Devised and Facilitated by: Tessa Elliott and Jonathan Jones Morris, SURGERY - Digital Art Research
Presented by: SCAN
Supported by: University of Portsmouth, Creative Technologies Research and SPACE Gallery

27 - 31 July, SPACE Gallery, Eldon Building, University of Portsmouth, Winston Churchill Avenue, Portsmouth

Free. Accommodation and Travel Expenses Paid

DataGolem is yet to exist ......... where do you want to go today?


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 bare 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 DataGolem concept has grown out of the collaborative work of Tessa Elliott and Jonathan Jones-Morris and their experiments with computer mediated installation and performance which began in 1990.

DataGolem LAB

The first DataGolem LAB is a unique opportunity for you 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 intensive five day DataGolem LAB will be facilitated by Tessa Elliott and Jons Jones Morris and will utilise seed software and feature immersive examples of reactive, interactive, and interadditive modes of gestural interface and computer response, drawn from their previous digital installations and performances.

The LAB will be constructed to allow the diverse approaches of the core participants to contribute in the exploration of the DataGolem theme. Each participant will be expected to commit and contribute to the LAB as a whole and to expand the theme by a pre agreed short 'structured action' based on their own practice.


We, SURGERY- digital art research and SCAN, have drawn up an initial long list of people who we think, due to their practice and approach, could be actively involved in the DataGolem LAB process ……and you are one of them.
We can accommodate up to 15 people in each of the LABs.

We are looking for a core of artists and technologists with excellent expertise and communication skills, a desire to work with digital technology in the arts and the ability to question, share and innovate as part of a team.

The DataGolem Core needs people who want to :

  • originate not duplicate
  • be agile not procedural
  • be active not passive
  • be an instigator not an end-user
  • be fluid not static
  • be adaptive not predictive

DataGolem ......... where do you want to go today?

Each DataGolem LAB is a collaborative endeavour and will involve problem-posing as well as problem-solving. The LABs are intended to facilitate acts of cognition and not merely transferals of information by combining theory, action and gameplay in the development of form.

The participants of the Portsmouth Lab are now selected and their biographies are available on this wiki

Ask not only what software can do for you but what you can do for software to enable radical digital art practices.

Post LAB

The process of the LAB will be visually documented, written-up and presented on the DataGolem website. A review of the LAB, together with the software status, will be the seed for the following LAB, forming an iterative process of action and reflection.

LAB participants are stakeholders in the DataGolem project, having influence through their conceptural and physical investment in the development of the DataGolem software. They will be credited as original Core members and have options to continue as a Core member in the following LABs; the opportunity to be the first to utilise the DataGolem software (whatever it's status) ; to be involved in the further on line development debates and actions; to be notified of latest developments of the project.

Website: /

About Tessa Elliott and Jonathan Jones Morris

Tessa Elliott and Jonathan Jones-Morris are co-founders of SURGERY-Digital Art Research which specialises in development and production of experimental installation and performance for both the commercial and art sectors. Utilising the techniques of machine vision, gestural interface and neural networks SURGERY installations are in the permanent collections of, amongst others, Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow; Science Museum, London; Horus, Moscow, Russia.

In 1995 Elliott, Jones-Morris were commissioned to produce a radical collaborative installation for Camerawork, London - entitled ‘ for (i = 0001; i <= 1001; i++); ’. Over a period of a month eight workshops enabled diverse groups of participants, ranging from school children to architects, to input images, sounds and reactive structures into the installations. The residency culminated with a performance by dancer Rebecca Skelton utilising reactive and interactive motion capture and image generation, pattern recognition and perspectival invertion. This work resulted in the encoding of Andrew Deakin’s compositional technique and the real-time filtering and mixing of sound which were entirely dependent on the dancer’s movement on stage. The dancer/choreographer rehearsed and performed with neural network pattern recognition system in performances at Sadler’s Wells- London, Split Screen - Chichester and - Leeds.

A further performance system was developed, from the installation ‘Periodyssey’ at Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow, in which sound objects and the utilisation of granular synthesis, would allow gestural movements within the installation, to evoke sounds through a flame algorithm and orchestrate their distribution through 8 channels of sound. The pre-recorded digitised signature ‘release movements’ of Rebecca Skelton, resulted in ‘Odyssey’ premiered at Digital Dancing, The Place, London in which dancer/choreographer performed with her own pre-configured, re-configured self.

Tessa Elliott and Jonathan Jones-Morris are currently running a series of digital workshops in North Wales whose output will feed into large scale projections and interactive scenarios for a 400 cast production of the MABINOGION with Theatr Harlech in Harlech Castle, July 2009.

About SCAN

SCAN is an agency developing media arts in the South of England. It works in partnership with a broad range of individuals, groups and institutions nationally and internationally to commission innovative projects that cross and merge disciplines drawn from arts, media, humanities, science and technology. SCAN explores ideas, sites and tools showing the creative potential that media arts offer in our changing society.

Launched in 2004, SCAN has worked all over the country and internationally in partnership with organisations to deliver innovative new projects and initiatives that develop creative technology, interdisciplinary practice and new models of working. SCAN supports artists on a 3 year rolling programme and its work with artists focuses on supporting research and process as well as outputs.

SCAN has worked with Universities such as Goldsmiths, University of Wales, University of Creative Arts, UAL and is currently hosted by the prestigious Media School at Bournemouth University. This work has been combined with the delivery of projects in arts organisations, museum contexts and working with organisations in other aspects of the public realm such as Arts Catalyst, John Hansard Gallery, Venice Biennale, Science Museum, ArtSway and ICA. Artists supported include Simon Hollington and Kypros Kyprianou, Tina Gonsalves, Steve Symons, Jeannie Driver and Igloo.

Helen Sloan has been Director of SCAN since 2003 and has worked as a curator of digital and interdisciplinary arts since late 1980s. Sloan first commissioned Elliott and Jones Morris to begin the i= series when she was Exhibitions Programmer at Camerawork in 1995. While the technology in terms of machine vision and interaction has developed rapidly in that time, Elliot and Jones Morris are among the very small number of artists who have demonstrated a vision for how these processes can be used in a creative context. It is appropriate that they update and revisit this work in 2009 in the light of developments in internet, enhanced interactive and responsive systems and the relationship of these with DataGolem’s highly innovative conceptual model of practice and software development.

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