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Sky Arts 50 commission

Posted on: October 26th, 2017 by libby


Libby has been awarded a commission for a new artwork by Sky Arts 50.

Sky Arts launched Art 50 to invite artists of all kinds, from all walks of life, from all artistic genres, to create a piece of work which says something important about what it will mean to be British after we leave the European Union.

What will Britain look like, feel like, be like to live in, when we are no longer members of the European Union? The outcome of the Brexit referendum has stimulated a widespread debate about our national identity, with many people looking to express how they feel about our nation as we approach a future outside the EU.

Sky Arts are working with our partner organisations; the Barbican, Sage Gateshead and BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art. They will be hosting a festival featuring a selection of the Art 50 commissions as well as being on the judging panel.

Membrane presented at London Design Festival with Space10

Posted on: October 3rd, 2017 by libby


Libby presented a new interactive VR artwork 'Membrane' with Space10 at their pop-up as part of London Design Festival exploring Spaces of Tomorrow.  She also gave a talk about her practice in the evening.

How do materials and textures affect our experience and understanding of space? How do materials change the perception of a space when the substance of that space is ever-changing from solid to fluid? How will materials evolve our spaces in the future?

In order to respond to the theme, Spaces of Tomorrow, Membrane uses a quantum games engine to explore spaces that come into being depending on the movement of the user.  As a user moves the controller through a translucent membrane, their behaviour causes a new delocalised space to emerge.


Libby is now working with The Artists Development Agency.  As part of their launch, Libby was invited to exhibit her artwork Lady Chatterley's Tinderbot at Ars Electronica, Post City, Linz.  Ars Electronica is a leading festival for Art, Technology and Society and this years theme was centred around Artificial Intelligence.

"Since 1979, Ars Electronica has sought out interlinkages and congruities, causes and effects. The ideas circulating here are innovative, radical, eccentric in the best sense of that term. They influence our everyday life—our lifestyle, our way of life, every single day.
Once a year, Ars Electronica invites artists, scientists and researchers from all over the world to a conclave in Linz to confront a specific, interdisciplinary theme in the context of speeches, workshops, exhibitions and symposia."



Quantum Breathing, a site specific virtual reality installation, was exhibited a Non-Space Gallery in Aarhus as part of the 2017 EU Capital of Culture.

The title European Capital of Culture (ECOC) represents one of the most prestigious and prominent cultural events in Europe. The virtual reality experience Quantum Breathing explores the storytelling possibilities of quantum mechanics, using quantum calculations as a medium to create new narratives.


Lady Chatterley's Tinderbot was exhibited at Sonar+D with Somerset House Studios and the British Council.

Sónar+D is the international conference that brings together a combination of activities with a common theme: the relationship between creativity and technology, and the digital transformation of the cultural industries involved.

Sonar+D brings together experts from around the world (technicians, entrepreneurs, artists, companies and researchers) to present initiatives and tools that will shape future creative experiences in the fields of music, visuals, interactive content and transmedia platforms.


Over the last few months, Libby has been running a research project with the Systems Research Group for the Royal College of Art in collaboration with the Centre for Quantum Photonics at the University of Bristol and the V&A museum exploring what it might mean to make artworks with emerging quantum technologies.

What does it mean to make artworks using technologies from the edge of our understanding?

Alongside some of her RCA students, Libby set out to answer this question.  She presented the outcomes of this project at the V&A in May and exhibited the works last week at White City Place.  V&A digital art curator Melanie Lenz invited her to write an article for the V&A blog about the collaboration and the works, which you can read here and here.


Quantum photonics chip.  Photo: Joshua Silverstone


Screen Shot 2016-06-25 at 2.11.56 PM

Better late than never.  It's been a busy month since this show, but it has given me a chance to reflect and think about my piece Phoxel Tarot that was exhibited at the Internet Yami Ichi at the Tate Modern.  Also (YAY!) it was featured in the Guardian.

The piece consisted of two parts.  One was a digital fortune telling machine.  Phoxel.  Who would read visitors their fortunes constructed from bylines of applications... The second part was myself performing as Layla Swan - a fortune teller whose business had suffered from people going online for readings.  She therefore arrived at the fair set to fight back having made a pack of fortune telling cards featuring symbolism for our digital age.

Tarot lores

All the meanings of the cards are faithful to the original 22 major Arcana tarot cards and they were used to discuss people's online and offline futures.  Even though the Yami Ichi was about the Internet IRL, people were much more interested to have their tarot read by Layla than engage with the machine I'd made.


The cards were thus used as props to answer questions that people posed about mostly their but occasionally the worlds future, creating narratives that weaved in and out of the digital and real realms with multiple meanings that that audience could engage with on their own terms.

Hackney guy Tarot

Some of the questions asked were deep, while others were superficial.  For instance, one person was asking about babies another about her divorce and conversely someone wanted to know where to go for dinner.   One guy in his mid-40s asked about his sex life - he received the tower card, which represents physical destruction - with obsolete websites falling from a server.

Compare Tower h

Layla recommended that he get rid of any unwanted websites if he wanted his physical sex life to improve.

Asian guy Tarot=Asian guy

Asian guy Tarot lo res

This was only the second time I've used myself in my work, but in spite of this, the same themes that run through the rest of my practice were present in this piece too.  For example pattern making, a critique of technology, complexity, computation, interactivity, time and as with God's Dice a hint of magic.

