Founded in 1993, the New York Digital Salon (NYDS) is one of the most established digital art exhibitions. Although the beginnings of digital art started a few decades before with the creative experiments of computer scientists, getting access to these early computers was difficult for artists. The first large wave of digital art began in the late 1980's with the development of sophisticated drawing, painting and 3D software along with affordable hardware in the form of IBM PC and Macintosh computers with full color capability. There were very few venues for this new art form and the first NYDS was created to provide a New York venue for digital art. The first exhibition was held at the New York Art Directors Club and contained primarily digital prints. There were about fifty works selected from over 600 entries. The response to the exhibition was positive, and it generated a lot of curiosity about digital art.
Based on this response, plans for a second NYDS were made. The number of entruies from artists increased. In addition, new techniques were also employed for curating the show. A "virtual gallery" or 3D environment of the New York Art Director's Club was created and the work selected for the exhibition was the texture mapped on planes and the 3D model was used to visualize how the work would look in the gallery. This was one of the first uses of 3D software to design and curate an art exhibition.
Over the years, the exhibition has grown and expanded as artists began to create new forms of digital art and experiment with computer animation, digital video, interactive installations, CD-ROMs, and other digital technologies. The first type of new work added to the exhibition was computer animation and digital video. With the widespread development of the Internet in the mid-1990's, artist's Web sites and Net Art were also included in the exhibition. As the curator of the exhibition, I felt that it was important to provide a comprehensive exhibition of digital art.
In the late 1990's, the exhibition expanded on an international level. In 1997, the exhibition traveled to the Circulo des bellas Artes in Madrid. The response to the exhibition was enthusiastic with about 10,000 people attending the month long show. Based on the success of the Madrid exhibition, in subsequent years, the exhibition traveled to Madrid, Barcelona, Alicante, Valladolid. Plans for the Tenth NYDS include a two-year world tour.
Along with the explosion of the Internet in the mid-1990's, a web site was created for the exhibition. This provided an online resource for those interested in digital art, artists, educators and the general public. Currently, the 7th, 8th and shortly 9th exhibitions will be online. Efforts are underway to put earlier exhibitions online as well. The goal is to develop a comprehensive digital art Web site based around the NYDS. The site now includes Web cast interviews and panel discussions, and plans for interviews with artists, expanded critical content and a list of links.
The pioneering efforts of the New York Digital Salon are now bearing fruit as the established art community is now beginning to recognize this new art form. Recent exhibitions in the United States in 2001 at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Brooklyn Museum of Art reflect a growing public interest in digital art. The strength of the NYDS lies in its history. The exhibition has created a ten-year historical record of this art form. As it moves forward, continuing emphasis will be placed on the development of the Web site and international aspects of the exhibition. Digital art is truly an international art form. The democratizing effect of computers and the Internet have brought artists and cultures from around the world together in this annual event.