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The Digital Art Exchange (DAX) Records

Identifier: 0000-0045

Scope and Content Note

This collection documents the activities of the Digital Art Exchange (DAX) group from 1978 to 1991. It also includes administrative papers and miscellaneous correspondence as well as a few early papers by founding member Bruce Breland.

Most of the documents in that collection are related to and artifacts of specific exhibitions, performances and exchanges of art. A more thorough description of most of the projects can be found in "Review of DAX group activity 1982-1990" (Box 4 Folder 63) and in "Network Highlights and Initiatives" (Box 4 Folder 61). There is also material on educational activities, including DAX seminars and classes organized at CMU and the creation of the International Artists’ Network.

Types of material include: laser-, dot-matrix- and color-thermal-printouts of electronic mail messages and digitally-created images, telefax art; approximately 72 hours of videotape (primarily of slowscan television exchanges; some documentary footage of art events); approximately 15 hours of audiotape (primarily of conversations); 294 color 35mm slides; 142 4 x 5-inch transparencies (primarily of slowscan television images); 88 black and white 4 x 5-inch negatives, and some 35 mm negatives and positives (primarily of telefaxes); photographs; correspondence and other papers; publications and theses; exhibition posters and catalogs.


  • 1979-1991



Biography or History

The Digital Art Exchange, or DAX (known as GEKKO: Generative Energy Kinetic Knowledge and Order until 1985) was a telecommunication art group created in 1979 by Professor of Art Bruce Breland at Carnegie Mellon University. The aim of DAX was to connect artists across the world using telecommunication means such as slowscan TV, telefax, phone, amateur radio, and computer networks such as IPSA (I.P. Sharp Associate), Bitnet, and EARN. The group, led by Bruce Breland, was housed on the fourth floor of the College of Fine Arts (CFA), now the School of Art. Over the years, its staff have included: Bess Adams, Tim Anderson, Michael Chepponis, Frank Coretti, Robert Dunn, Gene Hastings, Jim Kocher, Henry Pisciotta, Gregg Podnar, Phillip Rostek, Cindy Snodgrass, Bruce Taylor, and Matt Wrbican.

Telecommunication art as a classroom activity at Carnegie Mellon University started around 1981. DAX’s inaugural slowscan television exchange, “Scanning” (1882), organized in collaboration with artist Douglas Davis of the International Network for the Arts (INFA), involved students of Carnegie Mellon University, l’École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs (ENSAD), Paris, and the National Film Academy in Lodz, Poland. Since the Polish students were not able to participate live due to martial law, pictures of them were brought to Paris and transmitted during the event.

DAX participated in numerous international transmission events and exhibitions, including Ars Electronica, Linz, Austria (1982 and 1989); Roy Ascott's La Plissure du Texte, Musée d'Art Moderne, Paris (1983), the Venice Biennale (1986); and Documenta 8, Kassel, Germany (1987). The group also participated in an event involving the transmission of slow-scan images to NASA’s space shuttle Challenger in 1985. In 1991 DAX received the Kwanzaa Honors List Award in recognition of their participation in the 1990 Goree-Almadies Memorial Celebration.

In 1987 DAX also initiated the International Artists Network (IAN), a transmission network used for educational purposes. Other institutions were also involved in the formation of IAN: Hochschule für Angewandte Kunst (University of the Applied Arts) Vienna, Austria; School of Fine Art, Gwent College of Higher Education in Caerleon, Wales, UK; Massachusetts College of Fine Art in Boston, Massachusetts; and the City Art Institute of Sydney, Australia.

In the summer of 1992, the DAX Group moved from the Carnegie Mellon University to Spokane, Washington, and became a state-registered independent non-profit corporation.


5.0 Linear feet (5 boxes)




This collection contains the papers of the Digital Art Exchange (DAX), a telecommunication art group based at Carnegie Mellon University’s College of Art from 1979 to 1992 and led by Bruce Breland. Most of the collection is related to specific exhibitions and performances, and includes printouts of electronic messages and images, faxes, videotape, audiotape, photographic material, catalogs, as well as correspondence, publications, and theses.


This collection was a gift from the DAX Group, of CMU (Tim Anderson, Bruce Breland, Robert Dunn, Gene Hastings, Jim Kocher, Henry Pisciotta, Phil Rostek, Bruce Taylor, and Matt Wrbican), and Artur Matuck (University of São Paulo) and Ben Davis (Massachusetts College of Art).

Related Material

The papers of Robert Adrian X, a frequent collaborator of the DAX group, are also available in the University Archives.


Several large telefaxes and posters are located in the map cases on the 3rd floor of Hunt Library.


The DAX Archives Collection was originally processed in 1990-1991 by Matt Wrbican, a long-standing DAX member who had also been taught by Professor Bruce Breland as an undergraduate student, in 1978-81. Matt Wrbican arranged the papers into folders, wrote descriptive notes for documents, duplicated video tapes onto Hi-8, and shot a number of video screen shots onto 4 x 5 color transparency film. During this process he worked closely with DAX founding member Bruce Breland and had immediate access to many of the members of DAX, including Henry Pisciotta (Art Librarian at the Hunt Library), former students Jim Kocher, Robert Dunn, and Phil Rostek, CMU staff Gene Hastings and Mike Chepponis, and others. After 1991, Matt Wrbican passed a few additional items to the Archivist, Jennie Benford, to be added to that collection.

More information on the conservation work undertaken by Matt Wrbican on the DAX collection can be found in Art Documentation: Journal of the Art Libraries Society of North America, Vol. 14, No. 2 (Summer 1995), pp.12-14.

The folders were partly rearranged into series and the finding aid updated by Laure Bukh on March 28, 2013, with additional writing on November 19, 2013. Finding aid updated to current descrption standards by Emily Davis on April 20, 2022.
The Digital Art Exchange (DAX Group) Records, 1979-1991
May 29, 2008
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Carnegie Mellon University Archives Repository

4909 Frew St
Pittsburgh PA 15213
(412) 268-5021