Chance would be a fine thing : digitally driven practice-based research at Huddersfield

ATKINSON, Paul and HALES, Derek (2004). Chance would be a fine thing : digitally driven practice-based research at Huddersfield. In: HARRIS, Jane and PRESS, Mike, (eds.) Proceedings of Pixelraiders2 Conference. Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam University.

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Emerging software based processes are challenging the role of the maker as author as well as introducing new areas of practice. Recent developments in digital art and design at the School of Design Technology, University of Huddersfield have included two areas covering the application of digital techniques to the process of making in very different contexts: Product Design and manufacture; and Visual Arts. Much of this work represents a convergence of art and science, of aesthetics and technology, of process and production.

These developments have emerged from two programmes of practice-based research at the University and at the Digital Research Unit at The Media Centre, Huddersfield. The first of these is the Designer in Residence programme based in the Design Department, which aims to employ professional designers in order to embed practice-based research activity into the department’s delivery of 3D design pathways. In the second of these, the Department of Architecture has been working with the Digital Research Unit to deliver a dynamic and challenging range of work from artists at the forefront of digital media practice, bringing new ideas and working practices to the fore. Together, these programmes bridge academia, commercial R&D and the cultural and creative industries.

Though they utilise very different approaches, the projects are connected in the ways in which they explore the role of chance, of unforeseen elements in the production of the ‘finished’ work. In a research context, the accidental, the random and even the unaware as contributory constituents are considered as aspects which have considerable impact on the definitions, roles and expectations of the author, the mediating technology and the consumer within the creative process. Aspects of ‘control’ over the results of creative endeavour which are normally taken as a given are here questioned and ownership of the process debated. As high level pieces of original practice-based research such uncertainty is understandably problematic.

Through the presentation of two case studies, this paper will explore the implications of these approaches to making. The first of these case studies is the ‘Future Factories’ project by the designer Lionel Theodore Dean, which explores the creation, selection and digital manufacture of randomly generated computer models to produce finished physical artefacts via rapid prototyping technologies. The second case study is the ‘QQQ’ commission by the artist and programmer Tom Betts, which is an interactive installation constructed from the code of the graphics engine for the computer game ‘Quake’, modified using generative programming techniques. The two case studies will then be analysed through the perspective of the writings of Alfred Jarry, with particular respect to his notion of ‘Pataphysics’ and the writings on chance and play of Paul Virilio, in order to highlight how both projects utilise real-time networked technologies in their final manifestation. The case studies also contextualise the shifting relationships between the maker, software techniques and the participation of the audience or consumer in playful and game-like processes in the production of the finished environment or artefact.

Item Type: Book Section
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Cultural Communication and Computing Research Institute > Art and Design Research Centre
Depositing User: Paul Atkinson
Date Deposited: 19 Nov 2014 16:25
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 19:15

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