|Known for||Digital art, Sound art|
Life and work
Joseph Nechvatal was born in Chicago. He studied fine art and philosophy at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Cornell University and Columbia University, where he studied with Arthur Danto while serving as the archivist to the minimalist composer La Monte Young. From 1979, he exhibited his work in New York City, primarily at Galerie Richard, Brooke Alexander Gallery and Universal Concepts Unlimited. He has also solo exhibited in Berlin, Paris, Chicago, Cologne, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Aalst, Belgium, Youngstown, Senouillac, Lund, Toulouse, Turin and Munich.
His work in the early 1980s chiefly consisted of postminimalist gray graphite drawings that were often photomechanically enlarged. During that period he was associated with the artist group Colab and helped establish the non-profit cultural space ABC No Rio. In 1983 he co-founded the avant-garde electronic art music audio project Tellus Audio Cassette Magazine. In 1984, Nechvatal began work on an opera called XS: The Opera Opus (1984-6) with the no wave musical composer Rhys Chatham.
He began using computers to make "paintings" in 1986 and later, in his signature work, began to employ computer viruses. These "collaborations" with viral systems positioned his work as an early contribution to what is increasingly referred to as a post-human aesthetic.
From 1991–1993 he was artist-in-residence at the Louis Pasteur Atelier in Arbois, France and at the Saline Royale/Ledoux Foundation's computer lab.There he worked on The Computer Virus Project, which was an artistic experiment with computer viruses and computer animation. He exhibited at Documenta 8 in 1987.
In 1999 Nechvatal obtained his Ph.D. in the philosophy of art and new technology concerning immersive virtual reality at Roy Ascott's Centre for Advanced Inquiry in the Interactive Arts (CAiiA), University of Wales College, Newport, UK (now the Planetary Collegium at the University of Plymouth). There he developed his concept of viractualism, a conceptual art idea that strives "to create an interface between the biological and the technological." According to Nechvatal, this is a new topological space.
In 2002 he extended his experimentation into viral artificial life through a collaboration with the programmer Stephane Sikora of music2eye in a work called the Computer Virus Project II, inspired by the a-life work of John Horton Conway (particularly Conway's Game of Life), by the general cellular automata work of John von Neumann, by the genetic programming algorithms of John Koza and the auto-destructive art of Gustav Metzger.
In 2005 he exhibited Computer Virus Project II works (digital paintings, digital prints, a digital audio installation and two live electronic virus-attack art installations) in a solo show called cOntaminatiOns at Château de Linardié in Senouillac, France. In 2006 Nechvatal received a retrospective exhibition entitled Contaminations at the Butler Institute of American Art's Beecher Center for Arts and Technology.
Dr. Nechvatal has also contributed to digital audio work with his noise music viral symphOny, a collaborative sound symphony created by using his computer virus software at the Institute for Electronic Arts at Alfred University. viral symphOny was presented as a part of nOise anusmOs in New York in 2012.
In 2013, Nechvatal showed work in Noise, an official collateral show of the 55th Venice Biennale of Art, that was based on his book Immersion Into Noise.
From 1999 to 2013, Nechvatal taught art theories of immersive virtual reality and the viractual at the School of Visual Arts in New York City (SVA). A book of his collected essays entitled Towards an Immersive Intelligence: Essays on the Work of Art in the Age of Computer Technology and Virtual Reality (1993–2006) was published by Edgewise Press in 2009. Also in 2009, his book Immersive Ideals / Critical Distances was published. In 2011, his book Immersion Into Noise was published by Open Humanities Press in conjunction with the University of Michigan Library's Scholarly Publishing Office. In 2014 he published (as editor) a book and CD/cassette tape with Punctum Books and Punctum Records on the noise music artist Minóy and in 2015 he published with Punctum Books a collection of his farcical erotic poetry entitled Destroyer of Naivetés.
Joe Lewis wrote:
|“||in the artist/theorist tradition of Robert Smithson, Joseph Nechvatal is a pioneer in the field of digital image making who challenges our perceptions of nature by altering conventional notions of space and time, gender, and self. [...] Nechvatal successfully plunged into the depths where art, technology and theory meet.||”|
Viractualism is an art theory term developed by Nechvatal in 1999. The term viractualism (and viractuality ) emerged from the Ph.D. research Nechvatal conducted in the philosophy of art and new technology concerning immersive virtual reality at Roy Ascott's Centre for Advanced Inquiry in the Interactive Arts (CAiiA), University of Wales College, Newport, UK (now the Planetary Collegium at the University of Plymouth). There he developed his concept of the viractual, which strives to create an interface between the biological and the virtual. It is central to Nechvatal’s work as an artist.
