The fields of Architecture and Art share many commonalities in how they have been affected by the introduction of the computer and computer graphics. In reading both “Computing in Architectural Design” and “The Pioneers of Digital Art”, we can begin to see what these two professions have in common, how computers have made their first appearance and how they have earned their keep. If we look at both readings through a lens of “interaction” we can further understand the relationship between these two industries and computers.
In the reading “Computing in Architectural Design” (2004), it is presented that computers in this industry were first used for numerical analysis. It was not until 1963, when Ivan Sutherland created Sketchpad, that the human element in design was taken into account. This program and equipment changed the way a user interacted with a computer. Computer-aided design was in its beginning phases and continued to be driven by university research and large companies due to its size and cost. As technology advanced, the first personal computer was introduced, along with several CAD programs. The main concern presented in this reading was the lack of intelligence in CAD software. The programs dealt with shapes and representations, rather than objects and design information. As technology improves today we begin to see more programs that inform the design. There are several roles that computers play in the architectural field today. In “Computing for Architectural Design” (2004), computers act as a basic design tool, provide means of communication, assist with the design, provide design environments, assist with the management of physical environments, and allow for virtual environments. These roles are always evolving and as they change the interactions between computers and users will change as well.
In reading “The Pioneers of Digital Media” (2002), we again begin to understand the process that was taken for computers to be introduced into the art industry. In relation to the architectural industry, this process was received with quite a bit of hostility and controversy. Computer-Aided art began just as it had done in the architectural field with very large computers that were time consuming and cost consuming. The geometry used was very rudimentary compared to today’s standards. Animations seemed to be the first experiences that combined the science of computers and the element of art. Just as Ivan Sutherland’s Sketchpad had influenced CAD software in the architectural industry, Sketchpad also captivated many artists in that it was the first time that the artist’s hand could be seen in the art produced by a computer (Lewis & Luciana, 2002, p. 94).
As discussed before, universities were the main driving force behind the advancement of technology in both art and architecture, along with the military and large corporations. Universities were providing the research and making crucial design decisions in how the user interacts with these machines. Several studies conducted resulted in elements that drastically effect how we use and communicate with computers. The introduction and adaptation of the mouse is an excellent example. The development of “responsive environments” has changed the way we use computers with its first introduction in 1970, by Myron Kruegger (Lewis & Luciana, 2004, p. 98). Recently a public art display was installed in the EUC building on campus that featured a “responsive environment”. In this display a participant could interact with a projected image of falling pebbles on a wall.
Just as it is true in the field of architecture and interior design, in creating a successful computer you must understand the user and the relationship that will be developed between user and object. In 1972, Alan Kay preformed a study to determine the benefits of an image based programming language over a text based programming language (Lewis & Luciana, 2002, p. 101). This study was conducted using children as the participant and the study was called “smalltalk”. This study helped to form the computer into a machine that could be run by a multitude of users rather than limiting its users to only computer experts (Lewis & Luciana, 2002, p. 101).
With the development of the inkjet printer, the computer game, the World Wide Web, and virtual environments, one can see how computers are shaping our worlds. We have developed a relationship with computers that calls for daily interaction. In “Computing Architectural Design” (2004), the user at one point is referred to as “master”, which can directly imply a living relationship (p. 76). Through video gaming, computers have been able to evoke emotional responses. I can recall from my own childhood the fear I would experience in watching a relative of mine play the early video game known as Doom. By understanding the changes in the way users interact with computers, we can recognize how computers have changed how we interact with each other. The World Wide Web was introduced and forever changed interaction. For artists, it meant the possibility to reach a larger audience without having the obstacle of obtaining studio or gallery space (Lewis & Luciana, 2002, p. 111). For designers, it has given them the ability to communicate and send drawings at a quicker rate.
In our field of interior design, which can be combination of both art and architecture, computers play an enormous role and will continue to play an enormous role even more so in the future. Computers, just as they do now, will assist with designing and manufacturing. I feel that computers, although they are very integrated into our lives now, will continue to integrate even more. With the development of newer software, drafting will be improved and design visualization will enhance. Currently we have the technology to create photo-realistic images and the technology to create virtual environments. I see these two components combining with each other to allow for designers to view, with incredible accuracy, the design of an environment and product before being built or manufactured. Interaction with computers will only become more intimate as time progresses. As interior designers we must take advantage of this technology and embrace the changes that it may bring.
Kalay, Y. (2004). Computing in Architectural Design. In Architecture's News Media (pp. 63-81). The MIT Press.
Lewis, R., & Luciana, J. (2002). The Pioneers of Digital Art (pp. 90-112). Pearson Prentice Hall.