructions have shaped art and technologies and have given us a new perspective of the way we use technology today. 

The exhibition is organized by Christiane Paul, Adjunct Curator of Digital Art, and Carol Mancusi-Ungaro, Melva Bucksbaum Associate Director for Conservation and Research, with Clémence White, curatorial assistant. 


The exhibition is a good mix of computational work that has produced videos, installations and print.


Three of my favorite works were- Newtonian by Lilian Shwartz, Fin de Siecle II by Nam June Paik and works of Jim Cambell. Both these works are very diverse in the way they have been produced, the output methodology and the technology used but they align in the basic concept of the kind of emotion that they evoke within us. 

The gigantic Installation of Nam June Paik is nothing less than a marvel. It represents the cutting edge of video art and how far Paik took it. It is not meant to be watched passively, like a television set at home. There aren’t even any seats. Nor is there any narrative, or any sense of a beginning and an end. Because of its size and density, it cannot be experienced whole, but only in snatches. In contrary to this in Lilian’s work, she uses mathematical systems to create the illusion of three-dimensional images. She explored the concept of randomness and let maths take control of the art by generating random shapes and color in the area of the work. This ended up creating this beautiful video piece which seamlessly transitions across the various iterations and shows the power of scientific expressions to create art. 


The concept of using pixels in the form of led to create a visual feedback speaks of his The curation very beautifully takes us through the history of computational art right from its developing stages till today. It’s a spectacle by itself to walk through the entire exhibition and be overwhelmed by so many emotions.

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