Saturday, 27 December 2014


as part of the squeeze
fold bend and expand - Structural Memory in Deformable Objects
project I’ve
been involved in over the past 2 months
I’ve made a film. It shows some
of the over 180 sculptural forms and how they move when manipulated. filming by
Bob editing by Jim.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014


multifold - joining two of the modular pieces together at different folded points enables a number of different possibilities. a folded folding machine for hands.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014


working on the final multi-narrative structures. Decided on grey board and felt as ‘final, finished materials’ – I’m enjoying the historical art references they provide, especially the legacy of felt and its relationship to Beuys. The pieces provide numerous possibilities of juxtaposed shapes and spaces. I’ve editioned the piece so that a number of them can be left as a legacy within the robotics department and hopefully accessible within the proposed exhibition.  

Monday, 22 December 2014


looking towards the end of the project and working on the taxonomy of structures has uncovered interesting links to the starting point of the last project – finding connections as ever - mapping the whole process is a wonderfully reflective exercise enabling a level of understanding and proposing what should come next.

getting my head around the final final structure is a tricky one – working with backwards and upside down with two sides having asymmetrical shapes with reflective material juxtaposed with light absorbing black.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014


It was great to hear and in some instances see what the other teams have been up to. The final meeting of Parallel Practices made me even sadder that I was unable to get to the other meetings as I feel that I have missed out on the sharing element of the process to some extent.
Anyway – it was in another great new space in London that I had no idea existed – the Life Science Museum within the Hodgkin Building. To get to it we walked through a labyrinth of endless shelves with thousands of bottles of unfamiliar body parts , then past the oddest folk art I have EVER seen (see above) into a room where we sat a large table surrounded by glorious examples of skeletal structures. I and Naomi were first up and we talked about new tools, thinking space, open-endedness, mapping the process, creating taxonomy, although Richard named the activity.
Celia was great and the idea of carving out space for reflection and thus her revelation that at the core of her work was the idea of care was beautiful. She spoke very movingly about respect and responsibility around the bodies she had worked around.
Karina was very focused like her project and she spoke eloquently about the role of the machine with and verses the hand, the value of what she was doing as a maker and how stitch and textiles or at least non-robotic materials could become a part of robotics ‘teaching’. I love the precision of how she uses language, supporting the finding of the right word after my questioning of Celia’s comment about the ‘ordinariness’ of her practice, rather than its extraordinariness in the world of the throwaway.
Tamsin had her workbench nearby and was able to show us all sorts of wonderfulness; exploding ceramics infested with calcium, crystal growth on ‘bones’ and a see-though blue mouse. Listening to her and Richard talk about providing access to the space was empowering.

There were so many areas where we overlapped – although it was more of a constellation of possibilities - I could have listened all day. Some notes I made which I have to think about – it opened a door to what I don’t know, technology adding a new dimension, anatomy as an act, the supervised machine, sometimes I can sometimes I can’t, the idea - no the feeling of ownership, enabling others to rethink what it is that they do, I’m never going to know what I mean, negotiating a re framing of practice.

Monday, 15 December 2014


We have been asked a set of questions to enable discussion at Tuesdays meeting – some answers before discussing it with Naomi.
How have you pushed, expanded or challenged your practice through collaboration?
Throughout my practice I have developed a set of rules, a framework or paradigm to support, guide and enable me to make work. This activity is sometimes conscious as a creative exercise and sometimes subconsciously through the familiarity of making. This project enabled the opportunity to break a large number of the rules I have created; examples being the act of cutting and joining of individual elements towards the development of new structures, working with a range of materials new to me encouraging new areas of problem solving and working in new media in the form of moving image.
Observing how others make work and having access to ways of thinking which is new to me has been liberating and has infused in me a renewed interest in creating physical work from a place of making tools for thinking.
Do you feel you have fully tested and trialled your original idea that you set out to work towards collaboratively?
This has been very successful – providing a ‘creative jolt’ both through and away from my practice. We set out to move towards and occupy a place of not knowing. This was supported by all and underpinned our time together.  If something looked or felt familiar we moved away from it. This resulted in creating models and structures unfamiliar to me.
One deviation from our plan was that we said we would initially work separately for a period, developing our own entry points to the subject and then we would come together to collaborate but we naturally found ourselves working collectively from day one. This felt more appropriate and made sense in terms of the practical issues of location, our other commitments and the timescale of the project.
Can you prove this through outcomes and evidence or what looks new and different?
Yes – the work I have made set out to be process led, (quick, cheap and unfinished) so that ideas were at the fore of the investigative project. This way of being manifests itself in over 180 individual models (some consisting of up to 100 components). The project has enabled me to finally work creatively with a number of new processes and mediums I have trying to work with for some time; laser cutting and film making and to confirm my interest in the activity of creative thinking as an end in itself.
What is your residency’s impact or ‘success’?
I set out to be changed and have been. Through the project strategy we set up - of making, responding, reflecting, sharing I now have a huge body of starting points or thinking tools for new bodies of work that can be taken into a wide range of situations from education and health to architecture and design. I have made links with like minded people outside my sphere who I will defiantly work with at a later date.
Looking ahead- what do you or would you still like to do?
To see the impact of my presence. The timescale did not allow me to see how my thinking or the objects I have made fully impacts on The Centre for Robotics Research. There was a large element of sharing and exposure within the project but it would of being nice to be able to track an experience into a practical outcome – changing/saving the world through folding paper.
The ‘teaching by osmosis’ I witnesses was intoxicating and very different to my engagement with graduate and post graduate students within art institutions and something I shall try out but it would be interesting to be part of a PhD students lab team, supporting and working with a long term goal, providing an open ended sounding board for their research and in turn their thinking enriches our practices.

