Making Art Do Work

book review by Peter Sachs Collopy, Los Angeles Review of Books, 2020

In Making Art Work, W. Patrick McCray asks why and how American artists and engineers collaborated to produce technological art in the 1960s and 1970s. In our current moment, so obviously marked by the American government’s failure to deploy scientific expertise against a pandemic, and by demonstrations against white supremacy and police brutality larger than those of the 1960s, this book also provokes additional questions. Of what did technological art make people aware? Could it in fact contribute to solving social problems like hunger, homelessness, and war? How did patriarchy and white supremacy shape this art and the awareness it produced? What roles did women and people of color play in constructing and contesting it? Although none of these questions is at the center of McCray’s book, he points toward some of the answers.

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Subjects: art, engineering, media, politics, technology, technopolitics, visual culture
Category: writing