Research Timeline

The Shape of a Thinking Thing: A self-diagramming drawing data collection project funded by the Graduate School Fund
03/21
04/21
05/21
06/21
07/21
08/21
09/21
10/21
11/21
12/21
01/22
02/22
03/22
04/22
05/22
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New work: Fictional Politician. Video, 3 min.
Creating character voiceovers for AI-generated portrait images of people that don't exist. 
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New work: The Hospital of Happiness. Video, 12 min.
Creating character voiceovers for AI-generated portrait images of people that don't exist. 
Supervision report (M)
Reading: Dawkins, R. The Blind Watchmaker (1991). My reflections on algorithmic design in cumulative selection found here.
Experimented with simple evolutionary algorithms that evolve 'English sounding' sentences.
Reading: Frow, J. Character and Person (2014). Ward, M. Seeming Human: Artificial Intelligence and the Victorian Realist Character (2018).
CHASE proposal for departmental stage of selection (successful)
Supervision report (G)
Question: Can the dual mechanism of a code and its ‘expression’ contribute to a revised model of autonomous systems broadly and agents or persons specifically? Could this model be used to engineer a fictional character that could pass a Turing test?
Supervision report (M)
Reading: Dennett, D. C. Real Patterns (1991)
Experiment: Use GPT-2 to generate autocompletions of my performance text, which starts with the phrase, "Are you aware, that between 20-22% of things that happen, actually don't happen?" with varying substitutions for that percentage.
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Art Research PresentationBreathing Space for Voices by Rowena Harris, Erica Scourti & myself. I presented a performance in which I become a fictional character, and followed this with a presentation called Accommodating Others: The Role of Author as Medium, which later formed the basis of a thesis chapter.
Teaching: Began teaching BA CS Y1
Rehearsing & developing three short performances for exhibition at Elephant West: Twenty PercentLong Term Ethics and The Widow.
Supervision report (G)
Supervision report (M)
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New work: Preparation. Video, 12 min.
On the morning of my performance at Elephant West I was feeling nervous, and decided to talk to myself about the task at hand through the prism of another fictional character.
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I exhibited drawing, film and performance at Ridiculous! curated by Paul Carey-Kent, at Elephant West. The three performances involved assuming three different characters that expound passionately on a potentially dubious view.
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Art Research Installation: Here I presented Personal Metrics, in which I performed three characters and then asked the audience to fill out personality questionnaires based on their impressions of each fictional character.
Met and started conversation with psychology researcher Sylvia Terbeck of Liverpool University after her talk at Goldsmiths (Whitehead Lecture Series)
Idea: To collaborate on an experiment to test potential therapeutic benefit of my performance method (ST) and to find out about the relationship between the self-estrangment method and the self-complexity psychological measure (KR).
Question: Is ‘character’ a technology of the self which both enables and demarcates the limits of what is thinkable to a person? If so, could a fictional character be a prototype of general AI?
UK Covid-19 lockdown begins
Joined an independent research groupIntelligence Debiased, run by Exposed Arts. Over a period of a year, we will research and discuss non-human or unconventially considered forms of intelligence - my focus is on 'character intelligence'.
Thesis section: Completed first draft of Accommodating Others: The Role of Author as Medium.
Idea: Maybe method comes before question in an art practice? A question might be the final outcome of an art PhD. I might present my thesis in chapter 'pairs': artwork paired with reflection/theory (e.g. Pseudo with Accommodating Others)
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New workSelf-Estrangement as Method, Pt I

In the Intelligence Debiased research group, we decided to share some of our artistic methodologies for others to try unfamiliar methods. Part 1 is a tutorial on the 'self-estrangement' method I use in my performance making.
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New workSelf-Estrangement Methods, Pt II

