Computer Virus 1.0 and the Return of Lazarus

viral attaque haVes & haVe nOts (1993) 102x122.5cm canvas

Galerie Richard 



Joseph Nechvatal

Computer Virus 1.0 and the Return of Lazarus

November 8th – December 10th 2017

Vernissage Wednesday November 8th from 6 – 8 pm

From November 8th to December 10th 2017 American artist Joseph Nechvatal presents Computer Virus 1.0 and the Return of Lazarus. This mini-retrospective exhibition consists of 9 computer-robotic assisted paintings: 4 historic 1993 paintings from Nechvatal’s HyperCard Computer Virus Project (1992-93) that dealt with the AIDS virus epidemic placed in conjunction with computer viruses, 2 small 1988 paintings from his Informed Man series (1986-89), and 3 new 2017 paintings on velour entitled The Return of Lazarus. These 3 new paintings are based on recovered digital files of Nechvatal’s 1986 maquettes of unrealized computer-robotic assisted paintings from his Informed Man series that featured an information-saturated Lazarus returning from the dead. The entirety of the show stresses a continuum of artistic acts based on recovering from loss and the resisting of oblivion.

Computer Virus 1.0 and the Return of Lazarus picks up on the themes of extinction and viral demise that Joseph Nechvatal developed in the late-80s and early-90s. His Computer Virus Project was created under the umbrella of the FRAC Franche-Comte at the Centre International de Réflexion sur l’Avenir de la Fondation Claude-Nicolas Ledoux at La Saline Royale d’Arc-et-Senans as part of Nechvatal’s artist-in-residency at Atelier Louis Pasteur in Arbois, France (1991-1993). As discussed with Thyrza Goodeve in an interview in the January 2016 issue of The Brooklyn Rail, Nechvatal explains that the Computer Virus Project’s initial goal was to produce physical paintings using algorithms that implement a virtual ‘viral’ model. This use of computer code as simulation tool allowed him to virtually introduce artificial viruses into a digitized reproduction of his earlier artwork (the host) and to transform and destroy those images in a ravishing manner. During these launched ‘attacks’ in 1993, a new still image was extracted and roboticly spray painted on canvas so as to bring the virtual into the actual realm. The negative connotations of the HIV virus as a vector of disease is reflected in the principle of degradation that the host image undergoes, but the virus is also the basis of a creative process, producing newness in terms of the history of painting.

Hyper-Intersubjectivity (1988) 24x18” canvas copy

Galerie Richard 



T: 1 212-510-8181



About josephnechvatal

Joseph Nechvatal is an American post-conceptual artist who creates virus-modeled artificial life computer-assisted paintings and animations. Themes he has addressed in his art include the apocalyptic, communication excess, the virus, and gender fluidity. In 1975, he moved from Chicago to the downtown Tribeca area of New York City. He began studying at Columbia University with the philosopher Arthur Danto while working for the Dia Art Foundation as archivist to the minimalist composer La Monte Young. In 1980, he moved from Tribeca to the sordid Lower East Side where he found artistic camaraderie and politically inspired creative energy. There he became closely associated with Collaborative Projects (Colab), the influential post-punk artists’ group that included Kiki Smith and Jenny Holzer, among others. Those were glory days for the famous Colab projects, such as Just Another Asshole, The Real Estate Show and The Times Square Show. He also helped establish the non-profit cultural space ABC No Rio, where exhibitions were animated by political purpose. In the early 1980s, his art consisted of dense post-minimalist gray graphite drawings (that were sometimes photo-mechanically enlarged), of sculpture, of photographs, and of musique concrète audio collages. In 1983, he co-founded the famous avant-garde art music project Tellus Audio Cassette Magazine. In 1984, he created an opera called XS: The Opera Opus (1984-6) with the no wave musical composer Rhys Chatham that was presented in Boston and New York. In 1986, Nechvatal began using computer-robotics to make conceptual paintings. Some were exhibited at Documenta VIII in 1987. In 1992, when he was artist-in-residence at the Louis Pasteur Atelier in Arbois and at the Saline royale d’Arc-et-Senans, he created computer virus codes that he used as an artistic tool. This work was a reflection on his personal experiences of risk and loss with the AIDS epidemic. In 1999, he earned his doctorat in the philosophy of aesthetics and technology in England and soon wrote two art theory books: Towards an Immersive Intelligence and Immersion Into Noise. In 2001, he extended his initial experimentations into the virus as an artistic painterly tool in a series of artificial life works. These works include various series of paintings, animations, and a lengthy audio composition entitled viral symphOny. He has created a series of virus-based themed exhibitions of artificial life paintings and animation projections that explore the fragility and fluidity of the human body. You can follow him on Twitter at @twinkletwink Homepage:
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