Lecture – Computer art and the influence of D’Arcy Thompson

Come to my forthcoming lecture in Dundee –

“A huge space of endless predetermined possibilities”: Computer art and the influence of D’Arcy Thompson

On 8 November 6pm, I’m thrilled to be going to the D’Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum to talk about how the writing of code has been used to draw since digital computing technology became accessible to artists from the mid-1960s.  This year is the 100th anniversary of D’Arcy W Thompson’s book On Growth and Form (1917) which had a formative influence on the pioneers of algorithmic art.

William Latham muta6, 2014

 

In this talk we will learn how complex and visually arresting imagery often comes from surprisingly simple sets of instructions. We will discover that the use of the computer offers “a huge space of endless predetermined possibilities.” (William Latham, artist)

Co-oprganised with the Abertay Historical Society as part of NEoN Digital Arts Festival supported by Creative Scotland.  Book your ticket here

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Richard Long at Houghton Hall Norfolk

Wonderful, site-specific Richard Long work.  Made of local Carrstone, a natural sandstone seen in this part of Norfolk particularly in domestic architecture (often called ‘gingerbread’ in N W Norfolk).  A Line in Norfolk embodies the artist’s concepts of nature combined with physical action and gives a true feeling of place.

Richard Long, A Line in Norfolk, installed at Houghton Hall, 2017

Part of the large and impressive EARTH SKY exhibition running at Houghton Hall until end October.

 

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Remembering Tony Pritchett

Tony Prichett with camera, Somerset House 2008

I was saddened to hear of the death of Tony Pritchett in August this year.  For those who don’t know, Tony created The Flexipede in 1967, the first fully surviving work of computer animation created in Britain.  I first met Tony in 2002 and he was always supportive of my research into the history of computer arts in Britain, never losing patience with my often limited grasp at that time of the technical aspects of the subject.  I asked him how he came to create the Flexipede and why.  After giving a detailed explanation, I then asked him who he had told this story to and where it was published, thinking I would look up some more aspects later.  He replied that “no one has ever asked me before” !  This I found astonishing – the man who created the first British computer-generated animation should by rights be a household name nearly 30 years later.  I feel enormously privileged to be one of the first to finally publish his story, which you can read in chapter 9 of The Computer in the Art Room.

Tony Prichett, still from The Flexipede, 1967

Tony loved filmmaking, often making recordings and videos of Computer Arts Society events, lectures and parties.  I remember him filming me giving a speech at the book launch of The Computer in the Art Room at Somerset House in 2008.  He was an early member of the CAS and could always be counted on for support and enthusiasm.  It was typical of his kindness in supporting me at the Bits in Motion film screening I held at the NFT in 2006 (below).  In addition to his computer arts activities, he told me he was interested in homeopathy and edited Positive News at one time.   A very cultured and considerate gentleman, who will be greatly missed.

Malcolm LeGrice, Tony Pritchett & Nina Emmett, panel members at Bits in Motion, NFT 2006

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Wells Maltings Arts

I am thrilled to join the Wells Maltings Trust as Art Advisor.   The Wells Maltings is a historic Grade II listed building in Saithe Street, Wells next the Sea, Norfolk currently being redeveloped to create North Norfolk’s Premier Arts & Heritage Centre.  I am devising a programme of exhibitions and arts events for the new art space, under construction and due to open Spring 2018.  More news of our opening plans will follow shortly.

 

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Remembering Gustav Metzger 1926-2017

I feel privileged to have known the ground-breaking artist Gustav Metzger

Gustav Metzger at the book launch of A Computer in the Art Room, CAS event, London 2008

who passed away a couple of weeks ago.  He was a very early member of the Computer Arts Society and the first editor of our journal PAGE from 1969.

His links with the early world of British computer arts is discussed in my article published today on the BCS

 

 

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A Computer in the Art Room book

Just a reminder that my book – A Computer in the Art Room, The Origins of British Computer Arts 19501980 is still available to purchase from this website (it seems to be prohibitively expensive on Amazon for some reason) – click the SHOP tab above.  Computer-in-the-art-room-bo

Read a synopsis here: A Computer in the Art Room synopsis  Also read reviews of the book .

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Walled Garden Theatre opened in Barbados

img_1761In a wonderful start to the new year, the Barbados Museum and Historical Society unveiled its brand-new Walled Garden Theatre, part-sponsored by Catherine & Keith.   It is a great pleasure to be a part of this important new venture for culture in Barbados.  The Museum’s Chairman, Sir Trevor Carmichael said it was “a dream come true.”  We hope this new facility will become a much-loved feature of the museum, helping to grow audiences.

One of the Theatre’s first events will be to host the opening gala of the Barbados Independent Film Festival on Wednesday 11 January.

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Discussing a point with festival sponsor Ian McNeel

Discussing the building with festival sponsor Ian McNeel

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Roger Law

I very much enjoyed a talk given by Roger Law in aid of the Wells United Charities, in Norfolk this week.  Law, as one half of Luck & Flaw created the fantastically satirical Spitting Image for television in the 1980s & 90s.  He brought along one of his brilliantly-crafted Margaret Thatcher puppets (in all they made over 2,000 different puppets all by hand):roger-law-2However Law always made ceramics on the side (remember the ‘ugly’ mugs of politicians and royalty?) and what was most interesting was hearing him describe his recent experiences making pots in China.  These 3mm thick vessels are carved deeply into the surface by the artist with beautiful images of flora and fauna, seen during the time he was artist in residence at the National Art School, Sydney.  In fact he says he often had to reassure his Chinese assistants that such creatures as mudskippers really do exist!

Roger Law is a remarkable draughtsman and his talk was illustrated with his own sketches to illustrate the processes of making and the characters he encountered in Jingdezhen, a city famous for porcelain.  Here he is able to work with highly skilled specialists and as he says, it was “very good to learn to fail, which was impossible in the UK”.  Experimentation is difficult in the UK due to the high overheads in the industrial potteries meaning commercial interests must take precedence.

This is his postcard-sized work of art created for my recent Secret Postcards project, in aid of the Maltings, Wells-next-the-Sea.

Roger Law, watercolour & ink on card, 2016

Roger Law, watercolour & ink on card, 2016

Ninety-nine artists from across East Anglia produced a total of 123 miniature (6x4inch) paintings which we sold at a fundraiser on 6 October at Holkham Hall for £60 each.  This event raised in excess of £30K.  I worked on this project for many months and was incredibly touched by the generosity of all the participating artists including the hard work which had clearly gone into each and every card – the beauty and sheer high quality, they truly were miniature masterpieces.  Thank you again to Roger Law.

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Morphogenetic Creations

Andy Lomas Morphogenetic Creations, 2016 Installation view

Andy Lomas Morphogenetic Creations, 2016 Installation view

Andy Lomas’s new solo exhibition at Watermans, (until 21st July) provides a perfect opportunity to see his complete vision.  From framed prints and moving image animations to 3D printing, Lomas explores the aesthetics of biology inspired by the theories of Alan Turing and D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson.  Based on his cellular growth model, he creates intriguing, uncannily beautiful shapes with the feel of living organisms.  The quality of and detail in this work is superb, I urge everyone to see this wonderful show.

 

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Forthcoming Lecture at Richmond Art Society

Jackson Pollock, Yellow Islands 1952, collection of Tate

Jackson Pollock, Yellow Islands 1952, collection of Tate

I will be giving a lecture on Jackson Pollock and Post-War American Art on Wednesday 30 September for the Richmond Art Society.  The venue is the American University in London, Queen’s Road, Richmond TW10 6JP (non-members are welcome: £5.00)  Hope to see you there!

 

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