Joseph Nechvatal


Joseph Nechvatal has worked with ubiquitous electronic visual information and computer-robotics since 1986. His computer-robotic assisted paintings and computer animations are shown regularly in galleries and museums throughout the world. He has recently worked as artist in-resident at the Louis Pasteur studio and the Ledoux Foundation's computer lab in Arbois, France on 'The Computer Virus Project': an experiment with computer viruses as a creative stratagem. He has exhibited widely in Europe and the United States, both in private and public venues, such as Documenta 8, Kassel, Germany; the Wexner Art Center, Columbus; Brooke Alexander, New York; Karin Sachs, Munich; The New Museum, New York; and Berndt Galerie, Cologne. His artwork is in many prestigious permanent collections, such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Los Angeles County Museum, LA; the Moderna Museet, Stockholm; and the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, among others.


Nechvatal earned his Ph.D. in the philosophy of art and new technology as a Ph.D. doctoral on-line fellow researcher with The Centre for Advanced Inquiry in the Interactive Arts (CAiiA) under Roy Ascott. He serves as Parisian editor for Rhizome Internet and has written frequently for Intelligent Agent


For the operative artificial-life artwork, Nechvatal and his programmer Stephane Sikora have brought Nechvatal's early computer virus project into the realm of artificial life (A-Life; i.e. into a synthetic system that exhibits behaviors characteristic of natural living systems). This work simulates a population of active viruses functioning as an analogy of a viral biological system. One is reminded that biological systems are networks that are both vulnerable and able to adapt to environmental change; that bodies, rivers, ecosystems, are open to infection and transformation.


Joseph Nechvatalís 2001 Computer Virus Project 2.0 follows along the same lines as previous viral works by Nechvatal in 1992 - works where an unpredictable progressive virus operates on a degradation/transformation of an image. Now, using a C++ framework, elements of artificial life have been introduced in that viruses are modeled to be autonomous agents living in/off the image. The project simulates a population of active viruses functioning as an analogy of a viral biological system. Here viral algorithms - based on a viral biological model - are used to define evolutionary processes which are then applied to image-files from Nechvatalís "ec-satyricOn 2000 (enhanced)+ bodies in the bit-stream (compliant)" series. Among the different techniques used here are models that result from embodied artificial intelligence and the paradigm of genetic programming.



Joseph Nechvatal is represented by Universal Concepts Unlimited, New York City and Julia Friedman Gallery, Chicago. He is one of the first artists to have used digital technologies in novel ways, blurring boundaries between 'digital' and 'traditional' forms as early as the '70s. His most recent solo show opened at Universal Concepts Unlimited, May 2002.