Carleton University Art Gallery CUAG

Alexandre Castonguay and Mathieu Bouchard: Reverse Engineered

Curated by Sandra Dyck

17 November 2008 – 08 February 2009

Computers have been used to create art since the 1960s, and this exhibition invites us to reconsider these vanguard images from a contemporary perspective. Castonguay and Bouchard are selecting from CUAG’s collection several computer-aided silkscreen prints made in the 1970s by pioneers of the genre including Georg Nees and Manfred Mohr. Bouchard has designed software to analyse the prints with the aim of formulating the rules of their creation and applying them to produce new artworks.

The exhibition also presents an expanded version of the interactive installation Drawing by Numbers, a wall-mounted plotter that engraves spectators’ images directly onto the gallery wall. The drawings are produced by computer analysis of visitors’ movements, captured on camera and “registered” when they come close enough to four pre-programmed gestures.

The early computer-generated prints were not revolutionary in visual terms: they resembled abstract drawings and replicated conventional aesthetic forms. What made them unusual was the way they were made. And they raised key issues still relevant to contemporary digital art today, including authenticity, authorship, and the agency of their makers vis-à-vis the machine.


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