My sculpture says that it deserves a better mark

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


As networked objects become more common, the amount of data that they collect will soon outweigh what we know about the physical device. As artefacts share information with the other artefacts around them, code can be written to interrogate their shared use. Machine learning is being used across a wide variety of databases to identify patterns in order to elicit new insights: as the databases of objects intermingle with each other and our own data shadows it won’t be long before objects begin to make suggestions about their own use and value. This new relationship with physical objects is something that we may increasingly have to negotiate, as ‘things’ are increasingly constituted not just with material and data but computer codes and algorithms that change our assumptions that an object is inert, or in the context of art and design education, that the object is complete and finished when it is submitted as coursework. This quality to play a role in influencing and producing spaces may be best described as performative, a term attributed to the language philosopher Austin who established that words can be used not only to describe something, but can used to do something. As the data that is connected to objects is associated with codes and algorithms to produce ‘performative utterances’, artefacts around us are likely to use barcodes as mouth pieces to tell us what they would like to do, or how they would like to be used and perceived. And in the context of art and design education, it won’t be very long before we will be giving peer assessment forms to the objects that our students have made, as well as the students themselves. The implications for art and design education as coursework artefacts begin to accrue and share data, and for this data to begin to be the material basis for computer code to ‘speak’ are tremendous and will disturb all traditions of practice within making, exhibiting and examining coursework.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCode Acts in Education: learning through code/learning to code. ESRC seminar series 2014-15. Seminar 3: Code Acts in Community & Lifelong Learning
Place of PublicationUniversity of Stirling
Publication statusPublished - 11 Sep 2014


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