All posts by Alan Zucconi

🧠 ESCAN 2022

From the 19th to 22nd July, a delegation from Goldsmiths Computing and Psychology attended The European Society for Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience in Vienna, Austria.

Dr Jamie A Ward—Lecturer and Researcher in wearable computing, activity recognition & social neuroscience—gave a talk on his Royal Society-sponsored work studying cognition and social behaviour using wearables and theatre at a symposium on the opportunities and challenges of real-world data collection.

Dr Jamie A Ward presenting his work (photo taken by Dr Laura Rai)

Dr Laura Rai—PostDoc and Researcher from the Department of Psychology—presented the first results from the ERC-funded Neurolive project at a symposium on the neuro-aesthetics of dance.

The event was also attended by PhD Candidate in Psychology Merritt Millman, who presented a poster on her work on bodily awareness in depersonalization-derealization disorder.

From left to right, Dr Jamie A Ward, Dr Laura Rai and Merritt Millman at the opening social event at the Vienna Town Hall

«It was such a joy to present at an in-person conference again for the first time in over two years. So much of my work with theatre—and in particular the work we do on the Neurolive project—is about liveness and what makes the live experience special.

A huge part of that is the social experience, which participating at a conference like this, with the double bonus of being surrounded by loads of smart and interesting people, really brought home to me.»

— Dr Jamie A Ward
  • You can find Dr Jamie A Ward on Twitter
  • You can find Dr Laura Rai on Twitter
  • You can find Merritt Millman on Twitter

🃏 “Cartomancy Anthology” launch

Fede Fasce, programme lead for the MA in Independent Games and for the BSc in Games Programming, has been part of the release of “Cartomancy Anthology”, a game anthology available from today on Steam and itch.io.

Cartomancy Anthology is a collection of games inspired by the tarot major arcana. Fede (who is also passionate about tarot) has worked together with 3 of Cups Games to create a game about The Star, the team’s favourite tarot card. In The Star you take the role of someone shattered in two halves by trauma, in a journey to reconnect it and to find new hope. Fede has worked mostly as a game designer and developer in the game.

«Working on the Star with a team of extremely talented people has been an incredible experience. I really hope you’ll enjoy the game!»

Fede Fasce, Ma Independent Games programme leader

“Cartomancy Anthology” is the typical example of how a storytelling tool—as ancient and powerful as tarots cards are—can drive entire stories. And if further evidence that the games-related programmes at Goldsmiths are taught not just by academics, but by actual game developers with decades of industry experience.

  • You can find Fede Fasce on Twitter
  • You can find 3 of Cups Games on Twitter

💃 “STRINGS” by Clémence Debaig

Last week Clémence Debaig brought her latest performance—STRINGS—to the Escapade Escape Arcade, a creative exhibition featuring experimental games and alternative controllers.

Clémence Debaig performing STRINGS

STRINGS is an interactive performance inviting the audience to control the movements of the dancer through networked wearables. It explores themes of agency, control and bodily autonomy. And it was presented in person in London for the first time!

Clémence Debaig performing STRINGS

The idea was born as a final project for Physical Computing 2, a taught module strongly connected to the MA Computational Arts, which explores creative ways to use electronics for alternative controllers, installations and performances.

At the time, Clémence was still a student on the course, and had performed STRINGS online due to the pandemic. Now Lecturer & Senior Research Assistant at Goldsmiths, Clémence Debaig is also running her own dance company called Unwired Dance Theatre.

Besides STRINGS, The Escapade Escape Arcade features many other interesting installations and playable experiences, including an escape the room game titled “The Keeper and The Fungus Among Us”, and a rather unusually shaped pool table.

One of the many games playable at the Escapade Escape Arcade

🎓 Graduation Ceremony: July 2022

Last week hundreds of students from the Department of Computing attended their graduation ceremony. This year the event took place at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, in the very heart of Westminster.

The ceremony was presided by Dinah Caine CBE, the Chair of Council, who opened with a passionate speech about the achievements students have accomplished.

Students celebrating after their graduation ceremony

This ceremony has been an opportunity for the students to celebrate their academic success along with their families. And as Professor Frances Corner OBE highlighted in her opening speech, it is made much more significant by the many challenges they have faced during their journey: from COVID to the recent war in Ukraine.

The Department of Computing was represented on stage by Dr Edward Anstead (BSc Computer Science), Fede Fasce (MA Independent Games & Playable Experience Design) and Alan Zucconi (Director of Postgraduate Studies, MA/MSc Computer Games). Dr Jennifer George, as Head of Department, had the privilege of inviting the students on stage one by one.

From left to right: Alan Zucconi, Imogen Burman, Dr Edward Anstead, Dr Jennifer George (Head of Computing), Fede Fasce

Imogen Burman, the Events Manager for the Department of Music, acted as College Bedel, guiding the staff through the crowd and holding the ceremonial mace.

«I adore graduation ceremonies—this is the reason why we are in education, to be with the students on their journey, and, like fledgling birds, they are then released into the world.

I always find it a wonderful occasion, especially this year where we celebrate those graduands who have struggled through the pandemic finally being awarded their degree, it is a great honour to bear witness to their achievements.»

— Imogen Burman, Events Manager & College Bedel

The entire event was also live streamed, for all the ones who unfortunately could not attend.

A student posing after their graduation ceremony

«It was a pleasure to join the graduation party and share in our graduates successes. This year’s ceremony was an especially joyous occasion as it included students from the classes 2021 and 2022 able to collect their degrees in person after the pandemic.»

— Dr Edward Anstead, BSc Computer Science

For many of you reading, this is not just the end of a long journey, but also the start of a new chapter. If you are coming to the end of your time at Goldsmiths, remember you can stay in touch by joining our alumni community.

