Category Archives: Art

a new artwork

*in progress*

I have had this model of a drone for a while now, an Italeri 1/72 RQ-1 Predator.

The final aim has been to mount it like the victorian collectors of insects, and start to present the machinic Phylum in this victorian, museum style.

I have finally put it into a frame.


From the collection. #themachinicphylum

A photo posted by @geocontrol on

and I expect to hang it on my wall shortly, i doubt it will be in a gallery near you anytime soon though.

A very immodest proposal

On boxing day we visited the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, a clear yet cold day and an opportunity to see Seizure. Later that day we would drive through the oncoming storms of rain and snow but for the couple of hours we were there it was in a beautiful landscape with the works of people to challenge, lighten, darken and question us.

It was on leaving that I realised that Palindrone needs to be in a place like this. The sound of these drones has become a psychological source of fear and terror for those who live in the environments where these systems operate. Yet here, in the English countryside, the sound of a propeller plane is not the sound of an omnicient, panopric super power but the sound of light aircraft, flying for the sake and hobby of flying.

Within the Yorkshire landscape though lie the military bases from which these drones can be operated and across those moors lies the electonic listening post that is Menwith Hill.

So whist these drones are flying over the skys of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yeman and Gaza we should be able to hear Palindrone in the country landscape that hosts the enabling technology of drones.

Art and …

I was watching some of the twitter stream from an event last night about #Stacktivism. From the stream it felt like there were a number of people in a room who could not communicate with each other, their disciplines used elements of language differently, expectations varied.

I was not there and I am waiting for the video of the event but from the narrow strand of talk I did pick up on, it reminded me of something else.

A while back I was at a symposium at the National Maritime Museum on Art and Astronomy and I think there was one question from the day that is useful thinking about art and Stacktivism.

One of the artists, Elizabeth Price, who had won the Turner Prize in 2012, had been invited to talk about her work and was asked a question from the audience about the scientific usefulness of her work.

Price had been working at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, on work around their archive of photographs of the Sun.

When asked though about the outcomes of the artistic practice, in relation to the scientists work neither the artist or the scientist could give a straight answer, either a ‘Yes, her work gives us new insight into the data and we have done new research on X’ or ‘No, but the outcomes are pretty.’

Similarly, earlier in the day we had been introduced to the work by Hubble scientists in how they present the images that are released. How they echo the great American landscape artists of the 19th and 20th Century. Again a question had been asked on the ‘scientific usefulness’ of this work.

The question could not get a simple answer, it does not deserve a simple answer even though it was an easy question to ask.

One of the things art can do is take something ‘mundane’ and make it weird and in doing that make you think about the thing again.

Art can use the materials of other areas to make the art, it can inherently discuss the materials and processes or not. It can be considered political (or not). It can help describe, help define or just reflect upon.

The language of art becomes a part of the culture of communication, even subconsciously. The photographs taken by Apollo astronauts reflected an aesthetic of the time, and now the images from Hubble are often framed to recall the great sublime landscape art of the 19th Century, the frontier of American colonisation.

Even though the artist may use the data that was used by scientists and create a new output and that output by itself does not answer any questions the scientists immediately have does not diminish its value.

What is it that lies at the nexus of Art and Infrastructure? I don’t know yet, I don’t think anyone has developed it fully yet, no one is properly weirding that part of the world to make us think about it again.

A thin strand of the new digital infrastructural layers are starting to be reflected, presented back and made visible to us, but there are vast stacks behind all this that remain a dark matter to be explored and re-exposed.

Looking back at the history of art, could I just make a small suggestion, Carl Andre’s Equivalent VIII could be an interesting node to start looking at this nexus, but then, so could Turner.

Art, Archive and Help

I need your help!

I need people who are willing to be recorded answering the three questions on the ‘What does privacy mean?‘ project.

Those questions again are:

  • What does privacy mean to you?
  • What does protection mean to you?
  • What does security mean to you?

I will be using the audio in a piece called The Numbers Station, which is designed to be an audio installation both physically located and occasionally broadcast over radio waves (a la numbers stations).

The audio will also be released with a creativecommons licence as a part of the archive for ‘What does privacy mean?’ (which will include written responses to these questions as well as submissions submitted via a web form).

The aim of the archive is just to record the feelings of people on those three questions. If your opinion changes you can do it again, there is no right or wrong answer and I fully support the idea that you have the right to change your mind about anything.

