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Contents © 2020 Golan Levin and Collaborators

Golan Levin and Collaborators

Interviews and Dialogues

Interview by Casey Reas for Sonic Acts XI

For Anthology of Computer Art, published by Sonic Acts/Paradiso, Amsterdam.
Golan Levin, November 2005.

What is the precedent for your work? Do you associate yourself with any of the artists mentioned below or any other artists or artworks from the 1960s?

  • Steven Beck, Harold Cohen, Charles Csuri, Kenneth Knowlton, Ben Laposky, Manfred Mohr, Frieder Nake, George Nees, A. Michael Noll, Manfred R. Schroeder, Lillian Schwartz, Stan Vanderbeek, John Whitney Sr.

  • Yaacov Agam, Mel Bochner, Hans Haacke, On Kawara, Les Levine, Sol LeWitt, George Maciunas, Yoko Ono, Nam June Paik, Bridget Riley, Dieter Roth, Victor Vasarely, La Monte Young

I used to stare at Vasarely's work for hours when I was a kid. For the past decade, though, the most direct influences on my work have come from artists whose principal medium and subject matter is interactivity itself. I'm particularly indebted to artists who have researched algorithmically-augmented interactivities in the contexts of gestural input and audiovisual output — people like Myron Krueger, Toshio Iwai, Scott Snibbe and John Maeda.

Many of the artists you listed have focused on the use of the computer (or other rule-based systems) to produce mostly static visual forms. Although it's true that their work is a foundation for a great deal of today's digital art (and generative art in particular), I think it's important to recognize how the influences on digital art broadened as the computer became increasingly capable of rendering animated sequences (in the 1970s) and real-time graphics (in the 1980s). For me, the artistic potential of this time-based and responsive new medium could be best appreciated through prior achievements in absolute film (e.g. Fischinger, McLaren, Brakhage), kinetic art (e.g. Calder, Lye), and audiovisual instrument design (e.g. Thomas Wilfred and Harry Partch). Of the artists you mentioned, I have probably drawn the most inspiration from Yaacov Agam, who truly was creating interactive paintings, and John Whitney, for the breadth and courage of his attempts to relate sound and image through computation.