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17 MAY 2011

Keeping Britain's special effects dream alive

"The country's reputation as the go-to Hollywood alternative was underlined at this year's Academy Awards when London-based Double Negative picked up the visual effects Oscar for its work on Inception.

The company, which has also been involved in the Harry Potter and Batman series, employs around 950 people at its headquarters in Soho.

Across the UK, approximately 5,000 people work in SFX post-production, according to the UK Screen Association.

But while business is currently booming, there are dark, computer-generated, clouds on the horizon.

A report, commissioned by the government and published earlier this year, delivered a worrying prognosis.

It warned that, while special effects was enjoying a rapid growth, the sector was also 'having to source talent from overseas because of skills shortages at home'.

The study, entitled Next Gen, concluded: 'That is mainly a failing of our education system - from schools to universities and it needs to be tackled urgently if we are to remain globally competitive.'

Part of the problem is the lack of awareness of the profession among young people, according to Paul Franklin, a visual effects supervisor and part of Double Negative's Oscar-winning team.

'There is not a huge amount of information available to them,' he told BBC News.

'Typically you tend to find that students who are seeking out courses in visual effects and film-making are the self motivated types who have gone out and found the information themselves.'

'It is something we work very hard at, but schools and colleges could be more aware about how a creative art education can be applied in the world of high-end modern digital media,' he said."

(BBC News, 14 May 2011)

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TAGS

Academy Award • accolade • American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences • AMPAS • Batmancomputer-generated • creative art education • creative careercreative economydesign curriculadesign disciplinedesign professiondigital mediaDouble Negativeeducation systemfilmmaking • globally competitive • Harry PotterHollywoodInception (2010) • lack of awareness • LondonNext Gen. reportOscar • Paul Franklin • post productionprofessional practiceSFXskills shortageSohospecial effectsstudentUK • UK Screen Association • VFX industriesvisual effects • visual effects supervisor

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
17 JANUARY 2011

Drawing with Code: Works from the Anne and Michael Spalter Collection

29 January to 24 April 2011, deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, Massachusetts, USA.

"Drawing with Code brings together a selection of computer-generated art by the form's earliest and most important practitioners from the 1950s to today. The Providence-based collection of Anne and Michael Spalter is one of the largest and most important of its kind in the U.S. and shines a new light onto a darkened corner of the art historical record.

In our current digital environment when just about everyone holds the processing power of a full computer in their pocket, it is difficult to remember a time when computer technology was not involved in every aspect of our lives. In the arts-visual, cinematic, musical, dance, and theater-the computer has become not only an accepted, but in many cases, an intrinsic tool for artistic expression. The artists featured in Drawing with Code emerged in the early computer-era when the technology was rudimentary by current standards and its capabilities rarely extended beyond the world of computation. Merging their interests in art and coding, these practitioners came to be known as 'Algorists,' artists who employed original algorithms to create images. In addition to works on paper, Drawing with Code presents the work of two filmmakers, Lillian Schwartz and Stan VanDerBeek, who were brought into Bell Labs Research by Kenneth Knowlton to make some of the first computer art animations. These six animations were collaborations using Knowlton's BEFLIX (Bell Flicks) programming language for bitmap computer-produced movies.

The artists in Drawing with Code represent some of the earliest innovations in computer-generated art from the U.S., Europe, and Asia, pioneering a new form of collaboration between technology and art that pushed the boundaries of both.

Featured artists: Yoshiyuki Abe, Manuel Barbadillo, Jean-Pierre Hébert, Desmond Paul Henry, Sven Höglund / Bror Wikstörm, Sture Johannessen, G. F. Kammerer-Luka / Jean-Baptist Kempf, Hiroshi Kawano, Kenneth Knowlton, Ben F. Laposky, Manfred Mohr, Vera Molnar, Frieder Nake, George Nees, Lillian F. Schwartz, Stan VanDerBeek, Roman Verotsko, Mark Wilson, and Edward Zajac.

