With the recent turn to online education, I’ve reformatted the Parallel Worlds course I run at the Master Institute of Visual Cultures to be an open access podcast – so anyone can listen and take part. The course is about using practices from world-building to augment and enhance your existing creative practice.
There are a few weeks’ worth of daily activities, as well as interviews with strong voices from within the field (Sarah Lugthart, Amy Butt, and Abi Palmer). The daily activities take about 20 minutes, so (hopefully) you can fit them around whatever else you do.
I’ve also transcribed all of the episodes so that they’re accessible to people who find it easier to read, or use a translation tool to convert to a non-English language. All of the transcriptions are available on the course website at parallel.olliepalmer.com/podcast
Both courses are open access, and run from their own websites, so anybody can follow the course, try the exercises, and use them in their own practice or teaching. The courses are both run by websites which are open source, so anyone can copy, adapt, and use them as they see fit. All of the code used to write and publish the courses is on Github.
I’m very excited to be giving a lecture as part of the Bartlett’s Constructing Realities lecture series next week. If you are in London, please do pop in on the 15th February. It will also be the first chance I’ve had to see the Bartlett’s shiny new campus.
Scripted performances: digital and absurd machines
‘Scripts’ in architecture are usually associated with computer-based design programming. However, this narrow usage belies a rich vein of concepts intrinsic to architecture and authorship. This lecture poses the script as a useful critical and methodological tool within architectural design, absorbing and reinterpreting ideas from behavioural psychology, computation, dance, immersive theatre, the Absurd, and the Oulipo. The lecture is illustrated through a series of projects completed during Palmer’s residency at the Palais de Tokyo and PhD by Design at the Bartlett spanning dance, film, installation, and data manipulation.
Ollie Palmer is an artist and designer based in the Netherlands. He holds an AHRC-funded PhD by design from the Bartlett and was artist in residence at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris from 2015-16. His work has been exhibited around the world, including at the V&A Museum, Opera Garnier de Paris, Seoul Museum of Art, and the Royal Institute of British Architects. He co-authored the winning proposal for the US Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2018, and sits on the project’s curatorial advisory committee. He formerly taught within the Bartlett’s Interactive Design Lab and at the School of the Art Institute Chicago. He currently teaches at TU Delft.
I am pleased to announce that after four and a half years, I have been awarded a PhD by Design from the Bartlett School of Architecture UCL. My examiners were Dr Kevin Walker at the Royal College of Art, and Dr. Penelope Haralambidou from the Bartlett, and the thesis was supervised by Professors Stephen Gage and Peg Rawes.
Scripted performances: designing performative architectures through digital and absurd machines
‘Scripting’ in architecture is usually associated with computer-based design programming. However, this narrow usage belies a rich vein of concepts intrinsic to architecture and authorship. This thesis frames scripting as a critical mode of computation, performance, and design process. It does this through seven projects that explore relationships between technology, society, and the philosophical absurd. Works include films, performances, programmes and installations produced independently and collaboratively with experts from scientific and artistic fields.
This thesis asks: how might an expanded definition of ‘scripting’ act as a critical methodology for performative architectural design?; how can this methodology mediate between, and comment on, technology and society?; and what is the relationship between scripting, authorship and agency? Computational scripting has been explored in depth by a number of practitioners and theorists; performative scripting has been examined within the context of theatre and artistic practice; this study adopts an expansive definition of scripting that embraces each of these approaches whilst simultaneously proposing scripting as a critical design methodology. Furthermore, the thesis introduces the philosophical ‘absurd’ as a framework for critiquing emergent technologies and their impact on society.
In chapter 1 two projects (Ant Ballet, Godot Machine) are discussed as modes of diagramming absurd theatrical scripts. The ‘framing’ of these projects provides direction for further work within the thesis. Chapter 2 introduces two dance pieces (Nybble, Scriptych) which represent scripted performances and a novel computer-scripted feedback mechanism. Both are diagrammatic modes of presenting contemporary computing mechanisms. Chapter 3 then discusses two experimental computationally-scripted absurd films exploring the practices and impact of contemporary technology companies (86400, 24fps Psycho). Chapter 4 introduces a film (Network/Intersect) created through a novel design process imposing strict rules on the creation of work. It concludes by naming this practice ‘reflexive scripted design’, proposing it as the thesis’ original contribution to knowledge.
From the live performance at Opera Garnier de Paris on 18 June 2016, featuring choreography by Simon Valastro. Two dancers attempt to communicate via a new technology which converts their movements to words, using vector space translation.
Bargehouse | free entry
Room 11, Bargehouse, OXO Tower Wharf
Sun 11 Jun 11:00-11:46 (ArchFilmFest Competition Shortlisted)
Sun 11 Jun 13:40-14:26 (ArchFilmFest Competition Shortlisted)
Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) | ticket required
Sun 11 Jun 16:30-18:30 ("From Above" category, with introduction by Competition Director Anna Ulrikke Andersen) More information
Parisian friends! I will be presenting 24fps Psycho and the wider project that it is part of at the Palais de Tokyo’s Lundi du Pavillon on 18 April 2016.
24fps Psycho is a project that replaces every single frame of the film Psycho with a “similar” frame from historical archival footage. The frames are chosen by an algorithm which studies pixel colour values. The audience then construct their own narrative atop the film’s soundtrack.
This is part of a wider project looking at the technology of cinema. I will present some footage from the next stage of the project, whereby a film-wanderer makes its way through an archive, analysing films and continually making new connections between them.
86400 is a real-time film made from Google Image searches for the time right now. It will be running throughout the festival.
24fps Psycho is an experimental performance remixing the film Psycho (1960) with footage from the French National Audiovisual Institute. It will be chaotic and confusing, but also highly enjoyable. I will be performing twice, once on the Saturday and once on the Sunday (9 + 10 April).
There are over 50 artists and performers participating this year, so it looks like a great way to spend a weekend – if I wasn’t performing, I would be in the crowd!
Tickets are avaialble through the Digitick website or at the Palais de Tokyo ticket office.
The installation is sited in a mixed-use university building; the ground floor is a lecture hall, often used for social events, and the floor above is the architecture library. Consequently the space goes from empty to full, quiet to loud, in a matter of minutes. The students conceoved an installation which is a ‘lonely cloud’, becoming more excitable when there are more people in the hall. When it is quiet, the cloud amuses itself dreaming of people.
I taught electronics and coding in Arduino to enable this proejct to come together.
Here is a video that Maria and some of the students put together of the workshop. (Please note, not my video!)
I was very impressed with the efforts of the electronics team. Day after day, they worked together to solve problems, design and build systems and components, and learn about the world of interactive architecture late into the evening (and sometimes mornings!) – all the time whilst smiling. Well done, team!
Thank you to the AA for inviting me to teach, and thank you to the excellent teaching team and highly motivated students for helping make the project happen!
The Architectural Association has a more in-depth article on the project on their Conversations website. There is also a gallery of images here.
I was asked to give a lecture for UCL’s Lunch Hour Lecture series, during which I talked about the work of the Interactive Architecture Lab as well as my own artwork.
The lecture I gave is really a slightly modified version of my PhD upgrade presentation. During the talk, I briefly mention mental modelling and space neurons – which refers back to the incredible work of the eminent neuroscientist Professor John O’Keefe, with regards to the way that the human mind models the world. I was both surprised and humbled to see Professor O’Keefe in the audience. I hope I did not bore him, or over-simplify his ideas too much.