The term Techspressionism was coined in 2011 by artist Colin Goldberg to describe his “intersection of technology and abstraction.” This initial definition was documented in this article by Pat Rogers published in Hamptons Art Hub in September 2011. It was first used as the title of a 2011 solo exhibition of Goldberg’s works at 4 North Main Gallery in Southampton, NY. The term was first used in print in the exhibition catalog, which included a foreword written by critic and curator Helen Harrison, who is now serving as the group’s advisor.
Techspressionism was first referred to as a movement in this WIRED article by Kendra Vaculin. The article includes a link to the first iteration of the Techspressionist Manifesto, published in the same year by Goldberg on Medium. This initial Manifesto included a revised definition of the term Techspressionism, an amalgam of the Oxford Dictionary definitions of Expressionism and technology:
“An artistic style in which technology is utilized as a means to express emotional experience rather than impressions of the external world.”
The article and Manifesto coincided with a retrospective of Goldberg’s work at Glenn Horowitz Bookseller in East Hampton, NY. The exhibition was curated by artist Scott Bluedorn, and a printed catalog including Harrison’s 2011 essay and a curator’s statement by Bluedorn were also published by the bookseller in conjunction with the exhibit. Techspressionism’s relation to Japanese aesthetics was explored in this review of the exhibition by artist and writer Eric Ernst, grandson of the Surrealist painter Max Ernst, and son of Abstract Expressionist artist Jimmy Ernst.
Techspressionism got its first television coverage in a 2015 PBS interview conducted with Goldberg during an artist residency at The Studios of Key West, airing on the PBS Miami show Art Loft. The interview was syndicated to other PBS stations, later airing to the Boston and Baltimore markets.
Artist Oz Van Rosen first utilized the term Techspressionism in conjunction with glitch art to describe her work in this interview published in Beyond Photography, as well as in subsequent exhibition reviews and articles. She used the term independently of Goldberg, and defined it differently in her interview, relating it more specifically to digitally-manipulated photography.
In 2019, Goldberg presented Techspressionism to a live audience at The Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill NY for PechaKucha Hamptons.
In August 2020, Goldberg reached out to Van Rosen to discuss the possibility of formulating a Techspressionist artist group. They decided upon using Instagram as a platform to locate other artists using technology who wished to participate and the @Techspressionism Instagram account was established later that month, initially including a selection of works from Goldberg and Van Rosen.
Later that month, Goldberg met with artist Steve Miller to discuss the viability of Techspressionism as a term of art-historical nomenclature. Goldberg first met Miller in 1993 through an undergraduate internship in which he worked as Miller’s studio assistant. They later collaborated on an early “Net Art” project entitled “Dreaming Brain” in 1999. Goldberg and Miller developed initial language for a launch website and a strategy to propagate the meme via social media and the use of hashtags. Techspressionism.com launched on August 22 from the front porch of Steve Miller’s Sagaponack studio.
Shortly thereafter, Goldberg presented the idea to Helen Harrison, who agreed to be the group’s advisor. Harrison suggested the development of an exhibition as a framework for the development of an artist group, and it was decided that a virtual exhibition would make the most sense in light of the Coronavirus pandemic. An account was established on the Kunstmatrix VR exhibition platform to begin initial research and planning for the event, scheduled for 2021.
On September 1, 2020, the first Techspressionist Virtual Salon meetup was conducted via Zoom. The meetup was conceived as a modern counterpart to the Surrealist salons of the 1920’s, in which artists could meet informally to socialize and discuss ideas.
In addition to Goldberg, Miller and Van Rosen, attendees included group advisor Helen Harrison and artist and theorist Patrick Lichty, a colleague of Goldberg’s from graduate school at BGSU, where they both earned their MFA degrees in Computer Art over a decade earlier. Harrison and Van Rosen suggested revisions to Goldberg’s initial definition of the term: Harrison suggested the word “style” be changed to “approach”, and Van Rosen suggested the removal of “impressions of the external world”. The group came to a consensus, leaving us with the current definition :
“An artistic approach in which technology is utilized as a means to express emotional experience.”
With the addition of Lichty, currently teaching in Abu Dhabi, this “core group” effectively became the founders of the movement when they met that afternoon, and came to a consensus on the definition of the term. Shortly after the first Techspressionist Virtual Salon, Lichty drafted v2.0 of the Techspressionist Manifesto, which is the version currently posted to the website.
The Techspressionist Visual Artists Index was established in October 2020. The index is a curated selection of artists located through their use of the hashtag #techspressionism on Instagram. The first artist to be added to the index was Markos Pechlivanos. He has been followed thereafter by a growing international selection of artists.
The Second Techspressionist Virtual Salon, conducted via Zoom on October 13, 2020, had the following indexed artists in attendance: Peter Borges, James Byrne, Bernard Bousquet, Davonte Bradley, Colin Goldberg, Tikoi Kuitenbrouwer, Francene Levinson, Steve Miller , Jan Swinburne, Oz Van Rosen and group advisor Helen Harrison. As of the date of this gathering, there were over 1.8K posts on Instagram using the hashtag #techspressionism and 20 artists from 10 different countries listed in the Techspressionist Visual Artists index.