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01.29.146:52 PM ET

Computer-Art Fossils

In 1969, Frederick Hammersley was already playing with CPUs and printers.

"Jelly Centers" was made in 1969 by Frederick Hammersley, one of the first artists to make serious use of computers and their printers. It’s now in a group show at Bortolami gallery in New York. I am just (barely) old enough to remember when computer-generated art was new, and hot, so what strikes me most about Hammersley’s piece is how something that once seemed so clearly to yield a vision of the future now is all about nostalgia for a vanished past. Those feed-holes on the paper’s sides are enough to bring a wistful tear to a programmer’s eye.

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