Abstract- Technophilia, Vietnam, and the Rise and Fall of Art and Technology in the United States, 1965-1971

This paper examines the common omission of the Art and Technology movement of the 1960s from histories of the period by tracing shifting attitudes on the part of artists and critics toward technology. In the early 1960s technology carried positive associations, suggesting unlimited potential. It would not surprise me to see the evolution of a type of scientist-artist, or engineer-artist, remarked Dan Flavin to Barbara Rose in 1966. A host of pioneering exhibitions and new organizations, including Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.), established in 1966, and the Center for Advanced Visual Studies, founded in 1967, at MIT supported Flavin’s observation. However, by decade’s end growing consciousness of the excesses of the Vietnam War, combined with the oppression of Civil Rights activists and economic recession, undermined public confidence in technology, revealing its threatening capabilities. In 1969, Richard Serra, who attended early E.A.T. meetings, asserted: Technology is what we do to the Black Panthers and the Vietnamese under the guise of advancement in a materialistic theology.” This transformation in outlook is significant due to its impact on the historical record, which effectively wrote out, until recently, the wide-spread participation of artists in the American Art and Technology movement of the 1960s.