Carnegie Mellon University
November 03, 2021

Cardoso Llach Curates Computational Design Exhibition

Pam Wigley
  • College of Fine Arts
  • 412-268-1047

Architecture, art and design meet the digital age in the exhibition, "Vers un imaginaire numérique," curated by Carnegie Mellon University School of Architecture Associate Professor Daniel Cardoso Llach and co-curated by McGill University Assistant Professor Theodora Vardouli. The show is open at the Centre de design de l'UQAM in Montréal, Canada, and runs through Nov. 7. Its wide appeal, Cardoso Llach said, may be attributed to the fact that both artistic and technical minds alike value its content.

"The exhibition makes it possible for people to draw unexpected connections between technical and artistic domains, and to appreciate continuities — as well as ruptures — between historical and present-day works," he said.

Specifically, the show illuminates the 20th Century emergence of new methods for design representation, simulation and manufacturing linked to digital computers' capacities for information processing and display, and reflects on their contemporary repercussions across architecture, art and design. Along with a selection of historical materials, works by 30 contemporary creators are displayed including Philip Beesley, Felicia Davis and Delia Dumitrescu, and Rafael Lozano Hemmer, as well as by CMU faculty including Dana Cupkova, Ramesh Krishnamurti, and Golan Levin. A team of the School of Architecture's Computational Design students, including Jinmo Rhee, Emek Erdolu, Erik Ulberg, Maria Vlachostergiou and Mali Tribune, contributed to the show's curation and design, and to the preparation of several interactive pieces on display in Montréal.

The 4,000-square-foot show expands and adapts to the Canadian context of its predecessor, "Designing the Computational Image, Imagining Computational Design," presented by Cardoso in 2017 at Carnegie Mellon's Miller Institute of Contemporary Art. The exhibition takes both a historical and contemporary look at the role of digital tools in the process of design and architectural forms. Showcasing a unique selection of photographs, films, high-quality reproductions, interactive software reconstructions, and works by present-day practitioners, it examines the confluence of technical developments in graphics and software with the emergence of new aesthetic languages and theoretical sensibilities in design, architecture and other creative fields.

Although the exhibition focuses on bringing together technical and artistic domains, Cardoso said the exhibition is relevant to audiences beyond these fields.

"The exhibition operates at different registers," he said. "Specialists will have a field trip and may be inclined to read every detail about every single piece. But the exhibition is also designed to offer a visual and sensorial journey. Thanks to the impressive artworks that punctuate each part of the show, and the interactive elements, it can feel more like walking through a forest than like entering a salon or reading a book."

The exhibition received support from various arts and cultural institutions including the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts (for the Miller ICA show) and Canada's Social Science and Humanities Research Council (for the UQAM show). Additional grants from CMU and McGill University, including from the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry, the College of Fine Arts' Fund for Research and Creativity, and the School of Architecture, supported the effort. A forthcoming book, supported by the Kaplan Foundation and co-authored by professors Cardoso and Vardouli, will offer an expanded catalogue of the show and will be available in the Spring of 2022.

There are no immediate plans for a third version of the show, although Cardoso said he may explore options in the future, including developing a version of the exhibition in Latin America with a focus on computational designers in that area.

These efforts, he said, lends visibility to the subject matter. These efforts, he said, help us think differently about the role technological ideas and systems play in shaping artistic and design practices.

"There is a growing recognition in the arts and humanities that these fields have evolved in conjunction with — and themselves shaped — technological change. We might finally be leaving the misleading 'two-cultures' idea behind."

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