Nechvatal suggests that the term (concept) viractual (and viractualism or viractuality) may be an entrainment/égréore conception helpful in defining our now third-fused inter-spatiality which is forged from the meeting of the virtual and the actual. - a concept close to what the military call augmented reality, which is the use of transparent displays worn as see-through glasses on which computer data is projected and layered.
The basis of the viractual conception is that virtual producing computer technology has become a noteworthy means for making and understanding contemporary art and that this brings artists to a place where one finds the emerging of the computed (the virtual) with the uncomputed corporeal (the actual). This amalgamate - which tends to contradict some central techno clichés of our time - is what Nechvatal calls the viractual. Digitization is a key metaphor for viractuality in the sense that it is the elementary translating procedure today. Nechvatal thinks that in every era the attempt must be made anew to wrest the art practice away from conformisms that are about to overcome it.
Cybism is an art theory term developed by Nechvatal as a sub-division of viractuality following discussion with artist Kenneth Wahl at the turn of the century. Wahl preferred the term scybism. The concept was proposed by Nechvatal for an exhibition in 2003 called The Attractions of Cybism for Fairfield University that never was realized.
As defined by Dr. Nechvatal, Cybism is a new sensibility emerging in art respecting the integration of certain aspects of science, technology and consciousness – a consciousness struggling to attend to the prevailing current spirit of our age. This cybistic zeitgeist Nechvatal identifies as being precisely a quality-of-life desire in which everything, everywhere, all at once is connected in a rhizomatic web of communication. Therefore, cybism is no longer content with the regurgitation of standardized repertoires. Rather Nechvatal detects in art a fertile attraction towards the abstractions of advanced scientific discovery - discovery now stripped of its fundamentally reductive logical methodology.
Nechvatal states that cybism can be used to characterize a certain group of researchers and their understanding of where cultural space is developing today. Cybists reflect on system dynamics with a hybrid blending (cybridization) of the computational supplied virtual with the analog. This blending of the computational virtual with the analog indicates the subsequent emergence of a new cybrid topological cognitive-vision that Nechvatal has called viractuality: the space of connection betwixt the computed virtual and the uncomputed corporeal (actual) world which merge in cybism.
Nechvatal states that co-extensive notions found in cybism have sharp ramifications for art as product in that the cybists are actively exploring the frontiers of science/technology research so as to become culturally aware of the biases of consciousness in order to amend those biases through the monumentality and permanency which can be found in powerful art. He begins with the realization that every new technology disrupts the previous rhythms of consciousness. In this sense cybist art research begins where hard science/technology ends.
- Joseph Nechvatal. "BIOGRAPHY Flawed Composition - The Brooklyn Rail".
- ART LABORATORY BERLIN bOdy pandemOnium. Immersion into Noise
- "Joseph Nechvatal".
- Milazzo & Collins 1990, pp. 3-7.
- Alan Moore and Marc Miller, eds. ABC No Rio Dinero: The Story of a Lower East Side Art Gallery New York: ABC No Rio with Collaborative Projects, 1985 with Joseph Nechvatal drawing on cover.
- ABC No Rio Dinero: The Story of a Lower East Side Art Gallery with Joseph Nechvatal drawing on cover
- McCormick 2005
- Rhys Chatham, Die Donnergötter (LP, CD), Table of the Elements/Radium 2006, CD Book, p. 14
- Sharp 1984, pp. 52-55.
- Joseph Nechvatal, Selected Writings. Paris: Editions Antoine Candau, 1990
- Popper 2007, pp. 120-123.
- Lieser, Wolf. Digital Art. Langenscheidt: h.f. ullmann. 2009 p. 87
- Morgan 2006, pp. 75-76.
- Documenta GmbH., Museum Fridericianum Veranstaltungs GmbH, Volume 3 de Documenta 8: Kassel 1987
- Nechvatal, J. 1987. Theoretical Statement Concerning Computer Robotic Paintings, Documenta 8 Catalogue, Vol. 3
- Paul 2006, pp. 57-58.
