Prehistory of the Digital: Architecture Becomes Programming, 1935-1990
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CitationAllen, Matthew. 2019. Prehistory of the Digital: Architecture Becomes Programming, 1935-1990. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThis dissertation presents two arguments: first, that the sensibility of the digital culture in architecture came from polemical transformations in avant-garde art circa 1960 (e.g., techniques and aesthetics from concrete poetry as a corrective to earlier abstract art); and, second, that these techniques and this sensibility became pervasive through the period of corporate architecture and postmodernism of the 1970s and ‘80s. In other words, the postmodernist parametrics of the 1980s was continuous with the proto-algorithmic art of the 1930s in several crucial respects.
Through its eight chapters, this dissertation identifies certain computational techniques and concepts in the contexts in which they emerged, describes the subcultural aesthetics that developed around them, and follows them as they spread into ever-wider territories in the discipline of architecture. The first four chapters give an account of how the pieces of an algorithmic architecture came together between roughly 1935 and 1970 in Britain, and the second four chapters describe how a culture of programming in architecture spread between 1965 and 1990 in America in a few new realms: a computation research center, a network of computer consultants, the back-office expertise of a large corporate firm, and a computation curriculum in an architecture school.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37365511
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