I feel that the work we have undertaken within the project needs to be made visible, both the objects themselves the process and our testimony. The dissemination of activity is the key to change.

Friday, 12 December 2014


some thoughts as we move to the final meeting on tuesday.....

This opportunity has diverted me from the thinking patterns I usually engage in and enabled my practice to be opened up, exposed and in turn challenged. I have been presented with new ways of working, practical concerns around problem solving, the creation of rules to work within and different methods of making.

Exposure to these issues has thrown up a number of thoughts - on the one hand exposure to new ways has informed what I do, much of this has been appropriated into my practice over the projects timespan and highlights new possibilities, for example working within a constructed paradigm to generate deep thinking, changing materials but retaining existing structure and actively testing to create data with which to improve existing work or develop new work.

The project has also made visible and so possible what I do but I am now able to re contextualise it - already a part of my practice through the work with OCA  the use of Skype has cut down my travel but I now see it as a tool to connect, with the opportunity to work globally or at least with somebody at the end of a computer.

Although collaboration is a large part of my practice - the book form is a collaborative experience - from the many parts or elements that go to make up a book to the people who create it through the numerous specialist processes they engage in. Collaboration within ones own practice is one thing and relatively easy, a shared understanding of the form exists, across art forms another but this is still within a shared understanding of values.  Within science thinking it is different. But the project has had at its core respect, respect for the values of others and this has enabled me to release the creative process, relinquishing control and establishing new frameworks.

Searching out ways to fail gloriously

It is important to recognise that my intention was to work in ways I had not previously experienced and to make things that I did not understand. The overarching idea was to attempt to be surprised. This idea of surprising oneself was important - the collaborative work pattern was such that a conversation became an idea which was then developed into a practical working research strand which would become a physical models, structures. If that idea, when becoming manifest, was recognised or understood it was often abandoned and new strands of the unknown were taken up even if the original projected outcomes were to be successful. This led to brand new work which will require long term thinking to consider how it will transform both my ways of working and the work itself. Although there was an interesting discussion around finding oneself becoming the other person, making similar work, although not ones own!

The experiences experienced and lessons learnt will inform my own making when I return to the studio but it will also support and facilitate the teaching I undertake, both formally in three institutions I teach in; Camberwell College of the Arts, Norwich University of the Arts and the Open College of the Arts and informally within the workshops, consultation sessions and residencies I become involved in.

It will also make me an advocate for science and science thinking. For too long Science and Art have been seen as separate and different while during this project I have witnessed a group of people within Thrish
's lab creatively problem solving, working deep, thinking laterally and exploring materials - sounds a lot like the creative sector. They also feel comfortable sharing - there is the realisation that one person cannot know it all and that more is possible if knowledge is shared. Although their working patterns of thinking something into existence and then proving it by experiment/experience is similar in some ways to the design world - having in ones mind an answer or vision and working towards it. Rather than working with an idea and setting out not to know and when a direction is decided upon looking out for new routes to get there.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014


Thinking about the space the structures work in – this screen shot of a video plus code by Nantachai plots movement and so enables us to see – I’m doing my own version later – attaching lights to specific points and through long exposure shooting all will be revealed!

