This is a piece of theatre photography.
As part of my research fellowship, I organised a workshop at the International Conference on Natural Language Generation. Along with the organising committee, I selected papers that worked toward creative goals within the field of NLG.
CC-NLG is a workshop on Computational Creativity through natural language generation, collocated with INLG, the International Conference on Natural Language Generation. The workshop will bring together researchers from the communities of computational creativity in text generation, and natural language generation broadly. We will discuss the crossovers in CC and NLG, as well as looking to dialogue systems and their creative possibilities, for example in social networks.
Within the framework of my research fellowship, I presented my research at ICCC as part of a workshop for doctoral candidates. This was immensely useful and rewarding experience, where more established researchers within the field took the time to contribute to the work of less experience doctoral candidates like myself.
AIStories is a proposed interactive dialogue system, that lets children co-create narrative worlds through conversation. Over the next three years this system will be developed and tested within pediatric wards, where it offers a useful resource between the gap of education and play. Telling and making stories is a fundamental part of language play, and its chatty and nonsensical qualities are important; therefore, the prologued usage an automated system offers is a benefit to children. In this paper I will present the current state of this project, in its more experimental and general guise.Conceptually story-telling through dialogue relates to the pre-print interpretation of story, beyond the static and linear medium, where stories were performative, temporal, and social.
Within the framework of the research fellowship I began in January 2017, I presented my research so far to a conference on Digital Humanities in Utrecht, DHBenelux.
Stories play a vital role in the lives of children. The alternative worlds they produce encourage imagination and creativity, but also transform knowledge into structures that children can understand and relate to. We present an interactive story system that creates narratives from Wikipedia articles, and reveals them through dialogue with a user. Using state-of-the-art narrative generation tools and a chatbot dialogue system, information from Wikipedia is revealed to the child based on their input. Generating narratives from any text has long been a goal of Artificial Intelligence researchers because narrative structures are useful for learners of all ages. However, many of the existing story generation systems have relied on hand – written techniques that cannot meet the scale of data online. In recent years search – based systems have been able to incorporate broader topics, but they have sacrificed continuity, producing fragmented narrative. Here we propose a search – based system that scours Wikipedia for articles relating to user input, and then restricts its generation material to that article; in doing so, the system utilises the defined topic and chronology of the article to retain context.
In January 2017 I will begin a one year research fellowship at Clips, a computational linguistics research group, at The University of Antwerp. As well as learning about this interesting subfield of artificial intelligence, I will assist on the ‘Story Table’ project; an applied project developing autonomous story agents to be used within paediatrics. The project is lead by researchers from the Experimental Media Research Group.
Ben Burtenshaw has a background in media arts and cultural research. He is PhD candidate at the Computational Linguistics Group (CLiPS, University of Antwerp). Ben is interested in generating narrative and poetic language through programming methods, and applying such systems within healthcare for children and the elderly. His PhD project is to develop an autonomous and interactive software client, that will respond to natural language input by generating stories and poems.
“Prometheanism is simply the claim that there is no reason to assume a predetermined limit to what we can achieve or to the ways in which we can transform ourselves and our world.” 
Concurrent to global post-financial crisis politics, a theory for a contemporary prometheanism has been carving itself out from different strands of philosophy and transdisciplinary research. As an event, Prometheanism 2.0 is a condensed and partial account of this strain of thought that cuts across rationalism, pragmatism, realism, materialism, science, technology, computation, economics, politics, and art to shape its foundations. It attempts to articulate the major positions, concerns, and questions for a contemporary prometheanism through both theoretical talks and artistic representations. In which sense can art practice be promethean? Where does the urge come from? Why and how should art take on this challenge? This event hopes to bring to the table discussions and questions regarding a contemporary promethean position and its embrace in art practice, contributing to further sharpening, clarifying, and formulating a prometheanism 2.0 that, to an extent, still remains germinal. READ MORE
by Bassam El Baroni, curator, writer and core theory-tutor, DAI
Description of my contribution
Often when we attempt to visualise prometheanism, we use some version of science-fiction cyborg as technology’s best effort at human, a Human 2.0. But prometheanism is more nuanced than just advancement. To see this, we need to look past humans running faster and living longer in a distant utopian future, and put prometheanism alongside other planetary scaled challenges. Beyond Cyborgs attempts to ignore the initial desire for advancement, that prometheanism conjures up, and instead asks ‘what does prometheanism look like in a state of survival?’ To grasp this interpretation, the audio performance samples science fiction novels which move beyond the traditional cyborg in cinematic portrayals. These narratives tackle humanity through complex uses of prometheanism, based on technologies completely separate from our own. They are based on biological or psychological enhancement, rather than digital technology. Through this they offer a version of prometheanism that can be applied to contemporary issues, without seeming far-fetched.
