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Kathryn Farley, Generative Systems


Generative Systems
An integral feature of Professor Sheridan’s approach to teaching centered on her insistence that students be provided ample opportunity in a class session to explore a variety of production technologies and creation techniques. She surmised that hands-on experimentation with different mechanical instruments and exposure to the scientific precepts upon which they were based would lead to the discovery of new ways of making, thinking about and analyzing works of art. In her courses, Professor Sheridan was especially keen to probe the connections between scientific and artistic methods of study, and to locate the points of convergence between two or three seemingly dissimilar systems of production. How might mechanical, scientific and creative processes, she wondered, be combined to produce new options and resources for artists? Further, in what ways could heat, light and sound serve as tools for imaging?

The testing of “processes” took on many forms in the Generative Systems classroom. Working under the supervision of Professor Sheridan and an intimate group of graduate teaching assistants, students conducted experiments with a host of technologies, including various types of photocopiers, facsimile machines, computers, video cameras, tape recorders. (1) The experiments focused on a variety of issues, but most often they concerned the testing of energy transformation and the expansion and compression of time as related to image generation. In this interview excerpt, Professor Sheridan discuses the ways in which classroom experimentation with natural phenomenon gave rise to her own understanding of the connections between biology and technology. (b)

Kathryn Farley © 2007 FDL

(1) To learn about the equipment used in Generative Systems classes, please access the portion of this section that provides details on technical devices.