Extending the Glass Chain

Cath Keay (Artist)

    Research output: Other contribution


    ‘Extending the Glass Chain –100 years on’ was a three-year research project funded by the Leverhulme Trust (£90K), exploring digital manufacturing and collaborative creativity through responses to the methodologies and intent of the 1919 Gläserne Kette (GK) ‘utopian correspondence’, a chain letter between architects that formed the basis of German Expressionist architecture.

    Leading up to the centenary in 2019, Keay undertook extensive research at leading archives (Akademie der Kunst Berlin, CCA Montreal, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Wenzel Hablik Museum) to analyse original work by GK for evidence that they anticipated today’s generative materials and manufacturing technologies, then gathering an international group of leading practitioners in art and architecture to exchange ideas and responses across disciplinary and geographic boundaries. Keay led them to co-create innovative interdisciplinary artwork for exhibition in the UK and Australia, in which the artist herself produced glass sculptures, relief prints and virtual environments modelled on scans of geological samples. Participants in this contemporary GK were then invited to write pseudonymous accounts in the spirit of the original epistolary correspondence.

    The project established that although the GK’s utopian Expressionism has been under-researched compared with rational Modernism, their visions of materials that grow organically anticipates cutting-edge materialism, algorithmic design and generative manufacturing. Their anonymised collaborations are striking antecedents of today’s artists’ collectives and open-source creativity.

    Keay is sole editor of a publication on the findings of this project, with a contextualising chapter by Iain Boyd Whyte, the foremost authority on the historic movement. This unique re-examination of the GK’s significance to contemporary material culture and 3D creativity introduces new expressive thinking from Keay and collaborators on innovative ways to create across disciplines in the digital era. It juxtaposes images of startling new physical, lens-based and virtual artworks and speculative architectures with previously unpublished archival drawings.
    Original languageEnglish
    TypeMulti Component Output
    PublisherUniversity of Dundee
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


    Dive into the research topics of 'Extending the Glass Chain'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
    • An Extraordinary Gathering

      Cath Keay (Organiser), Rachel Harkness (Organiser) & Mike Inglis (Organiser)

      24 Apr 201825 Apr 2018

      Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

    • Concurrent#3

      Cath Keay (Participant)

      25 Feb 2017

      Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

    Cite this