January 2017 Activity Summary

The highlights this month being the two recent action-packed talks given by visiting artist and 2014 Lumen Prize award winner,  Andy Lomas and visiting researcher from Ravensbourne College of Art, Dr Nick Lambert.

Lomas’ talk mainly focused on the Cellular Forms series. Getting insight and understanding on how he goes about his practice and process was all very engaging. On reflection, I wish I had asked more questions about his process, especially about considerations which are made when the practice begins to deviate from what was originally intended. You know, that magical area in art making where we’ve unexpectedly unraveled something which (sometimes) dramatically alters the spectacle.

Andy Lomas, Cellular Forms (2014)


From Dr Lambert’s talk, I got a lot from the historical side, an area I’m totally clueless in as I had never really engaged in computer technologies, theories etc before. Though the nature of this course has changed all that…..somewhat. Before the talk I prepared a few questions. One found on the web and a few from me:

From researcher, Francis T Marchese at Pace University’s Department of Computer Science.

“Will digital art created in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century be displayable 500 years in the future?”

Dr Lambert: “No, it won’t survive”

Me: It wont survive! So buying code-based art (I’ve not said digital art, Jonathan!) is a risky business?

Jonathan provides metaphorical comment: “It depends what you put value on — no one ever buys a beautiful meal with the intention of keeping it in the long term and hoping that its value will increase — we enjoy the medium (food) for what it is, eat it, enjoy the company with other people then move on — do we always have to see art as an investment?”

On reflection: Yes, good point, the general view is that selling Art is seen as an investment when it shouldn’t be.

Can you recommend books for further reading in this field?

Ans: White Heat, Cold Logic: British Computer Art 1969-1980

Edited by Paul Brown, Charlie Gere, Catherine Mason and Nicholas Lambert.



Technological optimism, even utopianism, was widespread at midcentury; in Britain, Harold Wilson in 1963 promised a new nation “forged from the white heat of the technological revolution.” In this heady atmosphere, pioneering artists transformed the cold logic of computing into a new medium for their art, and played a central role in connecting technology and culture. White Heat Cold Logic tells the story of these early British digital and computer artists—and fills in a missing chapter in contemporary art history.

In this heroic period of computer art, artists were required to build their own machines, collaborate closely with computer scientists, and learn difficult computer languages. White Heat Cold Logic’s chapters, many written by computer art pioneers themselves, describe the influence of cybernetics, with its emphasis on process and interactivity; the connections to the constructivist movement; and the importance of work done in such different venues as commercial animation, fine art schools, and polytechnics.

The advent of personal computing and graphical user interfaces in 1980 signaled the end of an era, and today we do not have so many dreams of technological utopia. And yet our highly technologized and mediated world owes much to these early practitioners, especially for expanding our sense of what we can do with new technologies.

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