Sept. 6, 1912-Jan.8, 1992...Hungary
is known as the “Father of Cybernetic Art.” He was also the major pioneer of video art. He was born in Hungary, but moved to Paris, France in 1936, became a
French citizen in 1948. He studies law, but after gaining his degree, he took up the study of art and attended the School
of Fine Arts in Budapest and the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris.
Schöffer’s career as an artist includes work in sculpture, architecture, urbanism, total theatre, tapestry, film,
music, teaching and books.
Schöffer started building cybernetic towers in 1954. However the first self-governed cybernetic sculpture, Cysp
1, would not be developed until 1956. The term cybernetic means: controlled by a computer.
One of his most grand works was created in 1961. The Cybernetic Tower of Liege was a 170’
6” tower that contained 66 revolving mirrors, 120 colored projectors, multiple microphones, and several electric eyes,
or photoelectric cells that would turn electrical devices on at night. When the area around the tower was dark, tower projected
the music of Henri Pousseur and animated a colored performance on the Palace of Congress and the Meuse River.
Schöffer was also a big part of video art, and he helped to revolutionize the way people would use video. Much of his work,
including the video applications, was influenced by Marcel Duchamp; who believed we need to use the science and technology of the day in order to improve our artworks. The first video production
in the history of television, Variations Luminodynamiques 1, that aired in France was the
work of Nicolas Schöffer in 1961. He continued to dabble in video until his last film with Marion Sarraut in 1991.
In 1980, the Nicolas Schöffer Museum was opened in Kalocsa, Hungary. Soon after, he was elected to become a Member of the
Fine Arts Academy in France. He was the first member of this Academy of Hungarian origin. In 1985 Nicolas has a stroke and
looses the use of his right hand and arm. Although now he has unique difficulties, he would not quit. He would continue to
work and design his artworks in Paris until his death in 1992.