Hybrid Futures talk video

Here’s the video of the talk I gave yesterday at Central St Martins as part of their Hybrid Futures series:

It was great to be able to present work from my PhD (which is now open access!) and my residency at the Palais de Tokyo. Many thanks to Betti Marenko for inviting me to talk, and posing insightful questions and comments, to Jacob Watmore for excellent technical support, Kaye Toland for fielding questions to ask, and everyone who watched, for your time.

Projects I talk about in this lecture include 86400, Scriptych, and Network / Intersect.

PhD thesis online

Well, it’s finally happened! Three and a bit years after submission, my PhD thesis is online. I’m very happy about this – I believe that publicly-funded research should be open access, and mine is now available for anyone to read.

Front cover of Ollie Palmer's thesis

The thesis introduces the idea of scripts in computation, psychology, and performances, along with the philosophical absurd, and describes seven projects that I made which each explore different ideas about script, performance, and computation. It’s designed to be printed at A3, but at some point I’m hoping to make a website that houses all the same information in a more mobile-friendly and searchable manner (but don’t hold your breath, this might just be a pipe dream).

It describes the process behind the creation of the Godot Machine, Ant Ballet, Nybble, Scriptych, 86400, 24fps Psycho, and Network/Intersect. There are videos to accompany the research here on this website.

Abstract

‘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 3 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’ main original contribution to knowledge.

You can download/read the thesis here.

No research happens in isolation, and I think that it’s only right to reproduce the thank-you section here for everyone who helped.

Acknowledgements

It would like to thank the many people who have, directly or indirectly, supported my work over the past few years.

Firstly, to my supervisors, Professor Stephen Gage and Professor Peg Rawes, both of whom have taken my research in wildly different directions, enriching and informing the way that I work. I owe much of the way I see the world (and make objects in it) to Stephen, and I consider myself fortunate to have been one of his students for longer than most. At the same time, this thesis would not be where it is without the compassionate, rigorous, and always enjoyable conversations with Peg, who has gone above and beyond the call of duty to nurture this work. I am truly grateful. The Bartlett has been a wonderful place to inhabit for the past eight years. I would like to thank the PhD faculty who work so hard to make it such a vibrant, inspiring, and intellectually rich environment – especially to Professor Jonathan Hill, Professor Barbara Penner, Professor Penelope Haralambidou, as well as Professor Adrian Forty, and Professor Murray Fraser.

A great deal of this work comes from a period spent at the Palais de Tokyo. I am immensely grateful to Ange Leccia for developing and running the Pavillon Neuflize OBC programme for sixteen years, enabling the development of over 130 artists, myself included; as well as to Dr Fabien Danesi for supporting my work, to Chloe Fricout for making sure it really happened, to Justine Emard and Justine Hermant for helping so much with every project, and of course, to Rebecca Lamarche-Vadel for inviting me to take part in the first place.

I would not have been able to produce this thesis, or the project featured in chapter two, without the Arts and Humanities Research Council: long may they support experimental practice.

Thank you to everyone who I have collaborated with over the past few years. It was a privilege to have worked with such wonderful people as Simon Valastro, Dr Seirian Sumner, Professor Jim Anderson, Max Colson, Heechan Park, Helen Floate, and Cesar Harada. And, of course, Abi, whose input can be subtly found woven throughout all of my work.

Finally, I would like to thank my family and friends: to David Roberts and Amy Butt, for rescuing myself and my work more than once; Danielle Willkens, whose talent and generosity knows no bounds; Bernadette Devilat and Felipe Lanuza, for so much help; Anna Ulrikke Anderson for consistently championing my work; Craig Nunes, for introducing me to the absurd many years ago. Thank you to my family, for their consistent support. Mum, although I don’t want to admit it, you were right. Maybe I will be an artist after all.

And finally, thank you to Amy, for inspiring me – and making it all worthwhile.

One final thanks that wasn’t in the thesis itself – thank you to Dr Kevin Walker and Professor Penelope Haralambidou for such a rigorous examination, with one of the most fertile, enjoyable, and memorable conversations I’ve had.

Hybrid Futures talk

A generic image for the Hybrid Futures lecture series, which doesn't really contain anything except some abstract patterns in pastel colours, a bit like a QR code, but less functional.

