#37 INTRODUCTION TO COMPUTATION
How might computational approaches inform contemporary graphic design practices? Could programming or computational systems be the future of the graphic design? Issue #37 of GRAPHIC discusses the validity and possibilities of computational approaches today and in the future, as well as exploring the experiences of graphic designers using computation in their work.



EDITORIAL
How might computational approaches inform contemporary graphic design practices?
The use of mathematical calculations, or “computation,” is most commonly associated with using algorithms in programming, and may at first seem distant, if not daunting, for one who sets out to consider the implications of using computation in design. What is certainly paramount to the field of computer science, computation and computational approaches are far from receiving neither widespread appreciation nor comprehensive understanding when brought in tandem with graphic design.

Here in this special issue dedicated to this very topic, we seek to delineate the quintessential nature of using computation, not only as a means to govern automatic and algorithmic production of an object but also as a logical thinking process for design. In our current software environment “computational” is often mistaken for “computer-aided,” an oversight that may be contributing to the controversy regarding the necessity of computation in design, other than for building apps or websites. There is, however, an irreversible divide between what the two denominations indicate: while “computer-aided” methods utilise symbolic objects defined in existing software tools (e.g. Adobe’s Creative Suite), “computational” approaches are taken to build one’s own logical model with the use of linguistic and systematic power of computers. What is “computational” is, thereby, systematic in nature and written in code. Furthermore it is only computation, not computer-aided methods, that can drive designer inquiries and defining of parameters beyond the boundaries established by tools and effects in existing software applications.

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For our issue “Introduction to Computation,” we have invited designers and writers with whom we explore several tangible experiences of using computation and discuss the validity and wide-ranging possibilities of computational approaches in graphic design today and in the future. The potency of computation in graphic design is certainly manifold. Here, for our first issue dedicated to the topic of computation, our inquiries are limited yet focused on uncovering the core ideas such as abstraction, rules and parameters, roles of logic and characteristics of designer-led and code-driven systems. As a final thought, our outlook of this issue considers: Could programming or computational systems be the future of the graphic design?


CONTRIBUTORS
A2/SW/HK, Adrian Shaughnessy, Andrew LeClair, Andrew Blauvelt, Benedikt Groß, Catalogtree, Ellen Lupton, Erik van Blokland, Frederike Huygen, Hansje van Halem, Jonathan Puckey, Jürg Lehni, Ken Frederick, LUST, MuirMcNeil, Rob Giampietro