Long before any of us surfed the Web or sent email, the Internet was, for the most part, the purview of the military and academia. Running parallel to that group of geeks was a small but important global community of artists. These visionaries looked beyond the practical applications of computers and networks to push the boundaries of how and in what contexts they could be used, designed, and imagined—not just as creative tools, but as artworks in and of themselves.
In this talk, Natalie Klym will recount her personal experience with Cultural Software. Inspired by Marshall McLuhan’s belief that artists were the best probes into the future, the organization launched in 1985 to explore and evangelize digital tech in the arts community. The deeper significance of this little-known piece of history will be discussed in terms of the nature of art itself and the role of art and artists in tech innovation especially as we enter a new phase of computing and networking. What are the forces that shape that future? How has the relationship between art and digital technology changed? Who occupies the frontiers of tech today?
Natalie Klym is a Research Associate at MIT’s Communications Futures Program and Internet Policy Research Institute whose work is focused on the future of digital media. She has worked for small community groups, international consultants, and academic institutions for the last 30 years, and has collaborated with an array of people from around the world including artists, activists, scholars, business leaders, policy makers, and the scientists that invented, and continue to invent the Internet and its applications. She lives in Provincetown with her dog Rosy and her cat Ruby.
photo: Unknown (1986) Strategic Arts Initiative. http://interaccess.org/exhibition/strategic-arts-initiative-20