A New Retrospective of Computer Art Forefather Harold Cohen Showcases The Beginnings of Automated Art, Angelica Villa, δημοσίευση ArtNews [14/10/2022]
Generative art may have its roots with dada artists in the early 20th century, but artist Harold Cohen is credited with pioneering the tech-based genre. He became one of the first practitioners of automated art when he built a code-run machine that could produce figurative paintings.
In the late ’60s, Cohen, a once-languishing painter, was working as a lecturer at the University of California, San Diego in the visual arts department. Around the same time, computer science researchers at the university were beginning to use artificial intelligence to break new ground in mathematics. Inspired, Cohen began exploring the use of computers in 1968 and, by the early ’70s, he had built a computer system dubbed AARON to create paintings from pre-programmed algorithmic code.
He would eventually go on to unveil AARON, and the works deriving from it, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
A new exhibition at the London gallery Gazelli Art House explores Cohen’s enduring contribution to art and technology. The showcase, titled “The AARON Retrospective,” comes two months after the London dealer announced representation of Cohen’s estate. The artist died in 2016 at the age of 87.
On view until November 16, the exhibition includes 18 works spanning Cohen’s figurative paintings, alongside the vintage steel machinery Cohen used to execute them. It is the second exhibition focused on Cohen’s work, the first of which was during its group showcase “Code of Arms” in 2021 that focused on the pioneering AI artist.