In the 1960’s computer art was largely ignored or dismissed by the art establishment. Today it is recognized as playing an important precursor to contemporary digital art practice. In this lecture, Dodds will provide a brief history of digital art and design, and explain how the V&A is forming an internationally significant collection of computer-generated artworks from the early 1960s onwards. He will also examine the role played by pioneering women artists and designers, including Barbara Nessim.
Douglas Dodds is Senior Curator in the Word and Image Department at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. In 2009/10 he curated a groundbreaking V&A exhibition entitled Digital Pioneers. He is also the curator of Barbara Nessim: An Artful Life.
"The bombsight computers, from which Henry constructed these machines in his home-based workshop in Manchester, were employed in World War Two Bomber Aircraft to calculate the accurate release of bombs onto their target. He combined these computers with other components to create electronically-operated drawing machines which relied mainly on a 'mechanics of chance'. This meant the drawing machines could not be pre-programmed or store information as in a conventional computer; nor were they precision instruments.
"As a result, Henry had only general overall control but at the same time he could intervene to direct the course of image production at any given moment of his choosing. This spontaneous interactive element of his machines pre-empted by some twenty years similar interactive features of contemporary graphic manipulation software. Today not one drawing machine remains intact.
"Using one or more mechanised drawing implements (biros at first and then tube pens with Indian ink) Henry's drawing machines produced abstract, curvilinear, repetitive line drawings. Henry compared these strangely organic-type images to those described in natural form mathematics or produced using pendulum harmonographs and ornamental geometric lathes.
"The chance element inherent in the construction and function of each Henry drawing machine ensured the unrepeatable quality of their infinitely varied visual effects. The aesthetic appeal of these 'mechanical fractals' (Henry) lies in their unique blend of order and chaos, of regularity and irregularity.
"These machine-produced images were either left untouched by Henry or embellished further by hand in response to their suggestive features…."
The Spalter Teaching Fellowship is open to RISD and Brown graduate and undergraduate students from all disciplinary backgrounds. Spalter Teaching Fellows are trained as RISD Museum educators and are responsible for teaching children and youth ages 5 to 18. Through mentorship and professional-development support, they will develop the knowledge, skills, and experience necessary to make important contributions to the museum field.
The RISD Museum is committed to building a diverse and inclusive community where people from all backgrounds can learn and create. With the goal of increasing the diversity of the museum profession, we are creating a climate that recognizes and values diversity as central to excellence. Cultural competence, collaborations with diverse communities, or other areas of experience or expertise that support these goals are preferred. Applicants should demonstrate a strong desire to foster object-based learning in a museum context; excellent organizational, interpersonal, and communication skills; and the ability to work independently as well as collaboratively. Primarily leading guided visits with school-aged students, fellows will support learning from original works of art and the development critical thinking, problem solving, and creative interpretation.
Spalter Teaching Fellows receive $5000 per academic year and must commit to a two-year fellowship. Excellent verbal and written communication skills are necessary, and a familiarity with visual art is preferred; foreign language skills are highly desirable. Successful applicants will have experience working with children, will display a commitment to teaching from original works of art, and are available at least two mornings a week between 10 am and 12 pm, Tuesday through Friday. Fellows must be available between two and eight hours each week (between 10 am and 12 pm, Tuesday through Friday) to prepare and lead guided visits.
Application deadline is February 8, 2016, and interviews will be held in March. Training begins in early September.