Hiroshi Kawano, Conference Art and Computers 71, Zagreb, © Archive MSU | Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb.

Hiroshi Kawano, the Beginnings of Computer-Generated Art

Hiroshi Kawano Artificial Mondrian, 1966/1969, ZKM Collection © ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe.

Hiroshi Kawano Artificial Mondrian, 1966/1969, ZKM Collection © ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe.

Hiroshi Kawano Design 2-1, Markov Chain Pattern, 1964, ZKM Collection © ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe.

 

 

 

ZKM
Lorenzstrasse 19
+ 49(0)721-8100-0
Karlsruhe
Project Space
Hiroshi Kawano. The Philosopher on the Computer
September 24, 2011-January 08, 2012

From the very beginning, computer art raised questions about issues of authorship and originality, which shook traditional notions of art. Is a programmer the artist? Or is it the computer that has to be named as the artist? What logic does artistic creation follow in computer-generated art? Already in the 1960s, Hiroshi Kawano from Japan recognized that computer technology and the scientific models associated with it encourage a questioning of the basic principles of aesthetics. He was neither an artist who discovered the computer as a new means of production and theme, nor an engineer who found his way to art via the new machine. Kawano is a philosopher who left the desk to experiment in the computing centre with theoretical models dealing with the logics of artistic production. ZKM is now offering the first retrospective devoted to his works.

Japanese philosopher Hiroshi Kawano (* 1925) is among the world’s most important pioneers in capturing computer technology for the arts. The exhibition in the ZKM | Media Museum comprises numerous works and documents that have not yet been presented outside of Japan. They draw from the wealth of the Hiroshi Kawano archives, which have been at ZKM since early 2010. The retrospective emphasizes Kawano’s special role within the circle of pioneers in computer art.

Already in September 1964, Kawano published the first computer-generated works in IBM Review, a Japanese professional journal, a number of “designs,” which he had calculated with the help of an OKITAC 5090A-Computer at the University of Tokyo.

The young philosopher, who was teaching aesthetics at the Metropolitan College of Air Technology at the time, arrived at the computer, the information-processing machine, via a confrontation with neo-Kantianism, symbolism, semiotics, and finally, information theory. With the help of this technology he realized computer-generated forms of different artistic genres: images, lyrics, sculptures, and music.

Kawano’s decision to donate his archive to ZKM was based, no least, on the fact that it was German technology philosopher Max Bense who gave him the crucial impetus to bring together aesthetics and computer technology.

A catalog in German and English will be published on the occasion of the exhibition, with contributions by Hiroshi Kawano, Yoshiyuki Abe, Jungkwon Chin, Simone Gristwood, Akemi Ishijima, Jungyeon Ma, and Margit Rosen.

Curator of the exhibition is Margit Rosen.

Hiroshi Kawano Design 3-3, Color Markov Chain Pattern, 1964, ZKM Collection © ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe.

Hiroshi Kawano Design 2-3, Markov Chain Pattern, 1964, ZKM Collection © ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe.

Hiroshi Kawano Design 3-1, Color Markov Chain Pattern, 1964, ZKM Collection © ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe.

 

Hiroshi Kawano at ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe 2010, © ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, photo: ONUK.