Ylem: Serving Artists Using Science and Technology, 1981–2009

  • Trudy Myrrh Reagan
  • Leonardo, February 2018, The MIT Press
  • DOI: 10.1162/leon_a_01192

Ylem: Artists Using Science and Technology was grass roots.

What is it about?

Ylem or YLEM served early tech artists, who wanted a way for people to meet face to face and share ideas. For distant members, the YLEM Newsletter filled their needs. It was a low-budget, all volunteer organization outside of academia, corporate grants or the commercial art market. This memoir, written by its founder, gives the flavor of the days when no personal computers, email exchanges, web sites, or online publishing were available to ordinary people. In nearly 30 years, it witnessed many changes. Friendships were made across diverse disciplines. Its publication and exhibits gave validity to their work when the Art World was still hostile or indifferent.

Why is it important?

"Keeping watch on the cultural frontier" was the byword of Stephen Wilson, who was a decades-long supporter, because it was doing this. With its informality, it made this fun. It serves as one model for grass-roots arts organizing today.


Trudy Myrrh Reagan

"As the founder and author of this paper, I was amazed at what YLEM became. Named after George Gamov's name for the primordial stuff that became the universe, I saw again and again how the stuff of imagination become real in a similar way. It was a wonderful part of my own personal development to encounter all the innovations that happened during its 28-year run."

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The following have contributed to this page: Trudy Myrrh Reagan