This essay details the curating strategies and central premise behind the 2013 traveling exhibition The American Algorists: Linear Sublime
. This group exhibition, which showcased the artwork of Jean-Pierre Hébert, Manfred Mohr, Roman Verostko, and Mark Wilson, marked the 20th anniversary of New York Digital Salon. In organizing this exhibit, I attempted to expand the discourse of digital art curation by linking the Algorists, a group formed at the Los Angeles SIGGRAPH conference in 1995, to the broader narrative of American art. Through the exhibition catalogue, I constructed a detailed history of the Algorists and connected the movement’s narrative to ideas of national identity and myth. To cultivate this nexus, I interpreted the Algorists’ unique approach to linear abstraction through the various theories of the sublime active within the history of American art. Ultimately, this case study reveals the incongruities of aligning this group of digital artists—who shared a decidedly internationalist outlook—with a national narrative. While the Algorists resisted parochial characterizations, the concept of the sublime provided a useful vehicle for theorizing the aesthetic response to computer-generated abstraction. The travelling exhibition also offered a potential model, based on effective partnerships and resource sharing, for small college and university galleries.
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