During the three decades following the Second World War, and prior to the advent of the personal computer, government and industry investment in computing research in the United States, Canada, and Britain sought to propel the use of computers for manufacturing and design. Along with novel technologies, these projects kindled new visual and material languages, as well as new understandings of the design process and its actors. The exhibition Vers une imaginaire numérique explores this period of remarkable inventiveness, and traces its contemporary repercussions through a cross-disciplinary selection of works by computational architects, designers, and artists working today.
On display are works by thirty creators including Kristy Balliet and Kelly Bair, Phillip Beesley, Joanna Berzowska, Dana Cupkova, Felicia Davis and Delia Dumitrescu, Golan Levin, Zach Lieberman, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Leslei Mezei, Frieder Nake, Vernelle Noel, George Stiny, Jer and Diane Thorp, and Elizabeth Vander Zaag, among others. The historical materials comprise more than 150 items drawn from personal collections and from the archives of research institutions including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge University, Carnegie Mellon, the University of Toronto, the University of Waterloo, and Bell-Northern Research, Canada, among others.
Further, the exhibition includes a series of experimental interactive reconstructions of some of the earliest computer-aided design systems, including Ivan Sutherland’s Sketchpad, Christos I. Yessio’s CISP, and Christopher Alexander and Marvin Manheim’s HIDECS 2, allowing visitors to experience visual, tactile, and sensual aspects of these transformative technologies, or to appreciate their algorithmic logic. Threaded together, these historical and contemporary materials offer a unique —cross-generational, cross-disciplinary, tactile, and gender-diverse — journey through the post-mid-century convergence of design and computation.
Vers un imaginaire numérique expands and adapts to the Canadian context the exhibition Designing the Computational Image, Imagining Computational Design, which originated at the Miller Institute of Contemporary Art in Pittsburgh, developed by curator Daniel Cardoso Llach, associate professor of architecture at Carnegie Mellon University. At the Centre de design de l’UQAM, the show was significantly expanded with new materials from the history of computational design in Canada unearthed by co-curator Theodora Vardouli, assistant professor at the Peter Guo-hua Fu School of Architecture, McGill University, as well as with a selection of contemporary works by Canadian computational designers, architects, and artists collaboratively curated by Profs. Vardouli and Cardoso Llach.