In 1956, Lejaren A. Hiller, Jr., and Leonard Isaacson debuted the Illiac Suite, the first score composed with a computer. Its reception anticipated Hiller’s embattled career as an experimental composer. Though the Suite is an influential work of modern electronic music, Hiller’s accomplishment in computational experimentation is above all an impressive feat of postwar conceptual performance art. A reexamination of theoretical and methodological processes resulting in the Illiac Suite reveals a conceptual and performative emphasis reflecting larger trends in the experimental visual arts of the 1950s and 1960s, illuminating his eventual collaborations with John Cage and establishing his legacy in digital art practices.

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