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

Scriptych collaboration

The French Audiovisual Archives (INA) made a lovely short film about the collaborative process Simon Valastro and myself used to make Scriptych, a performance at the Opéra National de Paris earlier this year, as part of my residency at the Palais de Tokyo.

Pavillon Neuflize OBC / INA #9 Scriptych / Ollie Palmer – Simon Valastro – VA from Institut national audiovisuel on Vimeo.

Thank you Franck Podguszer and the INA team!