Computing, Design, Art: reflections on an innovative moment in history
Stephen Boyd Davis  1  , Simone Gristwood  2  
1 : Royal College of Arts
2 : Middlesex University

Our paper will discuss the role of art and design in the history and philosophy of computing. It focuses on the work of John Lansdown (1929-1999) and Bruce Archer (1922-2005) in London during the 1960s and 70s. Much has been written on Babbage and Lovelace's speculations on the relation of computational machines to creativity in the 19th century, which can be represented particularly through Babbage's possession of an automaton dancer and a portrait of Joseph Marie Jacquard woven on a Jacquard loom. A century later Lansdown, Archer and others addressed this area through the lens of arts and design. Whereas much of art and design thinking since the 1970s has been dominated by the idea of the computer as merely a tool, recent approaches to computing among artists and designers are once again finding adherents, whether in live-coding, ‘maker faires', or in increased interest in overtly algorithmic art. This paper aims to demonstrate how the engagement with computing represented by Lansdown, Archer and their contemporaries, much earlier than the current resurgence, shows a specific intellectual approach that contributes to the history of thinking about the relationship between computing and art and design.

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