The Premise of the symposium
The symposium “did you feel it ?” will approach the concern of how affect manifests through technology, by taking the idea of the interface as a way of understanding the creation and mediation of affective forces and their influence on our social, political and artistic encounters.
Affect can be defined as as “a pre-personal intensity corresponding to the passage from one experiential state of the body to another and implying an augmentation or diminution in that body’s capacity to act.” (Brian Massumi) In our contemporary situation these experiential states and feelings are readily exchanged and traded upon in many areas of life: Your Facebook friends are editing and mediating their lives so that you can engage with them through liking and sharing. News media increasingly appeals to us on an affective register, influencing our reactions from occupation to commodification. With the growth of the service industry, an increasing number of workers no longer merely exchange the labour of their bodies, rather they exchange on an affective spectrum, like the call centre worker who must present a relentless kind and civil demeanor, no matter what.
What we do in the media is enabled and disabled by interfaces. The interface is the ubiquitous and largely hidden layer between human and machine, but its transparency does not make it neutral. It is also an autonomous zone of aesthetic activity, guided by its own logic and its own ends. (Alexander Galloway). The interface permanently shapes our view of the material, the social, the political and the technological.
This premise was written in May by myself, Jammie Nicholas and Miguel Ángel Rego Robles . Through writing this and developing the whole symposium, we were supported by Jorinde Seijdel, the editor for Open, and artist Florian Göttke.
The symposium was organised by student from The Dutch Art Institute, that I studied with as part of the project, Affective Images: How Public Images Produce Affect in a Digital Age.
Eduardo Cachucho, Charlie Dance, Monique Hendriksen, Marie-Andrée Pellerin, Kaste Šeškeviciute, Aarti Sunder, Yung Han Juan, Sebastian De Line, Chris den Dulk, Jammie Nicholas, Miguel Angel Rego Robles and Hu Wei.
Our Techno Jouissance – How Could Intelligent and Affectively Orientated Technologies Effect the Brain?
Availible at Open!
This essay (part of the Open! Co-Op Academy project “did you feel it?”) is concerned with how affective forces move through our technological encounters and how technology itself can alter these, as well as their perception within our brain. It’s not so much about the exchanges between one another, as about the situations where other, non-human, intelligences come into the fray. How and where do these intelligences manifest and what psychology do they bring about? In the latter part of the essay, I’ll compare some examples with existing theories of affective labour in order to give us an idea of what could come of these forces in the future. Affective labour has become central to consumer capitalism, seen in the prevalence of roles like the call centre worker, and so related theories can show how capital already functions affectively.
Open! is an Amsterdam-based publication platform that fosters and disseminates experimental knowledge on art, culture and the public domain. Open! explores the changing conditions of the public domain and new viewpoints on publicness from a variety of international and interdisciplinary perspectives. Open! addresses the commons and the community, ownership and power relationships, and it examines the consequences of current privatisation, mediatisation and globalisation processes on our social and artistic practices. Open! works with theorists, artists and designers who contribute to the creation of an experimental and critical body of thought. Open! is an independent organisation and the online continuation of Open. Cahier on Art & the Public Domain, the biannual print publication that existed from 2004–2012 and received support from SKOR | Foundation for Art & Public Domain in Amsterdam.
