A Little-Known Story About a Movement, a Magazine, and the Computer's Arrival in Art

New Tendencies and Bit International, 1961–1973

A book with a silver and black cover: The silver dots are arranged  in the form of punched paper tape. The pattern hides the word »bit«, equally written in dots.

Type of publication
Author / Editor
Margit Rosen (Ed.), in cooperation with Peter Weibel, Darko Fritz and Marija Gattin
Publishing house, place
MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts

This book documents a short but intense artistic experiment which took place in Yugoslavia fifty years ago, but whose impact has been felt far beyond that time and place. Ostensibly, the “little-known story” concerns the advent of computers in art and a movement which began in 1961 in Zagreb, Yugoslavia. It was through the activities of that movement, known as New Tendencies and its supporting institution the Galerija suvremene umjetnosti, that the “thinking machine” was adopted as an artistic tool and medium. Pursuing the idea of “art as visual research,” the New Tendencies movement proceeded along a path which led from Concrete and Constructivist art, Op art, and Kinetic art with its dynamic apparatuses to computer-generated graphics, film, and sculpture – from »programmed art« without computers to art generated or controlled by computers.

With their exhibitions and conferences on the theme of computers and visual research and the launch of the multilingual, groundbreaking magazine bit international in 1968, the New Tendencies transformed Zagreb, already one of the most vibrant artistic centers in Yugoslavia, into an international meeting place where artists, engineers, and scientists from both sides of the Iron Curtain gathered around the then-new technology. For a brief moment in time, Zagreb was the epicenter for exploring the aesthetic, scientific, and political potential of the computer. 

This volume, edited by Margit Rosen, includes new essays by Jerko Denegri, Darko Fritz, Margit Rosen, and Peter Weibel; a great number of essays and texts that were first published in New Tendencies exhibition catalogs and bit international magazine; and historic documents. Over 650 black-and-white and color illustrations testify to the wide and diverse panorama of artworks that were presented in the exhibitions, and introduce the movement’s protagonists. Many of the historic photographs, translations, and documents are presented here for the first time. The book presents the long overdue history of the New Tendencies experiment and its impact on the art of the twentieth century.

576 p. : numerous ill.
Organization / Institution
ZKM | Center for Art and Media
Neue Galerie Graz am Landesmuseum Joanneum ; MSU | Museum for Contemporary Art Zagreb
German Federal Cultural Foundation
Redaktion: Katharina Holas, Jens Lutz, Miriam Stürner
Design: Renata Sas

About the editors