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
A couple attempt to communicate from afar using an interface which translates their movements into words.
Structured across three micro-acts, Scriptych takes precision in choreography to an extreme, embedding sensors on dancers which measure their movements and control both the music and the words spoken aloud, in real time. The couples’ communication becomes increasingly fragmented as the piece develops, posing questions about the location of meaning in messages and movements, and the impossibility of communicating true intent.
3 x 3-minute choreographed sequences for 2 dancers. Custom computer interface with machine-learnt three-dimensional word database.
Ina, the French Audiovisual Institute, made a video about the collaboration between myself and Simon Valastro below. More information about this project can be found in Chapter 2 of my PhD thesis.
A limited number of signed prints of this performance are available for purchase. Please get in touch for details.
La Rumeur des Naufrages Opera Garnier, Paris 18 June 2016
Arctic Moving Image and Film Festival Harstad, Norway October 2017
Architecture Film Festival London Institute of Contemporary Arts / Oxo Bargehouse June 2017
Film | Making | Space Royal Academy, London February 2017
Thanks to the Opera National de Paris
Director Stéphane Lissner
Dance director Benjamin Millepied
Project realised under the Pavillon Neuflize OBC programme 2015-16 (research lab of the Palais de Tokyo), during its collaboration with the Opera National de Paris, the Institut national de l’audiovisuel and the Groupe de recherches musicales (INA – GRM).