BLOSSOM at Garage Rotterdam

Our new environment is digital. Digital technologies are all around us. They shape our day-to-day lives.

Take a moment to think about ‘computer art’. What does it look like? How is it different to other forms of fine art? In your mind, is it mechanical – digital? Is it a new form of art?

Garage Rotterdam’s latest exhibition, Blossom, makes you re-evaluate what you thought computer art was. The dominant perception of computer art is that it is novel, mechanical, digital. But the artworks in this exhibition are physical – and at times extremely colourful – entities. The exhibition was organised in close collaboration with the Contemporary Art Museum in Zagreb, Croatia. It was here that the seeds were sown for the creation of computer art, with the New Tendencies exhibitions of the 1960s and 70s. A number of artists involved with New Tendencies had been chosen for this exhibition.

It is by looking at the collection of works displayed in the viewing gallery that you start to understand the reasoning behind the exhibition’s title. The pattern in each artwork is completely different. One, dating back to the 1970s by the German artist Hans Köhler, is reminiscent of an ammonite. Each work is the result of an algorithm, programmed by the artist, which has been left to generate its own individual image. As the curator Bas Hendrikx explains, computer art has an organic nature to it – rules and code create artworks almost ‘organically’, like the growth of blossom. It seems as though there may be an algorithm for creativity after all.

Painted onto the walls are patterns which seem to grow between the different artworks in the viewing gallery. These works by the contemporary visual artist Samantha Thole display a unit-by-unit evolution of flowers, with mutations in each generation. As the curator Bas Hendrikx notes, the organic nature of the artworks contrasts nicely with the post-industrial setting of the gallery, a converted Volkswagen garage.

On the opening night, a striking gathering of flowers, from Scottish thistles to bright red roses, stand in the viewing gallery. Seeing that others were picking flowers to thoughtfully curate their very own bouquet, I took the opportunity to steal away a purple-trimmed and large pink rose. Sticking it through the zip of my backpack, these two definitely caught the attention of a few smiling onlookers at the Rotterdam Blaak station on the way home.      Antonia Dalivalle    17th November 2018


Blossom continues until 13th January 2019 at Garage Rotterdam.