Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Little-Known Story about a Movement, a Magazine, and the Computer’s Arrival in Art New Tendencies and Bit International, 1961–1973

This recent MIT press publication documents a short-lived but intense artistic experiment that took place in Yugoslavia fifty years ago but has been influential far beyond that time and place: the New Tendencies movement, which begun in Zagreb in 1961. Pursuing the idea of “art as visual research"” the New Tendencies movement proceeded along a path that led from Concrete and Constructivist art, Op art, and Kinetic art to computer-generated graphics, film, and sculpture.

With their exhibitions and conferences and the 1968 launch of the multilingual, groundbreaking magazine Bit International, the New Tendencies transformed Zagreb into an international meeting place where artists, engineers, and scientists from both sides of the Iron Curtain gathered around the then-new technology. For a brief moment in time, Zagreb was the epicenter of explorations of the aesthetic, scientific, and political potential of the computer.

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