[spectre] A Computer in the Art Room: The Origins of British Computer Arts 1950-1980. By Catherine Mason.

marc garrett marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Thu Jan 6 17:03:35 CET 2011

Sorry for any cross posting...

A Computer in the Art Room: The Origins of British Computer Arts 
1950-1980. By Catherine Mason.

Review by Rob Myers.

 From the 1950s to the 1980s teachers and students at British 
educational institutions begged or borrowed access to computing 
machinery and used it to make art. Catherine Mason traces this history, 
sets it in a broader cultural context, and makes the case for its 

Art Computing in the UK is no less interesting than Art Computing 
anywhere else but its history often seems like a carefully guarded 
secret. This has been alleviated by activity around the resurrected 
Computer Arts Society in the 2000s, notably the acquisition of CAS's 
archives by the V&A and the CaCHE project at Birbeck College which ran 
from 2002-2005. CaCHE, run by Paul Brown, Charlie Gere, Nick Lambert and 
Catherine Mason, produced conferences, exhibitions, and publications 
including the book "A Computer In the Art Room", by Mason.

In 2002 Catherine began researching the history of British computer arts 
at Birkbeck, University of London with the CACHe Project (Computer Arts, 
Contexts, Histories, etc.), funded by the UK's Arts & Humanities 
Research Council. In 2006 she produced Bits in Motion, a screening of 
early British computer animation, at London's National Film Theatre. She 
has contributed to Futures Past: Twenty Years of Arts Computing 
published by Intellect, 2007 and White Heat, Cold Logic: British 
Computer Art 1960-1980, forthcoming MIT Press, and her latest book A 
Computer in the Art Room: the origins of British computer arts 1950-80 
published 2008.


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