George Legrady is an internationally exhibited and published artist, author and scholar, whose practice and research have explored since the mid-1980s the potential of born-digital processes for fine arts practice. He is a pioneer in the integration of computation with fine arts photographic practice. His research, teaching and projects contribute to the ongoing historical and contemporary developments of how technologies transform visual content to result in new kind of representations. His artistic works, teaching and writings address the intersections of computation, data, photographic visualizations resulting in works-on-paper, multi-image lenticular panels, time-based animations, and digital interactive data-based installations.
Born in Budapest, Hungary. Emigrated to Montreal, Canada under political refugee status. Attended French elementary school where he specialized in classical piano, followed by English High-School. Between ages of 14 to 20 earned part-time living in construction, factory work, underground mining, and as a rock and roll, and night club musician. At age 20, travelled for a year in Europe and the Middle East. Practiced documentary photography (1971-1975) followed by a conceptual approach exploring the semantics and syntax of the photographic image. He attended Loyola College in Montreal, Goddard College in Vermont, and received a Masters of Fine Arts in photography at the San Francisco Art Institute in 1976. His first major project was a photographic documentary of life in the northern James Bay indigenous Cree communities in 1973 at the time of their negotiations over land rights and self-determination. His artistic work transitioned to studio, staged photography (1977-1984).In 1981 he met the Artificial Intelligence artist Harold Cohen who gave him access to his studio where he learned computer programming on a DEC PDP-11 mainframe computer. Between 1986-1990 he realized a series of "born digital" still images that integrated concepts and references from Fine Arts photography, conceptual art, Barthes' visual semiotics, Shannon's Information Theory, Brownian motion, image processing and computer graphics, and the practice of creative coding. Between 1992 and 2010 he realized a number of interactive, data visualization installations focused on the classification and analysis of digital data implementing various advanced machine-learning algorithms. Since 2011 to the present, he has explored the potential of computation for expression and analysis of the photographic image. During the past 6 months, his practice and research have addressed the transformative technological and cultural challenges of generative AI image synthesis.
His artworks are in the collection of the San Francisco Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Canada, the Centre Pompidou Museum, Paris, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the musée d’art contemporain in Montreal, the Philbrook Museum of Art, the Smithsonian Institution, the ZKM (Center for Art and Media), Europe's most important digital media museum, 21c Museum and others. Legrady has realized a number of permanent public commissions that include the Santa Monica/Vermont Los Angeles Metro Rail entrance (2007), the Corporate Executive Board (Arlington) (2009), and the Seattle Central Library (2005-present), a data visualization installation that may be the longest running such project to-date.
George Legrady is distinguished professor of Digital Media and directs the Experimental Visualization Lab. He is former chair of the Media Arts & Technology (2013-2017) graduate program at UC Santa Barbara. He recently held a Visiting Professional Fellowship at the Centre for Interactive Cinema at the University of New South Wales, and also a Visiting Scholar position in the Diaspora Lab at the Institut des Mines-Télécom, Paristech. Previous to UCSB, he directed the digital media graduate program at the Merz Akademie for Visual Communication in Stuttgart, co-directed the Information Arts/Conceptual Design program at the San Francisco State University, photography faculty in the Visual Arts dept. at the University of Southern California, visiting faculty at the California Institute for the Arts, and faculty in photography at the University of Western Ontario. He is a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow recipient in Visual Arts, 2016.