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 (detail)

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

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

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

 

 

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.

 

Congratulations Emily Allchurch

Emily Allchurch, Albert Square, Manchester (after Valette), 2015. Collection of Manchester Art Gallery ? Emily Allchurch
Emily Allchurch, Albert Square, Manchester (after Valette), 2015. Collection of Manchester Art Gallery ? Emily Allchurch

Congratulations to Emily Allchurch on her newly-completed commission for Manchester Art Gallery. (Emily was a British Computer Society-featured artist of the month in 2013) This latest work references a painting from the Gallery’s collection by French Impressionist Adolphe Valette, who lived and taught in Manchester, influencing a generation of artists in the North, including LS Lowry. Albert Square, Manchester (after Valette), seen here, was crowd-funded through the Art Fund’s programme Art Happens. Typically of Emily the composition features many subtle details of the goings-on in this city as well as incorporating suggestions submitted to the artist via twitter. See the exhibition in Manchester 13 March – 7 June, or later in Nottingham

Congratulations to winners of the Lumen Prize

Sally Sheinman, number 215 My continued inability to understand most of the rest of the human race! inspired by Keith H On Lin
Sally Sheinman, What Makes You, You? number 215 My continued inability to understand most of the rest of the human race! inspired by Keith H On Lin

Congratulations to 2014 Lumen Art Prize winners Andy Lomas (Gold award for Cellular Forms) and Sally Sheinman (Founders Prize for What Makes You, You?), both outstanding artists who featured in my BCS column last year.  The Prize is a major international competition with 800 submissions from 45 countries.  The vast array of different styles and approaches which this prize attracts demonstrates the vibrancy of contemporary technological art.  Exhibitions will be taking place around the globe this year, check it out.

Auto-Creative Art

Gustav Metzger, Liquid Crystal Environment, 1965/2005, exhibition view. Kettles Yard, University of Cambridge photo: Paul Allitt
Gustav Metzger, Liquid Crystal Environment, 1965/2005, exhibition view. Kettles Yard, University of Cambridge, photo: Paul Allitt

On view last month in Cambridge was Gustav Metzger’s Auto-Creative art, a variety of materials and methods demonstrative of his long interest in kinetic art, particularly movement and random activity. His 1964 statement “At a certain point the work takes over, is in activity beyond the detailed control of the artist, reaches a power, grace, momentum, transcendence” is apt for an installation which has both a hypnotic visual and a psychedelic delivery.  Read the full review and learn about his connection to the Computer Arts Society here.

Antony Gormley uses the iPad

Art Everywhere 2014 –

Anthony Gormley, Feeling Material, courtesy of Art Everywhere 2014
Antony Gormley, Feeling Material, courtesy of Art Everywhere 2014

the people who put posters in public places around city centres of famous art works (voted for by the public), have commissioned Antony Gormley to produce this drawing.  Created by the artist using the stylus in one continuous motion on an iPad, Gormley says, “I’ve never drawn on an iPad before and was thinking should I draw on a blackened piece of glass? Then I thought this is really stupid, we’ve got this extraordinary facility that everybody knows about [..] so why don’t I give it a try?”

I think the end result is really quite fun. Only time will tell if this marks a new direction for this veteran of the British art establishment. Antony Gormley tells me that for several years he’s been using the digital as tools – all his sculptures start ‘life’ in the computer. 3D scans of his body facilitates manipulation of forms digitally, giving countless permutations and allowing valuable feedback. He also uses 3D printers. A new way of approaching the maquette?

You can see the work, which also consists of the animation of its creation, on digital screens nationwide including Piccadilly Circus & Manchester’s Trafford Centre, supported by the The Art Fund. Downloads and limited edition prints are available.

Digital Revolutions

Usman Haque, Assemblance, a 3D interactive light field, 2014.  Image courtesy of Umbrellium, reproduced with permission.
Usman Haque, Assemblance, a 3D interactive light field, 2014. Currently on view at the Barbican. Image courtesy of Umbrellium, reproduced with permission.

An ambitious exhibition of digital art and design opens this month at the Barbican Centre – Digital Revolution, featuring several works specially commissioned for the show – including our featured BCS image this month by Usman Haque, and much else besides to surprise and delight followers of the digital medium. Read all about it here.