Lansdown Centre for Electronic Arts
The Lansdown Centre for Electronic Arts (LCEA) is a research centre of Middlesex University in the north of London, United Kingdom. It had a significant role in the early development of computer graphics and has continued to innovate in areas such as interactive media and sonic arts.
The Centre undertakes research and provides postgraduate and undergraduate teaching. Research-active staff include Stephen Boyd Davis (head of the Centre), Helen Bendon, John Dack (Senior Research Fellow), Magnus Moar, Ralf Nuhn (Research Fellow), Nye Parry, Nic Sandiland and Guy Sherwin. Alex Zivanovic is visiting scholar.
The Lansdown Centre is named after the computer graphics pioneer John Lansdown who was its head from 1993 until 1997. The Centre for Electronic Arts originated in 1985 (it was renamed in 2000 after Lansdown's death). Its roots lie in the still earlier work of John Vince to develop computer graphics at Middlesex University (then Middlesex Polytechnic). From the 1970s, John with others developed two suites of computer graphics subroutines in the FORTRAN programming language. PICASO (PIcture Computer Algorithms SubroutineOriented) was used to create line drawings of 2D and 3D objects and PRISM (Picaso's Raster Imaging SysteM) created full colour images with smooth Gouraud and Phong shading.
The aim of these systems was to give artists and designers access to the creative potential of digital technology. They were used for short courses which were attended by television creative producers from the BBC, Independent Television companies and the French national television service. A number of television sequences were commissioned and created. Before the availability of PRISM, television titles had to be created by frame-by-frame hand colouring of line drawings plotted directly onto transparent cel. By 1980, PICASO contained about 500 subroutines and together with its complementary rendering system PRISM, was being used by over 25 academic institutes in the UK .
In 1985, with a grant from the government's Department for Education, Middlesex became the National Centre for Computer Aided Art and Design under Paul Brown, a graduate of the Slade School of Art. By 1986, Middlesex had secured an international reputation for computer animation, setting up the UK's first MSc course in Computer Graphics. Keith Waters was the first Centre student to gain his Ph.D in 1988, with his development of a muscle-based model for facial animation.
The 2009 book White Heat Cold Logic records the pioneering role of Middlesex University (then Middlesex Polytechnic) in British computer art from 1960 to 1980. The book includes chapters by Alex Zivanovic (current Lansdown Centre visiting scholar), Paul Brown (former head of what is now the Lansdown Centre), Charlie Gere (who completed his MA and PhD at the Centre), Richard Wright (who completed his MA at the Centre) and John Vince (early pioneer of computer graphics at Middlesex). Paul Brown and Charlie Gere are also co-editors of the book, along with Nick Lambert and Catherine Mason. All were members of the CACHe project.
Mason, Catherine (2004-11-11). "A Computer in the Art Room". Futures Past: Twenty Years of Arts Computing. Proc. CHArt Conference. Volume seven. Birkbeck College, London: CHArt. ISSN 1473-2157. Retrieved 2006-11-21.
Brown, Paul; Gere, Charlie; Lambert, Nicholas; Mason, Catherine (2009). White Heat Cold Logic: British Computer Art 1960-1980. MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-02653-6.