To complete my time at the DAI, I colaborated with Alex Jeoronymides-norie to make Running a cruise control, a sound work, a poem and a performance.
The video will soon be available, until then there are some images below.
The Blurb from the catalogue:
The Garden Thrives by Jam city is a severe and grating beat, with interludes of soft and easy funk. It will start the presentation, and then be interrupted by a sound work based on running. This will then be elaborated on and mused on by poet Alex Jeronymides-Norie. After which I’ll present the research over the last year that has led up to this presentation; relating to, artificial intelligence, prometheanism, consumer sport science.
The for Do the right thing
During a three day ‘marathon’ 22 graduating DAI-students will all present a 20 minute final lecture-performance. Other than the constraints of the framework of time and space there are no restrictions to the content of the presentation. Following each performance, in a conversational mode, (invited)respondents reflect on the presentation while simultaneously engaging with a well considered key question, brought forward by each presenter at the beginning of her presentation.
Bio-Symphony: Oliver Jennings and Sarah Jones, curated by Ben Burtenshaw
In 2014 Oliver Jennings researched the life cycles of plants at Devodama, a plant research institute in Italy. Whilst there Jennings developed a sound work that using Devodama’s technology analyses the electrical impedance of a plant, and applies correlating audio to its fluctuations.
For the Edinburgh Science Festival, the artists were interested in the terms that art and science meet. For example how poetry can move beyond the illustration of scientific data, and in turn how scientific data can find an affective resonance through poetry.
Jones’ poem New things was written in response to Jenning’s first work, specifically the moment when one encounters the familiar rhythm of nature, mediated by technology. For this project though, Devodama’s technology has been applied to continuously reconfigure the stanzas of Sarah Jones’ poem.
Jennings’ video work also titled Bio-Symphony, explains the association of the plant and technology with his artistic practice. As well as the specific stories and beliefs of Devodama, the inventors of the technology. Their private eco-village in Italy has a very spiritual understanding of why the plant can make sounds, which Jennings had to understand in order to research this science.
To Make a Work is a long running educational program, curated by Grant Watson and a part of The DAI’s Roaming academy. I took part in a trip to São Paulo, Brazil in order to Research Molecular revolutions and develop a work in progress, that we exhibited at Casa do Povo.
“This project will take the form of a one-year process of making a work, and will explore how a regular monthly seminar can support this. For the seminar the group will bring their research as well as their collective questions to the table and track the process of making a work individually and collectively, through its different stages from conception to presentation. The seminar is a place to consider practice but also to reflect on questions related to making a work more broadly in terms of cultural politics. For this we propose to look at subjectivity and micro-politics including through a reading of schizo-analysis, in relation to artistic production coming out of our approaches as artist, curator, and psychologist.
We propose to explore these questions as a group in the seminar, through a series of readings and workshops, as well as during a research trip to Brazil, a country where these issues have played an important role – not only in politics and culture but also in clinical work. The research trip will include a weeklong seminar at the Casa de Povo in São Paulo, with as workshop leaders Suely Rolnik, Peter Pal Pelbert, Wanderely Moreira Dos Santos, Paula Cheiffi, Yael Davids, Grant Watson and others.
[Above quoted from here]
In São Paulo I worked with Julieta Aguinaco and Sarah Demoen on a continuation of out Site of future trailer park project. We jointly wrote and performed a text titled From one thing to something else.
The text will hopefully become available online.
With Sarah Demoan and Julieta Aguinaco, we have Curated; Site of future trailer park, a return to an exchange that took place during the Welcome to Econotopia project, initiated at the Dutch Art Institute in 2013, and curated by Renée Ridgway. The participants traveled to Mexico city and Marfa, Texas as a close research of the relationship between the geo-political issues, Donald Judd and the mirage. The exhibition shows a series of outcomes made on site and after, as well as a publication. These re-articulations are an attempt to relate the issues explored within Welcome to Econotopia; now in the context of the land we stood on as a physical and social space.
