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"Bitstreams" Debuts at Whitney Museum
--New York, March 22, 1969 (AP)
In the future, technology will offer new marvels in our day-to-day lives. Liquid lead-filled pencils, hovercars, and wafer-thin TV screens are but a few of the items we will see in coming years. Now, in an exhibit at the Whitney Museum of Art, we can glimpse how science will change the art of the future, today. In "Bitstreams," curated by Lawrence Rinder, artists using computers, electronic cameras, oscillators, and other gadgets offer up a humming, flickering smorgasbord of newfangled art.
"It's fun," says Tommy Rettig, a junior high school student from P.S. 122, working the controls on John Klima's "ecosystm." "I can make the pterodactyls [extinct birdlike dinosaurs] fly up and down and all around." But Klima's work isn't all just fun and games: as the artist explains, it's "an animated representation of real-time global stock market fluctuations, currency volatility, and local weather conditions." Fortunately for Tommy, who justs wants to experience some new art, that brain-bending data can be switched off at the touch of a button!
In an adjacent room, Jim Campbell's pieces not only have great beauty, but they teach you something about optics and physics. In his programmed patterns of lights, figures can be discerned. "The subject can best be seen from straight on," according to the Museum's brochure: "Our eyes fill in 'missing' information between the lights." Other works also teach us about science. In Diana Thater's "Six Color Video Wall," NASA films of the sun, with solar storms and flares boiling like lava, are arbitrarily assigned six different colors.
The exhibit has been drawing record crowds, and director Maxwell Anderson predicts we'll see a lot more technological art. "The show's been very popular. People are genuinely curious to experience the ways science and technology are changing art. We have upcoming exhibits devoted to holography and kinetic art, and even a show of works based entirely on mathematics." Rinder agrees: "This is my first show here, but it's just the beginning of the Whitney's commitment to these exciting new developments in art." Move over, Rembrandt!
"Bitstreams" runs through June 10, 1969. Museum hours are Tuesdays through Sundays, 11:00 - 6:00 pm, with extended hours (til 9:00 pm) on Fridays. Call 1-877-WHITNEY for further information. Photo: "Against Shadows" by Juan Downey and Fred Pitts, 1968.