Computing and the Arts - Past, Present and Future

Thursday 3 February 2005

7.00pm (Coffee from 6.30pm in HC 033)

George Mallen, Chairman and Research Director of System Simulation Ltd. and Chair of the BCS Computer Arts Society Specialist Group.

Southampton Institute, Herbert Collins Building, HC 024

George Mallan began working with computers in the Mathematics Department of the Royal Aircraft Establishment in the early 60s. Subsequently he did research in the interdisciplinary world of cybernetics with Gordon Pask one of the seminal figures in that field.

He was a founder member of the original Computer Arts Society and also founded the software company System Simulation Ltd which now specialises in the provision of software systems to museums and galleries. He has held research fellowships at the Royal College of Art and was first head of the Department of Communication and Media Studies at Bournemouth University.

The BCS Specialist Group, the Computer Arts Society (CAS), was formed in the late 60s to try to bridge the gap between the high tech world of computer graphics and the needs of artists and art students to get access to computers and explore their potential.

Over a 15 year period, with the leadership of Alan Sutcliffe and John Lansdown, CAS was very successful in doing this and mounted a number of exhibitions, projects and educational programmes. It formed close links with "early adopters" in the arts educational institutions, particularly Middlesex University, the Royal College of Art, The Slade and St Martin's.

CAS is now the subject of a research project at Birkbeck College's Department of History of Art. As a result the Computer Arts Society has recently been refounded and the speaker is currently Chair of the new CAS.

The talk will review this history but will concentrate on the relevance of computers to the arts today and illustrate why it is important for the worlds of computing and the arts to continue to be "entangled", to use a term from quantum physics.