No Man Is an Island, a video work within a printed publication, contains three perspectives on solitude within a community. That through fictional text and video, explore the notion of being alone as a potential component in the formation of micro communities. No Man Is an Island asks the question; is there still a place for solitude, left within our perpetually sharing-making-public-
No man is an Island was developed at the Dutch Art Institute, as part of Community in print; Curated by Casco, Utrecht.
“Community in Print focuses on serial publishing inspired by art-publishing enterprises that were for the most part in series form: from magazines prevalent in the 1970s like the American counterculture catalog, published by writer Stewart Brand, Whole Earth Catalog or the collective General Idea’s FILE magazine, to more contemporary examples such as artist, critic, philosopher, and writer workgroup Chto Delat’s newspaper that takes the name of the collective, the bilingual magazine Pages, which looks into the Iranian context and initiated by Nasrin Tabatabai & Babak Afrassiabi or artist Can Atlay’s journal Ahali. What is significantly in common among them, are their self-institutional agency. Be the vehicle a journal, magazine, or periodical, they offer a space for ongoing, self-disciplinary practices of artistic research. This space, in turn, forms a community of readers and interferes in existing cultural spheres. ” (Casco, 2014)
Title: Donne, John. 1839. “Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions: MEDITATION XVII.” In The Works of John Donne, vol 3, by Henry Alford, 575. London: John W. Parker.
We’ll focus on the subject position an individual holds within a collaboration, exploring how this can be navigated away from the position of the professional sceptic  to one that embodies a pragmatism, through commitment  —as a subject position. The idea of losing individual authorship within collaboration inherently conjures up ideas of a symbiotic working style, with two minds working as one. And though this can often appear as a desirably open working model, it has the potential to supply a hindering subject position for respective parties.
FIELDWORK: REPORTS ON EVENT CURATING, was a three-day conversation to unpack the curatorial presentation of durational art work — namely: the event.
FIELDWORK addressed the mechanics behind event production: the use of the event as a short-circuit within or an alternative to the space of exhibition production; the changing intentions of documentation in shaping the event, both prior to and as postscript; the role of curatorial qualifications and schooling in engendering customised knowledge about and established formats for the event; and the conflicts between the arrival of the event and the location in which it occurs.
With reports by international curators Isla Leaver-Yap, Fionn Meade, Sam Korman, Vivian Ziherl; and parallel conversations hosted by Gerrie Van Noord and Sarah Cook that explored the role of the event in local contexts, FIELDWORK examined the event as a space of circulation and becoming.
Dutch Art Institute’s (DAI) Roaming Academy curriculum Welcome to Econotopia: commons of the contemporary curated and organised by Renée Ridgway.
“Welcome to Econotopia: commons of the contemporary addresses areas of transgression, ranging from institutions of culture to contemporary hubs of spectacle to the internet. A portmanteau of ‘economy’ and ‘topia’, the term econotopia is coined by artist Stephanie Rothenberg and draws on Foucault’s term ‘heterotopias’, which he employs in an analysis of social and cultural spaces. These delineations could include geo-political conflicts, border crossings, gender-bending, cultural configurations of nature and the creation of meccas of contemporary art. Within these non-hegemonic spaces, physical forms or states of mind offer the transgression of these very same borders. The exchange systems and the currencies that operate within these crossings are the focus of this contribution to Marfa Summer School 2014.
The concept of enclosure brings to mind delimiting some form of spatial terrain in a field of wide openness, reining in the freedom to roam. But by the very nature of building fences or even walled gardens, delineation occurs, giving rise to the idea of property and building constructs of power. As knowledge and opinion become harder to access, transmission only becomes possible through cracks in the infrastructure. High tech surveillance systems monitor borders, keeping tabs on migrants through ‘technotopia’. Therefore our contemporary landscape is measured by the extent of our personal mobility and the ability to freely cross borders privileges some citizens over others.”
