ANAT 30 for 30: 1988 – 2018

In our 30 for 30 focus, we remember 30 watershed moments and stories celebrating ANAT’s 30th anniversary…

  1988: Thursday 25 October 

The seeds that grew into ANAT were sown by Interface, a suite of ‘art meets technology’ events developed by the Experimental Art Foundation, working with the South Australian Ministry of Technology, for Adelaide’s 1984 Festival of Arts. A pilot led to ANAT’s establishment in 1988 with a mandate to ‘promote, foster and develop … interaction between the arts, science and technology’.

With these aims in mind, ANAT was tasked with: managing the Australia Council’s devolved Artists and New Technology Fund; collecting and disseminating information relevant to the field; maintaining a database of artists, institutions and organisations; publishing a regular bulletin; contributing to both Australian and international arts and technological publications; initiating and managing special projects; and providing information, advice and assistance to artists, educators and students.

In its first year, Australian new media artists were invited to contribute to Imagescape, an event showcasing recent Australian works in film, video and computer graphics for the 1988 Adelaide Festival.

And the very same year, FISEA (the First International Symposium on Electronic Art), was staged in The Netherlands, bringing together “scientists, artists and other specialists in the field of the electronic arts” in a “scientific, creative and educational forum”. The zeitgeist was underway!

Image: ANAT’s certificate of incorporation

1989: Thursday 1 November

In its second year ANAT launched its National Summer School program, aiming to expand the palette of artists by helping them skill-up in the use of new technologies.

Twelve artists, designers and performers from around Australia converged on Regency College of TAFE in Adelaide for the chance to experiment with a range of software and hardware.

Researcher, artist, writer and performer, Virginia Barratt was one of the 1989 Summer School participants. Virginia is a founding member of VNS Matrix, the influential cyberfeminist collective, and is currently undertaking a PhD at Western Sydney University.

1989 National Summer School in Computer Aided Design and Manufacture

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Image: Virginia Barratt and Adam Boyd, ‘Dada Do’, Eyeline Art Magazine Launch, School of Arts Building, 15 May 1987, Brisbane. Photograph Jose Macalino.

1990: Thursday 8 November

In ANAT’s third year its exhibition Towards a New Aesthetic – Exploring Computer Aided Art featured big in AUSGRAPH 90, the art program of the Australasian Computer Graphics Forum’s annual conference, held in Melbourne.

This second in ANAT’s ongoing program of exhibitions focussing on works that utilise technology—particularly those developed during / inspired by participation in ANAT’s national summer (and sometimes winter) schools—featured works by Adam Wolter, Diane Mantzaris, Hilary Archer, Linda Wallace, Lynne Roberts-Goodwin, Peter Charuk, Phil George, Phillip Bannigan and Sue Harris, Richard Guthrie, Rodney Harris, Sandra Shaw, Simryn Gill, Stelarc, Stephen Hennessy and Wendy Mills.

Wendy Mills remembers the exhibition as “a productive follow-on from the summer school, in that it showcased a new direction that artists were exploring” and “reinforced a feeling of optimism in the potential for using computers in the arts”.

On a personal note, Wendy feels the summer school and exhibition helped her shift the direction of her practice “from ‘real world’ installations to digital constructions and interactive artworks”. It wasn’t all good though, as back then, the equipment required to produce and show these works was still very expensive. Wendy had had to raise funds to produce her work, but during the exhibition equipment used in various artworks was stolen from the gallery. “The sound element of my work, which had been recorded live for the exhibition, was on a master cassette tape. This tape was stolen along with the cassette player, and never heard again.”

That year, ANAT also organised a delegation to SISEA (the Second International Symposium on Electronic Art), which was again staged in The Netherlands.

Image: Wendy Mills, “memories of next easter”, 1990. Installation of transparent cibachromes and recorded sound, 400 x 400 x 400 cm. Sound by Stephen Leek and VoiceArt


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