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Read, Watch and Listen

Hajj: Journey to the heart of Islam

AHRC funded a research project at the British Museum that underpinned their 2012 international exhibition Hajj: Journey to the heart of Islam

Glasgow Memories

Read about how a fascinating repository of unique interviews about people's working lives in the twentieth century is bringing the past to life in Glasgow

Putting Portus on the map

Read about a major international collaboration that's exploring one of the most important archaeological sites in the world

How green is the Bible?

There are few issues of such pressing political and ethical importance as the impact of human activity on the environment.

Conservation 1

This image and the next one show the delicate work undertaken by the conservator. While the colours have remained astonishingly brilliant, the paper has deteriorated.  

Read, Watch and Listen

Films, feature articles, podcasts and image galleries that showcase research from across our funded themes and programmes.


A selection of feature-length articles about different aspects of AHRC-funded research.

A page from the diary

This is a very accurate colour image of a page of the diary, created by combining a series of monochrome images taken under visible light bands. Page shown DLC297b, held at the David Livingstone Centre, Blantyre, Scotland.

Identifying the spectral profile of the inks

The ink Livingstone used for much of his diary he made himself using a local berry, it faded so quickly it was barely legible when the diary was returned to the UK by H. M. Stanley in late 1871. Roger Easton (centre) collects the reflectance spectra of the inks used while team members Bill Christens-Barry, Kate Simpson and Karen Carruthers from the David Livingstone Centre assist. Image courtesy of R. B. Toth Associates.


Once the PC images are produced, the scientists examine the images to identify those that show different inks and insert these images into the red, green, and blue channels (RGB) of a "pseudocolour" (false colour) image. If the handwritten ink appears as "light" in one of the PC images and "dark" in another, then the corresponding pixels may exhibit a colour tone in the pseudocolour image that allows easier differentiation between the handwritten and printed texts. Page shown DLC297b, held at the David Livingstone Centre, Blantyre, Scotland.

The 1871 field diary

Digitally manipulated image superimposing the processed spectral image on the reproduction natural light image, allowing David Livingstone’s 1871 field diary to be read for the first time in over 140 years. Image created by Adrian Wisnicki. Page shown DLC297b, held at the David Livingstone Centre, Blantyre, Scotland.

Casey Reas

Casey Reas 1972 - 

Process 18 (Software 3)


Still image of unique custom software 

Museum number: E.297:1-2011

Reas initiated the popular open source programming language, Processing, with Ben Fry in 2001. Reas is interested in the concept of emergence, where a simple set of rules leads to a complex system. The works in his ‘Process’ series all start with a written text describing the interactions between elements, forms and behaviours. The text is then translated into machine-readable code. The resulting software, such as Process 18 can be seen as an interpretation of the original written instructions.

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London/ Casey Reas. Copyright: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 (Creative Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International)


Mark Wilson

Mark Wilson 1943 -



Digital inkjet print

Museum number: E.414-2010

In his earlier work, Wilson used a pen plotter to create highly complex monochrome images. He then switched to using inkjet printers, utilising his own pixel mapping software to create large prints such as this one.  The program selects the pixels and then maps them onto different geometric forms, such as circles or squares.  

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London/ Mark Wilson. Copyright: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 (Creative Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International)


Paul Brown

Paul Brown 1947-

Swimming Pool


Colour inkjet print

Museum number: E.994-2008

Brown uses tiling and ‘cellular automata’, simple systems that can evolve and propagate themselves. The artist employs relatively simple linear motifs in this print, but the relationship between each tile and its neighbours creates the visually intense patterns which he cannot always predict. 


Roman Verostko

Roman Verostko 1929- 

Pathway Series, Bird 2


Multi-pen plotter drawing with brush

Museum number: E. 943-2008

Verostko was one of the first artists to incorporate brush work in his computer-generated drawings, adapting a pen plotter to hold a Chinese brush.  This example includes a single plotter-driven brushstroke that uses the same ‘gesture’ as the numerous smaller pen and ink lines behind it. The three carefully placed rectangular shapes were also created by the plotter. 

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London/ Roman Verostko. Copyright: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 (Creative Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International


Barbara Nessim

Barbara Nessim 1939-

Ode to the Statue of Liberty 2


Cibachrome print of computer screen

Museum number: E.58-2013 

In 1980 Nessim was approached to participate in the Visible Language Workshop at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Although she was unable to take up the offer, she began to investigate using computers in her own work. In 1982 she obtained access to a Norpak computer system at TIME Video Information Services, and began to explore its limited range of shapes and colours. 

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London/ Barbara Nessim. Copyright: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 (Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International)


Colette and Jeff Bangert

Colette Stuebe Bangert 1934- and Charles Jeff Bangert 1938-

GRASS: series I


Plotter drawing

Museum number: E.1063-2008

The landscape of the mid-western USA is a central part of Colette and Jeff Bangert’s work. Their collaborative algorithmic drawings often reflect the changing seasons.  Colette stated, “The elements of the computer work and my hand work are often repetitive, like leaves, trees, grass… Grass is also random and random is a natural computer facility.” Since the 1980s their work has also explored disorder, revealing an increasing fascination with chaos and complexity. 

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London/ Colette and Jeff Bangert. Copyright: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 (Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International)


Manfred Mohr

Manfred Mohr 1938-




Museum number: E.58-2008

Mohr began his career as a jazz musician and expressionist painter. He started to explore the use of geometric imagery in the mid-1960s, producing his first computer-generated drawings in 1969.  In this print produced from a plotter drawing, the computer program creates a range of geometric shapes that echo some of his earlier paintings.  From 1972 onwards, Mohr has concentrated on examining the possibilities presented by the cube.  

