Calculus Centre of the University of Madrid - Computable Forms



In 1968, the first year in the existence of the institution, the Calculus Centre of the University of Madrid encouraged a number of interdisciplinary meetings with a view to finding forms of application for the new tool –the computer- in different disciplines. Some of those fields of action were related with art, and so seminars like “Architectural Spaces” and “Generation of Plastic Forms” were organised (I participated in the latter from the beginning).

To me, it was a step of logical continuity with the works done in the Antes del Arte group.

The people who told me about the Centre were Mario Fernández Barberá, an IBM technician and one of the launchers of the project, and Isidro Ramos, a physicist, an analyst, and one of the first computer engineers in Spain. Also Florentino Briones and Ernesto García Camarero, at the time director and deputy director of the Centre. They had a constant interest in the convergence among Science, Art, and Technology.

The participants in the seminar from the beginning were V. Sánchez de Zabala, J. Seguí de la Riva, M. Barbadillo, J.M. Prada Poole, and myself. Later on that year, a large group of artists joined in: Soledad Sevilla, J. Alexanco, Eusebio Sempere, Elena Asins, Lily Greenham, Gerardo Delgado, etc. In the seminar we would present papers and projects and discuss about the possibilities and limits of computers in "artistic" applications.

Some of our first contributions were published in the Centre's newsletter. A compilation of the first texts was published in the academic year of 1969, from which I have drawn my published notes. Having read them 34 years later, I think that my ideas at the time were primary and naïf, but I find it timely to show them now as a document of the time together with some pictorial images for which computers were really useful; more particularly, they were useful for the systematic research of the “Impossible figures” that I did in an intuitive way.

I also think that those pioneering efforts in the 1970s, as was later proved, were the start of a line of knowledge for the study of the systematisation of some aspects in the creative process of plastic arts.