A selection of material from the ICA archive
A selection of material from the ICA archive, Institute of Contemporary Arts

Today I’m going to talk about a collection that came to the archive in 1995, the papers of the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA). This is one of the larger collections in the archive, covering the history of the ICA from its foundation until 1987, and is very popular with the people who come in and do research in the archive. The ICA was founded in 1947. The original idea was to create something like the Museum of Modern Art in New York, but its founders (who included Roland Penrose and Herbert Read) decided in the end to make it a ‘workshop’ with no permanent collection. They brought contemporary art of all kinds to a new prominence in London, with a programme combining the visual arts, music, talks and discussions, performance and theatre, and cinema. Here you can see some material relating to one of their key exhibitions from 1968, Cybernetic Serendipity, which sought to explore and demonstrate ‘relationships between technology and creativity’ with a display of computer-generated art. There were many computers and installations on show, including mobiles with interacting parts, devices for generating music or haiku, painting machines and a light-sensitive owl. There were also computer graphics and animation. The 130 contributors ranged from artists like Bruce Lacey and Jean Tinguely, through composers and poets, to engineers, doctors, computer scientists and even the Boeing Corporation. The files in the archive cover the whole of the organisation of the exhibition - the loan and return of works, the cost of the exhibition, invitations and events, publicity material and press coverage, enquiries about the exhibition, photographs of the display and even a recording of music from it. This exhibition caught my eye partly because it was so successful and because it is such a good example of the new type of exhibition the ICA brought in, inspired by technology, or biology, or even toys. It’s one I would love to have visited myself - what exhibitions do you wish you’d seen? TGA 955 Written by Emily Down


Sue Austin

I am encouraged by the fact that digital art is being accepted within the art world. I have friends who draw caricatures using a digital tablet and the works of art they produce are simply amazing. I don't think caricaturists get the recognition they deserve. The speed that they can capture a likeness of a subject is amazing to say the least, be it digitally or freehand. Let's hope that as time moves on, our artists of the people, who demonstrate their art live among us, get accepted by the mainstream art world for the gift that they bring, not only pieces of unique art, but smiles and laughter, a visual and audible appreciation of art. The link below shows examples of digital and freehand caricatures by a caricaturist who has worked at events at Tate. www.caricaturist.co.uk/Luisa/caricaturist%20722.htm

Kind regards, Sue Austin