The Rutgers Business School


Jan Lourie’s

An Exhibit held at
John Cotton Dana Library
January – March 2008

Jan Lourie's new show metaprints: wood metal stone is a confluence of imagery from classical and contemporary architecture and sculpture. Lourie combines traditional digital compositing tools with proprietary software to create her timeless prints. Groups emerge from the same elemental images variously composited to reveal different portions and intensities of the source images.

In addition to the metaprints there is a set of vertical banners of images as originally captured. The images introduce texture into the metaprints, but have an independent interest. They are all photographs of metal taken under different conditions of time of day and year, weather, lighting..., but create the appearance of wood, metal or stone - giving the show it's title.

Lourie, a mathematician and computer scientist, explored the relationship between weaving, a skill she began to acquire at age 7, and computer graphics, a new field in the 1960s. Her research bore considerable fruit. She has a number of patents to her credit and she organized the first exhibition of computer art. In parallel she has continued to exhibit tapestry and graphic arts.

 The connection between weaving and computers goes back much further than the current era. The grid produced in weaving is, like computer output, the product of a binary process. There are only two choices - over and under. The first known ancestor of the computer was in fact invented by the Frenchman Jacquard to facilitate the process of weaving. The result was that the Jacquard loom ushered in the industrial revolution through the business of producing textiles. Later Jacquard’s punched card system of directing a loom to weave fabric became the functional ancestor of the computer. The Countess of Lovelace said of Babbage's Analytical Engine (developed c. 1833-1840) "it will weave equations the way the Jacquard loom weaves flowers".

 The translation of real-world images into a form that could be manipulated by computer and then reproduced as the usable product of weaving was the piece supplied to this process by Lourie.  She developed the first complete system (CAD/CAM computer-aided design, computer-aided manufacture) to do this in 1967. A pavilion at the San Antonio Hemisfair was dedicated to the demonstration of her process. This show metaprints: wood metal stone represents a full circle of Lourie’s activities involving the binary processes connecting the loom, the computer and creative graphics.


Critiques by Tom Fels, Laura Kruger
Also see Wayne Eastman's blog: Creativity in Art, Technology, and Business

Sample of scholarly works by the artist:
J. R. Lourie, Loom-constrained designs: an algebraic solution,. Proceedings of. ACM National Conference 1969, 185-192
J. R. Lourie, Alice M. Bonin: Computer-controlled textile designing and weaving. IFIP Congress (2) 1968: 884-891
J. R. Lourie: Topology and Computation of the Generalized Transportation Problem MANAGEMENT SCIENCE 1964 11: 177-187

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Reception, presentation & discussion
Common Ground: 
Creativity in Art,
Technology, & Business

March 10, 2008

For practitioners in the arts, technology, and business, the creative materials are different. We consider a common process for bringing something new into existence. The process and resulting model are derived from linking two works -- one by the mathematician Jacques Hadamard and the other by the economist and computer scientist Herbert Simon.

The artist and Rutgers Professors
Fariborz Damanpour, Wayne Eastman,
and Farrokh Langdana engage in a panel discussion on Creativity,

Prof. Lee Papayanopoulos, Moderator