REBOOT. Pioneering Digital Art opens at Nieuwe Instituut

04/10/2023
Blog post
Exhibition REBOOT. Pioneering Digital Art, Nieuwe Instituut, 7 October 2023. Pieter Kers | Beeld.nu

As digital technologies rapidly reshape our lives and societies, last weekend REBOOT. Pioneering Digital Art opened at Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam. The exhibition, an initiative of LI-MA and Nieuwe Instituut, celebrates the pioneering history of digital art and culture in the Netherlands. Curators Sanneke Huisman (LI-MA) and Klaas Kuitenbrouwer (Nieuwe Instituut) created the exhibition around twenty ground-breaking digital artworks from the Netherlands from the period 1960-2000. In addition, they commissioned new work from nine contemporary makers, who took inspiration from these classics to explore how the debates they prompted remain relevant today.

In the late twentieth century, the Netherlands had a reputation as an adventurous pioneer in the field of digital art and culture. From the beginning of the computer revolution Dutch artists played a crucial role in the development of digital culture. The artistic questions they raised contain the seeds of the big questions about the fundamental influence of digital technology on today's society. 

Curators Sanneke Huisman of LI-MA and Klaas Kuitenbrouwer of the Nieuwe Instituut created REBOOT. Pioneering Digital Art to ‘reboot’ the dialogue between the past and present of digital art and culture from the Netherlands, revealing the lasting relevance of the questions asked by the artists of that time. REBOOT is therefore not just a retrospective, but an invitation to think about the future.

Edward Ihnatowic, The Senster, 1968 - 1970 in the exhibition REBOOT. Pioneering Digital Art, Nieuwe Instituut, 7 October 2023. Pieter Kers | Beeld.nu.
Edward Ihnatowic, The Senster, 1968 - 1970 in the exhibition REBOOT. Pioneering Digital Art, Nieuwe Instituut, 7 October 2023. Pieter Kers | Beeld.nu.

Key works 

Huisman and Kuitenbrouwer curated the exhibition around twenty ground-breaking ‘key works’ from previous decades, plus nine new works by contemporary makers who were inspired by those key works. In the exhibition, four storylines take visitors along the artistic questions of the past and the techno-social questions of today: about the utopia of the internet, online identity, aesthetic development and the collaboration between humans and computers.

The twenty key works are from the Digital Canon (1960-2000), a non-exhaustive, unfixed overview of influential digital art, which was commissioned by LI-MA in 2019. Among others, these include video and sound painting Moiré by video art pioneers Livinus and Jeep van de Bundt (1975); Dick Raaijmakers' large-scale loudspeaker installation Ideofoon I (1968-1970); the cybernetic sculpture The Senster by Edward Ihnatowicz (1968-1970); the algorithmic sculpture Breed by Driessens & Verstappen; internet artwork the_living by Debra Solomon (1998); and Scrollbar Composition by Jan Robert Leegte (2000). 

New works 

In addition, the curators asked nine makers to create a new work: a vision of the future about the role of technology in society, inspired by one of the key works. These makers come from unexpected disciplines - to emphasise that the impact of digital culture now extends far beyond just digital art. 

For instance, filmmaker Janilda Bartolomeu reflects on her digital identity and what would remain of it after death, inspired by the_living by Debra Solomon. 'Serious game'-studio Play the City responds to Breed by Driessens & Verstappen with a game about the spatial development of a neighbourhood in Rotterdam. Jonas Lund took inspiration from the feedback loop of Dick Raaijmakers's Ideofoon I for an AI system that analyszes visitors' reactions in an effort to improve itself. Movement artist Mark Sheats explores the future of Edward Ihnatowicz's The Senster and his own Krumping persona Brui5er.

P. Struycken, Komputerstrukturen, 1969 - 1972 in exhibition REBOOT. Pioneering Digital Art, Nieuwe Instituut, 7 October, 2023
P. Struycken, Komputerstrukturen, 1969 - 1972 in exhibition REBOOT. Pioneering Digital Art, Nieuwe Instituut, 7 October, 2023 by Pieter Kers | Beeld.nu.

All Featured works

The exhibition features works by: Annie AbrahamsLivinus and Jeep van de BundtDriessens & VerstappenEdward IhnatowiczJODIBas van KoolwijkLancel/MaatJan Robert Leegte, Yvonne Le GrandPeter LuiningMartine NeddamMarnix de Nijs and Edwin van der HeideDick RaaijmakersJoost RekveldRemko SchaJeffrey ShawDebra SolomonSteinaPeter Struycken, and Michel Waisvisz.

The new, contemporary responses are by: Janilda BartolomeuCihad CanerDries DepoorterSwendeline ErsiliaAli EslamiJonas LundLuna Maurer and Roel WoutersPlay The City, and Brui5er.

Spatial design: Atelier Tomas Dirrix
Graphic design: Yessica Deira & Cato Stigter
Light design: 50LUX

More information

REBOOT. Pioneering Digital Art can be seen until 12 May 2024 at the Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam. 

REBOOT was created with the support of: Creative Industries Fund NLMondriaan Fund, Fonds 21 and Network Archives Design and Digital Culture.

All photos taken during the opening of REBOOT. Pionering Digital Art on Saturday, 7 October, 2023 by Pieter Kers | Beeld.nu.