Environmental and elemental art – large-scale and sky art – kinetic and technological art – random happenings and programmed events – multimedia and light shows: Zero 1, 2, 3 documents the birth, more than ten years ago, of these new tendencies in international art. It collects in one volume the three publications created by the artists' collaborative, Group Zero, between 1958 and 1961. Group Zero originated in Düsseldorf, Germany, but quickly became a pan-European force, with mutual exchanges and interacting influences linking an array of artists in Düsseldorf, Paris, Milan, Amsterdam, and elsewhere. This is best indicated by listing some of the artists whose words are displayed and whose works are illustrated in the book: besides Piene and Mack, they include Fontana, Yves Klein, Mavignier, Jean Tinguely, Arman, Pol Bury, Spoerri, Manzoni, Dorazio, Soto, Manfred Kage, and many others. The book, designed by its originators, makes an artistic statement on its own terms: individual photographs can be viewed at leisure, but because of its dynamic filmlike sequences, a rapid thumb-through converts it into a happening in the kinetic mode. In this edition all the text has been rendered into English as well reproduced in the original German: yet the multilingual aspect of the first publication has been retained: those manifestos and artistic credos written in French or Italian are reprinted in their original language as well. Zero 1 examines the Red Painting – it is a study in the monochromic. Zero 2 focuses on vibrations and motion. The last and most elaborate of the volumes, Zero 3, exhibits the full range of Group Zero's concerns: it embraces the total environment, the nature-man-technology triad, and the myriad artistic possibilities that can be realized through the interactions of elements.
Otto Piene, project director for "Centerbeam" and director of MIT's Center for Advanced Visual Studies, continues to explore the many interfaces of art, technology, and the environment.
Heinz Mack is a German artist and cofounder of the ZERO movement.