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Fiction Machines – Bath Spa University

A multi-strand project exploring media art

Fiction Machines is a multi-strand project by Dr Charlie Tweed comprising a body of video art works, a journal article, a curated symposium and a journal special issue.

The project

The overarching project considers how media art works can be developed that expose, rewrite and critique the mechanisms of contemporary control technologies from informational and affective perspectives.

Secondly, it also considers how re-appropriation can be used to harness source material drawn from the operations of these technologies.

Thirdly, the research asks how the works themselves can become self-reflexive machines, performing affective control on the viewer, whilst also exposing their artifice. And lastly, how similar research approaches and practice-based works can be interrogated and brought into view.

Theoretical focus was drawn from Deleuze and Guattari’s work on control societies and Brian Holmes’ ‘electronic noosphere’, where new forms of control are enabled via an assemblage of machines powered by informatics and affect. Also from Benjamin Bratton, who calls for the definition of new types of machine that utilise a more ‘promiscuous figurative imagination’.

In response to this theory, I developed a new method of ‘speculative recycling’, deploying the use of video as a form of ‘subversive re-writing machine’ that both enhances and destabilises control mechanics, utilising over-identification as a critical tool. The project uses authoritative and calming artificial voices and experimental editing tactics to draw the viewer in and expose the fictions of their construction.

Works within the Fiction Machines project include:

  • Oporavak (2016), a film which takes the language of data recovery to extreme levels, manipulating both digital and non-digital materials via its sentient interface.
  • A critical journal article on Oporavak for the International Journal of Creative Media Research, which further interrogates the methods used. 
  • A critical symposium held at Bath Spa University was organised, featuring keynotes including Professor Simon O’Sullivan (Goldsmiths) and highlighting similar research approaches.
  • A special issue of the International Journal of Creative Media Research, co-edited by myself, is forthcoming.

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