The Canadian Art Database

timeline of digital culture

Looking back in time, it is clear that Canadians have experienced great success when art, science, technology and culture merge. Where long-term investments have been made, visionary achievements have followed.

If you would like to suggest an addition or correction to this timeline, please contact the team.

Bauhaus founded
Walter Gropius founds Bauhaus in Weimar, Germany. Its first major exhibition in 1923 was organized under the mantra "art and technology, a new unity."

Photograph of the Bauhaus, Dessau building

Black Mountain College
Experimental Black Mountain College becomes hub for cultural production inspiring Merce Cunningham, John Cage and Board Members Albert Einstein and John Carlos Williams.

National Film Board created. (Canadian)

New York World's Fair
Regularly scheduled television broadcasting begins with the opening of the New York World's Fair.

The memex system described
Vannevar Bush publishes an article titled "As We May Think," published in the Atlantic Monthly. In it, he describes an information system called memex, the first automated information management system, which later becomes the Internet.

The Sackbut invented (Canadian)
Hugh LeCaine invents the Sackbut, an early voltage-controlled synthesizer, while working for the National Research Council.

ENIAC I invented
John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert invent ENIAC I, the world's first practical all electronic digital computer.

"Cybernetics" published
Norbert Weiner publishes "Cybernetics," inspiring a generation of scientists to think of computer technology as a means to extend human capabilities.

The Owl and the Pussycat (Canadian)
John Halas and Joy Batchelor produce the first stereoscopic animated film The Owl and the Pussycat.

First communications satellite launched
NASA and Bell Labs launch the first U.S. communications satellite in low orbit around the earth.

Spacewar created
Spacewar, the first computerized video game, is created.

Hypertext/hypermedia coined
Ted Nelson coins the terms hypertext and hypermedia to describe the new paradigms that would make these tools possible.

Illustration of Xananological Structure

"Understanding Media" published (Canadian)
Marshal McLuhan's Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man is published. In French, it was published under the title Pour comprendre les médias (1968).

MIT's Center for Advances Visual Studies
Gyorgy Kepes founds MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies to break down the barriers between art and technology.

Portrait of Gyorgy Kepes

Bell Labs physicist Billy Kluver and artist Robert Rauschenberg found Experiments in Art and Technology (EAT) in New York to provide new materials for artists in the form of technology.

Roy Ascott's thesis
Roy Ascott proposes his thesis on a cybernetic vision of computer art and interactive expression ten years before the arrival of the personal computer.

The first GUI and mouse
Following his groundbreaking article "Augmenting Human Intelligence," Douglas Engelbart invents the first graphical user interface and the computer mouse.

Intermedia (Canadian)
Intermedia, a large collaborative group of artists and scientists working in interdisciplinary and new media, are active in Vancouver

Wavelength (Canadian)
Michael Snow releases his ground-breaking experimental film Wavelength.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) co-founder and scientist Frank Malina starts the journal Leonardo to document writings by artists who work with science and technology based art media.

NASA photo of Frank Malina

ARPANET, J.C. Licklader's vision of a wide area packet switched network, makes its first connection on October 29.

Exploratorium founded
Dr. Frank Oppenheimer founds the Exploratorium in San Francisco to explore human perception.

Metadata (Canadian)
The National Film Board and the National Research Council collaborate to create the computer-animated film Metadata.

Musical Research
George Pompidou asks Pierre Boulez to found an institute for musical research attached to the future National Centre for Contemporary Art.

A Space (Canadian)
A Space, the first multidisciplinary artist-run centre in Canada, is established. The Canadian Electronic Ensemble, the oldest continuous live-electronic group in the world, is founded.

Microprocessor chip invented
Andrew Grove, Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore of Intel invent the first microprocessor chip.

The Kitchen founded
Steina and Woody Vasullka found the Kitchen, in New York City, where artists make pioneering experiments in video art.

The Kitchen

Hunger (Canadian)
Hunger, a computer animated film funded by the National Film Board, is released. It is later nominated for an award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in the category of Short Film (Animated).

The Electronic Visualization Lab
The Electronic Visualization Lab at the University of Illinois opens in 1973, where Dan Sandin and Tom DeFanit develop the most advanced computer video instruments available to artists at the time. The Lab's continued work in scientific visualization leads to the development of the virtual reality CAVE in 1991.

