Technocrats of the Imagination

Art, Technology, and the Military-Industrial Avant-Garde

Technocrats of the Imagination

a Cultural Politics Book

More about this series

Book Pages: 256 Illustrations: 5 illustrations Published: April 2020

Author(s): John Beck, Ryan Bishop

Art and Visual Culture > Art History, Cultural Studies, Media Studies

In Technocrats of the Imagination John Beck and Ryan Bishop explore the collaborations between the American avant-garde art world and the military-industrial complex during the 1960s, in which artists worked with scientists and engineers in universities, private labs, and museums. For artists, designers, and educators working with the likes of Bell Labs, the RAND Corporation, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, experiments in art and technology presaged not only a new aesthetic but a new utopian social order based on collective experimentation. In examining these projects' promises and pitfalls and how they have inspired a new generation of collaborative labs populated by artists, engineers, and scientists, Beck and Bishop reveal the connections between the contemporary art world and the militarized lab model of research that has dominated the sciences since the 1950s.


“In teaching art and technology history now, the hardest tasks are to problematize innovation and to explain with precision the ways in which the midcentury artistic avant-garde in the US was entangled with managerial elites and the military-industrial complex. John Beck and Ryan Bishop convey this history keeping front and center the urgency of its political implications for present-day work in art and technology. I will recommend this book to every artist and researcher I know who works across art, science, and technology.” — Lisa Cartwright, Professor of Visual Arts, Communication, and Science Studies, University of California, San Diego


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Price: $25.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

John Beck is Professor of Modern Literature at the University of Westminster and author of Dirty Wars: Landscape, Power, and Waste in Western American Literature.

Ryan Bishop is Professor of Global Art and Politics at the University of Southampton and author of American Film Comedy as Cultural Critique.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Table of Contents Forthcoming
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0660-2 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0595-7