200 x 140 x 0.5 cm
Collection Museum Haus Konstruktiv
Donated by the artist
Binär - Dezimal [Binary - decimal]
Bernard Tagwerker (born 1942 in Speicher, Switzerland) trained to be a textile designer in St. Gallen before he began his studies at the Académie André Lhote and the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris. After completing his education, he settled in St. Gallen, where he quickly made a name for himself in the art scene in eastern Switzerland. In 1975–1976, he painted over all of his representational works with white enamel paint in a radical act symbolizing an artistic new beginning. Tagwerker then moved to New York in 1976, where he lived until 1985. There he found inspiration in John Cage and began to explore aleatoric concepts, consistently working with programmed chance from 1977 on. His goal was to question artistic authorship, overcome traditional visual solutions, and expand visual programs to include unpredictable elements. He began to integrate chance into his series of paintings and drawings, which he still made manually at this point, by rolling dice or drawing lots. In 1985, he then began to use a computer to generate random effects, in which a program creates controlled and self-organizing forms, which are printed on a connected flatbed plotter. Tagwerker has also developed a wide variety of devices – for example, for attaching brushes and pens – which have opened a myriad of technical possibilities. In the 1990s, he began to expand his scientific research of randomly generated visualizations of structures consisting of lines and planes to include number systems (for which he began to use a quantum random number generator in 2007). The glass work “Binär-Dezimal,” which he created in 1995, for example, uses a uniform horizontal and vertical order to list random numbers between 0 and 999 based on the binary decimal code used in computer technology. Numbers based on letter coding is another approach in Tagwerker’s newer works in which he translates text passages from Robert Walser into different codes.
That the broad scientific and artistic field of chance is an important theme in Tagwerker’s oeuvre is also apparent in his work in the collection of the Museum Haus Konstruktiv. He has been honored for his radical artistic practice many times. He received an award from the max bill/georges vantongerloo stiftung in Zurich as well as the Cultural Award of the Canton of Appenzell-Ausserrhoden in 1999. He has also earned the Cultural Award of the City of St. Gallen in 2014, and the Graphic Award from the Peter Kneubühler-Stiftung in Zurich in 2016.