Portrait of Normen White.
”I’m an artist, sort of“, says Norman White. He is an artist who taught himself electronics when, after having decided to do robotic works, discovered that electronics was not trivial.
His ideas on art are expressed through statements like these:
1. “Art should concern itself as much with behavior as it does with appearance.”
2. “Some of the best art happens when behavior and appearance are completely at odds with each other.”
3. “Economy of means is a critical part of aesthetics.”
4. “Art functions best, and is most needed, outside of galleries and museums.”
[http://www.normill.ca/artpage.html, consulted 27 Oct. 2008]
White has worked with machines of many kinds, and has generated many robotic installations since the late 1960s. A considerable number of them, but not all, involve computers. His work often shows an ironic scepticism towards fundamental characteristics and ideologies of Western society. He likes to address and involve the beholder. He tries to remain independent of accepted norms of how he should behave, as an artist and as a citizen in general.
As an artist specializing in electronics and robotics he has been a teacher and mentor for generations of Canadian media artists. He has taught at the Ontario College of Art and Design and is living north of Toronto.
(vgl. Herzogenrath & Lähnemann 2009:13)
1938 Born in San Antonio (TX, USA). (Tag, Monat)
1951-1955 Punchard High School, Andover, MA
1955-1959 Student of Biology at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
1959-1960 Student of Fine Art at the Art Students League, New York. Paints in the style of the New York School
1962-1963 Fine Art at San Francisco Art Institute. Works as an assistant to an electrician in the port of San Francisco
1964-1966 Moves to London, UK. Frst experiments in electronically-based art
1965 Travel in the Middle East
1966 Moves to Toronto (Canada). First electro-kinetic works.
1969 Participates in Some More Beginnings, organized by Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.), at Brooklyn Museum of Art. Exhibits his first electronic work, First Tighten Up on the Drums.
1974 The installation Ménage employs five independent robots, four of which interact on the ceiling of the exhibition space.
1975 Mural work Splish Splash Two commissioned for the foyer of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Vancouver (Canada).
1976 Gets first computer; from now on produces computer-operated works, mainly robots.
1977 First robot to be reconstructed and improved in several versions, for Facing Out Laying Low.
1978 Speaker in panel discussion Pygmalion or Pythagoras: Sculptural Response to Living Systems with Jonathan Benthall, Jack Burnham, Edward Ihnatowicz and Marshall McLuhan, at the 10th Annual Sculpture Conference York University, Toronto (Canada).
1978-1979 Member of the Toronto branch of the group Worldpool established to discuss, produce and criticise works based on telecommunications.
1978-2003 Lecturer in the Integrated Media Program at Ontario College of Art & Design, Toronto
1983 Organisational support for, and participation in, Roy Ascott’s project Plissure du Texte, in which a fairy-tale character is allocated to each of ten locations. They communicate daily for two weeks, via a text-processing link only. – Speaker in panel discussion Robots with Carl Helmers, Jr., David Leavitt and Nam June Paik, chaired by Willoughby Sharp, at the conference Art and Telecommunications, School of Visual Arts, New York.
1985 Second prize in competition to produce an object for Le Zoo des Robots of the Musée National des Sciences, des Techniques et des Industries, La Villette, Paris (France).
Realizes his first telecommunications project Hearsay. A text is translated into other languages several times, passing through 8 stages around the world in the course of 24 hours and returns to its start; a project in cooperation with artist friends Robert Adrian X and Laura Kikauka.
1986 Artist-in-residence at the Open University, Milton Keynes (England).
Participates in the globally net-worked Laboratorio Ubiqua, 42nd Biennale, Venice (Italy).
1990 Award for Helpless Robot at the Prix Ars Electronica 1990, Linz (Austria)
1993 Participates in the first Cybercity, a model world of robots at McLuhan Centre of Culture and Technology, University of Toronto; Robots can be operated from sites at 45th Biennale, Venice, Italy.
from 1994 on Concentrates on anonymous works realised as interventions into everyday situations.
1995 Panel discussion Robotica: O Cenário Homem-Máquina with David Rokeby, Lúcia Santaella de Braga, and Stellarc, Arte No Século XXI, São Paulo (Brazil). – Petro Canada Award for media art
2003 Retires from Ontario College of Art and Design. Continues teaching at Ryerson University, Toronto, until 2008.
2008 Third recipient of the d.velop digital art award [ddaa], Berlin.
2009 Solo retrospective at Weserburg, Museum of Modern Art in Bremen, Germany.
Norman White lives and works in the “Normill”, an old gigantic corn mill in the little town of Durham, ONT (Canada).
(Herzogenrath & Lähnemann 2009)
Portrait of Normen White.
Normen White in his room of working in Canada.
Normen White (right) and Frieder Nake (left) at compArt Lab, Bremen (Germany)
Norman’s first Computer: a Motorola-D-1, 1976