New research material

Thanks to Adam Waterton, Librarian at the Royal Academy of Arts, London new research sources on the history of computer generated art in the UK, as well as on Chris Crabtree could be found. To access our updated bibliography please see ‘Resources’ and the correspondence below…

Hi Sabrina,

This sounds a very interesting project; I just came across your blog ( while I was searching for information about Chris Crabtree!

We have the following book in the RA Library on the history of computer generated art in the UK, which mentions Chris Crabtree a few times, (mostly in relation to the Department of Experiment at Slade):

 A computer in the art room: the origins of British computer arts 1950-80 / Catherine Mason ; foreword by Professor Clive Richards. JJP Publishing, 2008.

 We also hold the following two exhibition catalogues:

Transformations: the fine art print and the computer: the integration of computers, print technology and printmaking
. London: Chelsea College of Art and Design, 1996

Summary: an exhibition of work from a research project at Camberwell College of Arts and Chelsea College of Art and Design

The exhibition was held at The London Institute Gallery, 65 Davies Street, London, 20 March – 12 April 1996. With introduction by Pat Gilmour and texts by Tristan Humphries (project leader), George Whale, Naren Barfield, Tim O’Riley, and Tony Wilson

Computers & Printmaking: an exhibition featuring work from a joint research project at Camberwell College of Arts and Chelsea College of Art and Design; The London Institute; The Integration of Computers within Fine Art Practice.
Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, 18 September to 5 December 1999

Texts by Tessa Sidey, Paul Coldwell, Sue Gollifer and Stephen Bury. Features the work of Richard Hamilton, Tim O’Riley, Tristan Humphries, Naren Barfield, Paul Coldwell, Jeffrey Edwards

And the following, which may be of peripheral interest:

Painting the digital river : how an artist learned to love the computer. 
J. Faure Walker. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 2006.

You’re welcome to borrow any of the above.

I’ve carried out a search on JSTOR and other online resources and found the following papers on computer generated art which refer to Chris Crabtree:

Computer Art & Output: The Impassive Line by Professor Paul Coldwell, Chelsea College of Art & Design. In: CAT 2010 London Conference, 3 February.
“However the then research assistant in printmaking [at Slade], Chris Crabtree, himself well versed in programming had begun to be involved in the experimental department and was developing computer drawings that would then be realised through photo etching or lithography.”

Computer art: recent trends by B. Reffin Smith,  72 Cambridge Gardens, London W10, UK
InComputer-Aided Design, Volume 7, Issue 4, October 1975, Pages 225–228
AbstractThe computer is seen as having three roles in art, ranging from its simplest and least artistic use as a tool, to its use as a development and creative aid where an algorithm or procedure is processed to see what patterns emerge. Major developments in computer art are described and examples of applications are given. A rapid growth in creative use of the computer is forecast.

“… numerical outputs. Typical of art workers who see the computer emphatically as a tool is Chris Crabtree, Slade School of Fine Art, London. He produces images of  geometrical objects under various simulated lighting conditions. In …”

Computer (aided) art by R.D Parslow
In: Computer-Aided Design, Volume 2, Issue 3, Spring 1970, Pages 22–28
Abstract Art is normally a controversial subject, but when the computer is introduced it becomes even more so. In this paper the author takes a look at not only the more common forms of graphic art but also choreography for ballet, fight routines, slapstick comedy …

Computer Art: Pictures Composed of Binary Elements on a Square Grid by Michael Thompson
In: Leonardo, Vol. 10, No. 4 (Autumn, 1977), pp. 271-276

Creative Participatory Behavior in a Programmed World by Stephen Bell
Leonardo, Vol. 28, No. 3 (1995), pp. 171-176
“During the period when I was at the Slade, artists lecturing there who had a particular influence on my work were Chris Briscoe, Julian Sullivan and Chris Crabtree. Among the students were Peter Beyls (see [6]) and Paul Brown (editor of Fine Art Forum). In the mid- to late-seventies, the Experimental and Electronic studio of the Slade offered a rare, if not unique, opportunity for art students in the United Kingdom to use computer technology in their work. Examples of Briscoe’s and Crabtree’s work are in Donald Michie and Rory Johnston, The Creative Computer (New York: Viking, 1984; Harmondsworth, England: Pelican Books, 1985)”

Let me know if you would like copies of any of the above papers. The last one refers to a book called The Creative Computer (1985); it doesn’t look like UCL library holds a copy of this. If they can’t get a copy for you on inter-library loan, let me know and I will see if I can borrow it for you.

The only other catalogue I came across which includes the work of Chris Crabtree is the following, a copy of which is held at the Tate Britain Library:

Working information. 3, 6 artists : Beyls, Briscoe, Crabtree, Scrivener, Sullivan, Viner. London : Produced by Jean Spencer, 1978.

General note:    Limited ed. of 250 numbered copies.
Local note: Accompanied by a sound cassette which is shelved with the audio visual material: AV (41)7.036″197″ WOR.
Person as subject:           Briscoe, Chris; Crabtree, Chris; Scrivener, Stephen;
Sullivan, Julian; Viner, Darrell; Beyls, Peter




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