📚 “Resisting AI”: Dan McQuillan

Dr Dan McQuillan, Lecturer in Creative & Social Computing, recently published a new book: “Resisting AI—An Anti-fascist Approach to Artificial Intelligence“.

The cover of “Resisting AI”

In the book, Dan argues that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is everywhere, yet it causes damage to society in ways that can’t be fixed. Instead of helping to address our current crises, AI causes divisions that limit people’s life chances, and even suggests fascistic solutions to social problems. This book provides an analysis of AI’s deep learning technology and its political effects and traces the ways that it resonates with contemporary political and social currents, from global austerity to the rise of the far right.

A 3D scan of Dr Dan McQuillan

“Resisting AI” argues that AI is harmful by nature and has already become a kind of algorithmic violence. Not only that, but its application to crises like austerity and climate change moves the needle quickly to far right and even fascistic solutions. The book argues for a different approach based on a bottom up politics of people’s councils that can not only resist AI but radically restructure it. The only acceptable future for advanced computation is to support socially useful production and the common good.

«The effect of AI on work & social life isn’t the alleviation of routine labour but the amplification of precarity. Our most advanced computation helps turn the clock back on 100 years of hard won rights & protections.»

Dr Dan McQuillan, Twitter

With “Resisting AI”, Dr Dan McQuillan calls for us to resist AI as we know it and restructure it by prioritising the common good over algorithmic optimisation. He sets out an anti-fascist approach to AI that replaces exclusions with caring, proposes people’s councils as a way to restructure AI through mutual aid and outlines new mechanisms that would adapt to changing times by supporting collective freedom.

«AI advocates talk about Artificial General Intelligence without acknowledging its roots in Victorian eugenics. Meanwhile, real world deep learning is entangled with operations that come to decide who’s life is disposable.»

Dr Dan McQuillan, Twitter

Academically rigorous, yet accessible to a socially engaged readership, this unique book will be of interest to all who wish to challenge the social logic of AI by reasserting the importance of the common good.

Dan developed his ideas after a lifetime spent studying how technology impacts impacts our lives from a social and ethical point of view. After a degree in Physics from Oxford and a PhD in Experimental Particle Physics from Imperial College London, his career focused on supporting and advocating for people’s right.

  • You can follow Dr Dan McQuillan on Twitter.
  • Resisting AI“, published by Bristol University Press, is available both in digital and physical form.

🗣️ “Moments Spent with Others” In Conversation with Rachel Falconer

Last week the digital art house GAZELL.iO inaugurated Brendan Dawes’ solo show titled “Moments Spent with Others“. The exhibition explores the beauty behind moments that may initially seem insignificant and how the concept of time and space is connected to the captivating feeling of interacting with others.

For the occasion, Rachel Falconer (independent networked curator and researcher and Head of Digital Arts Computing here at Goldsmiths) joined Brendan Dawes for a very open conversation. This special talk contextualises the artist’s show, sharing space around iterative memory networks, the resistance and agency of galleries in the age of NFT culture and the refusal of algorithmic aesthetic regimes. 

Moments Spent with Others consists of algorithmic visuals derived from mundane moments that somehow stick to one’s memory. After the recent lockdown period, human interaction became more precious as we grew used to detaching ourselves from other people. From personal yet universally relatable moments like sitting on a park bench in Soho, New York, whilst eating a slice of pizza, to people-watching in a bustling hub, Dawes embraces these moments by recreating them into datasets algorithms and data visualisations. Dawes draws much of his inspiration from popular culture and nature, often revolving his work around the concept of time and memory – and how these can intertwine. These analytical explorations have been an ongoing theme over Dawes’ career, as he questions our understanding of the surrounding world.

The AI algorithmic visuals will be presented in a unique, site-specific way to recreate the fleeting nature of memories. A new series of NFTs will accompany the exhibition.

If you are interested in the field of digital art, consider joining the BSc Digital Arts Computing programme at Goldsmiths.

Develop:Brighton

Every year the Department of Computing is organising field trips to various art and games-related events. This week it was Develop:Brighton, the largest UK-based event for game developers.

As always, Goldsmiths had a strong presence, with a small delegation of staff and students from various programmes!

MA/MSc Computer Games & MA Indie Games

  • Professor William Latham
  • Fede Fasce
  • Richard Leinfellner
  • Dr Lance Putnam
  • Gorm Lai

MA/MSc Virtual & Augmented Reality

  • Dr Sylvia Xueni Pan
  • Tara Collingwoode-Williams
Dr Sylvia Xueni Pan & Professor William Latham were attending in style

The biggest Develop yet! Great bumping into so many people from when I was in consoles games development over twenty years ago!  The message on the floor that I heard again and again is that there is currently a massive skills shortage in the UK Games Industry which bodes well for our games students and Alumni. Great seeing our star Goldsmiths PhD Students Gorm and Tara present to full rooms! – Professor William Latham

Several students were also volunteering. If you are a student yourself, this is a great opportunity to attend the event for free and establish a solid networking base!

Our students volunteering at Develop:Brighton

Talks!

Two of our fellow scholars also had a chance to talk about their research.

Tara Collingwoode-Williams attending Develop:Brighton

Tara Collingwoode-Williams talked about the exciting world of research on Virtual Humans, and how they have been utilized for training and collaboration in VR. Her talk, “Get Immersed! Virtual Humans in Training and Collaboration in Virtual Reality“, was part of the “Coding” and “Art” tracks.

People attending Gorm Lai’s talk

Gorm Lai, PhD Candidate in the IGGI Programme and indie veteran gave a talk July titled “AI Supported Tools for Game Development” as part of the “Coding” track.

Gorm Lai presenting his research

We are looking forward to attend Develop:Brighton next year. And if you see any of us, please do not hesitate to say hello! 👋