Remarks by Warren Brodey


Brodey was one of the speakers at the press launch of the legenday Experiments in Art and Technology an effort to bring artists and engineers together. His brief remarks are very much in that vein, with him reflecting on what the likely symbiosis of art and technology might be like.

The first industrial revolution averaged the people; if you are willing to be like the many: dress alike, eat pre-prepared foods, life is made simpler. If you are famous or poor, you are allowed individual expression. You must deserve to make it. You must fill in the blanks if your individual existence is to be recognized. There is a limit to the number of blanks that can be handled by the system. Personal creativeness is interpreted as angry, or, rendered meaningless by the complications one must face to make it work. It is drained by complications.

In the days when the controls of our society had to be simplified; when mass transportation could allow only limited variation if it were to be available, when design of products for the many meant they must all be alike -- to be those times, man had to be averaged. But today, the many — both people and products are in a traffic jam.

The new technology provides an implication sensed by the many as they are bombarded by proud news of technological adventures: individuals can learn to play with technology. Individuals who are not mechanically inclined can design their our experiences by using the new variability that industry could provide if there were enough demands to make this economically feasible. But demand develops only as it is shown that there is something new to be demanded. The computer-assisted factory begins to provide large number productions with versatility in products and a man-machine relation more like that of the small shop.

There is a new potential for living in a personalized environment if we merely can think our way out of the mass production mentality and into the immense choice and fun that industry’s new talents and technology can make available. Imagine having many, many forms of transportation designed to different uses, personal tastes and esthetic styles.

It is the artist who has the capacity to create this variability and to use and to make relevant what is outside the “accepted systems.” He can point out relationships that were not seen before. The artist can create the surprises that foreshadow great new cultural inventions to match our technical advances. But like the technologist, the artist must unlearn his obsolescence and intensely sense the relevance of the new technology as a source of raw material.

It is by using the language and media of technology that the artist will help us to understand the technology with which we live. Artistry and industry together can help create a people-oriented technology. In the joint execution of this search, each hints insights to the other and there becomes a sense of fresh existence to be experienced. I believe people will want in. They will want the participation in invention that makes technology friendly. They will want to swim in the stream that joins traditional engineering and art. Simply bridging the gap between these formal disciplines is not the same as getting people into the action.

This is the personal statement by the author, and, in no way necessarily represents the view of any institute he may be affiliated with.

Neither individuals, nor companies, nor groups of artists can afford to go too far off the beaten track to often. The cost of modern experimentation without a clear demand is too high. Experiments in Art and Technology has achieved a most exciting way to use new versatility and to show what can be done.