Cybernetic Serendipity: The Computer and the Arts was a landmark exhibition mounted at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), London, in 1968, and organized by Jasia Reichardt, curator and associate director of the ICA.

Drawing on the term “cybernetics” that had been popularized by Norbert Wiener twenty years earlier, the exhibition explored the potential for advanced technologies to enable new modes of creativity. This was a new age of interdisciplinarity, and the exhibition highlighted collaborations between more than 300 artists, composers, performers, scientists and engineers. The concept of “serendipity” was a theme taken up in many of the individual works, and notions of play, chance and surprise were common threads throughout.

The exhibition was divided into three sections:

  1. Computer-generated graphics, computer-animated films, computer-composed and played music, and computer poems and texts;

  2. Cybernetic devices as works of art, cybernetic environments, remote control robots and painting machines;

  3. A “learning zone” with machines demonstrating the uses of computers, and an environment dealing with the history of cybernetics.

The extensive catalogue for the Cybernetic Serendipity exhibition was first published in 1968 as a special issue of Studio International, an influential art magazine based in London. Under the editorial leadership of Peter Townsend, Studio International endorsed interdisciplinary practices, new technologies and an international community of cultural producers.

With more than 100 pages and 300 images—and featuring contributions by dozens of experts in various fields—the publication was both a primer on the history of the computer, and an avant-garde statement on the uses of new technologies in art, music, poetry, dance, graphics, architecture, installation, and environmental art and film.

The cover of the catalogue and exhibition poster, which incorporated computer graphics from the exhibition, was designed by the Polish-British painter, filmmaker and stage designer Franciszka Themerson.

Much of the original exhibition was subsequently shown at the Corcoran Annex in Washington, D.C., and then at the newly opened Exploratorium in San Francisco in 1969.

Text To Speech

Annotated Slideshow produced for The Imitation Game exhibition