1985 was a cool year. The ‘now classic’ Back To The Future movie was at the cinema. Kids were drinking Cherry Coke and those of the pop art crowd were still into Andy Warhol in a big way. In fact, Warhol was under commission from Commodore, the creator of the Amiga computer, to produce some artwork to aid in the launch of the Amiga 1000. Some previously unknown works that were created for the project by Andy Warhol, have been recovered from 30-year-old Amiga disks.
A painstaking three-year ordeal was undertaken to recover the images as the pictures were saved in an obscure data format. The digital images were exposed and then recovered by staff and students from Carnegie Mellon University’s computer club.
Self-confessed Andy Warhol fanatic and artist Cory Arcangel enrolled the club in the attempt to find and restore the images. He had noticed Warhol’s involvement in the Commodore Amiga launch, due to an uploaded video on YouTube of the 1985 event.
Arcangel wondered if Warhol had produced any other works with the Amiga and so he contacted the Andy Warhol Museum back in 2011 to have permission to search through its collection. The search uncovered an Amiga computer and loads of floppy disks. This led Arcangel to approach Carnegie Mellon for assistance in cataloguing the data on the storage media. The team used a form of magnetic imaging to copy the data, so the originals were not damaged. On further examination the copied data revealed numerous files that had titles like “flower.pic” and “marilyn1.pic” that were indicative of Warhol’s works. As the data was saved in an obscure format that even modern Amiga emulators could not read, the project was troubled somewhat. It took some reverse engineering to recover the images. Of the images that were recovered, many of them were signed electronic facsimiles of Warhol’s celebrated. A total of 18 images were recovered, tweleve of which are signed by Warhol.
Arcangel said in a statement, “What’s amazing is that 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.” This discovery and recovery project has been filmed for a documentary that will be shown in May during a public lecture at the Carnegie Library lecture hall in Pittsburgh US and for those who are interested and cannot make it, the documentary will be made avaialble online at http://nowseethis.org/ sometime afterwards.
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