Wednesday, 3 December 2014


Reflection on the project whilst spending time in two material libraries today.
So what’s next?
“We don’t lose anything even if we fail”.
I was very taken by Thrish’s answer - to his approach – to his reasoning - to his engagement – to creative thinking with others.
This opportunity to work within King’s College has presented many possibilities – of which many require further research to fully engage in the benefits they offer.
The opportunity to engage in alternative ways of thinking is essential if ones practice is to grow and evolve. Otherwise we risk isolation – relegated to the role of creating expensive ‘baubles’ for collection. We have a more ‘useful’ role in society to take up. Our ability to think laterally, to problem solve creatively make us valuable. Our material knowledge and understanding is highly specialised and we can communicate concepts and emotions across language and cultural divides, globally we are essential.
I have felt valued and respected during this project but one starts out by trying to find a position of worth, of usefulness – What is my job? What is my point in being here? There is a sense of being slightly in the wilderness when attempting to explore ones value as a maker in a society underpinned by the search for the lowest common denominator and a love of
We have been making thinking opportunities. The process has enabled sessions where we have developed ways of working that enabled an understanding the problem and the solution at the same time – there was a sense of natural evolution – of working towards something intuitively – allowing space to reflect on activity – leading to possible direction – outcomes.
This cross fertilization must be used to address the misguided and in fact false categorization that separated science from art. I have found scientists to be open and transparent in many ways that makers are not. There is recognition of and a building on existing knowledge. This creates a sense of shared community – contributing and exchanging information towards a common good – that of gaining knowledge.

The connection to science thinking needs to be expanded to a larger number of people – this could be a limited exposure, although the 2-3 months time-scale feels appropriate if there is the intention not to have a final outcome. For me it has acted as a kind of boost – an introduction to what I already did, an intervention of research that although connected to what was there has built or at the very least redirected a piece of my brain somewhere more interesting. I have been making tools for thinking and I intend to do so. 

Friday, 28 November 2014


A day of stacking - looking at how the individual elements when cut, creased, folded and gathered together behave. The friction created is a form of jamming – the internal spaces created are intriguing and the pieces start to connect to some ideas related to ‘bookness’ - especially when viewed from the side - page, leaves, book.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014


Reflecting on the second day in London as part of the parallel practice project – we now have a list of activities to undertake as final statements – they include using the single ‘spinning’ element and using it to explore the making of structured sheets, the stack and the collapsibility, mapping the whole project (possibly through email without discussing it), making a number of films using the data Nantachai created with his wonderful coding and adding lights to the work and filming the movement. – all in the five days remaining. Some of the conversation focused on materials – what makes a finished piece? What materials say finished? What materials should the pieces be made with? I’m going to make a visit to the materials library to check out what’s possible – also it will be a good research trip in relationship to the teaching I’m involved in at Norwich University of the Arts.


Yesterday was a full day full of possibilities – of starting points – if not quite of ending at least of rounding up – it was the day of the workshop with the phd students under Thrish’s supervision – this was full of intriguing conversations and a full exchange of ideas and cross interdisciplinary fertilisation took place – it was as ever fascinating to watch another way of thinking take place in front of you using objects you have made. But rather than viewing the science students as other real connections and cross over’s in thinking and attitude took place and I felt I had more in common with these people than some closed art people I know who are engaged in the secret stifling the illusion of uniqueness. This fullness continued with the filming of us, the work and the models for the project, it is so important that the voice of Thrish and Nantachai are in the film otherwise it would not feel right – our experience is fully integrated to their experience and the learning that has taken place is because of all of us at this moment in time. Anyway we will see what happens

Sunday, 23 November 2014


relentless cutting creasing folding fitting - a day of construction. the piece explores the negative space whilst friction enables the exploration of jamming/grinding.  

Friday, 21 November 2014


the day was split into two - looking at ways of joining the spinning piece and thinking about how a narrative could be created through manipulation. the idea is to add colour to the shapes and by moving them the holder will be able to make different patterns.

Sunday, 16 November 2014


I’ve been thinking about the negative space that the structures create when folded – this changes as the work is manipulated so I’ve chosen one configuration and cast the space with plaster – making it physical – holding it and feeling the weight - intriguing but not a line of investigation I’ll follow on this project - something to work on later. 

Saturday, 15 November 2014


ok I think that i might of finally got this soft robotics thing – reacting to its context, structural memory in deformable objects – yesterday I brought in a structure to the meeting that I had already shown – but changing the parameters (making two elements longer) meant that I was able to manipulate it in one plane – in x and y axis – making it perform  in an exaggerated ‘flipping’ motion within a number of ‘other’ axis’s – this was an easy movement that I performed without thinking – I had not taken into account – body memory, variable stiffness or morphological computation - the model was then strapped to a xy table and initially a circle was coded into the movement of the arm – the uneven forces within the structure broke the arm which was attached to the structure – the structures construction meant that when the structure was manipulated it was revealed that the forces within it were distributed unevenly – something that was felt but overlooked and not fully understood when manipulated in the hand - then the movement of the arm was simplified into 4 points in space - a square, even though we had now worked out that the movement was octagonal – the 8 fitting onto the 4 sides each and with corners being taken up by an angle– due to the forces a second arm was broken – (robot war!!! my robots 2 theirs 0) – but with the addition of a spring the forces were subsumed and the structure moved beautifully – a case of passive actuation in practice.

