Category Archives: science

New academic lead for Creative Futures at the University of Brighton

I am delighted to take on a new, exciting role, as the new academic lead for Creative Futures at the University of Brighton.

The Brighton Futures are an integral part of the University’s Strategic Plan for Research and Enterprise and, together with the Centres of Research and Enterprise Excellence (COREs), are the focus of the University’s globally-influential research and enterprise activities.

The five Futures of the University (Connected, Creative, Healthy, Radical and Responsible) are based on the principles that underpin our strategic plan and characterise the type of research and enterprise that we currently do and plan to expand. Academic leads are senior academics who provide thought leadership, working to consolidate our existing strengths and explore and develop new possibilities.

In this new role, I am keen to contribute to the development of the University’s interdisciplinary research environment that nurtures creativity and innovation. The opportunity to produce inspirational solutions and positive change has never been greater, and I am a strong supporter of bringing together the arts, science and technology to do this.

In 2021 Creative Futures will create an interdisciplinary art/science/technology hive of innovative thinking that promotes scientific understanding, and ignites applied collaborations. We will bring together technologists, scientists, makers, artists, practitioners who employ creative thinking in their projects, in various activities in the next year, in order to support interdisciplinarity and student engagement with research. 

Find out more here and by listening to a University of Brighton recent podcast.

Bioengineering and Meat Cultures event on Friday

On Friday I will be presenting collaborative research on the in-vitro meat case of the EPINET project. The paper is an analysis of the live television launch of the first in-vitro meat burger in August 2013, which frames the launch as a “media event” (Couldry & Hepp); and an examination of the main discourses circulating in digital culture round this time, which together work towards a critical discussion about the publics of synthetic meat.

The panel is with bioartist Oron Catts (synthetica) and philosopher Jake Metcalf. The event is part of Justice in a More than Human World – Collaboration or exploitation? Working with living systems across the arts and sciences, by Science and Justice workgroup  Human / Non-Human Collaboration Across the Arts & Sciences.

Friday February 28, 2014, 4:00-6:00PM, Engineering 2 Room 599, UCSC

“Bioengineering and Meat Cultures”

Meat grown in a laboratory is being promoted as a response to the harmful effects of “conventional” factory-farmed meat production. Artists and scholars have identified how meat cultures are a new class of being, with their own unique characteristics. Some of these characteristics are precisely what makes lab-grown meat appealing as a food source, and some provoke what is frequently deemed “the yuck factor.” Viewing this new class of beings, along with other bioengineered critters, as custom-built collaborators, we explore the ways humans relate to and intervene in the more-than-human world to feed, clothe, house, and entertain themselves–and the way we respond when these interventions, collaborations, and cultures turn sour.

Hosts: Andy Murray and Sophia Magnone
Visiting Scholar and Artist: Oron Catts (

Oron Catts is an artist, researcher and curator whose pioneering work with the Tissue Culture and Art Project which he established in 1996 in collaboration with Ionat Zurr, is considered a leading biological art project.  He is the founding director of SymbioticA, (which he co-founded in 2000) an artistic research centre housed within the School of Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology, The University of Western Australia.

Under Catts’ leadership SymbioticA has gone on to win the Prix Ars Electronica Golden Nica in Hybrid Art (2007) the WA Premier Science Award (2008) and became a Centre for Excellence in 2008. In 2009 Catts was recognized by Thames & Hudson’s “60 Innovators Shaping our Creative Future” book in the category “Beyond Design”, and by Icon Magazine (UK) as one of the top 20 Designers, “making the future and transforming the way we work”. His work has been widely exhibited internationally in venues such as NY MoMA, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo and National Art Museum of China.

Catts was a Research Fellow in Harvard Medical School, a visiting Scholar at the Department of Art and Art History, Stanford University, a Visiting Professor of Design Interaction, Royal College of Arts, London, and a Visiting Professor at the School of Art, Design and Architecture, Aalto University, Helsinki where he was commissioned to set up Biofilia – Base for Biological Art and Design. Catts’ ideas and projects reach beyond the confines of art; his work is often cited as inspiration to diverse areas such as new materials, textiles, design, architecture, ethics, fiction, and food.

