It was almost by accident that I discovered that Unix has a very interesting counterpart in the world of art –- an art gallery in New York City that is called, of all things, the UNIX Gallery. And, while the gallery has no historical, business, or other connection to the operating system that we all have come to appreciate, it does have some very important characteristics in common with the Unix OS –- most notably innovation, creativity and uniqueness.
When I say “by accident,” I mean that a friend emailed a brochure to me because it contained the word “UNIX” and he knew that Unix was the focus of my career. I promptly devoured the brochure, but didn't have a clue as to how the pieces of art related to the Unix that I've worked with for 30+ years. So, I sent email to the info@ address that I found on the gallery's web site and waited. Soon I had an answer.
According to Alex Cesaria, the founder of the gallery -- which has at various times had a presence in cities as diverse as London, Miami and Houston, the word “Unix” was intended to convey the qualities of uniqueness and unity. While the contemporary art that is on display encompasses a wide range of styles and types of art, each piece conveys some vision of beauty and meaning that is all its own. And I can't help but reflect on how the many variations on Unix, including the huge number of Linux distributions, do this as well.
We have massive clusters of Unix systems that provide the basis of some huge, highly reliable data centers. We have tiny embedded distributions that run on the smallest handheld devices. And, no matter how many Linux distributions are available, there is always some group of people who love each one of them best. Whether that's because of the GUI, the look and feel of the desktop, the tools available, how security is implemented, the smoothness of the interface, or something else, each distribution is just right for some group of people and sings their tune.
The art in the UNIX Gallery includes pieces in many different styles including paintings done in (and on) different media, highly dimensional art, sculptures, photographs, and more -- all created by emerging and mid-career artists and available for gallery visitors to ponder and appreciate. It is located at 532 W 24th Street, New York, NY.
The gallery provided these photos of some of the diverse art on display so that I could include them in this post. I'm now very much looking forward to the time when I can make a trip to New York City, visit the gallery, and see some of this art in person.
My very first hours on the web were from an office at Johns Hopkins University. I had loaded something called a "browser" onto my workstation and was looking at images of art pieces housed in a museum in Australia. And I was astounded by the experience, by the beauty of the art and by the amazing technology that was allowing me to view it from more than 10,000 miles away.
Unix, too, is a piece of art, palpable and artfully created. Like the art that reflects other people's insights and visions, it expands my understanding of what is possible, excites me about the human potential, and coaxes me to reach outside my own point of view.
I can hardly wait to visit the UNIX Gallery and discover how it can change my images of who we are as technologists, artists, and human beings.
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