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London/ Manfred Mohr. Copyright: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 (Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International)


Vera Molnar

Vera Molnar 1924-

Structure of Squares


Plotter drawing

Museum number: E.270-2011

Vera Molnar first started to use computers in 1968. However, her systematic method for creating art began in 1959 when she developed the concept of the Machine Imaginaire, which identified a series of hypothetical steps by which an image would be created.  Molnar imagined she had a computer and designed a program which formulated rules of behaviour. At the earliest opportunity she replaced her make believe machine with a real one.

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London/ Vera Molnar. Copyright: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 (Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International)


Frieder Nake

Frieder Nake 1938-



Plotter drawing

Museum number: E.120-2013

Nake was among the first people to exhibit computer drawings as works of art, in Stuttgart in 1964. He is also considered to be one of the founding fathers of what we now think of as computer graphics. This work was produced using an algorithm written by the artist.  Nake introduced random variables into the process, and could not fully predict the outcome.

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London/ Frieder Nake. Copyright: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 (Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International)


A. Michael Noll

A. Michael Noll 1949-

Computer Composition with Lines



Museum number: E.35-2011 

This is a photographic print of a computer-generated image created by A. Michael Noll in 1964, at Bell Labs, Murray Hill, New Jersey. The artist has stated that "This work closely mimics the painting ‘Composition with Lines’ by Piet Mondrian. When reproductions of both works were shown to 100 people, the majority preferred the computer version and believed it was done by Mondrian."

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London/ A. Michael Noll. Copyright: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 (Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International)


Desmond Paul Henry

Desmond Paul Henry 1921-2004



Mechanical pen and ink drawing

Museum number: E.377-2009

In the 1960s, D.P. Henry constructed various drawing machines from the components of analogue bombsight computers.  Henry was fascinated by the swinging motion of the machines and adapted them to accommodate pen and paper.  His drawing machines were operated electronically, but could not be programmed. 

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London/ Elaine O’Hanrahan. Copyright: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 (Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International)


Herbert W. Franke

Herbert W. Franke 1927-

Analog-Grafik P2

1970, from a photograph produced in 1955 

Silkscreen print

Museum number: E.100-2008

Franke produced his experimental photographs by moving a camera across the small screen of an oscilloscope.  He could alter the curves by using a mixing console that provided some degree of control over the image’s appearance. 

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London/ Herbert W. Franke. Copyright: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 (Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International)


Composite panorama depicting the entire dome

Composite panorama depicting the entire dome, with the original painting and plasterwork. The domed ceiling of the auditorium, which had greatly deteriorated over the years, was repaired and replastered and now requires repainting. As the remaining trompe l'oeil decoration of the dome is not original and was painted in 1985, this presented the Trust with an opportunity to commission a new design in a more contemporary style, that would become an attraction its own right and greatly enhance the King's Theatre.

Panorama of the primed dome, prepared for outlining

The entire dome spans 12m in diameter and is approximately 1.5m high giving an  approx. area of 57m2 the box shaped free standing scaffold inside the King’s theatre disconcertingly swayed as painters ascended or descended ladders, and John said “it’s like painting on a bouncy castle,”…..so if I had to make a long exposure or take shots in sequence  it had to be done when the workers were on a break and as there were teams of artists and painters this was not always easy.

Applying a soft wash similar to watercolour as a base for additional layers of paint

There was no daylight this was a problem because the artists and painters had differing lighting needs, the painters needed small 110 volt 80watt portable tungsten light at 2500k, the artists needed high power 500watt halogen lighting to maximize illumination covering large areas of the dome evenly, and to approximately match daylight at 5000k to match paint colour, every time I was on site the lighting changed as workers moved around. I needed to get a soft painterly light in my images to match the original painting but the lighting was harsh and mixed I tried various methods to get this right including flash, also a ring flash it gives a softer feel to the light but nothing worked all too harsh. Eventually I used a mix of long exposures (when the scaffolding stopped swaying) and against my better judgment increased the ISO. Increases the sensitivity of the digital sensor.

John Byrne's original design

John Byrnes original design, using acrylic and gouache on paper for the King’s theatre dome, the title  ‘All the World’s a Stage’ depicts a swirling celestial scene, where a black harlequin carries the sun through the clouds and a flame-haired woman, draped in a star-cloth banner, pushes the moon through the sky.

(No caption)

International Conscientious Objectors Day is marked around the world each year on May 15th. In July 2011 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that ‘states must respect the right to conscientious objection as part of their obligation to respect the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion', bringing European law in line with international human rights standards 

Panel two detail

Photographs of people across the panels generated readings related to family and the impact of war, particularly loss, suffering, love, absence and separation, such as “the fragility of an individual family in a wartime situation”. The photographs led some viewers to reflect on personal experiences and family histories, one viewer responding that the woman and barbed wire reminded them of “someone I knew who was in some kind of internment camp as a child in World War Two”. 

Panel three detail

Conscientious objectors and their families received white feathers as a symbol of cowardice, so these were included in both triptychs. One viewer particularly interpreted the family photo and feather as “carrying disgrace of white feather, suffering through loss and convictions of others, betrayal of country and church to support them”. Most viewers interpreted the feather as cowardice but there was some aberrant decoding, including “for pigeon carriers at the front line”, “elements of nature”, “symbol of peace and love” and “writing implement”.