Luke Sturgeon

  1. Then I’ll Begin

    October 1, 2014

    This is the first brief for the Design Interactions course at the Royal College of Art. My home for the next 2 years!

    You will be building unexpected scenarios, exploring future narratives and telling tall tales; you will work with writers, performers, comedians and improvisers to investigate the mechanisms by which factors such as plausibility, functionality and entertainment work together in the telling of stories.

    For this 8-hour workshop we will examine future communities, plausibility in narrative, functionality in narrative, comedy, tragedy and what comes in between. As well as storytelling and performances.


    • Charlotte Jarvis
    • James Yateman
    • Ed Rapley
    • Eleanor Buchan
    • Tom Latter

  2. You Are Here: Art After the Internet

    September 30, 2014


    The context of the Digital: A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships

    By Gene McHugh

    Digital Natives live much of their lives online, without distinguishing between the online and the offline. Instead of thinking of their digital identity and their real-space identity as separate things, they just have an identity (with representations in two, or three or more different spaces). They are joined by a set of common practises, including the amount of time they spend using digital technologies, their tendency to multitask, their tendency to express themselves and relate to one another in ways mediated by digital technologies, and their pattern of using the technologies to access and use information and create new knowledge and art forms. 1

    Many cultures – as their economic and cultural affairs move online – have evolved various internet-specific ways to flirt and show affection so that people can now have ‘natural’ interactions without being in the same room.

    What is ethical and what is not. The lack of these broadly defined norms creates a disconnect,, two-tiered world in which some exist in a pre-internet reality, while others can only be their real selves online. This is not science fiction; it’s an awkwardly developing truth, one that, over the next generations, will necessitate social scientists and cultural producers to demarcate how intimacy happens over screens.

    Post-Internet: What It Is and What It Was

    By Michael Connor

    It no longer makes sense for artists to attempt to come to terms with ‘internet-culture’, because now ‘internet-culture’ is increasingly just ‘culture’. In other words, the term ‘post-internet’ suggests that the focus of a good deal of artistic and critical discourse has shifted from ‘internet-culture’ as a discrete entity to an awareness that all culture has been reconfigured by the internet, or by internet-enabled neoliberal capitalism.

    Further reading

    • Ann Hurch
    • Eugene kotlyarenko’s skydiver

    1. John Palfrey and Urs Gasser, Born Digital: Understanding the first generation of Digital Natives, 2008.

  3. Facing the Intelligence Explosion

    September 26, 2014


    I came across this short but thoroughly enjoyable book through Written by Luke Muehlhauser, executive director of the Machine Intelligence Research Institute (MIRA) who’s primary focus is the foundation of AI safety.

    In the first several chapters of the book Muehlhauser goes to great lengths to set the right expectations and definitions between himself and the reader. Introducing many fascinating topics and how the related to one another. For example:

    The availability heuristic also explains why people think flying is more dangerous than driving when the opposite is true: a plane crash is more vivid and is reported widely when it happens, so it’s more available to one’s memory, and the brain tricks itself into thinking the event’s availability indicated probability.

    In the book’s summary of the present state of humanity, we are summarised as “this kludge of cognitive modules and alogorithmic shortcuts”.

    I’m not an agent designed to have correct beliefs and pursue explicit goals; I’m a crazy robot built as a vehicle for propagating genes without spending too much energy on expensive thinking neurons.

    The good news is that we are robots who have realised we are robots, and by way of rational self-determination we can stage a robot’s rebellion against our default programming.

    During the later chapters of the book a decision point is proposed.

    For a fleeting moment in history we are able to comprehend (however dimly) our current situation and influence which side of the mountain we are likely to land in. What then shall we do?

    We’re learning how to make AIs safe much more slowly than we’re learning how to make AIs powerful, because we’re devoting more resources to the problems of AI capability that we are to the problems of AI safety.

    One way lies human extinction. […] Another resting place may be a stable global totalitarianism that halts scientific progress, although that seems unlikely.

    Our current limitations aren’t fixed by physics, but by the limits of our intelligence and the resources that can be used at our current level of intelligence. With self-improving machine superintelligence acting on our behalf, our biological limits can be transcended.

    Further reading

  4. Machines CANNOT think

    September 23, 2014

    This is a strong statement, but something I feel compelled to write. As I currently read through the fantastic book Facing the Intelligence Explosion by Luke Muehlhauser I came across a statement I disagree with, whilst I’m enthralled with everything else in the book.

    “Machines can now compose music, play chess and Jeopardy!, understand continuous speech, pick stocks, guide missiles, recognise faces, diagnose health problems, and so much more.”

