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Composite Fax Image

Composite Fax Image

Using fax machines connected to a conference call phone line, in 1972 artists Lief Brush in Iowa City, Sonia Sheridan in Chicago and Willard Van De Bogart in Pittsburgh created one of the first realtime, multinodal, remote collaborative artworks.  This work builds on the history of artists’ use of telecommunications, ranging
from Moholy-Nagy’s Telephone Paintings of 1922 and Bertolt Brecht’s
theory of Radio as an Apparatus of Communication (TE p. 228) and mail art in the 1960s.  It anticipates the use of two-way communications such as satellite by Galloway & Rabinowicz and computer networking by artists including Adrian and Ascott in the later 1970s and 1980s.  As described in a local newspaper,

“The sounds of raindrops in Iowa City, an infra-red photograph of the sun transmitted from Pittsburgh and ‘sequential drawings’ transmitted from Chicago produced this ‘composite joined image.’  The image was made by transmitting the three sets of signals, in a conference phone call, and picking up the ‘composite image’ on ‘facsimile machines’ located in the three cities.”  Iowa City Press Citizen, December 2, 1972, p 3A.


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