Towards a New Aesthetic – Exploring Computer Aided Art & Design

This exhibition was coordinated by ANAT and co-curated by Caron Ward (Project & Administrative Assistant, ANAT) and Rhonda O’Meara (Consultant & Director, TEXCAD), and organised as a major component of the AUSGRAPH 90 Art Program. AUSGRAPH conferences are held annually by the Australasian Computer Graphics Forum. It was the second in ANAT’s ongoing program of exhibitions focussing on works utilising technology, particularly works inspired or developed by Australian artists as a result of their participation in ANAT’s national schools in computer aided art, design and manufacturing. The exhibition was held at the Linden Gallery, Melbourne, from September 3 – 16, 1990.

The exhibition was designed to provide a showcase for artistic accomplishments within the field of technology, and aimed to provide a forum for the conceptual development of research and innovation in contemporary and technological art practices. It profiled the work of 15 Australian artists, who are using the technology of the computer, in a broad range of art forms including: installations, books, 2d prints and images, plotter output images, video, interactive performances with images, 3d laser cut installation, sculpture, furniture, textile design, sound, computer animation and prototype.

The exhibiting artists were:

  • Hilary Archer (Melbourne)
  • Phillip Bannigan and Sue Harris (Adelaide)
  • Peter Charuk (Sydney)
  • Phil George (Sydney)
  • Simryn Gill (Adelaide)
  • Richard Guthrie (Sydney)
  • Rodney Harris (Adelaide)
  • Stephen Hennessy (Melbourne)
  • Diane Mantzaris (Melbourne)
  • Lynne Roberts-Goodwin (Sydney)
  • Sandra Shaw (Newcastle)
  • Stelarc (Melbourne)
  • Wendy Mills (Brisbane)
  • Adam Wolter (Brisbane)
  • Linda Wallace (Melbourne)

ANAT has limited opportunities for travel due to low funds and staffing, and the exhibition provided a good chance to liaise with our clients; artists, government, corporate sector etc. It helped to make ANAT accessible. Speakers were arranged for the opening and comprised of Dr Peter Ellyard (Committee Member, ANAT and then Director for the Commission of the Future) who spoke of cultural, philosophical and economic benefits associated with artists’ use of technology; Peter Sheldrake (Managing Director, Australian Institute of Management and Board Member of Australian Business Support for the Arts) outlined strategies and realities involved with the attraction of support and sponsorship from Australian business by artists and arts organisations; and Lynne Roberts-Goodwin, one of the exhibiting artists, who spoke of her participation at ANAT’s Summer School, and the ensuing use of technology in her work.

This project highlighted the interaction between art and technology through a wide range of artforms, and addressed issues concerning access to technology by Australian artists through its focus on the Summer Schools. In particular, it highlighted ANAT’s objectives in improving capabilities of artists to use new technologies, and in encouraging an environment of critical debate within the field of art and technology. The exhibition also served as a focus throughout the Ausgraph conference and workshops. It was seen to provide significant ideas and concepts for professionals, artists, students and others interested in scientific or industrial applications to art. Good introductions were made with the potential for future exhibitions, funding media coverage and networking.

Exhibitions such as “Towards a New Aesthetic” will assist in breaking down traditional cultural attitudes towards the arts. They confront the viewing audience with a vision which provides new opportunities and skills for Australian artists to play a more meaningful role in Australia’s economic and creative development. Vital hints at the future of art have been presented to the public. Ausgraph provided the Australian art and technology community with a much needed boost towards the development of a major Australian profile.

ANAT was generously assisted by the Visual Arts and Crafts Board of the Australia Council, Fujitsu Australia, Peter Lehmann’s Wines, the Communications Research Institute of Australia, Canberra, and the Australian Institute of Management. The exhibition also benefitted from the support of the Linden Gallery, Definitive Image Technology, ILFORD, Lynne Roberts-Goodwin, the AUSGRAPH 90 Secretariat and ARC Sound and Video, Melbourne.

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