    Yes machines are technically capable of meeting our requirements of what we accept as capabilities listed above. But the machines aren’t doing this because they want to, chose that profession or direction in life or because they’re artists capable of producing never before heard scores. They are not driven to or passionate about music, art or understanding people. They are achieving these goals because they were ‘designed’ to. The machine is the physical or digital representation of a series of connected algorithms and processes. They are nothing more than advanced calculators, capable of processing data at a tremendously faster rate than humans.

    When I see a machine or hear of mechanical accomplishments I also get excited, proud and overwhelmed at how mankind have broken down complex tasks in to calculations which they can repeat endlessly, using machines, code and engineering. Designers, engineers, technologist are capable of amazing things. They build machines! But the machines are nothing without the problem-solving, inventive and sometimes chaotic brains of humans.

    Machines CANNOT read books and tell me their favorite quotes or which they think I should read. But machines CAN analyse the text and words of thousands of books in a few seconds, and –  based on complex algorithms, designed by humans – they can suggest series of characters that they’ve identified as being the closest matches to my personal criteria.

  5. Beautiful results from Science Museum workshop

    September 22, 2014

    I am delighted to start sharing some of the work that was a result of last weeks photography workshop, led by myself and Shamik and hosted and supported by the Science Museum, London. There will be more developments with the project and the full set of results can be seen on the Flickr Group, but I wanted to highlight some of the exceptional results that participants where creating after an hour or so of demonstration and experimentation.

  6. Upcoming workshop at the Science Museum

    September 13, 2014


    I am very pleased to announce that myself and Shamik Ray will be leading a photographic workshop at the Science Museum, London in a couple of weeks time. The workshop will build on our existing project and is the first time the Android and iOS beta apps will be used by members of the public. The hands-on workshop will allow participants to explore and create photographic data-visualisations using light-painting to discover Electromagnetic Fields around everyday objects.

    The workshop is in close collaboration with the Science Museum and sit’s beautifully alongside their Secret Life of the Home permanent exhibition, and is also part of a series of events created for the amazing Stranger Than Fiction exhibition from Joan Fontcuberta.

    Limited paces are still available at the moment for what should be a really fun day of experimentation and learning.

  7. Making Visible: Mediating the material of emerging technology

    September 5, 2014

    Our best machines are made of sunshine, they are all light and clean because they are nothing but signals, electromagnetic waves, a section of a spectrum, and these machines are eminently portable, mobile. […] The ubiquity an invisibility of cyborgs is precisely why these sunshine-belt machines are so deadly. They are as hard to see politically as materially (Haraway 1991)


    This is the PhD thesis of friend and lecturer Timo Arnall. His primary motivation for this body of work comes from his own personal experience and “the focus on seamlessness has meant that there is little design practise or research that looks into making interface technologies apparent, or into revealing and explaining how they work” (Arnall 2014).

    Immaterials-Wifi-21 RFID-Nearness RFID-Touch-Project

    I enjoyed the text greatly as we seem to share similar concerns and opinions about the speed that a new piece of technology moves from concept, to proof-of-concept to market-ready, with little or no consideration of the social, political and economical consequences. Something that Jacques Ellul describes beautifully in his 1954 book The Technological Society. Although Arnall’s focus is upon the attitudes of designers who conceive and communicate these new technologies.


  8. A tool to optimise our memory of past experiences

    August 31, 2014


    This paper outlines an approach to the study of self-perception and self-reflection in performance, through a research tool that arose from a collaborative project between the author and a dance artist. Original ideas and questions were used to interrogate our own process and methods during the project, that suggested new tools for design research and approaches to self-reflection. This paper starts by introducing the unique qualities of intimate-performance as a research context and addressing relevant research themes and their relationship to this context. Next it discusses the creative process that was undertaken and how practise-based iterative investigation shaped the project. Finally, it focuses on the toolkit that manifested itself as a way to initiate and capture self-reflection.

    We began to realise that if we wanted to change the situation we first had to change ourselves. And to change ourselves effectively we first had to change our perceptions (Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People)


  9. Four Futures of Hawaii 2050


    Originally published in August, 2006 this series of four hypothetical future scenarios for the islands of Hawaii provide a way to discuss the probable futures. By projecting current economic, social, political and technological ideas forward by 44 years (from date of publishing).

    Further reading

    • Julian Simon, The Ultimate Resource 2. Princeton University Press, 1998
    • Jared Diamond, Collapse: How societies choose to fail or succeed. New York: Penguin Books, 2005
    • Dennis Meadows, Jorgen Randers, and Donella Meadows, Limits to growth: The 30 year update. Chelsea Green Publishing, 2004
    • Ray Kurzweil,The singularity is near: When humans transcend biology. New York: Viking, 2005

Prev →