The current exhibition at MuDA Museum of Digital Art in Zürich is dedicated to Vera Molnar, the 95-year-old pioneer of digital arts. Vera Molnar was born in 1924 in Hungary and studied art history and aesthetics at the Budapest College of Fine Arts. In 1968 she began working with computers. Her exhibition at MuDA features works ranging from the 1960s to today.
Vera Molnar at MuDA Zürich, August 31, 2019.
–– Right-click (Mac: ctrl-click) this link to download Quicktime video file.
Complete video (13:24 min.):
In 1968, Vera Molnar beat all odds when she eventually managed to persuade the data center director of the University of Paris to grant her access to their expensive new research computer to experiment with algorithmic drawings. She was allowed to feed the terminal with a few lines of code, its processor started to calculate shapes and lines, and the outcome was plotted with a pen on paper. Little did the then 44-year-old artist know, from that first encounter with the computer she would grow to become a pioneer of digital art and a source of inspiration to many generations of artists.
Her programmatic approach to creating artworks, however, traces back much earlier. As a child, she took up the daily ritual of drawing, every evening, the sunset over Lake Balaton in Hungary, the country where she grew up. She quickly realised that she would always reach for the same four colours to depict the scenery. To avoid running out of these shades faster than the others, she invented a system: she would substitute these crayons with the ones placed to their right, then with the ones to their left, and so on. As she evenly used up her palette of pastels, each of these colour combinations generated a new variation of the sunset.
Vera Molnar has never ceased her systematic experimentation with parameters and principles. “Computers are nothing without the human brain ordering them to produce complicated combinations,” she says about using machines to make art. At times automated, letting the computer guide the pen according to a given set of rules, at times manual, executing the algorithms with her own hand, the artist continuously engages with both practices to investigate – always with a touch of wit – the infinite range of possibilities.
Her exhibition in the young museum in Zurich opens on August 31, 2019 and will present works ranging from the 1960s to today, some of which to be discovered by the public for the very first time. “Vera Molnar not only embodies the cultural developments of computer technology, her work also opens countless doors to finding new ways of creation and expression, especially in the field of digital arts. It is an absolute privilege to work with such an incredible person,” comments Caroline Hirt, co-director of the MuDA.