Photo of Dan Sandin in Virtual Reality gear

Video In (Canadian)
The Vancouver artist-run centre, Video In, is developed out of the founding of the Satellite Video Exchange Society in 1973. Today, the centre continues to publicly exhibit and distribute video and new media work while also acting as a production centre.

Western Front founded (Canadian)
Western Front is founded in Vancouver and becomes a centre of activity in experimental art practice.

The first annual Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques, SIGGRAPH, is held in Boulder, Colorado.

Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS) releases the Altair microcomputer kit to the general public, inspiring Bill Gates to found Microsoft.

"Einstein on the Beach"
Robert Wilson's pioneering opera performance Einstein on the Beach premieres at the New York Metropolitan Opera.

Apple II
Apple Computer begins delivery of the Apple II, fully assembled with built-in keyboard, monitor and operating system software.

Interactive music (Canadian)
Bill Buxton invents an integrated, interactive music system.

Worldpool (Canadian)
Worldpool, a Toronto artist collective founded by Judith Doyle & Fred Gaysek with Willoughby Sharp & Norman White, is dedicated to using emerging telecommunications such as slow-scan TV.

ARC founded (Canadian)
Nancy Paterson & Derek Dowden found ARC (ArtCulture Resources Centre), one of Canada's first artist run centres.

Ars Electronica festival
Ars Electronica festival opens in Linz, Austria focusing on the interaction between art and technology and man and technology.

Cover of program from first Ars Electronica

Interplay (Canadian)
Bill Bartlett organizes "Interplay" telecon using the IP Sharpe system, leading to first international art network (ARTEX), initiated by Robert Adrian.

Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz present Hole-in-Space, where a live two-way satellite connects two streets in New York and Los Angeles using streaming video to allow people to converse as if in the same place.

Vtape founded (Canadian)
Vtape, an international distribution, exhibition and resource centre, is founded. Vtape maintains active partnerships with important organizations serving Aboriginal media artists.

V2 founded
V2, later named the Institute for Unstable Media, is founded in Amsterdam. V2's Dutch Electronic Art Festival (DEAF) continues to be one of Europe's premier events in the world.

First media art program (Canadian)
Tom Sherman launches the first media art program at the Canada Council for the Arts, supporting artists at Digicon 83 in Vancouver.

InterAccess Electronic Media Arts Centre founded (Canadian)
InterAccess Electronic Media Arts Centre is founded as Toronto Community Videotex. Initially an access space for artistic inquiry into the Telidon network system, InterAccess is now a gallery and production studio devoted to exploring the intersection of art and technology.

Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (Canadian)
Nova Scotia College of Art and Design develops an international reputation for attracting well-known artists from across North America and Europe to lecture and teach.

Alias Research founded (Canadian)
Stephen Bingham, Susan McKenna, Nigel McGrath and David Springer found Alias Research, now Alias, a world leader in 3D graphics software.

The first Artropolis exhibition (Canadian)
The first Artropolis exhibition, titled The October Show, opens in 1983. For over twenty years, interdisciplinary artists have participated in regular exhibitions, utilizing non-traditional spaces. The number of interdisciplinary artists participating in the exhibition grew from 120 to over 540 in 2003.

1984 Good Morning Mr. Orwell
Nam June Paik produces 1984 Good Morning Mr. Orwell, a full-scale live performance telecast transmitted to 5 countries.

Artist in Residence
The National Museum of Science and Technology in Ottawa initiates the Artist in Residence pilot program.

William Gibson coins the term cyberpunk in his novel Neuromancer

Elastic Movies (Canadian)
Luc Courchesne creates Elastic Movies, his first explorations into interactive video.

MIT Media Lad research
The MIT Media Lab explores basic research between academia and industry without regard to traditional divisions among disciplines.

Xerox PARC PAIR program
The Xerox PARC PAIR program pairs new media artists with researchers who use the same media, though often in different contexts.

Planetary Network
Roy Ascot, Don Foresta, Tom Sherman and Tommaso Trini curate Planetary Network, commissioned by the Venice Biennale.

SoftImage founded (Canadian)
SoftImage, a computer modeling software company, is founded.

Very Nervous System (Canadian)
David Rokeby's Very Nervous System debuts at the Venice Biennale. The underlying technology leads to innovation in medical research and therapy.

