Chance and Control: Art in the Age of Computers Events programmes


All events were held at The Old Library, Northgate Street, Chester, CH1 2EF
Wednesday 21 August
Chance and Control: Douglas Dodds Lecture
5-6pm | £3 | Booking required

For more than fifty years, artists, scientists and programmers have used computer software to create innovative artworks that explore aspects of chance and control. In this lecture Douglas Dodds will provide an overview of the history of digital art and design, highlighting artworks in the Chance and Control exhibition and the Victoria and Albert Museum’s collection.

Douglas Dodds is a Senior Curator in the V&A’s Word and Image Department, which holds the Museum’s collections of prints, drawings, paintings, photographs and digital artworks. Douglas is the lead curator for Chance and Control, and he is also responsible for the V&A’s internationally important digital art collection. Previous exhibitions include Digital Pioneers (2009-10) and Barbara Nessim: An Artful Life (2013).

Saturday 31 August
Light seeking stickbots workshop
12 – 4pm | £5 | Booking required

Join the Owl Project in an afternoon of making analog crawling robots that respond to light. Inspired by William Grey Walter’s Mechanical Tortoises and Valentino Braitenberg’s Vehicles we will make simple moving bots that will roam the gallery floor. Alongside constructing the robots we will be tracking the movement of these artificial life forms and make a series plotted drawings that you will be able to take home with you.

Owl Project is an art collective formed by Simon Blackmore, Antony Hall and Steve Symons. They work with wood and electronics to create music-making machines that fuse sound art with sculpture. Notable works include 2012 Cultural Olympiad commission ~Flow, a large-scale floating installation which sonified the flow and salinity of the River Tyne using a range of hand-crafted machines, and the iLog, commissioned by Crafts Council UK. They are based in Rogue studios, Manchester UK.

Suitable for families.


Friday 6 September
Making a Dimension: Digital Image-Making Workshop
1:00 – 3:00pm | £5 | Booking required

Join artist Emily Tilzey to learn digital image-making techniques and create your own drawing, photograph and text-based compositions.

Half of the world's population are active web users, which makes it one of the most accessible visual tools available. Recognising phones, tablets and computers as valid spaces to create art, this workshop will encourage participants to explore new ways of image-making through technology and their imagination, inspired by the exhibition Chance and Control: Art in the Age of Computers.

Tilzey will also teach digital drawing and painting techniques, including exploring abstraction, for those who want to learn about digital art. No previous experience necessary. Suitable for ages 14+.


Emily Tilzey is a contemporary artist living and working in Manchester. Tilzey’s practice is influenced by the human condition, exploring and contemplating the delicacy of our existence. Predominantly working with drawing, painting, sculpture and digital processes, her work visualises the reflective dimension that exists between our everyday action and experience and our somatic being.

Saturday 7 September
Sam Meech: Strange Loops
1:00 – 3:00pm | Free | drop-in

Get hands on with feedback systems in video art as artist Sam Meech sets up studio for the afternoon within Chance and Control: Art in the Age of Computers at the Old Library. Using a variety of video cameras, monitors, projections, analogue mixers and digital video software, you can explore the wonderful world of strange loops.

Video feedback systems enable complex forms and organic patterns to be generated through simple rules and arrangements of equipment. These emergent patterns and fractals are unpredictable, self sustaining and utterly mesmerising. 

Feedback forms have fascinated artists (Paik, Vasulkas, Doser) and scientists (Crutchfield, Hofstadter) alike since the early 60s, as a way of thinking about everything from chaos theory and pattern formation, to biological growth, cellular automata and even consciousness itself! 

Suitable for all ages.

Sam Meech is an artist based in Manchester who enjoys combining old school analogue processes with digital tools to create interactive art and moving image works. His latest project, PORTALS uses feedback systems and projection mapping to create an interactive sci-fi experience. PORTALS has been touring libraries in the North West thanks to the Arts Council, and has been long listed for the Lumen Arts Prize.

Sunday 8 September
Closing event: the Nexus collective    
1 – 4pm | Free | drop-in

After a great set in the Old Library in July, we welcome back Nexus collective to close Chance and Control: Art in the Age of Computers. Playing downtempo, tonal and glitchy records within the gallery, this is the perfect audio response to close the exhibition.

Drop-in and expect off-kilter beats, deep drone, computer-generated samples, skewed percussion and mechanistic sounds. They will also be responding to Analívia Cordeiro’s seminal video work ‘M3x3’, which features in the exhibition.

This free, drop-in event is one last chance to view the exhibition alongside live music.

About Nexus:
The Nexus collective have been supplying Chester with the highest quality techno for over two years now, developing from a nomadic ad-hoc party to a regular event welcoming the finest guests from across the UK, Europe and further afield to an inclusive, friendly, intimate, no phones allowed on the dancefloor.

Chance and Control: Art in the Age of Computers

Since the 1960s, artists and programmers have used computers to create prints, drawings, paintings, photographs and digital artworks.

Chance and Control draws on the V&A’s rich international collection of computer-generated art and includes work by pioneering digital artists such as Frieder Nake and Georg Nees – who produced some of the earliest computer art – through to the younger generation of artists practicing today.

It offers viewers the rare opportunity to trace the chronological development of digital art, exploring how aspects of chance and control shaped the creative process and produced vivid and original artworks.

Created by the V&A – touring the nation.

Primary exhibition funder the Tyrer Charitable Trust.

Thanks to exhibition funders The Westminster Foundation, and supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.