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"Forensic Retrocomputing"
April 24, 2014 9:37 AM   Subscribe

PITTSBURGH—A multi-institutional team of new-media artists, computer experts, and museum professionals have discovered a dozen previously unknown experiments by Andy Warhol (BFA, 1949) on aging floppy disks from 1985.

The purely digital images, “trapped” for nearly 30 years on Amiga® floppy disks stored in the archives collection of The Andy Warhol Museum (AWM), were discovered and extracted by members of the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) Computer Club, with assistance from the AWM’s staff, CMU’s Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry (FRSCI), the Hillman Photography Initiative at the Carnegie Museum of Art (CMOA), and New York based artist Cory Arcangel.
Warhol’s Amiga experiments were the products of a commission by Commodore International to demonstrate the graphic arts capabilities of the Amiga 1000 personal computer. Created by Warhol on prototype Amiga hardware in his unmistakable visual style, the recovered images reveal an early exploration of the visual potential of software imaging tools, and show new ways in which the preeminent American artist of the 20th century was years ahead of his time.
posted by tonycpsu (21 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
the preeminent American artist of the 20th century

You know, I like Andy Warhol and all, but that's going too far.
posted by yoink at 9:45 AM on April 24 [4 favorites]


I think these have been 'shopped.

But seriously apparently they used a Kyroflux to read the discs and those sound pretty neat.
posted by GuyZero at 9:46 AM on April 24 [2 favorites]


Personally, my favorite thing they've ever found in the Warhol archives is an early demo tape by They Might Be Giants.
posted by mykescipark at 9:51 AM on April 24 [1 favorite]


This brings back memories. I used to screw around with deluxe paint too when I was bored.
posted by Poldo at 10:07 AM on April 24 [1 favorite]


Thanks Tonycpsu & GuyZero; I hadn't heard of the Kyroflux and now i kinda want one.
posted by artaxerxes at 10:11 AM on April 24


Referenced from the first link, the technical report is fun if you want to know the story of how they were able to get and interpret the data. Lots of nice detail on the panoply of not-quite-standard indexed bitmap formats. Also discussion of the Polaroid Digital Palette, a system for taking color-correct photos off of a CRT plugged into the Amiga. You know, for screenshots.
posted by Nelson at 10:29 AM on April 24 [2 favorites]


It's no "Amy the Squirrel".
posted by Wolfdog at 11:04 AM on April 24 [3 favorites]


GuyZero: "But seriously apparently they used a Kyroflux to read the discs and those sound pretty neat."

One of the HackerNews comments pointed out that visible in the press photo is a KryoFlux a USB-based floppy controller designed specifically for reliability, precision, and getting low-level reads suitable for software preservation.

Surprisingly, it only costs €95 - €115 depending on if you buy it with AC adapter/ribbon cables.
posted by wcfields at 11:18 AM on April 24


From that HN thread: Floppy Disks: It’s Too Late" http://ascii.textfiles.com/archives/3191

Damnit. Now I have to allocate some time to get all my floppies backed up.
posted by GuyZero at 11:28 AM on April 24


this image is brilliant, I can't stop looking at it. Man.
posted by serif at 1:03 PM on April 24


the preeminent American artist of the 20th century

You know, I like Andy Warhol and all, but that's going too far.


Couldn't disagree more. Warhol is, to my mind, unquestionably the single most important visual artist of the 20th century, American or otherwise. He turned the whole damn thing on its ear.

Also, this find is totally, totally cool in so many ways. Thanks for the post!
posted by Dr. Wu at 2:06 PM on April 24 [1 favorite]


unquestionably the single most important visual artist of the 20th century, American or otherwise. He turned the whole damn thing on its ear.

Oh come on. He's not even the first or most interesting intellectual descendent of Duchamp (who really did "turn the whole damn thing on its ear"). There's nothing in terms of conceptual breakthroughs in Warhol's work that wasn't pre-dated by Peter Blake, Richard Hamilton, Robert Rauschenberg or Jasper Johns. He plays in interesting ways in that sandbox, no doubt, but the sandbox was prepared by others before he came along.
posted by yoink at 2:27 PM on April 24 [6 favorites]


If we were to say single most important commercial or inspirational (to other--especially NYC) artist, we might really be on to something though. And it's always neat to see an older artist working with new mefia.
posted by riverlife at 4:20 PM on April 24


Computer forensics oh FFS. Floppies from 1985 are not that fragile. This was the first generation of 3.5" hard shell floppy disks. There is no "significant risk to the contents" if you flip the little lever on the floppy case to Write Protect. They had the original hardware and presumably the original software and were unable to read the disks or decode the format on native equipment.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:39 PM on April 24 [1 favorite]


I believe that this series has seen the light of day before, perhaps these are some of the outtakes or works in progress.......
posted by onesidys at 4:58 PM on April 24


I had the same initial reaction onesidys. But given one of the parties to the publication is the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, I'm guessing they would have recognized it.
posted by Nelson at 5:46 PM on April 24


the preeminent American artist of the 20th century

You know, I like Andy Warhol and all, but that's going too far.


I'd say that it's a point worth discussing. Warhol is influential enough to be considered as "the preeminent American artist of the 20th century", whether we think he deserves it or not.

Personally, I used to think that he was over-rated, but looking at his overall career in more detail lately, I'm feeling more respect for his work. So if it came down to vote on 20th Century preeminence, I'd probably say Yeah.
posted by ovvl at 5:48 PM on April 24 [1 favorite]


I'd say that it's a point worth discussing. Warhol is influential enough to be considered as "the preeminent American artist of the 20th century"

"Preeminent" does not mean the same thing as "most influential." But neither claim would be true of Warhol. "Most well known" might possibly be true, although you'd have to police the term "artist" pretty strongly to make it work--in ways that would be rather ironic given Warhol's own tendency to blur low/high distinctions. Walt Disney, say, is clearly a far more famous artist by any measure. Arguably a more "influential" one, too.
posted by yoink at 6:05 PM on April 24


Looks like the unknown graphics format is Graphicraft, by RJ Mical. Some of those images must have been somehow digitally screen captured (emulated?) as the title bar for Graphicraft is visible in some of the images.
posted by davemee at 12:06 AM on April 25


I believe that this series has seen the light of day before, perhaps these are some of the outtakes or works in progress.......

Yea, i'm pretty sure mefi might have even been the place i saw some of these the first time around.

It wasn't horribly long ago, so it might have been early results from this same recovery process... but yea.
posted by emptythought at 12:58 AM on April 25


I so want to believe he was playing around with Deluxe Paint. The "tut" image implies as much.

I temped at a large bank in the 80s that was using one of those Polaroid gizmos to create presentations. It really worked!
posted by lagomorphius at 2:45 PM on April 25


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