Joseph Nechvatal


Joseph Nechvatal

Image title
madOnna cOl bambinO (2011) 168 x 112 cm peintures assistées par ordinateur

From 1991-1993 I worked as artist-in-resident at the Louis Pasteur Atelier and the Saline Royale / Ledoux Foundation’s computer lab in Arbois, France. Arbois was the hometown of Louis Pasteur and the idea of The Computer Virus Project 1.0 – where I began experimenting with computer viruses as a creative stratagem – began there.

The AIDS virus was impacting on me emotionally at the time, so it made sense to move in that direction. I wanted to overcome the fear I was feeling – and it expressed my attraction towards things beauté tragique. I think that the life/non-life idea inherent in the viral situation is fascinating. The text “The Electronic Revolution” by William S. Burroughs from 1970 was also key to the idea of makng art with computer viruses.

After my first computer-assisted paintings were created using robot-assisted means in 1986, I sought to create paintings around the concept of the virus. I developed this idea by considering an image as a host that is used to host viruses: active agents whose role it is to manipulate and degrade the information contained in the image.

The negative connotations of the HIV virus as a vector of disease is reflected in the principle of degradation of the image. But here, the virus is also the basis of a creative process, producing newness in reference to vector genetic information in biological systems.

In 2002 I extended that artistic exploration into the field of artificial life through my collaboration with the programmer Stéphane Sikora.

Joseph Nechvatal
madOnna cOl bambinO