New Article: “The Personal is Computable” by Leslie Jones, Art In Print


The Sonya Rapoport Legacy Trust is excited to announce the publication of a very thoughtfully researched and lavishly illustrated article, The Personal is Computable: Sonya Rapoport, by Leslie Jones, Curator of Prints and Drawings at LACMA, in the current “Machine Learning” issue of Art in Print (Vol. 8, No. 5).

Jones, who has done on-site research at the SRLT with Rapoport’s original artworks, has produced an informed, in-depth exploration of Rapoport’s engagement with the computer, from her earliest drawings on computer printout paper in the mid-1970’s, to her computer-mediated “audience participation performances” of the 1980’s.

“In 1973, when Sonya Rapoport (1923–2015) first pulled computer printouts from the recycling bins of the mathematics department at the University of California, Berkeley, to use as material for her art, she sensed its potential as “a ritualistic symbol of our technological society,” but she also saw something she could put to use. For the remainder of her career, computers would provide both material and tools for innovative works on paper, installations and participatory events rooted in feminism and driven by her interests in both psychology and technology.”

“Rapoport’s work of the 1970s and early 1980s remains a remarkable personalization of digital technology at a time when computers were widely seen as the purview of big business, government agencies and advanced scientific research— in short, the “impersonal.” For Rapoport the psychological attachment to a ceramic cat bank or pair of shoes was as valid a form of computable data as the calculation of a missile projectile or corporate reports.”

–From Jones, Leslie (2018). The Personal is Computable: Sonya Rapoport. Art in Print, 8(5), 15-21.

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