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“77 Million Paintings” by Brian Eno Runs Sept. 12-Dec. 13 at UAM

Published: September 1, 2009

The University Art Museum is proud to present Brian Eno’s installation, “77 Million Paintings,” from Sept. 12 through Dec. 13, with a reception scheduled on Saturday, Sept. 12 at 6 pm. Variations on the installation have been exhibited internationally, but never in Southern California.

Using sophisticated computer software and audio boom boxes, “77 Million Paintings” features constantly changing images and musical compositions, which challenge the notion that the artist must be in control. Eno’s input simply sets the trajectory for the work to evolve into patterns that have the potential for surprising him as well as the audience. With carefully designed lighting, relaxed seating, and strategically placed speakers, viewers enjoy an experience that is continuously evolving. The exhibition consists of a wall of 12 monitors (of varying dimensions) that reflect the parameters Eno has programmed into several computers. The images slowly transform into a virtually endless series of visual configurations. Seating in the gallery allows viewers to comfortably enjoy the paintings for any length of time. Because the black carpeting and dark walls block out available lighting, specially designed lights guide viewers through the galleries. With large cones made of Vermiculite and suspended trunks of silver birch trees providing illumination, gallery audiences can walk freely through the space and choose to view the monitors or sit in the audio room where a new music composition by Eno will be playing.

In conjunction with “77 Million Paintings,” the UAM and the Carpenter Performing Arts Center will present An Evening with Brian Eno on Sept. 20. This exclusive U.S. engagement—open to the public in the 1,000-seat theater—will be part of the UAM WIDE ANGLE series.

During the 1990s, Eno became increasingly interested in self-generating systems. Generative Art, as he called it, allows an artwork to take on a life of its own. Generative Music, for example, blends several independent musical tracks in such a way that the listener could hear an almost infinite array of permutations. Eno soon realized that he had hit on a new cultural nerve. Today the idea has spread to graphic arts, design and beyond. In his major Generative Art project, “77 Million Paintings,” Eno creates audio and visual clusters, gives them a set of rules they must follow, and observes them forming and re-forming their own little artistic communes.

Brian Eno
Photo courtesy of University Art Museum
Brian Eno pictured above with some of his art.

“They are living an independent life, and they keep doing things that still surprise me,” said Eno. “The combinations are much more various and startling that I could have imagined. This is a very good example of a piece that started with quite a simple ambition and without very high hopes and it’s so far exceeded. I’m very surprised by it and very thrilled by it.”

For more information, call 562/985.5761 or visit