Between System and Improvisation: The Design Language of Donald Judd’s “100 Untitled Works in Mill Aluminum”

Mahyar Hadighi, Mehrdad Hadighi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


In this paper, shape grammar is implemented as a computational design methodology to analyze the design language of Donald Judd’s “100 untitled works in mill aluminum”—permanently installed at the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, TX. Judd (1928–1994), an American artist, writer, and critic installed 100 aluminum objects—with the exact same outer dimensions (41″×51″×72″) but unique configuration, “all made from ½” mill aluminum plates—over a four-year period from 1982 through 1986 in two former artillery sheds of a de-commissioned US military base. The question we are seeking to answer is whether these 100 works belong to a system, and, if so, what that system is and what delimits the system to produce 100 objects and no more. Our hypothesis, having spent considerable time examining the works and exploring the archival materials, is that there is a system, but the system is tempered by improvisational moments at multiple junctures in the project. We are interested in deciphering the system, but also the moments of artistic improvisation by Judd. The project is significant in relation to serial art works of the 50’s and 60’s. We have been calling them “serial” assuming there is a serial order and a system in their repetition and variation, but this very issue has not been researched in the context of the present work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationComputer-Aided Architectural Design. INTERCONNECTIONS
Subtitle of host publicationCo-computing Beyond Boundaries - 20th International Conference, CAAD Futures 2023, Selected Papers
EditorsMichela Turrin, Charalampos Andriotis, Azarakhsh Rafiee
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media Deutschland GmbH
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9783031371882
StatePublished - 2023
Event20th International Conference on Computer-Aided Architectural Design Futures, CAAD Futures 2023 - Delft, Netherlands
Duration: Jul 5 2023Jul 7 2023

Publication series

NameCommunications in Computer and Information Science
Volume1819 CCIS
ISSN (Print)1865-0929
ISSN (Electronic)1865-0937


Conference20th International Conference on Computer-Aided Architectural Design Futures, CAAD Futures 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Computer Science
  • General Mathematics

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