When Commodore released the Amiga (which was the highest-quality desktop computer out there for a little while), they got a really good get for the product launch press conference in late July of 1985: none other than Andy Warhol. Rather remarkably, according to Technologizer, the launch event was “a black-tie, celebrity-studded gala at the Vivian Beaumont Theater in New York’s Lincoln Center.”
The Amiga always was a funny duck, but at the time, it offered better graphics than Apple or PCs, and it also offered a fantastic thing called multitasking. People who owned Amigas were known to be evangelical about the subject. As New York Magazine told it, Warhol murmured into a microphone, “It’s such a great thing. I’ve always wanted to be Walt Disney. I’m gonna tell everyone to get one.” (The bulk of that article is a rave review of the newly unveiled Amiga.) It’s apparent that the pixelated version of the Blondie lead singer qualifies as a “Warhol” “original” on the strength of Warhol executing the fill function a couple of times, but still.
Warhol isn’t exactly synonymous with forward-thinking technophilia, but in a lot of ways, computer-generated art fits in perfectly well with his sunny, democratic, and somewhat automated take on the world. After all, this is the guy who in The Philosophy of Andy Warhol, penned, in what is one of my absolute favorite quotations of the twentieth century, “What’s great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.”
Warhol also made the cover of the third-ever issue of Amiga World (blurry PDF), which also scored an interview with the pop art master. In the introduction to the interview, it is made painfully clear how entirely crazy it was that the magazine got Warhol to agree to it. The interview is predictably amusing, and Warhol is epigrammatic and opaque and inscrutable in his oddly accessible way, but what does shine through is his genuine enthusiasm for the Amiga and computers in general. Also, out of nowhere Warhol uncorks this pithy gem: “Mass art is high art.” It’s definitely worth a read.