While part I attempts to neutrally introduce my method, part II demonstrates its application to the topic of our research: intelligence. In this video I switch into a different character. But in the 'neutral' tutorial, I also seem to be performing. When am I not?
Funding: received departmental Research Support Award to translate a performance text (A Ritual Resuscitation of Eternal Lovers) into Arabic, Italian and Lithuanian.
Idea: My efforts at direct activism over the past couple of months seemed futile. My art practice is the best way for me to intervene politically in the world, even if indirectly. My practice seeks to estrange the ideological foundations of personhood. Maybe that's not a superfluous ambition, even in crisis.
Annual Review Panel: I presented the first chapter of Anomaline and Self-Estrangement as Method: Part 2.
Supervision report (G)
Supervision report (M)
Ethics Form
Writing for Practice Forum: I read two chapters of Anomaline alongside Dennett's Real Patterns (1991) with the group, and with artist Andy Holden as respondent. 
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New work: Horse. Ink on paper, A3.
I'm not sure that this is connected to this research project, but I spent some of lockdown returning to older work, such as these empathy drawings. It's been about five years since I made the last one. They conjure for me some of the sensibilities running through Anomaline.
Free writing for Anomaline
New IterationA Ritual Resuscitation of Eternal Lovers.

This older-than-the-phd project helps me think about the play script as a computational mechanism for cultivating agents.
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Teaching: Completed Academic Practice module (passed). Created a BA Critical Studies 1 lecture with commentary.
Lecture: Authors and Agents (video rehearsal)
New IterationA Ritual Resuscitation of Eternal Lovers.

This older-than-the-phd project helps me think about the play script as a computational mechanism for cultivating agents.
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New work: Neighbours. Video, 15 min.
Improvised video performance playfully processing a soup of recent readings and experiences.
Took over as organiser of the Writing for Practice Forum from Rowena Harris & Kate Pickering.
Question: Can performance art / acting show that roleplay (both the kind we do automatically in the daily practice of living, and the more deliberate kind), in the sense of ‘taking on a character’, be a factor in the discrimination of ideas, or a factor in ideation?
Anomaline: Wrote Reclaiming the Pen chapter.
Method: reflections on the role of practice in research
Do my characters have an 'agenda'?
06/22
07/22
08/22
09/22
Submit examination entry form
Teaching: presented my BA lecture, Authors and Agents at to WCA and Camberwell students.
Reading: Dennett, D. C. Freedom Evolves (2003)
CHASE college internal selection (unsuccessful)
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New work: Time Off. Video, 4 min.
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New work: Beyond Recognition. Video, 19 min.
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New work: Politics of Inner Self. Video, 42 min.

I converse in realtime with one of my fictional characters on the subject of distributed personhood. Presented as my Art Research Presentation on 27 Oct 2020.
Supervision report (M)
Performed Pseudo at the Online Performance Art Festival
Supervision report (M & G)
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New work: Compartments. Sound and AI-generated portrait image of imaginary person. 19 min.
Reading: studies on bi/multicultural frame switching 
Thesis chapter: Drafted sections on Politics of Inner Self & Frame Switching
Anomaline: began finishing first draft of the novel, picking up from “Reclaiming the Pen”.
Teaching: Attained PG-Cert Qualification
Teaching: PG-Cert Module 3 Submission
Online ResidencyFailures and Repetitions; Five Years Gallery. 15-21st Feb 2021
Anomaline: First draft of the novel completed.
Reading: critical pedagogy theory (By Freire, Carpenter & Mojab) 
Anomaline: Revised final third of the novel.
Anomaline: Second draft of the novel completed.
Supervision report (M)
Supervision report (M)
Annual Review Panel
Thesis: New abstract
Supervision report (G)
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New work: Homo Horizontalis. Video, 14 min.
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New work: The Trickle Traitor Effect. Video, 6 min.


Improvised video performance.
Teaching: Delivered Authors and Agents lecture and drawing experiment to MA Drawing students, Camberwell College of Arts, 5th July
Supervision report (M)
Upgrade: Completed my upgrade submission materials.
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New 'talking drawing' experiment, 30 min.


Making a drawing and talking about it whilst 'in character'
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New work: Paradolia. Video, 8 min.
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New work: Ideas Management. Video, 5 min.
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Began experimenting with using 'inconventient emotions' to inform the choice of character.

This one is made after feeling exhuasted, 6 min.
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Began experimenting with using dance in the development of character.

This is one of many takes. I am trying to use subtle movements, 3 min.
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New work: The Man on the Ceiling. Video, 9 min.

