Watch Andy Warhol Digitally Edit a Photo in 1985, Lost Works Recovered Just this Year

If you thought Photoshop 1.0 was primitive, take a look at the video above. What you’re watching is a short section of film shot at the Amiga launch conference that took place in 1985.

Specifically, you’re watching world-renown artist Andy Warhol using his first ever computer to digitally edit a photograph of Debbie Harry by “painting” over it using the Amiga’s graphic program.

As you’re likely aware, around the time many computer companies came around, Andy Warhol was one of the most prolific artists on the face of the Earth. And with each new product release, companies wanted to get Warhol on stage and/or camera to show the world just what one of the most recognizable artists had to say about being able to edit graphics on a “media computer.”

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At many of the Amiga conferences (and specifically the release of the Amiga 1000) Warhol spent time playing around with the computers, creating graphics with the then mind-blowing now-laughable hardware and software that was being released. However, with the exception of the image of Debbie Harry he creates in the video above, almost all of his work went unseen, being spread across a collection of 41 floppy disks… remember those?

Recently, however, a team of researchers, artists, archivists, curators and the Computer Club from Carnegie Mellon University teamed up to overcome the challenges that the file types and storage media presented and bring these images back to life. Throughout the revival process, a video team from the Carnegie Museum of Art filmed the teams work, turning it into a documentary titled Trapped: Andy Warhol’s Amiga Experiments.

The film is the second of a five-part series from the Carnegie Museum of Art’s Hillman Photography Initiative, which strives to take a look at the unseen and unknown side of photography and how it came to be.


Trapped: Andy Warhol’s Amiga Experiments premieres May 10th at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum of Art, but for those of us who aren’t going to be able to make it, the film will be available on their website starting on May 12th.

Be sure to check out the links within the article for more information. It’s always interesting to see how the world of digital graphic arts came to life and what better way to bring it to the forefront of recent news than by bringing reviving the work of an artist that forever changed how many approach the arts in general.

(via Engadget)

  • MJ Coffey

    Amazing. Today you can do this with your smartphone and an app.. time flies.

  • photodude

    Loved the Amiga. Had both a A500 and 3000 and with a hardware emulator could run Apple’s OS. The video toaster brought the price of editing broadcast quality video down just like the GH4 or blackmagic cameras are doing now. Amiga’s were way ahead of their time.

  • Carlini Fotograf

    I got my first computer in 1994 and was a Apple Macintosh Performa 630 with a 33 MHz processor, 4 MB RAM… and back then I thought it was amazing.. Its incredible how far we have advanced since then!!

  • Doc Pixel

    It’s quite funny that Photoshop became the defacto standard in image editing, because at the time it came out it was behind in the game and took more than a couple of years to catch up.

    I was using a program called ColorStudio by Letraset in 1989, and gave demo’s as early as 1990 at CeBit Germany. It “attempted” to emulate Quantel Paintbox software on Sun Spark stations, and already supported masks, vector-tools… and rather fast user defined 3-point gradients… something PS can’t do to this day. The guys that developed ColorStudio, also went on to create Painter, which is owned by Corel today, among other great programs.

    If interested, Google*** “Paintboxtv” and “The Origins of Painter”. Mark Zimmer details their successes… and their fight with Adobe and copycats.

    ***Due to links not being allowed here.

  • Me

    No one cares.

  • Carlini Fotograf

    Nice to see you have nothing of any value to contribute to the conversation.

  • fotoalb

    I’m 22 years old, and I feel like its harder to learn now how to use those old softwares than learning to use the basics of Photoshops, for example. Collective consiousness.

  • Jim Macias

    I care. That’s why I’m here. To hear other people’s thoughts and stories. :)

  • MMielech

    Wow, the Amiga. Totally forgot about it. But, I do remember a geek I worked with at the time (I was working with an expensive Crosfield digital pre press system at a large publisher) telling me that the little plastic Amiga (or something like it) was the future. I wonder where he is today?

    Debbie Harry once touched me on my shoulder in a crowded bar. No kidding. She also smiled at me and said “excuse me”. I still love her.

  • Mike

    And yet you took the time to comment.

  • Jeremiah True

    I had a similar machine and loved it. Used to run Bryce on it along with some sweet games.

  • Music

    I drove down the same freeway as Sting once ;-)