Data Golem Portsmouth Lab

There is an open session on Thursday evening (4pm – 7pm, Space Gallery, Eldon Building, University of Portsmouth, Winston Churchill Avenue, PO1 2UP. All welcome) to see the work in progress of 14 participants who are working together over 5 days (27 – 31 July) to drive and develop a piece of responsive and adaptive software for artists. The participants are: Jacqui Banks, Fab The Detonators (Tiago Gambogi), Jeannie Driver, Simone Gumtau, Alain Renaud, Olu Taiwo, Jo Tyler, Adam Vanner, Wanda Zyborska with facilitation, participation and documentation from Tessa Eliott and Jonathan Jones Morris (SurgeryDar), Helen Sloan (SCAN) and Steve Lewis (OrangeAlert)

Drawing on the metaphors of artificial life, in computer science, literature and the arts, the title DataGolem compounds Data – ‘the qualities, characters, or symbols on which operations are performed by computers’ with Golem – ‘a shapeless mass, a human figure of clay supernaturally brought to life, an automaton, a robot’ to suggest a radical, generative live art performance system.

Many of the current digital interfaces for the performative arts follow the surface conventions of flow charts and circuit diagrams and show little relationship to individual creative practice. Artists, therefore, are required to fit their work into the constraints and conventions of others. Examples include:

DataGolem aims to break the mould of conventional digital interfaces by constructing computer code in an ‘open source’ fashion through a series of LAB sessions, in which people from different specialisms in the arts and technology contribute to structured improvisations with their ideas, desires and expertise. DataGolem is intended to contribute not only to digital artistic practice and performance but to touch on the practice and theory of the human computer interface, with implications for design and software development.

The first DataGolem LAB is a unique opportunity for the participants to be instrumental in design and construction of computer software which is intrinsically reflective of your own practice. The LABs are set up as creative workshops for interdisciplinary teams (drawn from performers, dancers, filmmakers, sonic artists, visual artists, computer scientists, social scientists, set designers….) and aim to harness a multiplicity of approaches to produce a prototype for a radical ‘open’ interface, combining discrete forms of representation.

Each LAB intends to synthesise the individual aspects of art and participation; agile software development and interactivity; digital technology and performance; to harness a multiplicity of approaches in the design, production and realisation of software.

The DataGolem LABs will utise an agile development methodology, employing adaptive as opposed to predictive methods in software and interface design and development.

The project is produced and developed by SCAN with financial and resources support from the University of Portsmouth.

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