In the podcast, Helen speaks about her work as an artist and researcher operating in the grey area in which computing intersects geography, design and cyberfeminist technoscience.
She discusses some of her works and collective projects, and talks about orcas and sensors, fossils and fracking, alpaca and recipes, sheep and data infrastructures. Through her artworks, writing, talks and workshops, Pritchard seeks to articulate a different social political gaze on code and computation, based on the notions of co-research, radical pedagogy and participation as key strategies to “move away from the idea of the expert or the genius” and to bring forward questions about collective learning and knowledge production.
Helen is a member of the European Research Council funded project Citizen Sense, which develops physical computing and sensing technologies to think through and develop new theories of citizen sensing.
METRO newspaper reported this week on Goldsmiths Computing student George Larkwright’s coffin-like escape room, which exhibited at the MA Playable Experiences degree show. We reproduce it here…
Why spend your weekend watching TV or drinking in a pub when you could be locked in a small box, trying desperately to escape?
We live in a time when ‘fun’ includes pretending to be in prison, smashing TVs, and choosing to go into horribly stressful situations, and so it makes total sense that someone has created the world’s smallest escape room, measuring 120cm by 70cm by 50cm.
Just like any other escape room, the idea behind The Subject (that’s the official name of the room) is to work hard and figure out clues in order to break free. Unlike your average escape room, there are no padlocked doors and dark corridors. Instead, there’s just a box.
The Subject is the creation of Goldsmiths student George Larkwright, 24, who wanted to create a truly disturbing escape room experience to induce claustrophobia, desperation and dread. Sounds delightful.
Fed up of seeing escape rooms used for corporate team bonding and smug selfies, George designed a challenge to make players leave ‘haggered and almost aged by the experience’.
The room, which is basically just a big coffin, is designed for two players. Player one is locked inside the box, while player two has to help them escape.
Inside the box is a pencil, paper and a torch. The trapped player has to decode a load of cryptic messages and clues written across the box’s interiors. The player outside the box has to look through a load of documents and figure out a code in order to piece information together, solve the puzzle, and unlock the box, freeing their pal.
The theme has some pretty dark sources of inspiration. George first thought of the idea after watching Kill Bill 2, which includes a scene in which a bride is trapped in a coffin. He then drew inspiration from the horrifying histories of wartime human experimentation and the American security services mind control programmes during the Cold War.
George has a load of experience writing for theatre, so was able to pull together these ideas into a tricky narrative that sounds more than a little bit stressful.
The contestant in the box is a prisoner of war locked up in a laboratory, while player two is a secret services operative tasked with freeing them, all under a 30 minute time limit.
As we said, this is supposed to be fun.
George said: ‘I want participants to emerge haggard, almost aged by the experience, but also triumphant, proud of navigating a game that is both physically and mentally taxing.’
The Subject was part of the Experiments in Play exhibition, for students at Goldsmiths at the weekend. The quickest escape thus far took 17 minutes. George now plans to take the box on tour, so keep an eye out for dates if you fancy giving the challenge a go.
The exhibition promises to push the boundaries of what games can offer as a medium, and experiments with the vast capabilities of play. Expect an array of inventive and experimental playful experiences that sit at the intersection of games, interactive design, and creative technology.P
Opening gala: 6pm-10pm, Thu 19 September 2019
Exhibition continues: 10am-8pm, Fri 20 and Sat 21 September 2019
Work on show includes physical performances and workshops, interactive literature, VR & AR experiences, alternative controllers, and playable works of art, as well as more traditional video game and board game experiences.
The show explores the possibilities of embodied and immersive storytelling and alternative narrative structures, considers how games are evolving to critically impact on issues of gender, mental health, sexuality and intimacy, and reimagines a world of gaming that champions inclusion and accessibility.
As part of the Experiments in Play showcase we are holding an Opening Night Gala, which will feature a series of talks and panel discussions. Speakers will be announced soon.
