Imaging by Numbers: A Historical View of the Computer Print

Main Gallery, Print, Drawing, and Photography Study Center, and Ellen Philips Katz and Howard C. Katz Gallery

pipelineDavid Em, Transjovian Pipeline, 1979, Cibachrome print. Collection of the artist. © David Em.

This groundbreaking exhibition examines the intersection of digital technology and the graphic arts. Imaging by Numbers surveys the use of computers in printmaking and drawing through approximately 60 works created by nearly 40 North American and European artists from the 1950s to the present. The exhibition focuses on artists who wrote their own computer code or collaborated with computer engineers. Beginning with photographs of electronic waveforms by Ben Laposky and Herbert Franke, Imaging by Numbers includes drawings made with plotter printers by the likes of Manfred Mohr and Edward Zajec, explorations of virtual worlds composed with 3-D imaging software by David Em, and works created with inventive modifications and combinations of traditional and digital printing techniques by such artists as Lane Hall and Roman Verostko. Contemporary artists writing their own computer programs or altering existing software — Joshua Davis and C.E.B. Reas, for example — are also represented.

An illustrated book is available at Block in Print, the Museum's gift shop.

Imaging by Numbers is curated by Block Museum senior curator Debora Wood and artist Paul Hertz. The exhibition is generously supported by C. Richard Kramlich and  sponsored by FLASHPOINT.


Additional support for the exhibition and related programming is provided by ACM Siggraph; American Airlines; Hewlett Packard; the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency; the Lawrence Kessel Bequest Endowment; and the Myers Foundations.