News / Science & Technology

    Long-lost Warhol Digital Images Recovered

    Warhol's Lost Digital Art Recapturedi
    X
    Kane Farabaugh
    May 19, 2014 1:13 PM
    Pop culture artist Andy Warhol is best known for his paintings of a Campbell’s Soup Can and actress Marilyn Monroe. What almost no one remembers is his experimentation with a now obsolete computer called the Amiga. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the art Warhol created on that computer might have been lost forever, if not for the partnership between Carnegie Mellon University, the Carnegie Museum of Art, and The Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
    Long-lost modified digital images by pop culture artist Andy Warhol have been rediscovered, thanks to a collaboration among Carnegie Mellon University, the Carnegie Museum of Art, and The Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

    The images are being retrieved from a 1985 Commodore Amiga computer.

    Back in time

    Stepping into Pittsburgh software engineer Keith Bare’s basement is like stepping into a computing time machine. His bulky screen and noisy disk drives have spent the last several decades on most other people’s shelves collecting dust.
     
    “They had a level of simplicity often times that we don’t see in modern computers anymore,” Bare said.

    His fellow members of the Carnegie Mellon University Computer Club call Bare the “Amiga Guru.”  

    Back to 1985, the Commodore Amiga was the newest and greatest computer.

    To create buzz at the Amiga launch party, Commodore enlisted Warhol ‒ best known for his paintings of a Campbell’s Soup Can and actress Marilyn Monroe ‒ to demonstrate its capabilities, which incorporated a drawing tablet and another revolutionary device: a digital camera.
     
    “He took some digital pictures and modified them before most people had been thinking about digital photography at all,” Bare said.And that’s about all the public got to see of Warhol’s digital artwork.  

    Lost images

    After his death in 1987, the computer and floppy discs were stored in the archives at The Warhol Museum, and the story about Warhol’s experimentation with the Amiga almost ended there.
     
    “Those drawings would have been lost,” said Divya Heffley, of the Carnegie Museum of Art’s Hillman Photography Initiative, who is producing the documentary series The Invisible Photograph.  

    Stumbling across the YouTube video of the 1985 Amiga launch sparked an idea that brought the Carnegie Museum of Art together with the Warhol Museum and Bare’s CMU computer club in an attempt to recover the contents of Warhol’s Amiga computer. As cameras rolled, they logged in to the unknown.
     
    “Nobody knew what we were going to find on those disks,” Bare said, adding that it took time for the team to understand the software used to create the images. “Not only is it relying on the digital media surviving, another thing that we don’t really think about is you also need to be able to have software that's able to understand that digital data.”
     
    After some reverse software engineering, they hit pay dirt: the Warhol digital art few had seen before.

    The iconic images of a digital Campbell’s soup can and Warhol’s self-portrait are just a few of some 20 images recovered from floppy disks.

    Cautionary tale
     
    Heffley says the search for Warhol’s art is both a history lesson and a cautionary tale.

    “If we’re not careful technology will become obsolete," she said, "and we will no longer have the ability to see the photographs, to see the images we hold so dear and so precious.”
     
    The Warhol images, now restored and archived, can be viewed by watching the Carnegie Museum of Art’s latest installment of The Invisible Photograph online documentary series, entitled “Trapped.”

    Kane Farabaugh

    Kane Farabaugh is the Midwest Correspondent for Voice of America, where since 2008 he has established Voice of America's presence in the heartland of America.

    You May Like

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora