Asking for help as a new world |The Hologram feminist, peer-to-peer health

Category : Uncategorized · No Comments · by Sep 27th, 2020

This week I join the second gathering of the CreaTures project (Creative Practices for Transformational Futures). 

We are ecstatic at Furtherfield to be artistic partners in this 3-year programme as it puts us in collaboration with fantastic artists and researchers from around the world who focus on the role of creative practices in moving the world towards socio-ecological sustainability. Our role is to produce two large scale artworks as the subject of enquiry about how to support social practices that seek to be transformative. They are The Hologram by Cassie Thornton and The Treaty by Cade Diehm and myself (in collaboration with a load of other people).

If you want to learn more about the CreaTures partners, people and projects involved check out this link. On Tuesday, I will have the pleasure of talking to the CreaTures team about the second Hologram Course and thought that some of you might find it interesting too.

If you prefer to learn straight from the horse’s mouth, buy the Hologram book. I find it an enjoyable read full of inspiration and insights into ways to resist the kinds of network cultures (and the ideas about what constitutes politics and care) that are fed to us by and about social media platforms.

A bit of background. Furtherfield hosted Cassie in a residency Feb-May this year. The idea was to provide space and support to develop the format for a concept she had been working on for a couple of years inspired by solidarity clinics and integrative health-care systems in the Greek islands during the 2015 migrant emergency in Greece. The Hologram is an artwork and a peer to peer feminist healthcare system that is openly anti-capitalist. Her residency ended up being wrapped in the pandemic, and so she moved presentations, workshops and the first course that she developed with Lita Wallis, online. This is all in the book.

As part of CreaTures, she is now running the second course called  ‘We must begin again: Asking for help as a new world‘. And it is this that I wanted to share some experiences and thoughts about. First, I need to say a bit more about how the Hologram works.

Someone (called the hologram) asks 3 people if they would agree to join them in a regular conversation about their wellbeing. It is a long-term commitment.

These people form a triangle around the hologram. Over time they build a multi-dimensional picture of the hologram’s wellbeing from 3 different perspectives: emotional, physical and social. They do this by becoming curious, listening, and learning how to ask useful questions. Cassie describes these people as the hologram’s medical records. In this way the hologram teaches the people in their triangle how to care for them – they are the experts of their own situation. The triangle helps the hologram to see patterns and find the support they need in many ways, including helping them with research into particular life-crises as they arise.

The community gathering around this project is creating an experimental space that is testing a variety of linguistic and bodywork techniques.

Like an inverse pyramid scheme – the value (knowledge, understanding, healthcare) sits with the person who is the hologram (in a reversal of professionalised healthcare) – there is no expectation of reciprocation. This is not a transaction; it is care. It is important that people in the triangle will also be holograms – so that the knowledge about collective healthcare can be shared. This is not a replacement for state-healthcare. It is, however,  more necessary in some parts of the world (USA) than others – and the process so far has revealed just how stark are the interconnected problems of debt, racism, access to healthcare, housing. Also, most vivid – is the emerging crisis of complex trauma amongst professional healthcare workers themselves.

I’ll finish up by saying a few things about this second course:

1. We are working with the CreaTures team to approach the question of transformation in artworks (I’ll let you know how we get on with that).

2. We have a wonderful auto-ethnographic researcher who is taking the course, and keeping a journal of her experience of the course itself. This teaches us all a huge amount about what happens inside one participant.

3. We will be having conversations about the question of “audience” for this work – and I’m not yet sure what I will have to say about this. But there is something about a work that is co-created by its own audience – and any other audience is perhaps irrelevant.

4. This course which is run on Zoom, is built around group exercises on 4 very potent themes: Trust, Wishes, Time, Patterns. You can probably imagine just how potent this is in the context of pandemic futures.

Beyond the Blokechain: The Cryptofeminist Agenda panel discussion

Category : Uncategorized · No Comments · by Jan 6th, 2020

THIS VIDEO from MoneyLab#7 features four cultural critiques of the blockchain space, from a feminist economics perspective: Andy Morales Coto, Denise Thwaites, and Ailie Rutherford (and I), moderated by Rachel Falconer

Andy Morales Coto explores how blockchain cultures use and abuse ecological metaphores. Denise Thwaites offers a feminist analysis of DAO cultures and the emergent affective economies they instate. And Ailie Rutherford talks about her work with feminist economics at The People’s Bank of Govanhill. I talk about DAOWO and DisCOs and explored the spaces of convergence between the Commons and P2P movements along with the world of cooperatives and the Social and Solidarity Economy.

