Gazelli Art House is delighted to present Code of Arms, its inaugural group exhibition investigating the history of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning in art. The exploration of implementing code and AI in art in the 1970s - 80s comes at a time of rapid change in our understanding and appreciation of computer art. The exhibition brings together pioneer artists in computer and generative art such as Georg Nees (b.1926), Frieder Nake (b.1938), Manfred Mohr (b.1938) and Vera Molnar (b.1924), and iconic artists employing AI in their practice such as Harold Cohen (b.1928), Lynn Hershman Leeson (b.1941), and Mario Klingemann (b.1970).
Code of Arms follows the evolution of the medium through the works of exhibited artists. Harold Cohen’s painting, Aspect (1964), a work shown at the Whitechapel Gallery in 1965 (Harold Cohen: Paintings 1960-1965), marks the artist’s earliest point of enquiry unfolding his scientific and artistic genius. Cohen, who was most famous for creating the computer program AARON, a predecessor of contemporary AI technologies, implemented the program in his work from 80s onwards as seen by the drawings from this period in the exhibition.
Much of the early computer art works explored geometric forms and structure employing the technology which was still in the infant stage. Plotter drawings carried out by flatbed precision plotter and early printouts by Manfred Mohr, Georg Nees, Frieder Nake and Vera Molnar from the mid-1960s through the 1980s are an excellent representation of that period: the artists focused on the visual forms rather than addressing the underlying meaning and ethics of using computers in their art. The artists saw machines as an external force that would allow them to explore the visual aspect of the works and experiment with the form in an objective manner. Coming from different backgrounds, they worked alongside each other and made an immense contribution to the early computer art.