Since they were created, people have wondered if computers could create art, and now the V&A has an exhibition of some of the results of that pondering.

The V&A collected its first piece of computer art way back in 1969, just a year after the groundbreaking Cybernetic Serendipity exhibition at the ICA in 1968 which introduced the concept to the public.

So this is a display that celebrates 50 years and more of computer-generated art.

The use of computers as tools of artistic creation vary, with some artists using the software to distance themselves from the artistic process, while others use the predictability of computers to generate entire series of artworks.

As a display, it veers from very obviously computer generated images though to some which are sufficiently abstract as to leave you wondering who created it, man or machine.

Each work has a small description, which unlike most art galleries doesn’t seek to explain what the art is about, but here explains the machine processes that were used to create the work of art.

The rise of computer software as a “painting tool”, such as Photoshop to create art is self-evident, but this exhibition focuses on the use of independent software that is written with the purpose of creating its own art, based usually upon mathematics as the inspiration.

Some of the art looks almost simplistic, but often the most complex and beautiful — to human eyes — art is the result of the simplest of algorithms running in loops.

It’s the transmutation of computer code and maths into visual representations that so excited early computer coders, and still to this day excites artists and coders.

The exhibition is at the V&A Museum on the upper floors by the theatre and jewellery galleries, and is free to visit. It’s open until 18th November.


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