The period from 1960 to 1980 was underlain by Harold Wilson’s Utopian vision of a Britain “forged from the white heat of technology”. In an era before computers became just another domestic appliance and IT staff were banished to the basements of large companies, computing was seen as a glamour industry with a key role to play in the contemporary arts.
White Heat Cold Logic is aimed at recounting the history of digital and computer-based arts in the United Kingdom from their origins in the 1960s up to the advent of personal computing and graphical user interfaces around 1980.
The editors of this much-needed book argue forcefully against the woeful neglect by contemporary art galleries of British computer art from this heroic period, when artists needed to build their own machines, collaborate with computer scientists and learn complex computer languages rather than simply boot up their Mac or PC. Aside from their relevance to the then-contemporary art scene, the academic papers that make up this attractive illustrated volume will appeal to anybody with an interest in the social and political history of that time.
(A shorter version of this book review appeared in Art World Magazine www.artworldmagazine.com Issue 11 June/July 2009.)
© Christopher Seddon 2009