• Designing the Computational Image/Imagining Computational Design
    Daniel Cardoso Llach
    Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh
    Sep 22, 2017 to Nov 22, 2017
    Daniel Cardoso Llach

Image from a custom software system developed for the exhibition, which reconstructs Steven A. Coons' pioneering mathematical technique for parametric surface representation, the "Coons patch," enabling users to interact with it. Courtesy of Daniel Cardoso Llach.

Designing the Computational Image/Imagining Computational Design showcases a selection of previously unseen or lesser-known drawings, films, and high-quality reproductions, as well as interactive software reconstructions, illuminating the twentieth-century emergence of new methods for design representation, simulation, and manufacturing linked to digital computers' capacities for information processing and display. Examining the formative period of numerical control and computer graphics technologies between 1949 and 1976, the exhibition traces their evolution from elemental geometric constructions into highly structured semantic models—and from government-funded research in universities into industry standards—shedding light on the social, technical, and aesthetic origins of present architectural production techniques. From blips on radar screens to perspectival representations and free-form surfaces, the exhibition uniquely reveals the confluence of technical innovations in software, data structures, and hardware with a new cultural imaginary of design, endowing computer-generated images with both geometric plasticity and a new type of agency as operative architectural artifacts.

Daniel Cardoso Llach is assistant professor in the School of Architecture at Carnegie Mellon University, where he teaches graduate and undergraduate architecture courses. His work explores problems ranging from social and cultural aspects of automation in design, the politics of representation and participation in software, and new methods for using data to visualize design as a socio-technical phenomenon. His recent research includes Builders of the Vision: Software and the Imagination of Design (Routledge, 2015), a book on the cultural history of computer-aided design and numerically controlled machinery, which examines how postwar technological projects shaped conceptions of design informing current architectural practices. He holds a PhD and an MS (with honors) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a BArch from the Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá. He has been a research fellow at MECS, Germany, and a visiting scholar at the University of Cambridge.