Foundations, theoretical text, 2019.
The artwork Foundations reflects on the aesthetics and history of conceptual art concerning social systems and processes. Centered around the fifty years since the defining of System Aesthetics in 1968, and the following exhibitions Information at MoMA and Software at the Jewish Museum in 1970, Foundations furthers this research with related moments from the mid-20th century. Foundations focuses on the ontologies of conceptual art examining social fields, rather than the making of images, forms, or gestures driven by ideas. This research specifically looks at the aesthetics that expanded the concerns and materials of art into the social processes forming society. It reflects on the genesis of the growing intersections among the domains of art, economics, politics, law, sociology, media, and technology.

The artwork itself formulates an aesthetic identified by Cirio and takes the form of a visual essay articulated with abstract flowcharts. Informed by systems, cybernetics, and communication theories, Foundations aims to trace both the history and character of art that examines social fields as information structures, reckoning with today’s complexity in the age of algorithms, big data, and the Internet.

Foundations consists of a series of sixteen prints, creating a network of associations with paired words to delineate the aesthetics theorized by Cirio. The prints of abstract flowcharts with terms and geometrical shapes illustrate relations, taxonomies, and archetypes of aesthetic qualities, materials, and functions. One additional print charts a timeline of seminal conceptual art history, situating Cirio’s research in a curated selection of historical artworks, publications, and exhibitions to complement his aesthetic theory.

Each of the historic art moment selected has elements that can be associated to specific works of Paolo Cirio. Distribution of information affecting social systems, social utopias, political systems analysis, financial instruments as material, the diagram as art form, the use of equations, data, and technology in art, participatory and emancipatory artworks, semiotic analysis of information, institutional critique, etc.

Chart of the Selected Timeline of the artwork Foundations
Paolo Cirio identifies the apex of a distinctive form of conceptual art between 1968 and 1970 in relation to the intersections among social systems, technology, art, and communication theories affecting the artistic conceptions and practices.

[Click to enlarge the image]

Full Timeline from the research for the artwork Foundations


1962, Arte Programmata.
Exhibition curated by Bruno Munari and Giorgio Soavi
at Olivetti Showroom, Milan.

1966, Primary Structures.
Exhibition curated by Kynaston McShine
at the Jewish Museum, New York.

1966, 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering.
First performance by Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T)
at the Armory Show in New York.

1967, Arte Povera/Im Spazio.
Exhibition curated by Germano Celant
at the La Bertesca Gallery, Genoa.

1968, Cybernetic Serendipity.
Exhibition by Jasia Reichardt
at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London.

1968, Visual Automatics & Visual Transmitters.
Solo exhibition by Stephen Willats
at Oxford Museum of Modern Art, UK.

1969, Benefit for Art Workers Coalition (A.W.C.).
Exhibition by Lucy R. Lippard
at Paula Cooper Gallery, New York.

1969, When Attitudes Become Form.
Exhibition curated by Harald Szeemann
at Kunsthalle Bern, Krefeld and ICA London.

1969, Art by Telephone.
Exhibition curated by David H. Katzive
at Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.

1969, Konzeption/Conception.
Exhibition curated by Konrad Fischer and Rolf Wedewer
at Städische Museum, Leverkusen.

1969, Hans Haacke.
Exhibition of ‘systems’ works
at Howard Wise Gallery, New York.

1970, Information.
Exhibition curated by Kynaston McShine
at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

1970, Software.
Exhibition curated by Jack Burnham
at the Jewish Museum, New York.

1970, Conceptual Art, Arte Povera, Land Art.
Exhibition curated by Germano Celant
at the GAM Museum, Turin.

1971, Art & Economics.
Exhibition curated by Artist Placement Group
at the Hayward Gallery, London.


1914, The Network of Stoppages.
Artwork by Marcel Duchamp.

1924, Monte Carlo Bond.
Artwork by Marcel Duchamp.

1956, Cybernetic Sculptures.
Artwork by Nicolas Schöffer.

1959, Art Society Feedback.
Artwork By Willats Stephen.

1964, Invitation to Moi aussi, je me suis demandé si je ne pouvais pas vendre quelque chose et réussir dans la vie..., Galerie Saint Laurent.
Artwork by Marcel Broodthaers.

1965, Auto-Destructive Momentum.
Artwork by Gustav Metzger.

1966, The First Work of Media Art.
Artwork by Group of Mass Media Art.

1966, March 31, 1966.
Artwork by Dan Graham.

1966, Date Paintings.
Artworks by On Kawara.

1966, Artist Placement Group (A.P.G.).
Formed in London by Barbara Steveni and John Latham.

1968, Creative Collaboration.
Work by Michelangelo Pistoletto at the Venice Biennale.

1968, Department of Eagles.
Work by Marcel Broodthaers.