If you would like to take part in the audio part of the project then please either email me at or ping me on twitter @marksimpkins and we can arrange either meeting to record or you sending an audio file.

Please do share this request with anyone who you think might be interested in taking part. When the audio is released it will not have any information pertaining to who you are.

If you have any questions as well then please email me as well.

Thanks and I hope to hear a lot of your answers soon.

[By the way: I am geocontrol On Audioboo and on Soundcloud if that helps to get your recording to me.]

Elegant Cyborg

The #elegantcyborg project is a multipart investigation into the instrumenting and augmentation of ourselves via technology delivered by the Stacks (see Stacktivism).

The first stages of the project is the development of a set of maps and visualisations to show the connection of cyborg technology, the individual and the corporate owners of the technology.

Also the creation of a questionnaire for people who use activity/health trackers (apps and devices) to try and get an idea on the landscape of usage.

Below are our first set of proposed questions:

* Why did you decide to get/use a health/activity tracker (app or device)?
** Was it a gift?
** Was it a personal decision?
** Was there any medical/professional intervention (e.g. A doctor suggested more physical activity).
*** If so, did they suggest using an app or device and if they did was it the one you use?

* What factors affected your decision as to which app or device to use?
* How long have you had it?
* Is this the first one you have had or used or have you tried other apps or devices?
** If so, would you write some more about your experience with the other apps or devices? What was it like, why do you no longer use it?

* Did you read the EULA fully, especially where pertaining to data?
* Did you understand the EULA?
* Do you understand or know about the privacy options and settings for your app or device?

(Where app or device can be any combination of the two. You may use the device in conjunction with a number of other devices, such as base stations and mobile phones.)

* Do you share your activity data online with the app device service?
* Do you make this available publicly or do you keep it private?
* Have you shared, commented or discussed anyone else’s activity / health data that you have public access too?

If you think there are any other questions that should be posed here, or any of the above reworded then please let me know in the comments.

What Does Privacy Mean?

I am starting a new project on the topic of privacy and firstly want to examine what does the term privacy mean to people.

To this end I have come up with three simple questions which I would love for people to answer:

  • What does the word privacy mean to you?
  • What does the word protection mean to you?
  • What does the word security mean to you?

A website will go live where you can submit your answers online shortly and again I have made a simple bookleteer publication which you can use to write your answers in and submit.

I would also like to record as many of you answering the questions as possible. The recordings would form the basis of an installation that I am developing around the concept of Numbers Stations.

If you would like to be recorded answering these questions or holding forth on the topic of privacy for as long as you like (the questions are just prompts, if you have some other way of framing the response then you are free to do that). Then please let me know and we will arrange a meeting to record your answers.

Email me at

I, Satellite (project proposal)

‘I, Satellite’ is an interactive experience to place the participant into earth orbit and to view the earth as if they were a satellite.

By using an Oculus Rift, the participant is presented with a view of the earth, via software that simulates the earth view like google earth. The participant can look around to change their view slightly, but they have no control over their direction and speed of travel. The view is that from an object in orbit.

The participant reclines in a hammock to simulate as much as possible the feeling of flotation.

Ideally using a pneumograph we can monitor the participants breathing which can be used to modify the sounds heard by the participant through headphones.


  • Oculus Rift dk
  • PC – running rendering software to generate the view
  • Pneumograph
  • Headphones
  • Hammock

Mark Simpkins
Iestyn Lloyd

Palindrone video

We created a short video about Palindrone. It’s somewhere between an ‘about this project’ video and an artists video.

I was put together so that it could be shown, as part of a video loop of projects not present at the DEAF 2014 Drones: Presentations and Demonstrations event, part of a day long symposium on Drones to be held at the Biennale on Friday 23rd May.

The piece was installed at the offices of Bethanl Green Ventures for a morning where I shot video and stills in one of the meeting rooms. For the video I used the stills from the installation and used a the audio direct from the piece.

The piece is still a work in development. We are still trying to get in touch with the people who posted the original recordings of the drones in Gaza that we have used as the basis of the piece as we would like to talk to them, and others who have experienced being in such environments more as we develop the piece.

This video is a first opportunity for many to hear what kind of environment we are trying to create / convey in the piece.

palindrone (v1.0) from Mark Simpkins on Vimeo.