This work took advantage of an 'inconvenient emotion' (see right), in this case 'exasperation'.
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Began experimenting with making video research notes 'in character'.

Simply talking aloud about my research from the perspective of an invented persona.
Published The Shape of a Thinking Thing in Goldsmiths PhD publication 
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New workIndividual Relic. Video, 4 min. Video by Nina Davies and text by me.

This was a collaborative experiment in which I wrote a text response to TikTok memes Nina showed me.
ReadingEnacting Others, Cerise Smith & My Mother Was a Computer, N Katherine Hayles
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New work: Suburbia. Video, 8 min.


Improvised video performance.
Exhibition: Old and recent work shown in Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2021, Firstsite Gallery, Colchester.
Exhibition: Old and recent work shown in Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2021, South London Gallery.
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Began writing video thesis: This video introduces me to students at Glasgow School of Art, following an invitation to teach there for the autumn semester. The video presentation provides an initial sketch for how I might write my video thesis.
Idea: Write a video thesis. This will be a playlist of video lectures in which I speak my thesis. It will be a more accessible and intuitive version of the thesis.
Teaching: Began teaching at Glasgow School of Art
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Autobiography of the Question: I presented a response at this postgraduate seminar held at Goldsmiths. It got me thinking more deeply about the idea of "occupying a position" and examining some assumptions that underlie this phrase.
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Art Research Presentation: For my art research presentation, I created a section of my video thesis called "Running Over States of Mind". In the presentation, I ask: which character(s) ought to be doing the thinking in this project?
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Video Thesis Methodology: I made this video for my supervisors and Edgar Schmitz, but it functions as a draft for an introductory passage in the video thesis.

By now I have developed a clearer idea of the form the thesis should take.
Idea: I present the case for the extension of concerns about diversity beyond the level of the social agent and toward the human being itself. This has implications for how we think about "positionality" and personal authenticity. It opens the potential for a politics of 'inner self'.
Art Research Installation: "Letter to the Dominant Character". A screening of recent video works and a text written 'in-character'. Followed up by a conversation with curator Clara Rodorigo.
A Ritual Resuscitation of Eternal Lovers showing at South London Gallery, 19 Feb, as part of New Writing with New Contemporaries.
Online Course: Mathematics for Machine Learning by Imperial College London
Thesis: Wrote Chapter 5: Classes of Character and a Politics of Inner Self
Exhibition: Group show of PhD Art's recent work at the St James Hatcham Building
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New work: Coaxing the Lofty Other. Video, 19 minutes 51 seconds, 2021.
Upgrade Viva passed
Supervision report (G)
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Started making introspective performances. I initiate the performance method, but comment throughout on the method itself and how I am making decisions. The document forms a basis for reflecting on the 'transition' from an initial character into another.
Supervision report (S)
Supervision report (S)
Supervision report (S)
Thesis section: Wrote the Prologue: Developing a Research Character
Teaching: Professional Practice talk for MLitt & MA Curating at the Glasgow School of Art
Question: What is the relationship between a code and 'running' it, and how can that inform an attempt to script for an agent in fiction?
Supervision report (S)
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Started a new series of 8 performance experiments. They are designed to address 'hypothesis 2' of the thesis, that character is the shape of thought available to the human being at the time of adopting it. In these performances I place all my attention on inhabiting character, and allow the story I tell to grow out of that.
Thesis: Wrote Chapter 7: Conclusion
Supervision report (G)
Thesis: Wrote Chapter 1: Self-Estrangement as Method
Teaching: Delivered Teaching Originality in the Age of Machine Learning at The Glasgow School of Art's Teaching and Learning Conference, June 2022
Annual Review Panel: I submitted my Prologue Developing a Research Character and a video, Coaxing the Lofty Other
Thesis: Wrote Chapter 2: The Shape of a Thinking Thing
Thesis: Wrote Chapter 3: Code and Expression
Thesis: Wrote Chapter 4: Character, Climates and Formulas
Thesis: Wrote Chapter 6: The Holographic Human: A Romance of Many Dimensions
Thesis: Print, bind and submit for examination
UK Covid-19 restrictions end