Andy Warhol’s Lost Computer Art Found on 30-Year-Old Floppy Disks


If you saw our post on Andy Warhol dig­i­tal­ly paint­ing Deb­bie Har­ry at the 1985 launch of the Com­modore Ami­ga 1000, you know how effu­sive­ly — effu­sive­ly by the impas­sive Warho­lian stan­dard, any­way — the artist praised the com­put­er’s artis­tic pow­er. Now, thanks to a recent dis­cov­ery by mem­bers of Carnegie Mel­lon Uni­ver­si­ty’s Com­put­er Club, we know for sure that the mas­ter­mind behind the Fac­to­ry did­n’t sim­ply shill for Com­modore; he actu­al­ly spent time cre­at­ing work with their then-graph­i­cal­ly advanced machine, a few pieces of which, unseen for near­ly thir­ty years, just came back to light on mon­i­tors every­where. Above we have the 1985 self-por­trait Andy2. The 27 oth­er finds include a mouse-drawn ren­di­tion of his sig­na­ture Camp­bel­l’s soup can and a three-eyed Venus, sure­ly one of the eerier ear­ly uses of cut-and-paste func­tion­al­i­ty, all prod­ucts, explains the press release from The Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Cre­ative Inquiry at Carnegie Mel­lon,” of a com­mis­sion by Com­modore Inter­na­tion­al to demon­strate the graph­ic arts capa­bil­i­ties of the Ami­ga 1000 per­son­al com­put­er.” 


1980s elec­tron­ics-lov­ing artist Cory Arcan­gel, upon watch­ing the video of Warhol at the launch, con­tact­ed the Andy Warhol Muse­um “regard­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty of restor­ing the Ami­ga hard­ware in the museum’s pos­ses­sion.” The effort neces­si­tat­ed acts of “foren­sic retro­com­put­ing” — a del­i­cate process, since “even read­ing the data from the diskettes entailed sig­nif­i­cant risk to the con­tents.” The CMU Com­put­er Club team even had to reverse-engi­neer the “com­plete­ly unknown file for­mat” in which Warhol had saved his images. “By look­ing at these images, we can see how quick­ly Warhol seemed to intu­it the essence of what it meant to express one­self, in what then was a brand-new medi­um: the dig­i­tal,” Arcan­gel says in the press release. “FYI, it was the most fun project I ever worked on,” he says on his blog — a mean­ing­ful state­ment indeed, since so much of his oth­er work involves old Nin­ten­do games. The Hill­man Pho­tog­ra­phy Ini­tia­tive cap­tured it all in a film called Trapped: Andy Warhol’s Ami­ga Exper­i­ments, which pre­mieres Sat­ur­day, May 10, at Pitts­burgh’s Carnegie Library Lec­ture Hall, there­after becom­ing view­able at

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Andy Warhol Dig­i­tal­ly Paints Deb­bie Har­ry with the Ami­ga 1000 Com­put­er (1985)

Warhol’s Screen Tests: Lou Reed, Den­nis Hop­per, Nico, and More

Three “Anti-Films” by Andy Warhol: Sleep, Eat & Kiss

Andy Warhol’s Christ­mas Art

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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