In 1969, art historian and media theorist Jack Burnham approached artist Sonia Sheridan about participating in an exhibition he was organizing at the Jewish Museum in New York for the following year. The exhibition, entitled “Software,” exposed the public to a wide variety of perspectives concerning the functional applications of information processing systems.
Sheridan’s installation consisted of the new 3M color-in-color photocopying machine, which the audience was permitted to interact with and make their own instant images. On working with this medium, Sheridan has stated, “It is obvious that this work process becomes another kind of time for the artist as the distance from conception to conception is reduced to minutes and objects change as rapidly as thinking allows.”
Installation view at opening of Software exhibition at the Jewish Museum in New York, 1970. Image from exhibition catalog. Photo: Shunk-Kender.
Sheridan’s Interactive Paper Systems was part of Jack Burnham’s 1970 Software exhibition. The artist offered attendees the ability to experiment with two instruments produced by the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company (3M): the Thermo-Fax machine and the Color-in-Color copier. The work enabled the audience to experience working with new graphic tools that would lead to greater awareness about the creative possibilities afforded by rapid methods of production. In her words, “It is obvious that this work process becomes another kind of time for the artist as the distance from conception to conception is reduced to minutes and objects change as rapidly as thinking allows.”