Anna Pou: “Nobody talks about microchips, pixels and electronic circuits in the work of Dalí”

The UIC Barcelona Faculty of Humanities professor presents her book Dalí. Arte_Ciencia_Cibernética in Barcelona for the first time, inviting us to discover the world of the Figueres-born artist and genius, who was obsessed with computers and technology at the end of his life

Much has been said about Dalí. He has been well-studied and catalogued. Hundreds of books have been written about him, and he is one of the most researched and most popular artists of the last century. Perhaps what is not so well known is the Figueres-born artist's obsession with technology, alchemy and cybernetics. At the end of his life, Dalí said it himself: he was more interested in science than art. Evidence of this lies in the conclusions of research conducted by Anna Pou van der Bossche, professor at the Faculty of Humanities and PhD student at UIC Barcelona. On 17 January, she presented her book, titled Dalí. Arte_Ciencia_Cibernética, (Dalí. Art_Science_Cybernetics) at the university. “The last stage of the painter’s life is the period that interests me most, as it is when his fixation on science becomes most visible. I am finding works filled with microchips, pixels and even electronic circuits printed in gold, like the ones that fill the Theatre-Museum in Figueres, which Dalí designed like a computer”, explains Pou.

The Dalí expert is also the curator of the immersive exhibition titled “Dalí Cybernetics” at the IDEAL Digital Arts Centre in Barcelona, currently on a world tour. During her book presentation, Pou used Dalí’s work to show how the artist focused on technology in an attempt to achieve eternal life: “Science is a way for him to reach immortality and understand God. (...) Salvador Dalí identified with computers and saw himself as a ‘thinking machine’”, says the expert.

Featuring little-known works—some that are practically unstudied and uncatalogued—such as Princesa Cibernética (1974), Odalisca Cibernética (1978) and Las ruedas lulianas (1979), it is unmistakable that Dalí focused on cybernetics during his later decades, to the point that he could be considered, as the author claims, the father of cybernetics: “When asked in an interview about the most important thing he had achieved, Dalí himself stated that one of his achievements was discovering cybernetics by hand, rather than through electronics”.

In the book, the result of research for her doctoral thesis, Pou states that Dalí predicted the metaverse and already he designed a “machine for dreaming” in 1957, the first virtual reality glasses. “There has never yet been a study on cybernetics in Dalí’s work and there are still many works yet to be discovered, analysed and redefined”, concludes the professor in her book.

The book presentation for Dalí. Arte_Ciencia_Cibernética—which includes a foreword by the director of the Dalí museums, Montse Aguer Tejedor— was led by the dean of the UIC Barcelona Faculty of Humanities, Judith Urbano, who explained that “with this book, Anna Pou takes us to uncharted territory when she makes new discoveries while researching Salvador Dalí's personal library”. Urbano went on to highlight the importance of the book as an accessible book with a foundation in research “giving it a guarantee that not all books on the market have”.

Anna Pou is currently continuing research for her doctoral thesis, which, as she mentioned at the presentation, will head to New York in order to look further into Dalí's relationship with companies such as the National Cash Register and IBM.