David Em presenting "The Shape of the Universe" 2011
Los Angeles, California, USA
|Education||Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
American Film Institute
|Known for||Digital art|
David Em (born 1952) is an American computer artist.
Em created digital paintings at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (Xerox PARC) in 1975 with SuperPaint, "the first complete digital paint system". In 1976, he made an articulated 3D digital insect at Information International, Inc. (III) that could walk, jump, and fly, the first 3D character created by a fine artist.
With his 1977 art work Aku, Em became the first artist to produce a navigable virtual world at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), where he was Artist in Residence from 1977 to 1984. He also created digital art at the California Institute of Technology (1985 – 1988), and Apple Computer (1991). Em has worked independently since the early nineties.
Em's art spans multiple media, including virtual worlds, filmmaking, printmaking, and photography. He has also worked with live performance and theater. Most of his creations exist outside of the mainstream art world.
Some of his early art created at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the 1970s has deep-space related themes. In the 1980s he incorporated light effects reminiscent of the French Impressionists, and in the 1990s he introduced otherworldly lifeforms into his work. In the first decade of the Twenty-First century, an apocalyptic element appears in his imagery. His current work relates to consciousness and the neurosciences.
His art has been exhibited at the Centre Pompidou, the Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, the Seibu Museum in Tokyo, the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. He has given talks at Harvard, MIT, The University of Paris, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His work has appeared in popular media, including the covers of Herbie Hancock's Future Shock, Sound-System, and Perfect Machine albums and an electronic version of William Gibson’s Neuromancer. He is the first digital artist to have his working papers acquired by the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Art.
Em has curated several exhibitions, including "The Shape of the Universe," November 30, 2011, at Pasadena City College with assistance from NASA and Caltech. The exhibit featured recent deep space photographs and computer simulations.