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John Lansdown project

The John Lansdown Project is uncovering the important work and influence of British Computer Arts pioneer R. John Lansdown (1929-1999) through researching his personal archive. As a result of our work, the archive is being made more accessible to other researchers and Lansdown's work will be visible to a wider audience.


R. John Lansdown was Professor, Dean and ultimately Professor Emeritus at Middlesex University, and co-founded the Computer Arts Society in 1968. The Lansdown Centre for Electronic Art was named after him and when he passed away his archive was donated to the University. Our research into his archive will help us uncover more about an important part of the University's history.

There is also a wider, growing interest in the history of computer arts. This is demonstrated initiatives such as the Arts & Humanities Research Council -funded CACHe project, which saw the acquisition of the archive of the Computer Arts Society by the Victoria and Albert Museum. However, until now, little work has been done to uncover the life and works of Lansdown himself.

Our research

Our Research Curator has a three-year funded post, which started in May 2012. So far we have discovered many important documents and records relating to the wide and varied interests of Lansdown, including architecture, artificial intelligence, performance art, dance and poetry. This was is represented in the archive not only by the work of Lansdown himself, but also by other known pioneers of British Computer Art such as Colin Emmett and Harold Cohen.

Lansdown's work in an international context, particularly his contributions to debates on both sides of the Atlantic, and his extensive writings and educational work, are also a fundamental component to this archive.

Funder: Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art and Architecture
Lead researchers: Dr Simone Gristwood and Dr Stephen-Boyd Davis (Royal College of Art)

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