Joseph Nechvatal has been making computer-assisted robotic paintings since 1986. His most recent show, "vOluptuary: an algorithmic hermaphornology," was on view this summer at Universal Concepts Unlimited in New York.
It's tough to learn the ins and outs of a secret society if you don't know the handshake. Happily, the Internet makes available esoteric traditions that were once virtually inaccesible--from Gnosticism and Hermetism to Tantra, magic(k), and Freemasonry. Many arcane texts and images, once difficult to obtain and prohibitively expensive, can now be downloaded free, making this material available to artists--or anyone--with special affection for esoterica. As Yves Klein said in his Chelsea Hotel Manifesto: "Long live the Immaterial!"
Fortean Times, a "Journal of Strange Phenomena," was founded in 1973 to carry on the work of early-twentieth-century writer and UFO spotter Charles Fort. Skeptical of scientific explanation, Fort was intrigued by questions of the loss of bodily sovereignty through philosophical reflection on transport. His investigations into disembodied experiences might well parallel contemporary forays into virtual-reality art, thus feeding our own interest in the telematic condition. Entering FT online is like stepping off a precipice with no apprehension of losing control. The site offers breaking news, archived articles (check out "The Mystical Count," about the life of Jan Potocki, author of the supernatural fiction The Saragossa Manuscript), and a gallery featuring images of strange beasts and, of course, crop circles.
In 1948, at age twenty, Yves Klein discovered a book by Max Heindel that outlined the beliefs of the Rosicrucians. After studying the Christian sect for six years, Klein considered himself an initiate and announced the coming of the "Age of Space," in which humans would travel liberated from their bodies. if, through internetted virtual-reality technology, that age is approaching, the periodical Esoterica and its website will become required reading. …