CyberArts International was a series of events that took place in 1990, 1991, and 1992 in Los Angeles, that brought together artists in all types of media, software developers, visionaries and storytellers to explore what was a new frontier at the time, digital media collaborations.
A book that was subsequently published about the events ["CyberArts: Exploring Art & Technology" (Miller Freeman, 1993)] described them this way: "CyberArts is the new frontier in creativity, where the worlds of science and art meet. Where computer technologies, visual design, music and sound, education and entertainment merge to form a new artistic territory called "interactive multimedia."
The book, compiled by Linda Jacobson, encapsulated a wide range of presentations from the three CyberArts International events, was itself the closing chapter of a seminal period in the evolution of human communication: the early digital revolution.
CyberArts events centered around conferences, and also featured interactive exhibitions and experimental multimedia concerts in the evenings. The content of the sessions ranged from aesthetic values to legal issues. Workshops didn't only address "how-to" make new media, they asked the basic question,"why should we?" In fact it was here that the idea of "new media" as represented by the content of CDROMS, kiosks, and interactive installations was commercially defined.
The CyberArts International expositions featured rows of standard exhibit booths as you'd expect to see in any tradeshow, but there were also numerous interactive art installations, including some that were rode like amusement park rides. There were networked games to play (before the Web and Virtual Reality centers). There were also live spontaneous collaborative art and performance, as well as technological experimentation in real-time.
The CyberArts International concerts featured landmark performances by people such as Jaron Lanier, Stanley Jordan, Todd Rundgren, Tod Machover, D'Cuckoo, and many others. Local and national media (Los Angeles Times, Macworld, PC World, Amusement Today) all carried reports about various aspects of the eclectic events.
Some called it a Techno-Woodstock, or a "visionary party." Many attendees claimed that CyberArts International changed the direction of their careers and lives. It was the place where many of the recognized leaders of today's digital media world got their early inspiration, entered the emerging field, and made connections to build their careers in a variety of different disciplines.
CyberArts International was the brainchild of Dominic Milano (then editor of Keyboard Magazine) and Robert Gelman, Director of Business Development for Miller Freeman Expositions (another division of Keyboard Magazine's parent company). Their collaboration included author and publisher Michael Gosney of Verbum Magazine, as well as the integral participation of numerous arts organizations including YLEM and EZTV.
While the events are no longer held, their legacy includes much of the technology-based entertainment in theatres and theme parks (such as computer generated imagery and virtual reality immersion experiences), and artworks that have found their way from the garages of the 1990s to the museums and tech labs of the new Millennium. A number of similar or related events have been born or continued since CyberArts International, including the Boston CyberArts Festival, Ars Electronica, and the TED Conferences, which continue today.
A Partial List of Notable Attendees
- Jaron Lanier, pioneer of Virtual Reality
- Todd Rundgren, musician
- Stewart & Gaskin, musicians
- Dr. Timothy Leary, cultural visionary
- Laserium, laser artists
- Jeff Rona, film composer
- Michael Masucci, media pioneer
- Electronic Café International (ECI), founded by Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz, telepresence media pioneers
- David Em, video artist
- Trip Hawkins, founder of Electronic Arts
- Brenda Laurel, artist and author
- John Perry Barlow, author, lyricist, co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation
- Carl Machover, computer graphics pioneer
- Tod Machover, MIT researcher, developer of Hyper-Instruments
- Thecla Schiphorst, experimental choreographer, Simon Fraser University
(above list from the 1992 event)
On September 15 and 16, 2001, a 10-year Anniversary celebration commemorating the original CyberArts International events was hosted at The Exploratorium in San Francisco. All of the original participants were invited to return and update one another on the developments of the decade past, and a few new art/technology innovations were to be unveiled. As the date fell just a few days after the tragic events of September 11, 2001, the country was still in shock, and the air transportation system was not in full operation. This meant that many key figures such as Dr. Fiorella Terenzi (Italy) had to participate via web-conference (with relatively low bandwidth of the day). Dozens of other participants were not able to attend at all. An evening event that was to be the evolution of the original CyberArts concerts, became more of a healing experience and memorial to those who had been lost earlier in the week. A Haiku Wall was created to allow attendees to express themselves, and performances featured a number of emerging artists of that time.
- CYBERARTS: Exploring Art & Technology, Edited by Linda Jacobson, published by Miller Freeman, Inc., San Francisco, CA, ISBN 0-87930-253-4, 312 pages, soft cover, indexed, illustrated. (Reviewed Sept/Oct 1992)
- Mac the Star of CyberArts International (Steve Rosenthal, MacWEEK, September 25, 1990)
- Computer Music Journal, MIT Press, 1991
- Los Angeles Times news article Sept. 8, 1990
- Report by Electronic Cafe International, Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz
- Historical citation by YLEM, Artists Using Science & Technology
- Historical citation by EZTV, Cyberspace Gallery
- 10th Anniversary Event photo gallery, Bruce Damer
- citation of Keynote speaker, Theodore Nelson, Brown University, Association for Computing Machinery
- citation of artist F.C. Tull, Saatchi Online
- Journal of Northwest CyberArtists, Vol.1, Number 9, October 1993