Electronic Art Intermix (EAI) is one of the world’s most respected non-profit organisations, founded in 1971 as a resource for advancing the creation, presentation, distribution and conservation of media art. Today it boasts a collection of more than 4,000 videos from the 1960s to the present day, with a recent focus on the production of digital projects. In addition to the distribution service, which allows museums, collectors and cultural institutions to access the collection for screenings, exhibitions and acquisitions, EAI has always focused on developing activities and programmes to increase knowledge of media art.
In this context, lasting from March to the end of April and in collaboration with the CUNY Graduate Center Art and Science Connect, EAI is presenting an online selection of video works, programmes and materials starting from the historical Computer Art Festivals (1973-75). These events have been organised by CUNY Graduate Center Art and Science and The Kitchen not only as an introduction, but also as a formative and instrumental meeting for the exchange and convergence of computer art and technology. Before returning to the CUNY Graduate Center in 1975, over a period of three years, the Festivals at The Kitchen venues and in ’74 brought together more than a hundred artists working in a variety of media, such as computer graphics, synthetic music, performance, poetry, film and video.
Until 29 April, nineteen works from the Computer Art Festivals will be available online, including those by Doris Chase, Dimitri Devyatkin, Ed Emshwiller, Bill and Louise Etra, Pat Lehman, Nam June Paik, Lillian Schwartz, Stan VanDerBeek and Jud Yalkut, together with programmes and event materials.
In addition, programmes, materials, reviews and other works of interest can be downloaded by visitors. The interdisciplinary approach of the events is underlined by the professional and research background of the Festival organisers – including Devyatkin, composer Charles Dodge, artist and scientist George Chaikin (1944-2007), Bill and Louise Etra, and molecular biologist Lou Katz.
Alongside this initiative, there are two panels which explore the context of these festivals and project their legacy into the present. In the first panel, held on 24 March 2022, Dimitri Devyatkin, Charles Dodge, Louise Etra, together with Alison Knowles and Joshua Selman, moderated by Michelle Kuo, discussed the historical context of the festivals, the nature of computer art at the time and their resonance today. In the second panel, to be held on 28 April, digital art experts and institutional voices such as Rebecca Cleman, Auriea Harvey of EAI, Lumi Tan of The Kitchen, Kalani Nichole, and Addie Wagenknacht will discuss the roles institutions can play in the production of computer-generated art.
Sharing the history of an organisation represents an important moment, opening a window on the visionary nature of certain experiments and their significance in relation to the present. It is also an opportunity to explore the resources of this important organisation through its online catalogue, with a “viewing room” also available for consultation. Since the 1970s, EAI has managed to stay up-to-date and the documentation of research and programmes focused on everything that revolves around media art, such as conservation or copyright issues, which have been among the main topics of investigation over the years, is still relevant.