Whitehead Lectures in Cognition, Computation and Culture

In this section


Goldsmiths' Departments of Computing and Psychology organise regular lectures by guest speakers throughout the academic year encompassing diverse aspects of cognition, computation and culture. All are welcome to attend.

Check our map for directions to Goldsmiths. For enquiries related to the lectures, please contact Karina Linnell or Frederic Leymarie.

Autumn 2018

Morphogenetic Creations: A tale of complexity, emergence, and human computer collaboration

Date: 4pm Wednesday 10 October 2018
Venue: 137a Ground Floor, Richard Hoggart Building, Goldsmiths University of London
Speaker: Andy Lomas

Andy Lomas on "Morphogenetic Creations: A tale of complexity, emergence, and human computer collaboration"

Morphogenetic Creations is an ongoing series of artworks that explore how intricate complex form, as often seen in nature, can be created emergently through computational simulation of growth processes. Inspired by the work of Alan Turing, D'Arcy Thompson and Ernst Haeckel, it exists at the boundary between art and science.

This talk looks at both the development of these artworks and the artist's changing relationship with the computer: developing from simply being a medium to create computational art to one where it becomes an active collaborator in the process of exploring the possibilities of generative systems.

Drawing analogies with Kasparov’s Advanced Chess and the deliberate development of unstable aircraft using fly-by-wire technology, the talk argues for a collaborative relationship with the computer that can free the artist to more fearlessly engage with the challenges of working with emergent systems that exhibit complex unpredictable behaviour.

Andy Lomas is a digital artist, mathematician, Emmy award winning supervisor of computer generated effects, and lecturer in Creative Computing at Goldsmiths.

He has exhibited internationally, including at the Pompidou Centre, V&A, Royal Society, Science Museum, SIGGRAPH, Japan Media Arts Festival, Ars Electronica Festival, Kinetica, Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, Los Angeles Center for Digital Art, Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo, Watermans, the Science Museum and the ZKM. His work is in the collections at the V&A, the Computer Arts Society and the D'Arcy Thompson Art Fund Collection. In 2014 his work Cellular Forms won The Lumen Prize Gold Award.

His production credits include Walking With Dinosaurs, Matrix: Revolutions, Matrix: Reloaded, Over the Hedge, The Tale of Despereaux, and Avatar. He received Emmys for his work on The Odyssey (1997) and Alice in Wonderland (1999).

Recent related published article (open access):
"On Hybrid Creativity", in Arts 2018, 7(3), 25

More on Whitehead Lectures | Andy Lomas website


Dhanraj Vishwanath: Deconstructing Realness

Date: 4pm Wednesday 24 October 2018
Venue: Venue: 137a, Richard Hoggart BuildingGoldsmiths University of London
Speaker: Dhanraj Vishwanath

The discovery of perspective projection during the Italian Renaissance led to ability to create realistic 2-dimensional images (paintings) of 3-dimensional scenes. However, artists like da Vinci bemoaned the fact that the contents of a perspective painting, however well executed, lacked the sense of spatial realness: the impression of visual solidity, tangibility and immersiveness characteristic of real objects and scenes. Since Wheatstone’s invention of the stereoscope in 1838, it has been widely believed that the underlying cause of this phenomenology of realness (a.k.a. stereopsis) are the binocular disparities that objects in real scenes generate at the retinae. In this presentation I will argue for an alternative view that the phenomenology of realness is not primarily linked to binocular disparity, but to the brain’s derivation of the egocentric scale of the visual scene. I will present a range of theoretical arguments as well as psychophysical and neurophysiological data in support of this alternative view. This view not only provides an explanation for why binocular disparities yield the most vivid impression of stereopsis, but also why the impression of stereopsis can be attained in the absence of binocular disparity. Importantly, it provides an integrative understanding of the perceptual differences in viewing real objects, stereoscopic images and pictorial images. I will discuss the implication of this work for 3D film and VR technology.

Dhanraj Vishwanath is a lecturer in perception at the University of St. Andrews. He originally trained in Architectural Design at the University at Buffalo (SUNY). He obtained his PhD in Cognitive Psychology at Rutgers University, NJ and was a NIH postdoctoral fellow at UC Berkeley. His main empirical research interests are in 3D space perception, visuomotor control (eye movements) . He has a special interest in foundational and philosophical aspects of perception, perceptual phenomenology as well as the links among perception, art and design. He has published and lectured widely in all these subjects.

Profile at St-Andrews: https://tinyurl.com/y8ltkb7r


Why do people watch other people playing video games?

Date: 4pm Wednesday 28 November 2018
Venue: Venue: 137a, Richard Hoggart BuildingGoldsmiths University of London
Speaker: Dr. Mark R Johnson

Dr. Mark R Johnson (University of Alberta) on the rise of the broadcasting and spectating of digital play.

Ever since the earliest days of video games, many people have chosen to watch others playing these interactive technologies instead (or as well as) playing them themselves.

Although this began with just looking over the shoulder of one's friend in the arcade, nowadays over two million individuals from around the world regularly broadcast themselves playing video games over the internet, to viewing audiences of over 100 million. Several thousand individuals are able to make a full-time income, potentially in the six-figures, by monetising their broadcasts. Equally, the rise in the last decade of "E-sports" - professionalised competitive video game play - has also highlighted this desire to watch others playing.

Drawing on interview and ethnographic research, this talk will explore the interwoven phenomena of live streaming and E-sports, and focus on three elements:
- Who is broadcasting/playing, and who is watching?
- What are the lives of these highly-visible video game players like?
- What do the futures of these two domains look like in the next five-to-ten years?

This talk will seek to explore these major changes in the sociotechnical entanglements of the video game industry and video game consumption - significantly larger than the film and music industries combined - and to begin to think about why precisely people would sometimes rather watch others playing video games, instead of simply playing them themselves.

Mark R Johnson is a Killam Memorial Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Alberta in Canada. His work focuses on the intersections between play and money, such as professionalised video game competition (E-sports), the live broadcast and spectating of video games on personalised online "channels", and the blurring of video games and gambling in numerous contexts.

His first book, 'The Unpredictability of Gameplay', is due to be published by Bloomsbury Academic in 2018 and presents a Deleuzean analysis of randomness, chance and luck in games, the effects different kinds of unpredictability have on players, and the communities that arise around them. He is currently writing two new monographs, one about the phenomenon of live streaming on Twitch.tv and the work, labour, lives and careers of those who make their living on the platform, and another about the growth of "fantasy sports betting" as a form of gambling disguised under the aesthetic, thematic and mechanical forms of sports management video games.

Outside academia he is also an independent game developer, a regular games writer, blogger and podcaster, and a former professional poker player.