No preamble. This is by no means exhaustive but it's mostly true.
I started the year at 30. The early weeks of January are peppered with planning meetings for various projects that came to fruition throughout the year. Various projects in collaboration with Wesley Goatley and of course Impakt was still ten months away so was nothing more than a weekly Skype and hundreds of pages in dozens of PDFs. At the end of the month I helped Wesley out with some visuals for Breathing Mephitic Air, part of Space to Breathe at Somerset House.
In February I was out in Leuven setting up the first version of The Finite State Fantasia at STUK. This project was a real challenge to try and embody some of the ideas I was working through in my PhD about what a machine is and what it's for. Wesley was there to help pull the sound together and get some complicated projectors all working together. I put together a lecture which I gave at STUK which I've been bringing around with me all year, updating and modifying as we go that's been useful in explaining a lot of the stuff that ties together things like The Finite State Fantasia and Haunted Machines. The talk wasn't recorded unfortunately but it was given in several other places and in different iterations that are reported further down the line.
At the beginning of March I was hosting a part of Next UP, a University Arts London event that brought together professionals and practitioners to talk about careers with final year undergrad students. Then it was off to Eindhoven to set up The Finite State Fantasia again. This time for STRP's biennale. I gave a shorter version of the talk I gave at STUK right after Stelarc had finished weirding everyone.
After that I headed over to Utrecht to meet up with Natalie Kane and begin a residency as part of our research for Impakt. We did a load of lectures, teaching sessions and meetings all over the country and got to meet a lot of folks that formed a lot of our curatorial direction for the festival.
The residency and its ceaseless procession of coffee meetings spilled over into April. While there we hosted our first official Impakt event as part of the Haunted Machines & Wicked Problems program - Accursed Creator. We managed to get a full house and generate a lot of excitement six months before the madness of the real thing happened. I landed back in the UK on the first day of term just in time to remember that I have a full time job in a university.
After just over a week in the UK and doing my actual job I was back out in the Netherlands for Fiber festival - another iteration of the Finite State Fantasia was on exhibition at De Brakke Grond along with Natalie and I's project Alchemy and I gave another version of my talk from STUK and STRP. Fiber was fantastic and I saw some great stuff. There's a video breakdown below.
At the end of May I was in Athens wearing several different hats. Georgina Voss and I ran a workshop as Strange Telemetry looking at alternative urban futures for Athens as part of the exhibition 'Tomorrows' which also had New Mumbai on exhibition. We wrote an essay as well. Not sure where that is though.
From the beginning of the month I took up a new job at LCC as Course Leader of MA Interaction Design Communication and spent a lot of time giving lectures including for the Something or Other series. I was back and forth from the Netherlands a lot for various Impakt related missions including beginning a seminar with HKU students and was beginning work on curating Possible/Probable Worlds at Uncertainty Playground, LCC. In Strange Telemetry we were working hard on a project for the Royal Society on futures in scientific research. We should really publish that on the site.
July was mental. I got married. I ran the Speculative and Critical Design Summer School again but only for a week this time. Before running off on my honeymoon I took part in 'The Fix' with Cat Drew of Uscreates and various other luminary figures.
August started with Georgina Voss and I going out to Australia as part of the Interact program at LCC. This is the last year of a series of exchanges with RMIT in Melbourne and QUT in Brisbane but we're already working on the next stage of the relationship. With all the footage we've managed to capture over the last few years of our trips there we put together a little montage video.
Got back from Australia and went straight back to the Netherlands for Cultural Sunday. Natalie and I ran a little event with some of our speakers and partners talking about current affairs and Game of Thrones.
with the MA IDC students for them to show their work at the campus exhibition. I had to run back early to go to Ben Stopher's wedding which was in the countryside somewhere. Literally the next day (oh god I remember September now) Wesley and I were beginning a week of ricocheting back and forth between Brighton and London. This was the famous week of opening three exhibitions at the same time, one of which I was curating. At LCC we had Possible/Probable Worlds opening. Simultaneously in Brighton was Mephitic Air while at Somerset House we were building and installing Moving Mephitic Air - a collaboration between Strange Telemetry, Superflux and Wesley Goatley for Design Frontiers. I can't even begin to tell you how hard we worked that week. No sleep all-night rendering and coding sessions before running around shouting and climbing ladders. Here's the video from Mephitic Air.
Then London Design Festival opened and I was still running around now presenting all the work I'd built, there was seminar rounding up the Interact project, artists talks and a visiting contingent of RMIT students doing a workshop. At some point I managed to plan a curriculum for MA IDC as well and moved the course into a brand new studio.
Term started, 40 brand new fresh students turned up and filled up the new studio quickly. Then I had to go and take down all the projects form September. I went to Vienna to take part in Steirischer Herbst and give a version of 88.7 at what felt very much like being a after dinner performer. I liked it and I got to meet a hero of mine. The type of hero where you don't even think of them as a human with a body. We joked about trains. Then, quick as that it was Impakt: Haunted Machines & Wicked Problems. Five days of talks, exhibitions, performances and events curated by myself and Natalie Kane. The time flew by and was rejuvenating. I can't write about it in a year review. I couldn't in my last month review. But we're going to write a book next year so you can get all your reflexivity there. Here's a video of Impakt in 8 minutes. I like that 2017 lets us compress three years of work to 8 minutes. Very efficient.
November came, I gained a year of age. The students had their graduation show. We're making a video about it at the moment. There's more about the year in IDC over on the IDC blog here. I came back from Impakt a lot more short-tempered and belligerent and did a couple of things to prove that. First a podcast with Natalie which descends from the history of Haunted Machines into how to win the culture war. Then I was back in the Netherlands (I know, I've asked the Dutch government about a loyalty scheme) for ThingsCon where I introduced 'Arrational Machines' (a frankly brilliant blog post that not many people read) - a kind of working title for post-Haunted Machines. Actually seizing technology to do more than just the same old capitalist shit over and over again. I'm real happy with this material as it hits the pivot point of my PhD work bang on.
In November Natalie and I also went to Brussels to have a fireside chat thing with Diederik Peeters who was one of our commissions for Impakt. There was vitriol there too. Last thing that month was Barcelona to see some PhD students give presentations and schmooze because we started a new research hub - Supra Systems Studio.
Now we're in December, I promised in my last missive I'd be buttoning down to spend time with my students and I successfully did that. They produced a fantastic show (again written about over on the IDC blog) and we had some good fun seeing the previous cohort leave as well as getting to know the new guys. There's a lot of work to do but there's so many opportunities for great things.
Two books to write.
PhD to stride through.
A new curatorial/research job.
An MA to make incredible.
A new research hub.
Second viewing of new Star Wars.
Cool new Art with Wesley.
At every point in writing this I've wanted to stop. See you next year.