1968, The Hypothesis Series.
Artwork by Adrian Piper.

1968, Ciclo de Arte Experimental.
The Rosario Group, Argentina.

1969, Profit Systems One.
Artwork by Les Levine.

1969, Following Piece.
Artwork by Vito Acconci.

1969, Transference: Roget's Thesaurus.
Publication by Vito Acconci.

1969, News.
Artwork by Hans Haacke.

1969, Money.
Artwork by Hans Haacke.

1969, Art Workers Coalition (A.W.C.).
Organization formation.

1969, Che Fare?
Artwork by Mario Merz.

1969, Total Positivity.
Artwork by Bernar Venet.

1970, Context.
Series of artworks by Adrian Piper.

1970, The Seventh Investigation, Preposition one.
Artwork by Joseph Kosuth.

1970, Dialectic Triangulation.
Artwork by Agnes Denes.

1970, Information, No Theory.
Artwork by Christine Kozlov.

1970, Insertions into Ideological Circuits.
Artwork by Cildo Meireles.

1970, Das Kapital Raum.
Artwork by Joseph Beuys.

1970-77, Variable Piece No. 70.
Douglas Huebler

1970, Peripatetic Artists Guild (P.A.G.).
Project by Robert Morris.

1970, Information Action.
Artwork by Joseph Beuys.

1971, Shapolsky et al. Manhattan Real Estate Holdings, a Real-Time Social System, as of May 1, 1971.
Artwork by Hans Haacke.

1971, Arte <-> Vida.
Artwork by Muntadas.

1971, An Incomplete Examination of the Highway Network/User/Perceiver Systems.
Artwork and essay by Alice Aycock.

1971, The Artist’s Reserved Rights Transfer and Sale Agreement.
Project by Robert Projansky and Seth Siegelaub.

1972, Preliminary Statement.
Text by Don Celendar for his “movements” series.

1972, John Weber Gallery Visitors’ Profile 1 and 1.
Artwork by Hans Haacke.


1950, The Human Use of Human Beings.
Book by Norbert Wiener.

1960, Exploration in Communication.
Book by Marshall McLuhan and Edmund Carpenter.

1961, Computers and Common Sense.
Book by Taube Mortimer.

1962, Gutenberg Galaxy.
Book by Marshall McLuhan.

1964, The Technological Society.
Book by Ellun Jacques.

1964, Information Theory.
Book by Gordon Raisbeck.

1964, The Artworld.
Essay by Arthur Danto.

1965, Control Magazine.
First issue by Stephen Willats.

1967, Society of the Spectacle.
Publication by Guy Debord.

1967, The New Industrial State.
Book by J. K. Galbraith.

1967, Behaviorist Art and the Cybernetic Vision.
Essay by Roy Ascott.

1967, Notice,
Text by Stephen Willats.

1967, E.A.T. Newsletter.
First issue of the publication in New York.

1967, The Value of Didactic Art.
Essay by Barbara Rose for ArtForum.

1968, The Dematerialization of Art.
Essay by Lucy R. Lippard and John Chandler for Art International.

1968, Che Fare/Bollettino di Critica e Azione d’Avanguardia.
First issue of the journal in Italy.

1968, System Aesthetics.
Essay by Jack Burnham for ArtForum.

1968, The Whole Earth Catalogue.
First issue of the magazine in the United States.

1968, Art-Society System.
Essay by Victor Burgin in Control magazine, no. 4.

1968, The Xerox Book.
Publication by Seth Siegelaub and Jack Wendler.

1968, Statements.
Book by Lawrence Weiner.

1968, The McLuhan DEW-Line.
Series of publication by Marshall McLuhan.

1968, Information Theory and Esthetic Perception.
Book by Moles Abraham.

1969, Arte Povera.
Publication by Germano Celant.

1969, Reflection on the Technocratic Society and its youthful opposition.
Book by Roszak Theodore.

1969, Utopia or Oblivion: the Prospect for Humanity.
Book by Buckminster Fuller.

1969, March 1969 [One Month].
Catalogue exhibition by Seth Siegelaub.

1969, Real Time Systems.
Essay by Jack Burnham for ArtForum.

1969, Declaration of Intent.
Text by Lawrence Weiner.

1969, Art After Philosophy.
Essay by Joseph Kosuth.

1969, Art-Language: The Journal of Conceptual Art.
First issue of the magazine in the UK.

1970, Money for Money’s Sake.
Essay by Jean Lipman for Art in America.

1970, Function.
Series of books by Joseph Kosuth, Turin.

1970, Radical Software.
First issue of the magazine in the United States.

1971, The Structure of Art.
Book by Jack Burnham.

1971, Changing: Essays in Art Criticism.
Book by Lucy R. Lippard.

1973, Six Years.
Book by Lucy R. Lippard.

Terms in the flowcharts of the artwork Foundations






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