Starting at UCSC Science & Justice

This is my first weekend blogpost since moving to California from Brighton, for my research secondment at the Science and Justice Research Center, in Santa Cruz (while I still work on my postdoc in the EPINET project, University of Sussex). The programme of the Center looks really exciting, and I look forward to attending my first research event next Wednesday, January 22, with the President of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Peter Yu, as well as UCSC-based David Haussler, which opens up a series of discussions about Science and Justice in an Age of Big Data. At a later date, there will also be a screening of the movie FIXED: The Science/Fiction of Human Enhancement, which was created and produced by UCSC Social Documentary alum Regan Brashear. I also look forward to events organised by Science and Justice Fellows Gene A. Felice II, Sophia Magnone and Andy Murray, entitled Justice in the More-than-Human World: Fostering Care and Affinity in Emergent Collaborations.

My contribution as Visiting Scholar to this fascinating research culture and community will be an interdisciplinary workshop, on March 5th, addressing key issues about the sharing of personal biodata today, which will be co-organised with the Digital Arts & New Media programme and OpenLab. I will post more about this here soon.

Before that, I will be presenting work-in-progress on my project Tracking personal data for use in research: sharing and ownership (funded by RCUK Digital Economy Theme (DE) NEMODE), on February 5th, at Center for Cultural Studies (University of California, Santa Cruz), entitled All these emotions, all these yearnings, all these data’: platform openess, data sharing and visions of democracy‘. All welcome!

Smart publics? Mediation and public engagement with science and technology seminar

poster_seminarA4webSmart publics? Mediation and public engagement with science and technology

Thursday 5 December, 11:00 until 14:30
Silverstone Lecture Theatre 309, University of Sussex
Speakers: Jenn Barth, Aristea Fotopoulou, Tobie Kerridge

Part of the Travelling Seminars Series of the Publics then, now and beyond network, co-hosted by Centre for Material Digital Culture, Attenborough Centre for the Arts and Public Culture Hub, University of Sussex.

This research event focuses on the publics and public issues relating to emerging technologies, such as smart energy grids, wearable devices and the Cloud, and co-design for sustainable energy. Bringing together the work of three different research teams: EPINET (Sussex), CAST (Goldsmiths) and ECDC (Goldsmiths), the talks explore the imaginaries and mediation of emerging technologies; public engagement with behavioural tracking and the Human Cloud; and speculative design with energy communities respectively. In their own distinct way, the papers seek to address a range of questions: the different modes of making publics, the different kinds of knowledge and expertise, and the public issues that emerge in this field.

This second Travelling Seminar of the Publics then, now and beyond network is positioned within wider research questions posed by the stream Making/Doing/Being Publics. This research stream of the network focuses on the practices, infrastructures and forms of mediation through which publics are brought into being and through which things are made public.

The event is co-organised by two members of the Publics then, now and beyond network, Aristea Fotopoulou (Sussex) and Tobie Kerridge (Goldsmiths).


11.00 – 11.30 Introductions: Nick Mahony about the Publics then, now and beyond network, Hilde Stephansen & Aristea Fotopoulou on the Making/doing/being publics stream, David Hendy about the Public Culture Hub.

11.30 – 1.30 Talks. Chair: Sally-Jane Norman Discussant: Kate Lacey

  • Aristea Fotopoulou (University of Sussex) “Imaginaries of Smart Grids: Public Issues, Contradiction and Controversy”
  • Jenn Barth (Goldsmiths, University of London) “Digital Devices, Research and Social Experience”
  • Tobie Kerridge (Goldsmiths, University of London) “Energy Babble: Prototyping with energy demand reduction communities”

1.30-2.30 Lunch & Networking

All welcome. To register, please email

The Publics, then now and beyond network is an international and interdisciplinary network supported by the Creating Publics project, the Centre for Citizenship, Identities and Governance and the Faculty of Social Science at the Open University. For more information see


Aristea Fotopoulou ‘Imaginaries of Smart Grids: Public Issues, Contradiction and Controversy’

Smart grids are communicated in the public sphere in stories about the coming together of utilities and communications (gas, electricity/monitoring of data) into a network that can be managed for optimum use of resources. Imaginaries of smart grids address certain public issues, such as efficiency in responding to energy demand; environmental concerns, by integrating renewable forms of energy; and the empowerment of consumers. However, these imaginaries also point to possible controversies in the role of the public. The user is either largely invisible in large-scale images of the grid, or rendered very central within domestic settings. So where exactly is the public, as user or consumer, in these contradictory narratives of smart grids which circulate in the media? This paper traces the range of publicity and media images of smart grids and identifies the dominant and alternative visions and contradictions within these images. It draws from contemporary stories being told by diverse actors, across multiple media forms: energy policy research, distribution power operators, power companies, businesses and government, and shows how the public is constructed, and often absent, in visions of the future. The controversies and resistance of the smart grid are indicative of the levels of public engagement.


Aristea Fotopoulou (Sussex) is a postoc researching technological assessment of new emerging technologies, with a focus on media and digital culture. She currently also examines practices of data sharing and algorithmic living (Project Tracking biodata: sharing and ownership, RCUK Digital Economy NEMODE). Her work is at the intersections of media & cultural studies with science & technologies studies, and she has written about digital networks and feminism, and recently, on information politics, knowledge production, and digital engagement. The research leading to this talk has received funding from the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013) under the grant EPINET (See: ).

Jenn Barth ‘Digital Devices, Research and Social Experience’

The flow of technology is fast and furious – the realm of the ‘digital’ and various digital devices change quickly and individuals experience the change sometimes without comment or without a chance to reflect. We asked individuals to become experimental subjects in The Human Cloud, that is, to wear and use behavioural tracking devices and always on wearable technologies and to blog about their experiences. This offers the research participants an opportunity to demonstrate their experience and to have a voice on the subject. Through these enterprising activities, they are shaping their environments, organisations and their everyday lives in terms of how they want to interact with what’s on offer. Drawing on this example as well previous research projects this talk details how we can harness human potential through research and work to shape our lives through knowledge and incremental change.


Jennifer Barth is a Lecturer in the Department of Computing and the Centre for Creative and Social Technologies (CAST) at Goldsmiths, University of London. After completing her DPhil at the University of Oxford in 2010 on coffee markets, she has been teaching and researching in the areas of digital research methods and digital sociology and how we might become hybrid social researchers moving across the physical and digital world.

Tobie Kerridge ‘Energy Babble: Prototyping with energy demand reduction communities’

The Energy Babble was designed as a tool to support research with energy demand reduction communities, where a batch of 30 technology prototypes are being deployed to practitioner groups across the UK. The prototypes are part of a system where software algorithms collect and process a variety of content including voicemail messages, SMS and tweets from practitioners, along with information published by a range of organizations including policy announcements from DECC and energy demand news form NGOs. This information is transformed into synthesized spoken audio files, which are pushed over a network to each device where the audio is played over a speaker. I offer an overview of the design and an initial account of the deployment, and discuss the forms of publicity that emerge there.


Tobie Kerridge is based at the Interaction Research Studio, Goldsmiths. This practice based research group led by William Gaver provides a product and interaction design lens for HCI. His PhD thesis explores the mixing of speculative design and public engagement with science and technology in two public engagement projects; Biojewellery and Material Beliefs. Kerridge has helped develop an innovative mixed method approach to design research, with a recent focus on community and energy reduction. Energy and Co-Designing Communities (ECDC), is a three-year RCUK project based in the Interaction Research Studio at Goldsmiths, University of London. The RCUK Energy Communities call was a response to government support for groups undertaking energy demand reduction measures. ECDC comprises of Matthew Plummer-Fernandez, Jennifer Gabrys, Bill Gaver,Tobie Kerridge, Noortje Marres, Mike Michael, Liliana Ovalle and Alex Wilkie.