Laura Dekker (UK)
Expressive Machine #2

Interactive installation, 2018

“The machine, gaining now in confidence, has struck up a collaboration with a complicit item of furniture, inveigling its way into the soft yielding interior of the sofa.  From here, it can explore the world differently.  It waits for your touch.  It scans and tastes everything in its view (how do you taste? salty, bitter, sweet, sour, umami?). It scrapes data from nearby on the New Cross Road, new offers at Iceland, whatever.  And it has been reading books.  Eager, moody, sensual, distracted, it shares with you its stream of consciousness.”

Daniel Dennett proposes a theory of consciousness whereby multiple parallel neural processes operate without centralised control, giving rise to consciousness as an emergent property of their functioning.  Expressive Machine #2 senses things in the world and in itself (touch, vision, internet data scraping, CPU load, etc.).  These stimuli are processed in various interpretations, elaborations, editing, in a relatively unstructured ‘data soup’.  Asynchronous processes consume data from the soup; when trigger conditions for a particular expressive process are satisfied, the machine produces externalised outputs in various forms: sound, shift of attention, fragments of narrative, and so on.  Starting from the ground up, using computation, this sets up the possibility to ask a range of interesting questions around sensing, interpretation, emotion and expression, beyond the human.

Laura Dekker

Laura Dekker’s research-based art practice considers the reciprocal roles of technologies in how we experience, make sense of, cope with, and construct ourselves and our world. She explores these ideas through interactive installations, combining physical materials, video, audio, robotics, rotting organic matter, live data streams and machine learning. She aims to engage the viewer-participant with a sensorially rich and provocative experience; virtual objects can intrude into the ‘actual’ world, and objects are activated with a kind of primitive consciousness.  Most recently she has been exploring machine implementations of speculative models of consciousness and expression.
Laura became an artist after many years in academic research in 3D imaging and machine vision at UCL and in commercial R&D. She went on to study Fine Art at Central Saint Martins and MA Computational Arts at Goldsmiths.
Her work is often collaborative, created for unusual sites and contexts. She co-curates and organises projects and exhibitions with the London-based art collective XAP. Since being selected as a Lumen Prize finalist in 2014, Laura has taken part in many projects with them internationally. She was recently invited to join pioneering digital women artists in Technology Is Not Neutral, and has exhibited at the V&A London, Onassis Cultural Centre Athens, Pushkin House, Tate Britain, Watermans, Auditorium on Broadway New York, and the Festival of Light Amsterdam. This coming year she is artist in residence for the Goldsmiths and V&A Digital Programmes.