The body makes and compensates for millions of movements continuously without recognising them – a robot which engages with its context has to undergo a similar process but it has to know – the maths involved in the coding is so mind boggling – I get it......actively controlling the passivity.

Friday, 14 November 2014


Our 3rd meeting – what a day as ever so many thoughts and ideas but somehow today everything gelled – some ideas are becoming concluded (for now) – others expanded (later)- the video of swirling data surrounding and swirling around and within one of our structures mapping light levels oooooooooooohhhh – it just looked like SCIENCE- this led to us thinking about mapping and documentation – so we are planning to document  all the structures we have made – reflecting on them and mapping the connections by remembering and creating links between them – thinking around the idea of genetics – the children of the parent structures – this will be undertaken in a number of ways - visually, with the knowledge of what led to what within a linear timeframe and also by applying code to map similarities. Some filming took place – we pretended to look and talk spontaneously – painful but it meant that myself and Naomi got time to discuss and plan for the next sessions (running a workshop for PHD students). Also the lab did look really cool – art and science taking place simultaneously both feeding off each other so that it was difficult to work out when one concluded and the other started. 

Wednesday, 12 November 2014


The complicated dynamics of creating collaborative work with 4 people from 3 different disciplines, working together over 500 miles apart who then purposely set out to gain enlightenment through not knowing has so far yielded a wealth of ideas and models. It has already promoted radically new ways of thinking and working that will inform our practices for years to come.
At the initial opening up stage we created over 200 models. We are now focusing our energies on developing a number of specific forms that explore particular ideas; translation and rotation, variable stiffness and multiple forces. The openness to possibilities has created a huge conceptual creative space which we are enjoying, contemplating the next stage, which also includes a return to our previous lives will involve evolving some conclusions which will bring us to exploring and then using materials new to us.

Friday, 7 November 2014


a day of refining and joining - the inevitable production line and eventually satisfaction. The work today was about trying to both explore ideas of multiple and joining whilst creating a more 'finished' piece that can be mapped and monitored next week at our meeting at Kings.

Thursday, 30 October 2014


A day of robotics at Kings – testing and talking – as ever I've come away with a note book full of words I didn't know existed and concepts that I have to reflect on. There was a wonderful moment when a room full of PhD students were fiddling with our creations – you could see their minds making connections and making sense, their sense.

A conversation about testing how the structures we have built affects its environment - (moving them in a tank of floating particles and observing how the particles move) connected with a thought I have had about the space a book inhabits – where does a book begin and end and could one cast that space? This led to the idea of working in negative space and the idea of searching for a place of not knowing. As a strategy I have realised that during this project if I am working on something and its becoming familiar I tend to move away from it into a place of not knowing. Lots of learning is taking place. 

Friday, 24 October 2014


Rules are interesting – either setting them from the outset and seeing what work/outcomes occurs as a result of following them or through reflecting on practice and realising that they are inherent in your work. a way of 'short-cutting' this is watching other makers, this acts as a form of mirror -  and then adopting – so I am finding myself relieved of the making-work-from-one-sheet-of-material-rule and allowing cutting with ‘random’ shapes that do not make a whole – some interesting outcomes so far. 

Saturday, 18 October 2014


An awesome day of insight, revelation and enlightenment. Our first sharing meeting after doing some work...... collaboration through sharing and creating new work between practices is already proving a rich learning ground. Finding out how somebody thinks is so energising, doing this while they are holding your work is fascinating – a real insight. I watched Nantachai as he ‘communicated’ with a small folded paper – feeling the variable forces within both the paper and then almost as a feedback loop into him!!!
Walking around the lab created so many starting points that i thought my head might explode- from wires and dynamics, to pumps and the potential of new material

The wildest thing i go away with is the idea that the objects i make can be ‘reduced’ to a formula based on the forces within it – wow and wow again – it has changed how i think about the folding both as intention beforehand, concentrating during and what the work could be as an after though during reflection.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014


Received the first package from Naomi today – its interesting to see how others make, the activity makers engage in and the unwritten rules they create such as cutting and folding and curved lines v straight lines. This of course becomes all about how you make your own work. Her starting points have taken me on a journey of inside/outside – thinking about how organs/cogs/internal material will have to move within the confines if an outer case – is this just an old fashioned vision of what a robot should/could be?

Wednesday, 8 October 2014


a morning of working on folding circles and attempting to join one circle to the other - got to love these people at lots of possibilities. meanwhile when looking at the imagery it all gets a little nazigothicmystic.

Friday, 3 October 2014


Reflecting on repetitive acts leads to revelation. When developing creative solutions to material problems makers often undertake hundreds of similar movements. There are a huge number variations within each piece which leads to a range of iterations of the wire/line pieces.