“From May 26 to June 14 2014, 20 students fromDutch Art Institute, the Sandberg Instituut/Gerrit Rietveld Academie and California College of Arts (CCA) will stay in Building 98 in Marfa, Texas. During the second edition of Summer School Marfa they will explore this town in the high desert in West Texas, the impressive landscape and the legendary works of Donald Judd. For three weeks they will expand contemporary discourses, social practices and politics in art. By creating a unique experience they will gain an understanding of the dynamics and social impact of art in public spaces.
Marfa was built during the Texas oil boom in the late 19th century. During the Mexican revolution (1910-1915), the US Army established a presence in the outskirts. The army maintained a presence during World War 2. During the war, German prisoners of war were housed at the Fort Russell where they obtained expansive murals of West Texas Living. In 1973 Judd moved to Marfa. He realized several large-scale artworks that are inseparable from the desert landscape and commissioned his contemporaries to develop art works in a former military fortress. Due to the presence of the Judd Foundation and the Chinati Foundation, Marfa became one of the major art hubs in the U.S., a place where the art world meets and the cultural industry is thriving.
Supervised by tutors from the participating institutions, students examine the natural – and cultural historical and sociological meanings of the area. They analyze the different actors in the transformation of the area and will critically relate to the value and importance of public art in this specific context.
The curriculum is built up around three different program lines;
– A deep reading of the work and writings of Judd, the impact of his legacy on contemporary art, Marfa and the meaning of preservation.
– An understanding and experience of the desert landscape, the impact of climate change and land use on it’s ecology
– The socio-political history and present of the town that nowadays provides a home for high art landscape and headquarters of National Security.
During Summer School Marfa many subjects related to the conflicting ideas and issues that arose with Judds arrival in Marfa and with his legacy will be researched. These subjects include: the history of the area, the border, the Mexican-American war, the geology, geography, psychogeography of the region, the specifics of the town government as well as a structural examination of the Judd – and Chinati Foundation, the expanding of the US border Patrol and the local Latino history.
Participants of Summer School Marfa: Gerrit Rietveld Academie/ Sandberg Institute, Curdin Tones; Dutch Art Institute, Renee Ridgway en California College of Arts, Shaun O’dell. New partner: ARID, A Journal of Desert Art, Design and Ecology.
This program is supported as part of the Dutch Culture USA program by the Consulate General of the Netherlands in New York.”
In May 2014 I was the curator for Bio-Symphony: Music of the plants, a long-running video and sound piece by Oliver Jennings, exhibited at Royal Horticultural Societies’ Chelsea Flower Show. Supported by Damanhur in Italy and Funded by the Arts Council England.
Tess Faria And Ben Burtenshaw will return the Anchor to Deptford high street. The anchor was originally intended as a monument to Deptford’s maritime history. But in recent times had been appropriated by the community to represent something new. In April 2013 it was removed by Lewisham Council to create a “welcoming, open ‘entrance’ to the street “.Through a one hour performance the anchor will be ‘dropped’ on to Deptford. With the help of the community the now silenced space at the end of the high street will be re-appropriated. Highlighting how this site has served to mediate with an altering local identity/ history not always relevant to war. And what this silenced space now means.
Saturday August 17th, 4-6pm
Members Generel Meeting is a open an analysis of the GENERATORprojects members’ base. On the 17th August, Generator will host a discussion to address an agenda assembled from commmunications between the members, committee and the artist.
The agenda for the meeting is currently been drawn up by Ben through a series of correspondance with other members and via an open access wiki – www.generatormgm.eu. The letters to date can be viewed below. If you would like to bring up a particular point for the MGM agenda please contact Ben at email@example.com.
LETTER ONE – Participation
I have recently become a member of Generator but have previously only practiced outside of Dundee. In August, Generator will host it’s first ever Members General Meeting (MGM). This will be a curated response to the committee’s performance, ‘Opening’, at the 2013 Members’ Show.
