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Art as organism: biology and the evolution of the digital image

Art as organism: biology and the evolution of the digital image

Terranova, Charissa N., author

What if modernism had been characterised by evolving, interconnected and multi-sensory images rather than by the monolithic objects often described by its artists and theorists? In this groundbreaking book, Charissa Terranova unearths a forgotten narrative of modernism, which charts the influence that biology, General Systems Theory and cybernetics had on art in the twentieth century. From kinetic and interactive art to early computer art and installations spanning an entire city, she shows that the digital image was a rich and expansive artistic medium of modernism. This book links the emergence of the digital image to the dispersion of biocentric aesthetic philosophies developed by Bauhaus pedagogue Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, from 1920s Berlin to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the 1970s. It uncovers seminal but overlooked references to biology, the organism, feedback loops, emotions and the Gestalt, along with an intricate genealogy of related thinkers across disciplines. Terranova interprets anew major art movements such as the Bauhaus, Op Art and Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.), by referencing contemporary insights from architects, embryologists, electrical engineers and computer scientists, among others.This book reveals the complex connections between visual culture, science and technology that comprise the deep history of twentieth-century art. "

eBook, Electronic resource, Book. English. Electronic books.
Published London: I.B. Tauris, 2016
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Statement of responsibility: Charissa N. Terranova
ISBN: 0857728075, 9780857728074
Note: Includes bibliographical references and index.
Physical Description: xix, 315 pages : illustrations (black and white)
Subject: History of art; Art, Modern 20th century.; The arts: general issues; Philosophy: aesthetics; Theory of art; Art and Design.; Modernism (Art); Art and science.
Reproduction: Electronic reproduction. Askews and Holts. Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Other formats: Also available in printed form ISBN 9781784534301


  1. Preface
  2. Introduction - The Haptic Unconscious: Lßszl¾ Moholy-Nagy's Organismic Aesthetics
  3. Bauhaus Biology: The Beginnings of Biofunctionalism
  4. Gyorgy Kepes and the Light image as Bio-Image: Pop Art-and-Science, Integration, and Distribution
  5. The Distributed Image of the City: The Collaboration between Gyorgy Kepes and Kevin Lynch
  6. Wet Perception: Op Art and New Tendencies, between the Gestalt and Ecological Psychology
  7. The Digital Image in Art: The Generative Turn, Computational and Biological