Computational Design Lab

“Archaeology of CAD” at SIGGRAPH 2018

On August 2018, the SIGGRAPH Art Gallery in Vancouver exhibited two interactive installations from the “Archaeology of CAD” project developed at the Code Lab, which examines the origins of Computer-Aided Design (CAD) by reconstructing some of its pioneering technologies.  The team, directed by Assistant Professor Daniel Cardoso Llach, comprises a group of graduate and undergraduate students including Scott Donaldson (MSCD 2017), Erik Ulberg (MSCD 2020), and Harshavardhan Kedia (B. Arch 2019).

On display at SIGGRAPH were the experimental reconstructions of Steven A. Coons’s ‘Coons Patch’ and one of Ivan Sutherland’s ‘SKETCHPAD’ — two foundational computational design systems. Developed using modern hardware and software languages, and digital fabrication techniques, these reconstructions are not exact replicas but rather playful artifacts of both historical and design inquiry. The installations were accompanied by a small selection of rare handwritten notes and other documents that offer glimpses of the institutional and intellectual context that motivated these technologies — which played a key role in transforming architectural and engineering practices during the second half of the twentieth century.

In an essay published in the Leonardo journal, Professor Cardoso Llach writes “by evoking the embodied experience of interacting with these technologies, [the reconstructions] shed light on the new forms of human-machine design work that emerged with the rise of interactive computing during the Cold-War years, and highlight the sensual and gestural dimensions of the ‘computer revolution.’ ”

With over 14,000 registered participants at SIGGRAPH this year, the “Archaeology of CAD” project offered thousands of people the opportunity to explore tangibly and interactively some of the earliest computational design tools. 

More information can be found on the sites of the SIGGRAPH Art Gallery and Archaeology of CAD .

Author: Yixiao Fu
Category: News