For many organisations the AGM or MGM is a legal requirement and will supply two main functions: To elect a committee and to enable members to have a say about the running of the organization, in turn increasing accountability.
In the next 3 months, I will ask members and the committee to raise open questions. I will then draft an itinerary and agenda from these; that highlights the collective concerns and confusions, in order to facilitate an open conversation.
First of all I would like to ask for questions around member’s participation. For example; “Could members curate one show per year?”
Please could you reply to firstname.lastname@example.org by the June 23rd.
All the best,
LETTER TWO – Committee
Thank you for your responses to my previous letter; Particpation.
I write to you now, to find your concerns specifically associated with the committee: Moreover, the relationship between the committee and members. This letter is accompanied by a similar letter that will only be sent to the current committee.
In order to open the process of drafting an agenda for the MGM I have made a wiki:
As well as replying to this email, you are welcome to input to this open process.
Please send responses to email@example.com – a closed email address that only I can access. I look forward to hearing your responses.
All the Best,
P.S. Please note that the date for the MGM has been scheduled for the 17th of August, 4-6pm
Hello, I attended the member's show in february: As a response to the performance which I perceived as a challenge on the involvement of member's outside of the annual show. I wish to propose a solo show at Generator Projects. I am a London based artist with no involvement, past my visit to your member's show, in the Dundee art community. I am interested in becoming a fully fledged member and then exploring the role I can take within the organisation without any traditional participation. The solo show in this instance representing the outlandish reward as a challenge to perceived lack in participation. Look forward to discussing this idea further with you, I have attached CV and portfolio. Ben Burtenshaw
In 2013 Tess Faria and Ben Burtenshaw conducted a research project in the Montmell area of the Baix de Penedes. During this time they collaborated with Cerrca as a main base for conversation and reflection on their project; Abandonar.eu. The body of work developed out of a series of walks to, from and around Marmellar and Selma, two abandoned villages within walking distance of the El Pla de Manlleu. Their stay culminated in a live broadcast of visual art works and texts from their body of research into the history of the villages. The villages functioned as dual points of reference; acting as guidelines within the project and as markers for later return.From the conception of the project Tess and Ben planned for abandonar.eu to facilitate further art works, advancing on this body of research: in March 2014 they will pursue this aim.
BB & Tess Faria, Novemebr 2012
Pizza evo 2.4 was advertised to include free pizza being served from neon under lit slab of Aberdeenshire granite. The large flat slab of granite shone bright lights in seven different colours and with the title immediately referenced Car Modification.”A new maker, not the tradesmen with his rules and “structure to success” but the self taught post production car enthusiast. The ‘discourse’ we were told about at Try as we might had gone. Instead the slices all round and super fast turn over of various different topping’s created in-depth conversation between a wide mix of people over the merit and worth of this piece. I relinquished control of discourse and handed it over to a slab of granite.”BB, April 2013
5-35 was an opportunity for artists based in rural Aberdeenshire to enter in to critical conversation around their work. The forum was based at the Scottish Sculpture Workshop, leading the conversations to be focused on a ‘shop talk’ or industry specific discourse.
“As the hangovers of discourse from Thursday night are now met by the traditional hangover of a sunny Saturday morning; I felt it was the right time to begin the online discourse that will hopefully supplement our critical forum 5- 35. The feedback that I have received so far seems good, focusing mainly on a constructive yet enjoyable time. I definitely felt this was a warm meeting of peers and hopefully friends, and was certainly not the critical Tomatina that a ‘crit’ can so often be. I’d like to thank Joanna, Josh, Laura and Alan for sharing their practices with us, and everyone else for attending and contributing. It would be great if this email stream [now blog] could now become a way of sharing the referrals that were maybe illegibly written down in the heat of conversation and the brilliant eureka moments that came to us in the car ride home. I’d like to start the ball rolling with a recommendation for no one in particular; an article in this month’s Art Monthly called ‘Paul O’kane on making art’. Its on the first page but sadly isn’t available online. There is however a copy in the SSW library.”
BB, Novemebr 2012