Press Release

Eminent scientist inspires art and design that has a mind of its own

Dancing robots, singing sculptures and growing metal tentacles are just some of the bizarre exhibits that will feature in an exhibition of work inspired by eccentric scientist Gordon Pask, one of the forefathers of cybernetics, in Vienna.

Gordon Pask (1928-1996) was a British scientist and artist, whose work was key to the development of cybernetics – the study of systems of communication, control mechanisms and feedback. He worked in academia, the arts and industry, producing poetry, plays, interactive sculptures and teaching machines.

The ‘Pask Present’ exhibition follows the ‘Maverick Machines’, held at the University of Edinburgh last year, the first exhibition of art-work inspired by Gordon Pask. It will be held at Atelier Färbergasse, Färbergasse 6, A-1010 Vienna, from 26th March to 4th April, open daily from 13:00 to 21:00. (The opening ceremony will take place on 25th March, 19:00)

Focused on the influence of Gordon Pask today, the exhibition’s works range from the practical to the bizarre and include pieces by established artists, architects, designers, academics and students. Work has been inspired by many aspects of Gordon Pask’s work, including his interest in analogue computing and his experiments with electrochemistry

Many of the exhibits appear to have a mind of their own, such as dancing robots which interpret viewers’ expressions to decide on the most amusing routine, ‘singing’ sculptures which change the noises they produce depending on other sounds in the area around them and giant metal tentacles growing in electrified liquid.

Co-curator Richard Brown, research artist in residence at the University of Edinburgh’s School of Informatics, said: “In many ways Gordon Pask was too far ahead of his time – many of his ideas about cybernetics are only just coming into fashion now.

“Most computer scientists have a different way of thinking compared with him and don’t necessarily understand his ideas – they tend to see computers as machines which are told what to do, whereas Pask was much more interested in having a conversation with the computer.”

“Pask Present” is curated by Richard Brown, Stephen Gage, Professor of Innovative Technology and Dr Ranulph Glanville, Vice President and President elect of the American Society for Cybernetics and Professor of Architecture and Cybernetics. Both are Ranulph Glanville and Stephen Gage at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL .

The exhibition is sponsored by the Austrian Ministry of Science and Research, the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture, American Society for Cybernetics, Austrian Society for Cybernetic Studies, The Bartlett, University College London, The School of Informatics, University of Edinburgh, BLAHA office furniture, Gordon Pask archive at the Dept. of Contemporary History of the University of Vienna. The Heinz von Foerster Society, Vienna, acts as a local organiser.

Running concurrently with the exhibition is the 19th EMSCR Conference (European Meeting on Cybernetics and Systems Research at the University of Vienna) where many of the exhibitors are giving papers. Additionally there are two presentations at the Universität für Angewandte Kunst (University of Applied Arts, Vienna). On 31st March there will be a presentation of work from final diploma year and Masters students from the Interactive Architecture Workshop at the Bartlett School of Architecture. On 8th April at 1900 h Professor Glanville will give a lecture “Cybernetics for Architects.”

More details on the exhibition can be found at

On the occasion of the exhibition a catalogue will be published: Pask Present. An exhibition of art and design inspired by the work of Gordon Pask (28 June 1928 to 28 March 1996), cybernetician and artist, eds Ranulph Glanville and Albert Müller, Vienna 2008 (edition echoraum)

Another publication deals with Gordon Pask’s importance as a scientist: Gordon Pask, Philosopher Mechanic An Introduction to the Cybernetician’s Cybernetician, eds Ranulph Glanville and Karl H. Müller, Vienna 2007 (edition echoraum)


For further information, or for an invitation to the exhibition’s opening on 25 March at 7pm, please contact:

Richard Brown, School of Informatics, University of Edinburgh;

Stephen Gage, The Bartlett School of Architecture UCL London,

Ranulph Glanville, CybernEthics Research, Southsea UK,

Albert Mueller, Institut für Zeitgeschichte der Universität Wien,

Ed Nash, Press Officer, University of Edinburgh;, 0044 131 650 6382

Nadia O’Hare Communications Officer, the Bartlett School of Architecture ,UCL London

Pask Present - Färbergasse 6, A-1010 Wien || Curated by Richard Brown, Stephen Gage and Ranulph Glanville.