Software Art

DeCordova Exhibits
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On View 2006

For years, artists who wrote interactive software art in Flash or Javascript posted their works for free on their websites. Recently, as galleries devoted to digital art have thrived, a new model of software art sales has emerged. softwareARTspace, founded by Steve Sacks, owner of bitforms gallery in New York City, has commissioned five of the most original artists working in this form to create new interactive works sold as limited editions. Software Art will present four of these artists and one artist team, and their art created with software to be experienced on a computer monitor: Golan Levin, Lia, James Patterson, Casey Reas and LeCielEstBleu, the artist team of Kristine Malden and Frédéric Durieu.

About the Artists

Golan Levin

Golan Levin is an artist, composer, performer, and engineer interested in developing artifacts and events which explore supple new modes of reactive expression. His work focuses on the design of systems for the creation, manipulation, and performance of simultaneous image and sound, as part of a more general inquiry into the formal language of interactivity, and of nonverbal communications protocols in cybernetic systems. Levin applies creative twists to digital technologies that highlight our relationship with machines, make visible our ways of interacting with each other, and explore the intersection of abstract communication and interactivity. He has received grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, New York Foundation for the Arts, Arts Council England, The Greenwall Foundation, Daniel Langois Foundation, and MIT Council for the Arts. Levin has been recognized by Ars Electronica, Wired, Technology Review, ID Magazine, Adobe, Transmediale, Communication Arts, and Print Magazine. Levin received undergraduate and graduate degrees from the MIT Media Lab. He has exhibited widely in Europe, America, and Asia.


Lia has been working on software art since 1995, after graduating from the High School for Students of Music in Graz, Austria. Currently living in Vienna, she splits her time between visual design, Web art, video, and real-time visual performances—seemingly different activities that she ties together with her unique approach to creativity and production. Over the last few years she has also been a guest lecturer at the Fachhochschule Joanneum in Graz, the École Cantonalle d'Art de Lausanne, Switzerland, and the Fine Arts University in Oslo, Norway. Lia has received numerous international awards and has shown her works worldwide.

James Paterson

At the heart of James Paterson’s work, there is no formal separation between drawing, animation, and programming. His imagination clouds are filled with free-floating imagery—ice cream fountains, rains of numbers, and shooting star snowflakes. Scuba gear and dancing ladies morph into wriggling lines that twist into space. Paterson brings his characters to life through a natural synthesis of modern drawing tools. The results resemble a graffiti that seems to write itself. Departing from traditional techniques, Paterson experiments with code and authors programs to assist him with all areas of his work. Using software as the intermediary, Paterson applies animation concepts to drawing, and vice versa. Contour drawings form the aesthetic core of his artwork. The drawings are scanned from sketchbooks, and form a vast digital library of source material for Paterson’s virtual collages. Though he is only 25, Paterson’s work has already been exhibited worldwide at venues including Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Museum of Contemporary Art at Taipei, ICA in London, the Seoul Museum of Art in Korea, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, GGG Gallery in Tokyo, Kunsthalle Wien in Austria, Centro de Cultura Contemporánea de Barcelona, the London Design Museum, Beurs van Berlage in Amsterdam, The Second Seoul International Art Biennale, Kunstlerhaus, Vienna, and Muvim in Valencia, Spain.

C.E.B. Reas

C.E.B. Reas writes software to create drawings and live animated installations. His work explores the relationship between naturally evolved systems and engineered synthetic systems; often, precise mechanical structures give birth to soft organic forms. Reas's software-generated prints on paper have an exceptionally sensitive touch, while his software installations present compositions in motion. Conceptually, the works can be understood as minimalist exercises with Reas developing all the software and electronics used for his artwork. He has shown at P.S.1, the American Museum of the Moving Image, Whitney Museum of American Art's artport, the San Francisco Exploratorium, Ars Electronica in Austria, ZKM in Germany, SIGGRAPH, Transmediale in Berlin, Uijeongbu International Digital Art Festival in Korea, Kunstlerhaus in Vienna, Danish Film Institute, MIT, bitforms gallery in New York and Seoul, IAMAS and ICC in Japan, the Microwave International Media Art Festival in Hong Kong, and the Sonar Festival in Barcelona.


Founded in 2000, LeCielEstBleu specializes in the creation of highly interactive, original interfaces and applications. Their work has received numerous international awards and has been exhibited throughout the world. They are best known for PuppetTool, an experimental animation tool; SetSearch, a visual search engine; and La Pâté à Son [Sound Dough], a generative musical composition tool and sound toy recently exhibited at Ars Electronica. LeCielEstBleu’s principal artists are Frédéric Durieu (code), Kristine Malden (media), and Jean-Jacques Birgé (music).

Kristine Malden, originally from New York, graduated from Brown University with a degree in Semiotics and a background in film and photography. She received her Master’s degree from NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program before moving to France. Frédéric Durieu, originally from Brussels and trained as a civil engineer, has been authoring creative software applications since 1991, when he first wrote a program simulating the life cycle and behavior of plants. Characterized by the use of complex, generative code based on the laws of physics and a constant search for beauty largely inspired by the natural world, his work is often described as “algorithmic poetry.” True to their name, LeCielEstBleu recently moved to the brighter skies of the South of France, where they are currently based.