- See Joseph Nechvatal, Towards an Immersive Intelligence: Essays on the Work of Art in the Age of Computer Technology and Virtual Reality (1993-2006). Edgewise Press. New York, N.Y. 2009
- Liu 2004, pp. 331-336 & 485-486.
- "Gustav Metzger (1926-)".
- Video on Joseph Nechvatal's Computer Virus Project 2.0 on YouTube
- "Artist in Residence Archive".
- "Joseph Nechvatal :: Viral symphony :: IEA :: 2007".
- Morgan, Robert (June 2012). "Joseph Nechvatal: nOise anusmOs". The Brooklyn Rail.
- De Arte Association press statement
- Nechvatal. J. Immersive Ideals / Critical Distances, LAP Lambert Academic Publishing (July 7, 2009) ISBN 3-8383-0445-4 / ISBN 978-3-8383-0445-8
- Immersion Into Noise published by Open Humanities Press in conjunction with the University of Michigan Library's Scholarly Publishing Office. Ann Arbor. 2011.
- Nechvatal's author page at Punctum Books
- Lewis 2003, pp.123-124.
- Christiane Paul, in her seminal book Digital Art, discusses Nechvatal's concept of viractualism on page 58. One of the images she chooses to illustrate that section of the book is Nechvatal's painting entitled the birth Of the viractual (2001). Joe Lewis, in the March 2003 issue of Art in America (pp.123-124), discusses the viractual in his review Joseph Nechvatal at Universal Concepts Unlimited. John Reed in Artforum Web 3-2004 Critic’s Picks discusses the concept in his piece #1 Joseph Nechvatal. Frank Popper also writes about the viractual concept in his book From Technological to Virtual Art on page 122.
- Our Digital Noology: Catherine Perret in conversation with Joseph Nechvatal
- Viractualism is a conceptual art concept that indicates and initiates communions of the protoplasmic mass to virtual spatial conditions. Roy Ascott, in his essay "The Architecture of Cyberception"*, has said, "... to inhabit both the real and virtual worlds at one and the same time, and to be both here and potentially everywhere else at the same time is giving us a new sense of self, new ways of thinking and perceiving which extend what we have believed to be our natural, genetic capabilities." Ascott, R. 1994. "The Architecture of Cyberception" In Leonardo Electronic Almanac, Vol. 2, No. 8, MIT Press Journals, August 1994
- The title of the Ph.D. dissertation is "Immersive Ideals / Critical Distances : A Study of the Affinity Between Artistic Ideologies Based in Virtual Reality and Previous Immersive Idioms". A url introduction to the thesis, entitled "Frame and Excess", can be read on-line and the entire thesis downloaded in PDF at:
- Joseph Nechvatal 2009 Video Interview on YouTube
- http://thefishpond.in/himanshudamle/2009/viral-art/ Viral Art: consciousness in concurrency with mutation
- Nechvatal's Ph.D. dissertation Immersive Ideals / Critical Distances: A Study of the Affinity Between Artistic Ideologies Based in Virtual Reality and Previous Immersive Idioms
- Concerning the viractual span of liminality in viractualism, Nechvatal refers to two very different, yet complimentary, concepts: entrainment and égréore.Entrainment, in electro-physics, is the coupling of two or more oscillators as they lock into a commonly sensed interacting frequency. In alchemical terms an égréore (an old form of the word agréger) is a third concept or phenomenon which is established from conjoining two different elements together.