After the readings Layla asked people to write their thoughts about the reading in a testimonial book.  Here's a selection of the best...

cyber future frank testimonial

see through me


forces of the internet




try best

Photo credits 2 and 4: Yinan Song



2016 LIFEBOAT residency

Posted on: March 31st, 2016 by libby


A Riddle Whose Theme is Time - left - los-res

Run in partnership with ACAVA,LIFEBOAT 2016 is a residency and career support award for MA Postgraduates from University of the Arts London (Graduating in 2015) with an interdisciplinary fine art approach to their practice. From next week, Libby will taking up residency in an ACAVA studio in Limehouse alongside Rosemary Cronin, Verity Slade and Roshana Rubin-Mayhew.  During the residency she will be developing further installation pieces inspired by science, technology and the underlying nature of reality.  Further details about the residency programme can be found here.


Blitz Gallery, Valletta exhibition Sensory Apparatus

Posted on: January 17th, 2016 by libby


Sensory Apparatus
The boundaries that defined the twentieth century are becoming increasingly ambiguous and even irrelevant as humanity sinks deeper into the telematic embrace. Where is the border between leaking and hacking, sensing and photography, voluntary and involuntary, government and corporation, human and algorithm? Increasingly, there is no line, just the nuances of politics, expediency and perception.

Seismic ideas - Gravity, Evolution, Quantum Mechanics, Climate Change - take generations to percolate the hive mind. The ascendance of data as the ultimate expression of the world is still in its infancy yet its impact is increasingly fundamental. From scientific origins as an objective tool of measurement, data evangelists now seek to map and quantify the intangible, be it the public mood for policy makers, the existential threat of terror for the security services or our individual desires for advertisers.
Comprising a three-room installation and an educational room across the entire gallery floor of Blitz, Sensory Apparatus is a collaborative, interdisciplinary installation that explores the influence of data harvesting, the algorithms that extract meaning from ones and zeros and the resulting representation of humanity.

The data trails we constantly create, often unwittingly, flow unseen. Yet their influence, compounding over time, is tangible. The bucolic language of the network, of clouds and cookies and sharing, positions technology as neutral. Yet, as Czech-born philosopher Vilém Flusser observed, ‘Life is coming to mean feeding apparatuses and being fed by them’.
Sensory Apparatus immerses the audience in a series of environments that respectively interrogate elements of our data-driven, ‘optimised’ society. Together they seek to raise awareness of the contemporary opaque terrain from which there is apparently no escape.

This project is in collaboration with Anna Ridler and Bonamy Devas.

Sensory Apparatus


Sensory Apparatus



Image data as material for new work

Posted on: December 9th, 2015 by libby


Something like an explosion appropriated from Fiona Rae

Last night I spoke at the wonderful Creative Data Club about how I use data from digital images as source material for my own new work (like the piece above).  These new images, which I generate by analyzing other digital images with some (Processing) code are, in part a digital sketch book and in part stand alone works in their own right.


Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 2.35.26 PM

My digital print making started a year or so ago, when I was looking for a colour scheme for my installation Computation Cloud (above).  At that time, I took a screenshot of one of Franz Ackermann's paintings from the internet.  Ackermann's painting (above) is called City Planning 2: Home, Home Again and is made from oils on a 280 x 350cm canvas, but my computer doesn't know it this way - it only recognizes the data...

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 8.54.10 PM

Here on my computer Ackermann's work is now 394 x 315 pixel RGB image with a name including the time and date of the screenshot and it is this data that forms the raw material for my own work.   In the image below I used code to analyze the RGB data of the pixels and calculate the average colour of the original image in each of the triangular regions and then to replace each triangle with this average colour.

Untitled (Ackermann deconstruct)

I have written previously about other images that arose from this process of data analysis.  They formed a sketchbook that inspired Computation Cloud.  Furthermore, due to working with digital images I was able to make a short animations that anticipated the movement of the installation: see here Ackermann_destruct - that then played out in the real world piece (click on the image below to see the video):

First cut of Computation Cloud live

Besides the digital images informing larger installations, they also become works in their own right.  When translating these images from screen to the physical world it has been interesting to think about the scale of the prints and the paper they are printed on, since both of these choices really change the experience of looking at the pieces in physical space and give different meanings to the work.

Untitled (Ackermann quantise) at Christie's

For instance with my Untitled (Ackermann quantise) prints (above at Christie's), I opted for a size that was similar to my computer screen and printed on gloss paper, since this most accurately reflects the vibrancy of the screen-based colours.  Similarly, the physical print of Time's Tattarrattat (The Garden of Forking Paths) was printed on gloss paper to reference the reflective quality of the once entirely screen based image.

Time's Tattarrattat (The Garden of Forking Paths)

More recently, as in a lot of my projects, I was thinking again about ideas surrounding the slippage and blurring of reality - the smearing out of individually possessed properties of entities as you transition from the macroscopic to the microscopic.  So, to form a background 'reality' that I could then deconstruct, I once again turned to some more of my favourite painters, Dan Perfect and Fiona Rae, whose compositions and colours I was keen to play with.  In these paintings, I really like the way marks (or features if you like) trigger the parts of your brain that are looking for patterns, the works teases you, yet becomes slippery when too much focus is given to any fixed aspect.   With this in mind, the images below are firstly the paintings that I appropriated and then my pieces which were produced via an intuitive process that involved hundreds of iterations of testing different ways the original data from Perfect's and Rae's images could be analyzed and manipulated.

Perfect - Lacoon

Heaney - Perfect Lacoon


Something like an explosion

Close up detail

The last image is a close up of the previous one.  Along with the issues written about in this post, are also questions surrounding appropriation and authorship of digital works and also the authenticity of a digital screen based image as a work of art when compared to its physical print manifestation.