This exhibition is organized by guest curator George Fifield, Director, Boston Cyberarts Inc. and is part of the 2011 Boston Cyberarts Festival."

(deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, 2011)

Fig.1 Ben Laposky (1954–1956). 'Electronic Abstraction 4', oscilliscope, high speed film, photo paper, 16 1/2 inches x 13 inches, Collection of Anne and Michael Spalter.

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TAGS

1950s2011 • Algorists • algorithm • Anne and Michael Spalter Collection • artart and coding • BEFLIX • Bell Flicks • Bell Labs • Bell Labs Research • Ben Laposky • bitmap • Boston Cyberarts Festival • Bror Wikstorm • codecomputationcomputer artcomputer-generatedcreative practice • Desmond Paul Henry • digital art exhibitiondigital environmentdigital pioneersdrawing with codeearly computer-era • Edward Zajac • exhibitionfilmmakerFrieder Nake • G. F. Kammerer-Luka • generativeGeorg Nees • Hiroshi Kawano • influential worksinnovation • Jean-Baptist Kempf • Kenneth Knowlton • Lillian SchwartzManfred Mohr • Manuel Barbadillo • Mark WilsonmusicPierre Hebertpractitionerprogramming languageRoman Verostko • Stan VanDerBeek • Sture Johannessen • Sven Hoglund • technologytheatreVera Molnarvisual arts • works on paper • Yoshiyuki Abe

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
17 JANUARY 2011

Computer Art at the Victoria and Albert Museum

"The V&A has been collecting computer-generated art and design since the 1960s. More recently, the Museum acquired two significant collections of computer-generated art and design, and together these form the basis of the UK's emerging national collection of Computer Art.

The Museum's holdings range from early experiments with analogue computers and mechanical devices, to examples of contemporary software-based practices that produce digital prints and computer-generated drawings. The earliest work in the collection dates from 1952 and is a long exposure photograph of electronic beams on an analogue computer, by artist Ben Laposky.

More recently, the V&A has acquired a large digital inkjet print from 2008, which is nearly two metres long and was created using pixel mapping software designed by American artist Mark Wilson.

The collection consists predominately of two-dimensional works on paper, such as plotter drawings, screenprints, inkjet prints, laser prints and photographs, as well as artists' books, from around the world. Early practitioners of computer art were working in Britain, France, Germany, and Spain, as well as the United States, Japan and South America."

(Victoria and Albert Museum)

Fig.1 Herbert W. Franke 'Oscillogramm' (1956)

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CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
08 FEBRUARY 2010

Digital Pioneers: the first decades of the computer's history in art and design

"This display provides an overview of the first decades of the computer's history in art and design. It includes some of the earliest computer-generated works in the V&A's collections, many of which have never been exhibited in the UK before. From the 1960s until the early 1980s, digital pioneers worked directly with computer hardware and software to produce graphic images unlike anything that had gone before. Some artists went on to use increasingly sophisticated software packages, while others continued to work directly with the hardware itself.

The display includes plotter drawings, screenprints, digital inkjet prints, photographs and animations, as well as important documentary material from the time. It features pioneers working in science and industry during the 1950s and 60s, such as Frieder Nake, Georg Nees and Herbert W. Franke. Artists who worked with the computer in the 1970s and 80s include Paul Brown, Harold Cohen, Manfred Mohr and Vera Molnar. The show also encompasses more recent works by James Faure Walker, Jean Pierre-Hébert, Roman Verostko and Mark Wilson

Digital Pioneers offers a historical context for contemporary digital practice, and is scheduled to coincide with the V&A exhibition Decode: Digital Design Sensations."

(The Victoria and Albert Museum, UK)

Fig.1 Herbert W. Franke, Squares (Quadrate), screenprint, 1969/70. Given by the Computer Arts Society, supported by System Simulation Ltd, London. Museum no. E.113-2008

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CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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