Lost Warhol originals extracted from decaying Amiga floppies

Golan Levin writes, "My lab (in collaboration with Cory Arcangel, the CMU Computer Club, The Andy Warhol Museum, and the Carnegie Museum of Art) has announced a major dead-media discovery. We have recovered previously unknown, pure-digital artworks by Andy Warhol -- extracted from decaying Amiga floppy disks from 1985."

Warhol created the works with Graphicraft, and the disks needed a lot of love and coaxing to get the files off them (to my mind, the story of the technical heroics is a lot more interesting than the pictures, but I'm not much of a Warhol fan). A documentary film about the file recovery called "Trapped" will premiere on May 10 at the Carnegie Library Lecture Hall in Pittsburgh.

Warhol’s Amiga experiments were the products of a commission by Commodore International to demonstrate the graphic arts capabilities of the Amiga 1000 personal computer. Created by Warhol on prototype Amiga hardware in his unmistakable visual style, the recovered images reveal an early exploration of the visual potential of software imaging tools, and show new ways in which the preeminent American artist of the 20th century was years ahead of his time.


Previously Unknown Warhol Works Discovered on Floppy Disks from 1985 (Thanks, Golan!)

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  1. I was an Amiga 1000 owner! I did not remember this Warhol connection at all! This is awesome!

    In 1985, Commodore International (makers of the once-famous Commodore 64 home computer) released the first model of the Amiga the Amiga 1000 as a move into more serious business and productivity computing. To show off the multimedia capabilities of the machine, Commodore hired Andy Warhol to appear at the launch and produce several artworks using the Amiga. Warhol's presence was intended to convey the message that this was a highly sophisticated yet accessible machine that acted as a tool for creativity. He was provided with various pieces of pre-release hardware and software, eventually exploring digital photography, video capturing, animation editing, and audio composition. All of this had been done to limited extents earlier, but Warhol was an incredibly early adopter in this arena and may be the first major artist to explore many of these mediums of computer art. He almost certainly was the earliest (if not the only, given several pre-release statuses) possessor of some of this hardware and software and, given their steep later sale prices, possibly the only person to have such a collection. According to the contract with Commodore located by the museum in March 2012, Warhol was to own the rights to all such work created and any hardware provided, so these works and the machines themselves have, except for sporadic "rediscoveries" of small components, remained hidden and unpublished within Warhol archives.

    This is the launch?

    Debbie Harry and Andy Warhol at 3:50 in the second video.

    Data was retrieved from the old floppies using a KryoFlux!

  2. The video for the low-level floppy reader features some pretty awesome 8-bit chiptune action

  3. The three-eyed Venus is largely the work of Avril Harrison, who did a bunch of the demo art found on copies of Deluxe Paint. Including that image, minus the third eye. I remember being amazed by it when I was a kid playing with my brand-new Amiga 1000. Note that it still carries her "A.H." signature.

    I mean this is Warhol, King of Appropriation we're talking about here, so arguably it being on his discs suggests it is now a Warhol Original, but he didn't bother signing it with his name.

    Harrison also did a bunch of other painterly stuff - the splash screen of the 16-bit versions of "Prince of Persia" is her work, she was part of the Monkey Island team, and various other appearances in the games of that era. Here's what I'm pretty sure is a partial gameography though I couldn't fill in the blanks if my life depended on it.

    Also this article is reminding me that I have a few discs in a closet that I saved all my c64 art on that I really should get around to trying to extract someday before they bit rot away.

  4. My first computer was an Amiga (at that time is was just called the Amiga -- they hadn't come out with the 500 and 1000 designation yet), and the thing that pushed me over the edge to spend the money was the then-current issue of Amgia magazine, which prominently featured a picture of Warhol on the cover. The article featuring his artwork (and the article that featured what were at the time stunning pictures of Mandebrot fractals) were the motivation I needed.

  5. klyx says:

    I had no idea dude was a cybergoth. This is some seriously early glitch art.

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