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KEYNOTE

Post Computer Art — Ontological Undecidability                   
and the Cat with Paint on its Paws
Brian Reffin-Smith

What comes after ‘computer art’ depends on revisiting past concepts not fully explored. A true revolution involves seeing the past before returning to change the present.


SESSION 1: COMPUTER ART & CYBERNETICS

Digital pioneers: computer-generated art from the V&A’s collections           
Douglas Dodds

The Victoria and Albert’s acquisition of major computer art collections is part of an ongoing project to document and preserve the history of this field. The V&A’s pioneering work in this area is connected to the Computer Art and Technocultures project, in collaboration with Birkbeck College.


The Interactive Art System                                 
Stroud Cornock

A formative journey from encounters with signals intelligence and cybernetics to work with colleagues, students and engineers between March 1968 and June 1972 on interactive art systems that seemed (40 years ago) to be significant.  Though widely exhibited, in once case at the VI Paris Biennale, the programme was aborted in 1972 for the lack of arts research and development funding.  Two conceptual frameworks: the artwork as a system; and what an engineer termed the art work's 'logic engine'.  The paper asks whether the time of these ideas did, should or ever will come.


Art of Conversation                                     
Ernest Edmonds & Francesca Franco

The paper discusses early work that predated Internet Art and that was concerned with active audience participation in electronic art and describes the path of development of the first author’s artworks that have looked at human to human communication through electronic (computer) systems from 1970 until today. The fundamental concept has been to make artworks that explore human communication through conversations using restricted languages. The initial inspiration was a set of studies of early infant language development. By 1990 Edmonds showed much more elaborate work using computer-based local area networks.

The Computer-generated artworks of Vladimir Bonačić
Darko Fritz

Scientist Vladimir Bonačić began his artistic career 1968 under the auspices of the international movement NewTendencies (NT), at the Gallery for Contemporary Art of Zagreb, which had pushed for his inclusion. From 1968 to 1971 Bonačić created a series of “dynamic objects” --interactive computer-generated light installations, five of which were set up in public spaces. The author shows the context of Bonačić's work within the Zagreb cultural environment dominated by the New Tendencies movement and network (1961-1973). The paper shows his theoretical and practical criticism of the use of randomness in computer-generated art and describes his working methods as combining the algebra of Galois fields and an anti-commercial approach with custom-made hardware. It seems that Bonačić’s work fulfills and develops Matko Mestrovic´'s proposition that “in order to enrich that which is human, art must start to penetrate the extra-poetic and the extra-human.”


SESSION 2: COMPUTER ART & TIME

On the Relationship of  Computing to the Arts and Culture:              
an Evolutionary Perspective
George Mallen

Our increasing knowledge of human evolution and of cognitive science combine to provide new insights into the function and roles of that wide variety of skills and products which are gathered under the heading “art”. Since all homo sapiens cultures produce it, art is on a par with language and tool making as a fundamental characteristic of what it means to be human.  Why do we do it? What is its survival value?   Historically it seems that, about the time humans evolved language, tool making skills were diverted into decoration and symbolic representation and thereafter cultural evolution was rapid – from shell shawls to  a diamond encrusted skull, from flint axes to the Large Hadron Collider in only 80000 years! Just what is the relationship of computing to the arts and culture in our  modern world of externalised, accessible knowledge and rapidly evolving technologies? This paper addresses that question.


Paragraphs on Computer Art, Past and Present                     
Frieder Nake

Sol LeWitt published “Paragraphs on Conceptual Art” in Artforum, June 1967. They became an influential theoretical text on art of the twentieth century. They played the role of a manifesto even though they appeared when their topic – concept over matter – had already existed for about a decade. Digital computer art had had its first exhibitions in 1965. It seems it never produced a manifesto, with the exception, perhaps, of Max Bense’s “Projects of generative aesthetics” (1965, in German). Since computer art is a brother of conceptual art, it is justified in a late manifesto to borrow the style of the old title.


Program, be Programmed or Fade Away:                         
Computers and the Death of Constructivist Art
Richard Wright

Why did Constructivist artists of the 60s and 70s find it so hard to switch from calculators and graph paper to BASIC and PCs? Was there something in their pre-computer ‘programmatic’ ways of working that did not readily transfer to computer programming – something that could now be recovered and used to refresh current software based art practices that constantly struggle with the limitations of proprietary operating systems, desktop interfaces and network protocols?


Impermanent Art: The Essence of Beauty in Imperfection              
Helen Plumb

The notion of beauty as imperfection has become more significant over the last century. Directly related to advances in technology, it is the capabilities that technologies provide in making it possible to get closer to the ideal, perfect form that have challenged what constitutes beauty.  Focusing on Interactive art, the idea that beauty can be found in an impermanent space shall be explored. What is it that moves us about a rare moment that will not last?



SESSION 3: COMPUTER ART & SPACE

The Computer as a Dynamic Medium                         
Nick Lambert

The space represented within the computer screen exists at one remove from physical reality but subsists within its own environment. The computer image is the dynamic result of a process, held in stasis at times but with the potential to be wholly altered without leaving any material record.


