W. Patrick McCray – Making Art Work: How Cold War Engineers and Artists Forged a New Creative Culture


The MIT Press, ISBN: 978-0262044257, English, 384 pages, 2020, USA

With all the research and publications popping up recently, we might proclaim a new scholarly field: ‘Early Art and Technology Studies’. This book faithfully reconstructs important events and protagonists from the 1960s, focusing on the convergence of engineers and artists who produced ground-breaking electronic art. This period can be seen as the early materialisation of what we might now call ‘digital creativity’. The first chapter concerns Frank Malina, the founder of Leonardo magazine and famous kinetic artist who broke traditions, applying his engineering skills to what he called ‘art play’. Billy Klüver, the founder of the institution E.A.T. (Experiments in Art and Technology), is the focus of the third chapter. Here, all the well-known events and pioneering organisations are reconstructed with precise facts and eloquent photographs: the “9 Evenings” series of happenings, the futuristic “Pepsi Pavilion” and the famous exhibitions “Art and Technology at LACMA”, “Cybernetic Serendipity” and “Software”, among many others. A perfect complement to books such as ”Technocrats of the Imagination”, this is a well-documented and accessible history of the interrelationship between technology and art that has produced ground-breaking processes, hybrid minds and ideas.