Saturday, August 10, 2013


Hi everyone

I was one of a group of artists working at the University College London, Slade School of Fine Art's postgrad Experimental Department between 1974-82 who were working with scientists and mathematicians (very informally - this was before Sci-Art became a popular meme) and with scientific ideas like cellular automata, non-linear systems, deterministic chaos, fractal geometry, cybernetics, systems theory, etc… We had access to a Nova 2 minicomputer with 16K memory and were mostly programming it in Assembler because of the memory constraints.

Although our work was mostly forgotten by the arts mainstream I was surprised to discover, in the late 1990's that we were remembered by the scientific fraternity as pioneers of what Langton had named 'Artificial Life' about a decade after our experiments. This recognition led to my current, long term association with the Centre for Computational Neuroscience and Robotics at Sussex University where I have been a visiting prof of art & technology since 2005.

I've written elsewhere about this but though it deserved a mention in this discussion. The paper - From Systems Art to Artificial Life
Early Generative Art at the Slade School of Fine Art - is here if anyone want a more detailed description. It illustrates how one strong root of the scientific discipline of A-life comes from the fine arts (and it's important to note we believed we were making art and not sci-art or science. The paper is published in: White Heat and Cold Logic: British Computer Arts 1960 – 1980 An historical and critical analysis, P. Brown, C. Gere, N. Lambert & C. Mason (eds.), MIT Press, Leonardo Imprint, 2009 -

Another unpublished paper that contextualises this as art history is Notes Towards a History of Art, Code and Autonomy which can be downloaded from: -- and please note this latter is NOT a permanent link.

Thanks for the opportunity of contributing,

Paul Brown - based in the UK April to October 2013 ==
UK Mobile +44 (0)794 104 8228
Skype paul-g-brown
Honorary Visiting Professor - Sussex University

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