I’ll be presenting some of my work at UAL on 9 December as part of the Hybrid Futures lecture series at Central St Martins, curated by Betti Marenko. It’s online (of course!) and open to all. It will be streamed on YouTube, and afterwards I’ll post it to this site.

Scripted Performances: Or, the Absurd in the Man and the Machine

‘Scripts’ in design and architecture are usually associated with computer-based design programming. However, this narrow usage belies a rich vein of concepts intrinsic to design and authorship.

This presentation poses the script as a useful critical and methodological tool within design, absorbing and reinterpreting ideas from behavioural psychology, computation, dance, immersive theatre, the Absurd, and the Oulipo. The talk is illustrated through a series of projects completed during Palmer’s residency at the Palais de Tokyo, PhD by Design at the Bartlett School of Architecture, and independent work, spanning dance, film, installation and data manipulation.

You can sign up to attend here.

Parallel Worlds podcast

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.

Parallel Worlds podcast artwork

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

You can subscribe now using: Apple Podcasts / Spotify / PocketCasts / Google Podcasts / RadioPublic / CastBox / Breaker / RSS or just listen online.

One of the nicest things about the podcast is that listeners can (and do!) leave voice messages. Occasionally I take these messages and turn them into a bonus episode like this one:

My inspiration to make a podcast as a free course is drawn massively from Tim Clare’s excellent Death of 1000 Cuts podcast, which I can’t recommend enough. His Couch to 80k Writing Bootcamp course really helped get me out of a creative slump a couple of years ago, and directly led to my making this film. Thanks Tim!

Teaching: open access

In April last year I started working as core tutor of the Situated Design MA at the Master Institute of Visual Cultures, AKV St Joost.

It’s been an intense year – under the directorship of Úna Henry, there is a new module structure for students, in which students from Situtated Design, Visual Arts and Post-Conteporary Practice, and Ecological Futures can all participate in the same elective modules, spreading different modes of practice and perspectives with one another as they go.

I’ve been running two modules:

Scripted Design

Scripted Design (September-December), which focuses on using Oulipian constraints to creative processes and make films. Much of the methodology is based on my PhD, Scripted performances: designing performative architectures through digital and absurd machines.

Parallel Worlds

Parallel Worlds (February-May), which takes tools and techniques from theatre, counterfactualspsychological operations, fiction, television and film production, propaganda, and situationism to enable artists and designers to create compelling worlds around their existing practice.
?️parallel.olliepalmer.com

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.

Scripted Design >> sd.olliepalmer.com / GitHub
Parallel Worlds >> parallel.olliepalmer.com / GitHub

Take a look, participate, copy, adapt, suggest improvements!

Scripted performances: digital and absurd machines

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.

Constructing Realities Lecture Series, Spring 2018

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.

Biography

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.

www.olliepalmer.com

More information: Bartlett event website / Facebook event page

PhD

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.

Many thanks to all who helped my work get to this stage, and to the Arts and Humanities Research Council and Palais de Tokyo for providing the funding and framework for the research to take place.

Scripted performances: designing performative architectures through digital and absurd machines

Abstract

‘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.

View at UCL

Note: I want to publish as much of the work as possible. Watch this space for updates.


Architectural Film Festival London

I am excited to have two films screening at the inaugrural Architectural Film Festival in London from June 7-11 this year. Both were produced during my residency at the Palais de Tokyo.

Network / Intersect

A film about propaganda and the production of fake news, created entirely using the techniques of the Internet Research Agency propaganda factory in St Petersberg.

Room 11, Bargehouse, OXO Tower Wharf – free entry
Wed 7 Jun 11:00-13:00 (ArchFilmFest Selection A, 120m total)
Thu 8 Jun 11:00-13:00 (ArchFilmFest Selection A, 120m total)

Scriptych

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

Complete festival programme

Directions

Bargehouse, OXO Tower Wharf

ICA

Lundi du Pavillon

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.

Also at Lundi du Pavillon will be cellist Gaspar Claus and a screening of Olivier Dollinger‘s film Climate Control and the Summer of Love.

The Facebook-inclined can find more information and RSVP here.

Do Disturb

I will be showing my film 86400 and performing 24fps Psycho at the Do Disturb Festival at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris in a couple of weeks. This is very exciting, as both works have never been shown before.

86400

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

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.