- Joseph Nechvatal, "Towards an Immersive Intelligence: Essays on the Work of Art in the Age of Computer Technology and Virtual Reality (1993-2006)". Edgewise Press. 2009. pp. 53-58
- Paper read at Oberlin College in application for The Henry Luce Professorship in the Emerging Arts Position (2000) titled The Emerging Arts Lecture at Oberlin
- Viractualism defined at BeeHive Volume 5 : Issue 2 (12.2002)
- Cybism Defined
- Cybism in Mexico
- John Johnston, The Allure of Machinic Life: Cybernetics, Artificial Life, and the New AI, MIT Press, 2008, cover
- Donald Kuspit, The Matrix of Sensations VI: Digital Artists and the New Creative Renaissance
- Joline Blais and Jon Ippolito, The Edge of Art, Thames & Hudson Ltd, p. 213
- Frank Popper, From Technological to Virtual Art, MIT Press, pp. 120–123
- Johanna Drucker, Joseph Nechvatal : Critical Pleasure
- Robert C. Morgan, Voluptuary: An algorithic hermaphornology, Tema Celeste Magazine, volume #93, p. 94
- Bruce Wands, Art of the Digital Age, London: Thames & Hudson, p. 65
- Robert C. Morgan, Laminations of the Soul, Editions Antoine Candau, 1990, pp. 23–30
- Margot Lovejoy, Digital Currents: Art in the Electronic Age Routledge 2004
- Joseph Nechvatal, Immersive Excess in the Apse of Lascaux, Technonoetic Arts 3, no3. 2005
- Joseph Nechvatal. Immersion Into Noise. Open Humanities Press in conjunction with the University of Michigan Library's Scholarly Publishing Office. Ann Arbor. 2011
- Johanna Drucker, Joseph Nechvatal : Critical Pleasure, Redaktion Frank Berndt, 1996, pp. 10–13
- Mario Costa, Phenomenology of New Tech Arts, Artmedia, Salerno, 2005, p. 6 & pp. 36 – 38
- Dominique Moulon, L'art numerique: spectateur-acteuret vie artificielle, Les images numeriques #47-48, 2004, pp. 124–125
- Christine Buci-Glucksmann, L’art à l’époque virtuel, in Frontières esthétiques de l’art, Arts 8, Paris: L’Harmattan, 2004
- Brandon Taylor, Collage, Thames & Hudson Ltd, 2006, p. 221
- Dominique Moulon, Conférence Report : Media Art in France, Un Point d'Actu, L'Art Numerique, pp. 124–125
- Edmond Couchot, Des Images, du temps et des machines, édité Actes Sud, 2007, pp. 263–264
- Fred Forest, Art et Internet, Editions Cercle D'Art / Imaginaire Mode d'Emploi, pp. 48 –51
- Wayne Enstice & Melody Peters, Drawing: Space, Form, & Expression, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, pp. 312–313
- Ellen K. Levy, Synthetic Lighting: Complex Simulations of Nature, Photography Quarterly (#88) 2004, pp. 7–9
- Marie-Paule Nègre, Des artistes en leur monde, volume 2, la Gazette de l'Hotel Drout, 2008, pp. 82–83
- Corrado Levi, È andata così: Cronaca e critica dell'arte 1970-2008, Joseph Nechvatal intervistato nel suo studio a New York (1985–86), pp. 130–135
- Donald Kuspit, Del Atre Analogico al Arte Digital in Arte Digital Y Videoarte, Kuspit, D. ed., Consorcio del Circulo de Bellas Artes, Madrid, pp. 33–34 & pp. 210 – 212
- Robert C. Morgan, Nechvatal’s Visionary Computer Virus, in Gruson, L. ed. 1993. Joseph Nechvatal: Computer Virus Project, Royal Saltworks at Arc-et-Senans: Fondation Claude-Nicolas Ledoux, pp. 8–15
- Sarah J. Rogers (ed), Body Mécanique: Artistic Explorations of Digital Realms, Columbus, Ohio, Wexner Center for the Arts, The Ohio State University
- Edward A. Shanken, Art and Electronic Media. London: Phaidon, 2009. ISBN 978-0-7148-4782-5, pp. 42, 285, 160
- Joseph Nechvatal's website
- Joseph Nechvatal's Paris and New York City Gallery
- Examples of Joseph Nechvatal's noise music at UbuWeb
- 2012 Long Interview with Joseph Nechvatal
- Viractualism defined at CTheory
- Example of red viral attack in the computer fine arts collection
- Interview with Joseph Nechvatal
- Nechvatal's Ph.D. dissertation Immersive Ideals / Critical Distances' : A Study of the Affinity Between Artistic Ideologies Based in Virtual Reality and Previous Immersive Idioms
- Nechvatal's channel on YouTube
- Tellus Audio Cassette Magazine audio archive at UbuWeb
- Our Digital Noology: Catherine Perret in conversation with Joseph Nechvatal