First Experiences of Reading

Category : blogging, Uncategorized · No Comments · by Feb 22nd, 2015

Last week Edward Picot asked “What are your first/most formative memories of reading and encountering books? Was it in a library, a bookshop, or exploring the  bookshelves at home?

He was first inspired by Code Poet Mez’s autobiographical account of early reading- which is quoted on the website.

I wrote: In the effort to remember my early reading experiences, I instead remember smells of places: the damp of my grandparents house in Clitheroe, the classroom in my primary school, the camper van in Devon. I can’t remember learning to read or write. I was read to a lot as a child, I love my parents for that. Such a variety – Spike Milligan, Lewis Carol poems and songs. Astrid Lindgren, Joan Aitken, Alan Garner. I also recall my younger brother (who had a strong sense of pathos) reciting from the book of Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes, with a forlorn look on his face. Later we went on long camping holidays and we would be read to in the evenings: Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea Trilogy. Tolkein.These are some of the books I remember. What I know, is that I learned to read with books designed for the purpose: Janet and John; Topsy and Tim; the ladybird books of fairy stories.

I’m not very good at reading words off the page/screen and I’m a horrible speller. I am a pretty good listener though. Recently I signed up to an audio book club – and find I can “read” all sorts of things I had previously struggled to attend to. Last year I “read” Marx’s The Communist Manifesto for the first time, on the treadmill at the gym, and Emma Goldman’s On Anarchy, while driving 3 times a week to a particularly un-free workplace. Moving my body and eyes as I “read” audio books liberates me to make more connections, to comprehend the layers of meaning and tone.


Ruth CV 2015

Category : Uncategorized · No Comments · by Jan 10th, 2015

Artist and Co-founder, Co-director of Furtherfield


1990 BA(Hons) Fine Art Sculpture, Falmouth School of Art
2004 MA Networked Media Environments, Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication


Since 1997 Co-founder and artistic director of Furtherfield
Founded in 1997 by artists Marc Garrett and Ruth Catlow, Furtherfield is the UK’s leading organisation for art, labs, & debates around critical questions in art, technology and social change. Its thriving international, online community and programmes make network cultures more feelable and accessible to more diverse people. Exhibitions and labs tour nationally and internationally, strengthening the expressive and emancipatory potential of digital technology. Furtherfield is a non profit organisation and has been part of the Arts Council England National Portfolio of Organisation since 2005.

2011-2014 Head of School, Writtle School of Design (WSD)
2009-11 Course Scheme Manager, Digital Art and Design, WSD
1995-2008 Senior Lecturer in Digital Media, Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication
1991-2001 Violinst with Midas Touch, Traditional Greek Wedding Band.

Selected Artistic Projects and Exhibitions

2014 Play the Web We Want, commissioned by Southbank Centre as part of the Web We Want Festival; Play Peer2Peer Futures, Alt_Cph Assemble, Copenhagen;
Play South Westminster, commissioned by, Tate Britain & Peabody Housing Trust exhibited as part of The British Folk Art Exhibition

Since 2012- 2015 Play Your Place
co-devised by Ruth Catlow and Dr Mary Flanagan (Tiltfactor, US), this open, online artwork enables people to collaborate to draw, make and play multi-level platform games, that express their shared values and aspirations for the future.

2003 – 2015 Rethinking Wargames, Lo-fi Net Art Commission (2003) exhibited and played at The Baltic, Gateshead & Limehouse Town Hall, London; part of The Making of Balkan Wars- group exhibition by Personal Cinema, Athens & Madrid 2004. RISK, CCA, Glasgow 2005; now touring 10 USA venues alongside artworks by Yoko Ono and Cory Arcangel, as part of Free Play, an international touring exhibition organized by Independent Curators International (ICI).

2010 At Winter Equinox we burn The Sun, & Festival of Money short films created by Ruth Catlow and Marc Garrett, screened at Show Room Cinema, Sheffield, and at The Zone, The Hundred Years Gallery, Brighton, 2010 and Givon Gallery, Tel Aviv 2012

2009-10 Connecting Across Difference. Artistic director for an inclusive multimedia performance at V&A Museum of Childhood working with 6 artists and musicians alongside 70 children. Commissioned by Drake Music

2009 We Won’t Fly For Art, pyramid pledge and artworld intervention by Ruth Catlow and Marc Garrett, as part of Furtherfield Media Art Ecologies programme. Shortlisted and exhibited for the BASH, RSA and Ecology Sustainable Art Awards, London

2008 Driven- a Dilemma of Co-existence, net artwork by Ruth Catlow and Marc Garrett, Banff New Media Institute, Canada

2003 -09 VisitorsStudio, a realtime, online platform for audiovisual remix, for which Furtherfield was awarded the 2009 Grand Net Art Prize by Machido Museum, JA. Creative directors, Ruth Catlow, Marc Garrett and Neil Jenkins. Dissension Convention. VisitorsStudio performance by Ruth Catlow and Michael Szpakowski, Postmasters Gallery, New York 2004

Selected Curatorial and Commissioning Activity

2015 WWW TV, at Southbank Centre; Beyond the Interface installation for the Web We Want Festival, with Museum of Computing History, Cambridge

2015 The Netartizens Project and open online exhibition as part of The Art of the Networked Practice Online Symposium, presented by the School of Art, Design & Media, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

2014 Digital Zoo: Life from the world wild web, a touring exhibition to 5 UK shopping centres, in partnership with Land Securities and Culture Code.