Very Nervous video

From Sea to Shining Sea (Canadian)
The PowerPlant gallery in Toronto publishes From Sea to Shining Sea, a review of artist-initiated activities in Canada from 1939-1987.

ANAT founded
The Australian Network for Art and Technology (ANAT) is founded to create connections and collaborations across art, culture, science and technology.

Art & Virtual Environments (Canadian)
Michael Century founds the Media & Visual Arts Department of the Banff Centre and launches the Art & Virtual Environments Program.

Igloolik Isuma Productions Inc. (Canadian)
Igloolik Isuma Productions Inc. is incorporated, becoming Canada's first Inuit, independent, community-based media production company.

ISEA founded
The Inter-Society for the Electronic Arts (ISEA), an international nonprofit organization fostering interdisciplinary academic discourse and exchange among culturally diverse organizations and individuals working with art, science and emerging technologies, is founded in the Netherlands.

Video Bridge launched (Canadian)
Nina Czegledy and Johanna Householder launch Video Bridge, providing the first video link between Canada and Hungary.

Bioapparatus (Canadian)
Catherine Richards and Nell Tenhaff co-direct Bioapparatus, the first research residency with Media & Visual Arts at the Banff Centre.

ZKM founded
The Center for Art and Media (ZKM) is founded in Karlsruhe, Germany, combining production and research, exhibitions and events, coordination and documentation.

Mosaic alpha version released
The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) releases the alpha version of Marc Andressen's Mosaic, the first graphical user interface (or browser) for the Web.

Portrait One (Canadian)
The National Gallery of Canada acquires Luc Courchesne's Portrait One, an interactive video portrait.

ISEA95 (Canadian)
The international milieu of electronic art converges on Montreal for ISEA95. The organizing committee later morphs into the Society for Arts and Technology (SAT), dedicated to the "defense and illustration" of digital culture.

Osmose created (Canadian)
Char Davies, working as Director of Visual Research at Softimage, creates Osmose, leading to artistic breakthroughs in virtual reality.

Ken Goldberg's TeleGarden allows Web users to plant, water and view the progress of a community garden using a robotic arm.


Rhizome launched
Rhizome is launched to provide a forum for new media artists, critics and curators.

Rhizome logo

Vera Frenkel exhibition (Canadian)
The National Gallery of Canada exhibits a retrospective exhibition of Vera Frenkel's time-based & new media work.

imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival founded (Canadian)
Cynthia Lickers-Sage founds imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, with the assistance of Vtape and other members of the new media community.

Vectorial Elevation (Canadian)
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer's Vectorial Elevation draws 800,000 people in Mexico City 1999 and is awarded the Golden Nica in 2000.

Photograph of Vectorial Elevation

NASDAQ peaks
NASDAQ peaks above 5,000 in March led by "" mania. One year later the market hovers near 2,000, a 60 percent drop.

010101: Art in Technological Times
San Fransicso Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) presents 010101: Art in Technological Times and the Whitney presents BitStreams, both major exhibitions of art and technology.

Artport launched
The Whitney Museum launches Artport, a portal to net art and digital arts and an online gallery space for commissioned net art projects.

Awards (Canadian)
David Rokeby wins Golden Nica and Rafael Lozano-Hemmer earns a distinction at Ars Electronica.

SAT gets connected (Canadian)
The Society for Arts and Technology (SAT) is first artist-run centre to be connected to Canadian broadband research network.

The Table: Childhood acquired (Canadian)
The National Gallery of Canada acquires The Table: Childhood by art science team Max Dean and Raffaello D'Andrea. D'Andrea is the first computing scientist mathematician to be collected by the Gallery.

The Table: Childhood

AIRes Fellowship initiated (Canadian)
AIRes Fellowship initiated by the National Research Council and the Canada Council for the Arts. Catherine Richards and Alan Storey are the first artists in residence at the NRC.

Art-science collaborations validated
The US National Academy of Sciences publishes Beyond Productivity: Information Technology, Innovation, and Creativity, a report that validates the important role of art-science collaborations.

Cover of Beyond Productivity

David Rokeby retrospective (Canadian)
The Oakville Galleries exhibit David Rokeby, a retrospective of the internationally recognized artist's new media works.

Ryan released (Canadian)
Chris Landreth releases Ryan, a computer animated short film. It later wins a reported 50 awards worldwide, including Best Short Film (Animated) from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.