The Immersive Artistic Experience and the Exploitation of Space         
Bonnie Mitchell

Over the past fifty years, artists have explored the computer’s potential to create both virtual and physical art forms that embrace the concept of space. Through the use of immersion, interaction, and manipulation of both virtual and physical space, computer artists have created powerful aesthetic environments that enable audiences to experience alternative realities. Immersive installations that respond the human body and online multi-user virtual environments such as Second Life satisfy the viewer’s inherent desire to escape physical reality and become part of the art experience itself.


Redefining Sculpture Digitally                             
Michael O'Rourke

Between 1979 and 2009 the author has produced several series of digital sculptures, some of which have broken radically with existing concepts of sculpture. His first digital sculpture was a series of screen-based real-time interactive virtual sculptures produced between 1979 and 1981.  He subsequently used the computer to compose and fabricate several series of sculptures, while also working in a variety of other artistic media.  Since 2007, he has been using the computer to design and fabricate  a series of large-scale sculpture installations that combine more traditional sculptural concepts with contemporary multimedia approaches.


The new Ravensbourne                               
Robin Baker

Ravensbourne will be uniquely placed, within its relocation strategy, to develop its role as a London based centre promoting excellence in digital design and media, within specialist higher education.



SESSION 4: COMPUTER ART & OUTPUT

Computer Art & Output: The Impassive Line                   
Paul Coldwell

This paper considers the issue of digital output in the light of the author’s early experience of observing plotter drawings at the Slade School of Art in the mid 1970’s. The paper proceeds to discuss the author’s own work in terms of a range of outputs and their implications in forming a relationship between old and new technologies. Other artists referenced in this paper include Michael Craig-Martin and Kathy Prendergast. The paper draws on research from the AHRC funded project, The Personalised Surface within Fine Art Digital Printmaking.


The Digital Atelier: how subtractive technologies create new forms       
Jeremy Gardiner

The Digital Atelier: For 50 years artists have been utilising the convergence and combination of different technologies to produce visually and intellectually challenging artworks.  These artists create compelling artefacts that engage the pragmatics of technology and the free invention of art and bring them to a successful synthesis. A close examination of work from the past and present reveals how advanced digital design methods and subtractive fabrication processes have been used to make physical things from virtual data.


Digital Physicality: Printmaking                           
Isaac Kerlow

This short paper revisits a few aspects of digital physicality in my experimentation with computer-aided printmaking during the 1980s and early 1990s. Topics include integration of hand-made and computer-generated, programmed and serendipitous, and output with a variety of traditional and digital printmaking techniques. 


Models, Macquettes and Art Objects: Making Data Physical           
Jane Prophet

When I am involved in interdisciplinary collaborations with mathematicians and scientists, physical models and objects have proved to be powerful counterpoints to virtual models and data sets. I will discuss my use of rapid prototyping to make such objects, and contrast that to my earlier screen-based and online artworks. The use of rapid prototyping reconfirms the importance of the material properties of objects in my art practice, but accessing rapid prototyping machines is not easy. I will highlight some of the limitations of the rapid prototyping process and suggest reasons why fine art objects made with these processes are relatively rare.



SESSION 5: COMPUTER ART & TECHNOCULTURES

Curating Technocultures                               
Maria Chatzichristodoulou

This paper sets out to discuss issues of curation of media arts and other emergent technologised practices (e.g. digital performance). Through examining a range of media art festivals, exhibitions and events from the 1990s to 2010, this paper will argue against the curation of media arts as practices that are divorced from the contemporary arts scene. I will suggest that this curatorial approach of positive discrimination can lead to: a) establishing emergent technologised practices as peripheral to other, often more popular or mainstream, (sub-)cultures (and thus markets) and, b) technological determinism (in this case, focus on the technologies at the expense of content, social impact and/or affect).


Networks of Freedom: Networks of Control                   
David Garcia

In the 1990s I and many other radical media artists felt ourselves to be part of a utopian moment, a moment characterised by what became known as the ‘hacker’ ethic in which it was believed that challenging the domains of forbidden knowledge would lead to a new kind of society based on participatory communications. Historical context played its role in fuelling these dreams. The power some of us attributed to this ‘new media politics’ was influenced by role that all forms of media appeared to have played in contributing to the collapse of the Soviet Union. It seemed as though old style armed insurrection had been superseded by digital dissent and media revolutions. It came to be believed that top down power had lost its edge. Over ten years on, has this really been the case or has top-down control reasserted itself?

The Changing Nature of Artists’ Practice                       
Sue Gollifer

‘Digital Art' practice often suggests an over emphasis upon applications rather than objects, reproduction over authenticity. Can ‘New Media’ be considered within a fine-art framework, or should it be considered as a separate discipline? The cultural shift this represents may blur, remove, or even reinforce boundaries commonly associated with the activity of fine art.


Creating Continuity Between Computer Art History and            
Contemporary Art
Bruce Wands

Computer art was started by a small group of pioneering artists who had the vision to see what digital tools and technology could bring to the creative process. The technology at the time was primitive, compared to what we have today, and these artists faced resistance from the traditional art establishment. Several organizations, such as the New York Digital Salon, were started to promote digital creativity through exhibitions, publications and websites. This paper will explore how to create continuity between computer art history and a new generation of artists that does not see making art with computers as unusual and views it as contemporary art.