A virtual reconstruction of one of the first exhibitions of computer-generated graphics and the first exhibition ever in the Eastern Bloc, organised in 1968 in the House of Arts by the theorist, curator and artist Jiří Valoch (*1946).
About the project
It is a high-tech reconstruction of the Computer Graphic exhibition organised at the Brno House of Arts in February 1968 by the artist, curator and theorist Jiří Valoch (*1946). Valoch’s exhibition was one of the first gallery presentations of computer art and the very first exhibition of this art in the so-called Eastern Bloc. It is one of the important milestones in the world history of new media art and a so-far little appreciated golden moment in local art history. While the exhibition project called Computer Graphic Re-visited draws on archive materials, it is not a reconstruction of the original event, rather a remake balancing between an art-history experiment and the genre of “remembering exhibitions”. The installation is not meant to invoke nostalgia for old machines. Using the technology of full-immersion virtual reality, widely spread particularly in the gaming industry, and other media of the transparent experience it re-materialises Valoch’s futuristic creative gesture.
The first version of the Computer Graphic Re-visited exhibition project was situated in the entrance hall of the Brno House of Arts, where Valoch’s exhibition was also held, and completely installed in virtual reality. The only objects at the exhibition were VR glasses, a controller and a projection screen on which other visitors could follow what the immersant is just seeing. A perfect replica created in virtual reality showed the appearance of the exhibition space at that period with the computer graphics presented at Valoch’s exhibition identified by the curators and available in sufficient quality. A total of 20 images from the original 81 were additionally accompanied by archive photographs from the opening.
A virtual experience and art history
The reconstruction of Valoch’s exhibition in virtual reality corresponds with the turn away from traditional historiographical description to mediating an experience. This trend is characterised by the accent being not laid on presentation through the aura of the originals but rather on a physical and sensory experience. In this context we talk about a “sensory turn” which suggests an increased interest in the reconstruction of the viewer-work relationship as a complex experience encompassing distanced sight as well as touch, hearing, smell and the physical experience of space (distance vs nearness, arrangement). Experimental research based on multi-sensory evoking of historical events comes to the fore.
The numeric expression 2.0 in the title of the exhibition project indicates that it is the second version of the Computer Graphic Re-visited exhibition. It was presented for the first time to the participants of the international conference on the history and philosophy of computing HaPoC_4 between 3/10 – 6/10 2017. At the same time it refers to web 2.0, a stage in the evolution of the World Wide Web connected with the development of platforms supporting the sharing of content produced by users, which accelerated the spread of the typical post-modern cultural practice consisting of continual reworking and recontextualisation, such as remix, remake or appropriation.
The unique reconstruction of Valoch’s exhibition in virtual reality has been newly accompanied by additional objects situated within the space of the exhibition room. In this way the exhibition concept elaborates on the strategy of “remembering exhibitions” characterised by Reesa Greenberg as a riff. A riff refers to popular music and jazz - it is a short, melodically simple music phrase, usually regularly repeated or transposed through sequences. In the case of Computer Graphic Re-visited 2.0 the riff is applied in transporting the exhibition to virtual reality, as well as in the means of presentation of the computer graphic as morphing images on LCD screens mounted on the gallery walls. The exhibition is enriched by computer music and poetry. It evokes the atmosphere of the exhibition opening in 1968 and at the same time refers to the inherent inter-media nature of digital works, their generative and processual characteristics which change artefacts into events.
Charles A. Csuri – Leslie Mezei – Frieder Nake – Georg Nees – A. Michael Noll – Lubomír Sochor
Charles A. Csuri
Jiří Levý – Karel Pala