Primary Codes surveys for the first time in Brazil the development of computer art through the works of four world-renowned computer artists Paul Brown, Harold Cohen, Ernest Edmonds and Frieder Nake. Curated by Caroline Menezes and Fabrizio Augusto Poltronieri and presented at the Centro Cultural Oi Futuro Flamengo, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Primary Codes includes new and historical digital prints, drawings and paintings as well as newly commissioned works and interactive installations by each artist, who have been working with computer art for over 40 years and are presented together for the first time in Latin America. Primary Codes runs from 15 June to 16 August 2015 at the Centro Cultural Oi Futuro Flamengo, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Computer art has been developed since the early 1960s, with artists working in programming throughout the decades, from the first prints using plotters to today’s virtual reality and interactive art installations. Bringing to Brazil some of computer art’s leading practitioners and pioneers, Primary Codes analyses the history of the art generated through computational codes and algorithms, looking at the relevance of computer programming as a creative act. The exhibition also highlights the importance of computer programming languages in contemporary art and education, encouraging visitors to engage with the artworks and to learn about coding and programming for artistic creation. As well as presenting historic and recent works, each artist is also creating work especially for three spaces in the Oi Futuro: Grande Campo, Vitral and the Video-wall.

Each of the artists has been invited to occupy the 10m x 10m side wall of the Oi Futuro’s building, Grande Campo, the space of biggest visibility for public art the city. A project by the curator of the institution Alberto Saraiva, each artwork will be on view for a few months, extending over after the exhibition closing date.

Paul Brown is a British-born artist and writer specialising in art, science & technology since the late 1960s and in computational & generative art since the mid-1970s. His early work included creating large-scale lighting works for musicians and performance groups like Meredith Monk, Pink Floyd and others. He has an international exhibition record dating to the late 1960s including a number of permanent and temporary public artworks, and has participated in shows at major international venues like the Tate Galleries, Victoria & Albert Museum and Institute for Contemporary Arts in the UK; the Adelaide Festival; ARCO in Spain, the Substation in Singapore and the Venice Biennale. His work is represented in public, corporate and private collections in Australia, Asia, Europe, Russia and the USA. He is currently Honorary Visiting Professor of Art and Technology at the Centre for Computational Neuroscience and Robotics, in the University of Sussex in England and was part of the recent exhibition Digital Revolution in the Barbican Centre in the summer 2014. For Primary Codes, Paul Brown presents a new commission created especially for the Video Wall, located above the main entrance of the building. Previous examples of his work are presented in the main exhibition including earlier real-time screen-based generative work Builder/Eater (1977); the film The Earth Probe created from a computer generated shooting script, and others.

Harold Cohen is a British-born artist who is noted as the creator of AARON, a computer program which has been in continual development since 1973, designed to produce art autonomously. Cohen’s work in the intersection of computer artificial intelligence and art proceeds from his initial question ‘what are the minimum conditions under which a set of marks functions as an image?’ Cohen has been living and working in San Diego since 1968, after he went on a one-year visiting professorship at the University of California and stayed on for nearly three decades, part of the time as chairman of the Visual Arts Department. His work has been continuously exhibited in major galleries in London and around the world, as well as being part of many public collections, including the Tate Galleries, Whitechapel, the Ashmolean and others. Harold Cohen has also represented England in the Venice Biennale and his AARON works have been shown in documenta III and documenta 6. As well as showing some of his most recent AARON works in the main show, Harold Cohen is the first artist commissioned to create for the Grande Campo.

Ernest Edmonds is a British-born multi-disciplinary artist also known as an expert on human-computer interaction. He was born in London and studied Mathematics, Philosophy and Logic at University. His art explores colour, time and interaction in the context of colour field painting and systems art. He extends the Constructivist tradition into the digital age: first using computers in his art practice in 1968. He first showed an interactive work with Stroud Cornock in 1970 and a generative time-based computer work in London in 1985. He has exhibited throughout the world, from Moscow to LA. He recently curated the Automatic Art exhibition at the GV Art Galleries, London, which demonstrated the close connection between the UK Systems and Software artists. He is currently Professor of Computation and Creative Media at the University of Technology, Sydney and Professor of Computational Art at De Montfort University, Leicester, UK. Ernest is one of the forefathers of digital kinetic art, working in time-based films and early interactive computer-based art system throughout his career. In Primary Codes he presents Shaping Space, an interactive installation where images are constantly generated using a number of set rules to determine their colours, patterns and duration, changing according to the environment around them. In the installation, the visitors’ movement in front of each work is detected by a camera which produces changes in the shape and duration of each image so that the active spectator and the work influence each other.

Frieder Nake is a German artist and Computer Science Professor at the University of Bremen in Germany. He began working in computer graphics and art in 1963 and his work has been recognized as among the first to be exhibited at art galleries. His first show, at Galerie Niedlich in Stuttgart, in November 1965 was the third of its kind in the world. Throughout his career, Nake has taken part in several international art exhibitions, including the hallmark Cybernetic Serendipity show at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London, England (1968), the most important series of exhibitions and symposia under the title Tendencies 4 and 5 (from 1968 to 1975) in Zagreb, Yugoslavia; and the Venice Biennale (1970). He has recently taken part in a number of the new wave of digital art shows, which now include some of his interactive works. With a background in mathematics, computer science and computer graphics, Nake is a prolific researcher and his recent research interests include digital media, computer art, design of interactive systems, computers in education, computational semiotics, and theory of computing science. He has written extensively about art, aesthetics, computer graphics, semiotics, digital media, education, and theory of computing science, both in German and English. For Primary Codes, Frieder Nake is working on Vitral, a wall occupying the entrance hall, which is typically used for site-specific commissions.