2014 Do It With Others (DIWO), CLICK Festival, Culture Yard, Helsingor, Denmark

2011 Collaboration and Freedom – The World of Free and Open Source Art, online collection commissioned by Arts Council England Knowledge Bank, mirrored by the Foundation for Peer To Peer Alternatives

Furtherfield exhibitions include:
2015 The Human Face of Cryptoeconomies as part of Art Data Money
2015 Beyond the Interface
2014 Piratbyrån and Friends curated with Rachel Falconer
2013 Shu Lea Cheang and Mark Amerika; Glitch Moment/ums curated with Rosa Menkman
2012 WWW: World Wild Web; Being Social; Invisible Forces with Class Wargames
2011 Made Real by Scott Kildall and Nathaniel Stern; Art is Open Source, 2011
2010 If Not You Not Me by Annie Abrahams
2009 Feral Trade Cafe by Kate Rich
2008 The Jeremy Bailey Show; Open Source Embroidery with Ele Carpenter
2007 Zero Gamer: Sometimes We Just Like To Watch, as part of London Games Fringe Festival (also exhibited at Zero One)
2007 Do It With Others (DIWO): E-Mail-Art
2006 GAME / PLAY a national touring exhibition, curated with Giles Askham, also exhibited at London Trocadero as part of London Games Festival Fringe; Open Vice/Virtue: The Online Art Context by Andy Deck
2005 Abuse of the Public Domain by Stanza; Theatre of Restless Automata by Boredom Research;
2004 The Future Is Not What It Used To Be by Erkki Kurenniemi

Recent Conferences and Public Speaking

2015 Back to the Future, Closing panel discussion chaired by Jude Kelly, Artistic Director of Southbank Centre Web We Want Festival, Southbank Centre – May 29-30
2015 Hackathons: Grassroots Activism or Digital Sweatshops? Digital Shoreditch. Panel participant, hosted by Queen Mary University chaired by Becky Stewart Codasign 11 May
2015 Art, Technology, Human Existence, CLICK Festival seminars, Culture Yard, Helsingor, Denmark: Co-hosted and co-curated with Richard Stallman, Cory Doctorow, Jennifer Lynn Morone, Francesca Da Rimiini, Virginia Barrett, Shulea Cheang & Stelarc
2015 Play as a Commons: Practical Utopias & P2P Futures. Panel speaker, Transmediale, Berlin, January 2015
2015 PLAY: Respondent to McKenzie Wark Keynote, Transmediale, Berlin, January 2015
2015 Creating, Commissioning, Exhibiting and Collecting Art in the Digital Age. Panel convened by Ruth Catlow, with Steve Fletcher, Lindsay Taylor. London Art Fair, London, January 2015
2015 Activating the Public Space, Digital Utopias, Hull Truck Theatre, January

Recent participation on Boards, Peer Review

2014 Named by Foundation for Peer2Peer Alternatives in their list of 100 Women Co-creating the P2P Society
2014 Moderator for the Practice panel, Understanding Post-digital Cultural Forms – A Review Summit, organized by Transmediale in cooperation with the German Federal Foreign Office and hosted by the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, November 10th, 2014
Since 2008 Advisory board, Tiltfactor, critical games lab, Dartmouth College, USA

Selected professional Development & Training

June 2014 – January 2015 7 month Fellowship with the CultureHive Digital Marketing Academy for leading cultural practitioners. An experimental, evidence-based programme for digital marketing developed through a ‘lean’ methodology

June 2014 Creating Innovation from Collaboration. One day workshop by Creative Works London, Somerset House

2013 Multi Platform Business School (Scholarship). 6-day project-based, tutorial and consultation driven course, which focuses on the business aspects of creating cross-platform content. Ronda, Spain

2013 Pixel Lab (Scholarship). 6-day intensive development workshop for participants across film, TV, games, online, advertising, visual arts, publishing and mobile. Belgium

Since 2009 Ongoing professional development in teaching and learning in Higher Education, through participation in annual training sessions run by Writtle College.