Goodyear on Mefferd and “bringing us together”

New to the city, Tuchman had reason to believe that this undertaking would not only complement the futuristic setting of Los Angeles but would also en- hance the museum’s financial and cul- tural standing. As critic Peter Plagens observed, the exhibition catalogue for the show, A Report on the Art and Technol- ogy Program of the Los Angeles County Mu- seum of Art, 1967–1971, “is not so much the narrative of a completed project, but an interim report on a hoped-for ongo- ing metamorphosis of modern art, cen- tered in Los Angeles” [21]. The ambitious aims of the exhibition were buoyed by the opportunity to par- ticipate in the American Pavilion, spon- sored by the United States Information Agency (USIA), at Expo ’70 in Osaka. The decision of the USIA to focus on “topics dealing with Science, Technology, and the Arts” made selections from Tuch- man’s “Art and Technology” exhibition an ideal choice and also suggested that Tuchman had correctly read prevailing art-world trends in designing his project. As Tuchman later explained, the opportunity was a prestigious one, giving “Art and Technology” the “imprimatur” of the USIA. Tuchman included works by eight artists in the Os- aka installation: Claes Oldenburg’s Ice- bag ; Boyd Mefferd’s strobe room; Tony Smith’s “cave,” composed of interlocking cardboard pyramids; Robert Whitman’s mirror-generated virtual images; Newton Harrison’s glowing tubes of color; Roy Lichtenstein’s films; and Andy Warhol’s Rain Machine. The political cache of proj- ects celebrating the combined power of the United States’ technological and cul- tural resources, in the context of the Cold War, was reflected in the commentary of an American journalist reporting on the installation, who observed:

It must…be attractive to the government to consider how “A&T” seems to embody democratic ideals of co-operation and interaction between various lev- els of the society. Pragmatically, “A&T” could be interpreted as embodying [President Nixon’s] “bring us together” philosophy. (p. 170)

Goodyear, A. C. (2008). From technophilia to technophobia: the impact of the Vietnam War on the reception of “Art and Technology”. Leonardo, 41(2), 169-173.