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Process, Chance, and Serendipity: Art That Makes Itself

An Exhibition by Paul Brown

February 20, 2018 - July 15, 2018

NAS Building, 2101 Constitution Ave., N.W.

Free. Photo ID required.

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Paul Brown discovered digital computers as a creative medium after seeing the Cybernetic Serendipity exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London in 1968. Early in his career he began developing processed-based methods for generating images and time-based artworks as an alternative to the then common approach to art making as a form of self-expression. 
Brown designs computer programs – sets of instructions – and when they execute, the ongoing process exhibits emergent properties, which comprise the artworks. He emphasizes that the art is not embedded in the programs by intention but instead emerges autonomously from the execution of the programs. Together with his son Daniel, who is also an artist, they have described this methodology as “art that makes itself.”

Art Concret, a 1930s movement championing geometric abstract art, and the Systems Art movement were major influences as his practice matured in the 1960s. His work creating lightshows for some of the major musicians and groups of the period including Pink Floyd, Meredith Monk and Musica Elettronica Viva was another important inspiration. He is one of the pioneers of the field of Generative and Computational Art and is also recognized for his early work in Artificial Life “A-Life” Art.

Brown’s work has been exhibited internationally at venues including the Tate and the Victoria & Albert Museum and is also in major public and private collections around the world. He maintains studios in London and Ocean Shores, Australia. Since 2000, he has been an Honorary Visiting Professor and Artist-in-Residence in the department of Informatics at the University of Sussex in England.

This exhibition coincides with the NAS' March 2018 colloquium Creativity and Collaboration: Revisiting Cybernetic Serendipity.

Pictured: Untitled, Computer Assisted Drawing, 1975/2017, Giclée print made from the original in the Victoria & Albert Collection: E.961-2008, 10 x 10 inches.

Join the conversation on social media with #ArtMakesItself.

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