Imaging With Machine Processes

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire; gift of the artist

The Generative Art of Sonia Landy Sheridan


Our primary concern is the creative development and application of technology to human need. – Sonia Landy Sheridan on the Generative Systems program that she founded in 1970 at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 1976


… give the students a range of experience, from the artist’s vantage point in re-examining energy for imaging manually, mechanically, electronically and photonically … and to pull apart and examine dozens of communication machines. – Sonia Landy Sheridan on Generative Systems classes, 1990

Make 5 images a day for 19 years and you have 34,675 images stashed here and there and everywhere. – Sonia Landy Sheridan on Generative Systems Facebook page, November 4, 2012


Ever since Sonia Landy Sheridan (b. 1925) first got her hands on new communication technologies in the late 1960s, she has playfully interacted and critically engaged with them to permit the imagination to develop alternate forms of both aesthetic beauty and philosophical depth. Imaging with Machine Processes. The Generative Art of Sonia Landy Sheridan—her first solo exhibition in Europe—presents a wide variety of material relating to this manifold, extensive and truly unique line of work. From early consumer electronic devices such as Thermo-Fax and the industrial 3M Color-in-Color photocopier, to software tools like EASEL, Lumena, Vango and Adobe Photoshop, Sheridan has experimented with machine processes to openly explore their generative capabilities for imaging beyond the politics of instrumental reason. Like a hacker or glitch artist avant la lettre, she has used “bugs” and unintentional effects produced by the machines to demythologize their authority and appropriate them for insubordinate expressions of artistic invention, essentially proposing a radical new perspective for the development of technology and of technological society.


The exhibition combines historical works and documents with contemporary objects and prints. The breadth of exhibited work shows the continuity in Sheridan’s art in terms of method and concerns, as well as its receptiveness to continual and dynamic change in the interrelationship between technology, social conditions and art.


The exhibition also emphasizes Sheridan’s strong involvement in education and her challenging vision of teaching within institutional frameworks, in particular the Generative Systems program she set up and ran throughout the 1970s. In addition to film and photo material documenting this involvement, on every day of the festival a blackboard features a quote Sheridan posts that same day on the Generative Systems Facebook page.


The exhibition is made in collaboration with the artist, Cinémathèque québécoise and The Hood Museum of Art.