David Em was born in Los Angeles and grew up in South America. He studied painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, and film directing at the American Film Institute in Hollywood.
Em began producing digital art before the advent of personal computers at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
His work has been exhibited internationally, including at the Centre Georges Pompidou, the Seibu Museum in Tokyo, Photokina in Cologne, Renconres Internationales de la Photographie in Arles, WestLicht Schauplatz für Fotografie in Vienna, Harvard’s Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, and the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art.
He has lectured at many institutions, including Caltech, MIT, USC, the University of Paris, Art Center College of Design, CalArts, L’Institut National de la Communication Audiovisuel, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
He is the first digital artist to have his working papers acquired by the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Art.