Andy Warhol was an early adopter of techand an artist who sought to remove the human touch from his art. In the 1980s, he experimented with the Commodore Amiga computer, and what he created is now being freed from floppy disks.
Warhol had been commissioned by Commodore International to demonstrate the computer’s graphic arts capabilities. His Amiga experiments vary from doodles and camera shots of a desktop to variations on Warhol’s classic images of a banana, Marilyn Monroe, Campbell’s soup, and portraits — including one of Debbie Harry.
Since entering the the Warhol Museum’s archives in 1994, the files have been trapped on Amiga floppy disks. They have now been recovered by members of the computer club at Carnegie Mellon University and its Frank-Ratchye Studio for Creative Inquiry.
“In the images, we see a mature artist who had spent about 50 years developing a specific hand-to-eye coordination now suddenly grappling with the bizarre new sensation of a mouse in his palm held several inches from the screen,” said Matt Wrbican, chief archivist at the Warhol, in a statement. “No doubt he resisted the urge to physically touch the screen — it had to be enormously frustrating, but it also marked a huge transformation in our culture: the dawn of the era of affordable home computing. We can only wonder how he would explore and exploit the technologies that are so ubiquitous today.”
A documentary film about these works, Trapped: Andy Warhol’s Amiga Experiments, will have its world premiere May 10 at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh. It’s part of a documentary series called The Invisible Photograph, a production of the Hillman Photography Initiative and a project of the Carnegie Museum.
Commodore Amiga computer equipment used by Andy Warhol 1985-1986, courtesy of the Andy Warhol Museum
Andy Warhol, Campbell’s, 1985, ©The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visuals Arts, Inc., courtesy of the Andy Warhol Museum
Andy Warhol, Venus, 1985, ©The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visuals Arts, Inc., courtesy of the Andy Warhol Museum
Andy Warhol, Andy2, 1985, ©The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visuals Arts, Inc., courtesy of the Andy Warhol Museum