This week Assistant Professor Daniel Cardoso Llach exhibits at the SIGGRAPH Art Gallery in Vancouver two interactive installations from the ‘Archaeology of CAD’ project, which examines the origins of Computer-Aided Design by reconstructing some of its pioneering technologies.
The two installations were developed in 2017 at the School of Architecture’s Computational Design Laboratory (Code Lab) by Professor Cardoso Llach with MSCD student Scott Donaldson (2017), drawing from a combination of archival materials and oral sources. On display at SIGGRAPH will be an experimental reconstruction of Steven A. Coons’s ‘Coons Patch’ and one of Ivan Sutherland’s ‘SKETCHPAD’ — two foundational computational design systems. Developed using modern hardware and software languages, and digital fabrication techniques, these reconstructions are not exact replicas but rather playful artifacts of both historical and design inquiry.
In an essay published in the Leonardo journal, Professor Cardoso Llach writes “by evoking the embodied experience of interacting with these technologies, [the reconstructions] shed light on the new forms of human-machine design work that emerged with the rise of interactive computing during the Cold-War years, and highlight the sensual and gestural dimensions of the ‘computer revolution.’”
With over 14,000 registered participants at SIGGRAPH this year, the ‘Archaeology of CAD’ project will offer thousands of people the opportunity to explore tangibly and interactively some of the earliest computational design tools. The installations are accompanied by a small selection of rare handwritten notes and other documents that offer glimpses of the institutional and intellectual context that motivated these technologies — which played a key role in transforming architectural and engineering practices during the second half of the twentieth century.