Cybernetic Serendipity Poster

Schmidt served as the music adviser to curator Jasia Reichardt for the landmark exhibition “Cybernetic Serendipity” at London’s ICA in 1968, and his selection of computer music for the ICA show proved extraordinarily prescient. Schmidt had long been intrigued by electronic music, systems, and their connections to the visual arts. “Cybernetic Serendipity” showcased pathbreaking work by hundreds of artists, including John Cage, Nam June Paik, and Jean Tinguely, and was a huge success for Reichardt and the ICA, drawing somewhere between 45,000 and 60,000 viewers and foreshadowing multiple major trends on the interfaces between art and technology. “Cybernetic Serendipity” also galvanized the interest in systems-based art. “The very notion of having a system in relation to making paintings is often anathema to those who value the mysterious and the intuitive, the free and the expressionistic, in art,” wrote Reichardt in 1968. “Systems, nevertheless, dispense neither with intuition nor mystery. Intuition is instrumental in the design of the system and mystery always remains in the final result.”

Rhizome: Brian Eno, Peter Schmidt, and Cybernetics