FRAGMENTS THAT REMAIN – TRANSMEDIATING CHARLES CSURI’S RANDOM WAR
The exhibition Fragments That Remain – Transmediating Charles Csuri’s Random War is across social media and can be viewed on LEA’s Facebook Album through a Direct URL:
The previous exhibition by Chris Meigh-Andrews, In Darwin’s Garden, can be accessed via the Direct URL:
Reinterpretations and interrelated contexts create new modalities of perception and understanding, leading to the rediscovery of the self and human commonalities beyond local realities and globalized stereotypes. Transcending simple technological transfer – or re-mediation – transmediation entails the reinvention of a previously created artwork in order to produce a new work that is still the same work. Through the process of redefining the artwork’s material and conceptual elements in response to the opportunities and constraints of new technology, transmediation serves as a translation process that sees the new medium into which the artwork is being transferred as an entirely new space that requires alterations – at times drastically different from its original version – in the aesthetic conceptualizations of the artwork as well as its material manifestation.
This approach informed the curatorial framework of the exhibition Dislocations; curated by Lanfranco Aceti and presented in conjunction with ISEA2011, the 12th Istanbul Biennial and the Museum of Contemporary Art (MSU) in Zagreb, Croatia. Dislocations featured the work of Charles Csuri, David Cotterrell, Danielle Roney and Jeff Conefry, Mathias Fuchs and Songül Boyraz.
The artworks were presented on the media facade of the MSU on a weekly basis to coincide with the biennial program. By being presented across the Internet and publicized in the biennial’s press package, the exhibition was simultaneously linked to and disjointed from the events taking place in Istanbul. Conceived as part of a larger curatorial concept – the dislocation and re-allocation of artworks as part of locus focused biennials – Dislocations responded to a globalized perspective of new-media frameworks of participations under meta-umbrella events.
The main feature of this exhibition was the world premiere of a new transmediated version of digital pioneer Charles Csuri ‘s celebrated work Random War (1967). Arguably one of the most important works of the twentieth century, Random War stands at the convergence of Csuri’s formative computer art practice and the social upheaval centered upon the Vietnam War in the late 1960s. Executed using a mainframe computer, pressing keys, punch cards and drum plotters, Csuri’s drawing captures the chaos of the battlefield by using a random number generator to locate the iconic motif of the “little green army man” on the the printed page. Above this chaotic scene of absurdly rotated and overlapping figures, the artist listed the names of various Ohio State University administrators and faculty staff, along with famous people (including future presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan) under the headings of Dead, Wounded, Missing and Survivors.
While representative of themes that would continue to shape and define Charles Csuri’s art (such as object transformation, randomness and hierarchical levels of control), Random War stands simultaneously as an enduring testimonial and prescient reminder of the ‘creative partnership’ formed between artist and computer.
(Note: Selected extracts from Lanfranco Aceti, Dislocations: Questions of War, Place, Trauma and Context in the Transmediations of Art on Public Giant Screens. have been reworked as part of this introduction, while art historical and biographic details have been drawn from The Charles A. Csuri Project [https://csuriproject.osu.edu/].)
Digital Media Curator, Leonardo Electronic Almanac
Director and Senior Curator, Kasa Gallery, Sabanci University
Curator of New Media Arts at the Whitney Museum of American Art
Featured Artist and collaborators:
Charles A. Csuri is best known for pioneering the field of computer graphics, computer animation and digital fine art. His experimentation with computer graphics technology began in 1964. A year later he began creating computer-animated films, and in 1967 he was awarded the prize for animation at the 4th International Experimental Film Festival in Brussels, Belgium. His work featured in the benchmark exhibition Cybernetic Serendipity held at The Institute for Contemporary Art, London, England, in 1968. As testimony to the importance of his work in the emerging field of electronic media arts, he has exhibited in the 42nd Venice Biennale (1986) and been awarded Ars Electronica prizes in 1989 and 1990. Csuri was the recipient of The Distinguished Artist Award for Lifetime Achievement in Digital Art from SIGGRAPH in 2011.
Csuri is widely recognized as the father of digital art (Smithsonian Magazine), pioneer of computer animation (Museum of Modern Art) and as the first artist to receive funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF). He founded the Computer Graphics Research Group (CGRG), the Ohio Super Computer Graphics Project, and the Advanced Computing Center for Art and Design (ACCAD). In 2000, he received both the Governor’s Award and The Ohio State University Sullivant Award in acknowledgment of his lifetime achievements in the fields of digital art and computer animation.
The first two images presented in this exhibition are drawn from the The Charles A. Csuri Project database, an online resource that documents and historically contextualizes the art, writings and major life events of pioneering computer artist Charles Csuri, from 1945 to the present. [https://csuriproject.osu.edu/]
The project was established in 199 by The Ohio State University (OSU), in order to preserve, organize and publicly disseminate a digital record of the pioneering role of computer artist and Ohio State Emeritus Professor Charles A. Csuri in the field of computer graphics. The images and animations included in the database document both traditional and computer art from 1945 to present along with works created by his students, particularly those associated with the Computer Graphics Research Group (CGRG) and Cranston/Csuri Productions, Inc. (CCP). Textual information is based on original research and extensive interviews with the artist and his colleagues, and continues to be updated and expanded. The Csuri Project at OSU is supported by the Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD) and the College of the Arts, and is housed at ACCAD.
LEA International Curatoriate
Lanfranco Aceti, Christiane Paul & Vince Dziekan
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