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Punch Cards Get Creative Treatment

7/13/2006
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Opening in Gallery A on July 28 is the innovative and collaborative exhibit Do Not Fold, Bend, Spindle or Mutilate: Computer Punch Card Art. An open and free reception will be held Friday, July 28 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. The exhibit will also be part of the Sioux Falls Fine Arts Trolley Tour on the same date from 5 to 9 p.m. Paper punch cards were commonplace in an era when computers with vacuum tubes filled vast rooms at universities and in corporate office buildings. The punch card concept originated with the Jacquard looms of the early 19th century. Jacquard looms were programmed to weave complex patterns using wooden punch cards. In the late 19th century player piano scrolls with punched holes created intricate music. Paper punch cards, like the punch cards featured in this exhibition, were a necessary programming tool for the computers of the 1950s through the early 1970s. With the new computer languages and technical innovations of the 1980s the once ubiquitous computer punch card became largely obsolete, although they played a key role in the "hanging chad" controversies of the 2000 Presidential election. The computer punch cards used in this exhibit were made 35 years ago but have never been punched. To organize this exhibition of punch card art, the Visual Arts Center mailed approximately one thousand punch cards to a wide selection of artists and cultural figures from around the country and abroad. They were instructed to create artworks using the punch cards and to return their artistic creations to the Visual Arts Center in an enclosed envelope. They were free to write, paint, draw, cut, print, or do whatever they wished with the punch card in direct contradiction to the punch card’s traditional dire warning --- “Do not fold, bend, spindle or mutilate.” At the time of this release over 350 artistically manipulated punch cards had been received. The exhibit will be on display through September 17 in the Visual Arts Center. ### EDITOR’S NOTE: Images are available online at www.washingtonpavilion.org. Choose “general information” and the “media information” link. User name: media Password: photo title: punch card