From Abstract Art to Abstracted Artists

  • Romi Mikulinsky Dept. of History and Theory, Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem, Israel
  • Yanai Toister Multi-Disciplinary Art Dept., Shenkar College of Engineering, Design & Art, Ramat Gan, Israel
Keywords: Rhythmus 21, Geometrical Abstraction, Webdriver Torso, Mathematical Abstraction, László Moholy-Nagy, Sol LeWitt, Frieder Nake, Conceptual Art, Algorithmic Art.


What lineage connects early abstract films and machine-generated YouTube videos? Hans Richter’s famous piece Rhythmus 21 is considered to be the first abstract film in the experimental tradition. The Webdriver Torso YouTube channel is composed of hundreds of thousands of machine-generated test patterns designed to check frequency signals on YouTube. This article discusses geometric abstraction vis-à-vis new vision, conceptual art and algorithmic art. It argues that the Webdriver Torso is an artistic marvel indicative of a form we call mathematical abstraction, which is art performed by computers and, quite possibly, for computers.

Author Biographies

Romi Mikulinsky, Dept. of History and Theory, Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem, Israel
Romi Mikulinsky is a senior lecturer at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem. Her dissertation at the University of Toronto's English dept. was dedicated to photography, memory, and trauma in literature and film. Dr. Mikulinsky researches and lectures on the future of reading and writing as well as on the various interactions of words and images, texts, codes, and communities in the information age. She has worked with various start-up companies and media websites, and served as the Director of The Shpilman Institute for Photography. Her book Digital Clutter: Topics in Digital Culture, co-authored with Prof. Sheizaf Rafaeli is to be published in 2017.
Yanai Toister, Multi-Disciplinary Art Dept., Shenkar College of Engineering, Design & Art, Ramat Gan, Israel
Yanai Toister is senior lecturer at Shenkar College of Engineering, Design & Art in Israel. Toister received his BFA from the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem, his MFA from the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), Los Angeles and his Ph.D. from the University of Sydney (disseration title: ‘Photography from the Turin Shroud to the Turing Machine’). Toister’s artwork has been shown in numerous solo and group exhibitions (including Sandroni.Rey, Los Angeles; Dvir Gallery, Tel Aviv; Kunstahalle Luzern, Switzerland; Bolsky Gallery, Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles; Maison Europèenne de la Photographie, Paris; the 11th International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale; Kunstmuseen Krefeld, Haus Lange, Krefeld, Germany; Israel Museum; Tel Aviv Museum of Art). Toister’s writing has been published in various catalogues and journals (including: Philosophy of Photography and the Bezalel Journal for Visual and Material Culture). (For further information please see 


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