SFPC: Recreating the Past

Teaching computational art from the past decades, and co-creating our own computational art histories through recreating the works of artists who inspire us.

When the Recreating the Past class ended in 2020 I couldn't stop thinking about this phrase our teacher Zach Lieberman said: "I wish this course never ended". In fact for me this course has never ended, I never felt I had graduated from it. I kept researching, especially on South American modern art and alternative perspectives on history of computational art. I was very happy doing my research and sketches, sharing some of it at this tiny gallery website I made.

Then some next level happiness happened when Zach invited Hind Al Saad, Edgardo Avilés-López and me to participate on a workgroup to change the course's syllabus to include artists and themes from a more diverse background.

We met a few times and as result of our conversations we came to the conclusion that we should not replace the previous syllabus but add to it. We brought in artists from our own cultural backgrounds and perspectives, we worked on a toolkit to help students to keep researching after the course (and never graduate!), we broke down the verb recreate into reproduce, reenact, rethink and reframe and redesigned the course in a lighthearted and positive way. My main take from this work was to question what is the history of computational art on places where the idea of a computer had arrived but not the computer itself?

When we finished the planned sessions for the workgroup, Zach invited us to be his teacher assistant and later on to co-teach the class with him! The course was hosted online and lasted 10 weeks. It was part of the fall/winter program at School for Poetic Computation.

As part of the role of co-teacher I gave a lecture about patterns and another one about glitch. In this lectures I went through Zach's selection of artists and added my own perspective on it.

When talking about patterns I also talked about originary cultures and how the "european" eye to art has failed and still fails to recognise not only the artistic but the deeply human value of such manifestations.

For the glitch lecture I tried to raise questions about opaque technologies and how every decision made on designing those artifacts carry a deep cultural meaning. Also raised questions about what happens when we define the history of computational art based on what a privileged group did.

Hind and Edgardo took themes like typography, concrete poetry, animation, pixel and presented it in a very fresh and personal way. On top of that, to rewatch Zach's lectures was a privilege and something I'd take any chance to do it again and again!