We warmly invite you to Goldsmiths’ 2019 MA/MFA Computational Arts degree show exhibition, So how is that working for you?
It’s our biggest exhibition to date with more than 60+ computational artists. There will be interactive installations, performances, workshops, panel discussions, drinks and nibbles.
Private view + party: 5-10pm Thursday 5 September 2019 Where: St. James Hatcham (‘The Church’), Goldsmiths. Google map Exhibition continues: Friday 6 September (11am-8pm), Saturday 7 September (11am-8pm) and Sunday 8 September (11am-5pm).
Working through the ever evolving tensions around technology and art, we feel the responsibility to explore and reflect on some critical questions surrounding the past, present and future of technologies that permeate our everyday lives.
How do we situate and consolidate our artistic agency within a world where technologies are seemingly integrated into the very fabric of society on the one hand and weaponised and used against us on the other?
What is the role of computational art in the Anthropocene’s era where technology is simultaneously part of the problem and part of the solution?
So how is that working for you? is a speculative response to these questions and tensions. Comprising current work from our practice, the show traces a route through seven conceptual threads: intelligence, phenomenon, narration, network, matter, embodiment, surveillance.
Are you a lesbian, bisexual, or queer woman (or non-binary person with similar experiences)? Have you used an online dating service? If so, tell @khniehaus about it by taking her research survey!
Online dating can be a fraught experience for many people, and women in particular have been shown to experience gendered harassment, generally, online, and in dating-specific contexts. While there is a relatively small amount of data and academic research about heterosexual women’s experiences with online dating, there is even less data and scholarly research documenting the experiences of lesbian, bisexual, and queer women with online dating. Anecdotally, many lesbian, bisexual and queer women describe experiencing high rates of targeted harassment while engaging in online dating activities. Based on these accounts, Goldsmiths Computing PhD researcher Kiona Niehaus is interested in whether these negative experiences, while they reflect broader social attitudes and trends, may also be the result of user interface and interaction design decisions that shape users’ interactions with various online dating services.
The results of this survey will be used to shape forthcoming academic work about the affordances of various online dating platforms, how those affordances may influence negative user experience for lesbian, bisexual, and queer women using these services, and to suggest potential design solutions toward making online dating services less fraught for these users in particular. If you are a lesbian, bisexual, or queer woman (or a non-binary person with similar experiences) who has used online dating, you can take the survey here: https://lambda.doc.gold.ac.uk/index.php/264413
Grzegorz Rybak, Goldsmiths BSc Computer Science student and Web developer, writes about his experience at the semi-finals of the Mayor’s Entrepreneur 2019
On Friday 15th March I had the honour of participating in the semi-finals of the Mayor’s Entrepreneur 2019 with our Undergraduate final-year project (ULA: Ultimate Listening Assistant)!
Being in the top-30 tech projects chosen to progress to the semi-finals out of 625 applications from all London’s Universities (and even start-ups), the stakes (and the stress!) were enormous but it shows how exciting the project we’re doing is – not only to us, but evidently to others as well!
I’m happy to tell you I delivered – I strongly believe – the best pitch I ever performed! I pitched about the idea of text transcription and summarization along the normal recording that ULA does and a potential content-sharing platform that could be a business around it (as this is a very entrepreneurial competition).
Finally, I must also say I was happy to discover I was one of the youngest among the contestants and the only undergraduate I’m aware of – most of the participates were Postgraduate or PhD students.
As you can gather from the above, the competition level was extremely high (I’ve never heard so many amazing tech-product ideas in such a short time!) therefore I won’t be surprised if ULA doesn’t make it to the finals, but nevertheless, I greatly appreciate the distinction of being selected to such an exclusive company with an undergraduate project.
Also at the semi-finals was Goldsmiths Computing PhD student Hadeel Ayoub pitching the BrightSign glove – I really hope she reaches the finals because her pitch was seriously amazing!