THE OPENING of “Cybernetic Serendipity” on August 2, 1968, at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts was nothing if not timely. The seminal exhibition centered on “computer art” and drew its name from the burgeoning field inspired by Norbert Wiener’s analysis of technological and social systems in his 1948 book Cybernetics: or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine. The discipline was then making waves in both mass culture and the arts. Indeed, a few months before the show opened, 2001: A Space Odyssey hit movie theaters and implanted artificial intelligence into the collective consciousness via HAL, a soft-spoken computer; the art world had been primed by events such as “9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering,” a groundbreaking series of performances generated by collaborations between artists and engineers in New York in October 1966, assembled by what would become
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