King’s College London and Somerset House Studios have joined forces again to support new collaborations between King’s researchers from the Arts & Sciences faculties and the Studios’ hub of resident artists, designers and thinkers.
In King’s x Somerset House Studios – A New Chapter, six artist-researcher projects have been selected for funding to address pressing contemporary issues, including the post-pandemic world, climate change, activism, im/migration, and identity.
Spanning five faculties at King’s and crossing diverse academic and artistic practices – from literature, law, astrophysics, business and global affairs to visual art, immersive experience, film, and gaming, the selected projects aim to offer new critical perspectives on contemporary culture and society through creative interdisciplinary collaborative practice.
The six King’s x Somerset House Studios projects present a fascinating range of contemporary enquiries, from new narratives about space to AI in the judicial system and the data politics of asylum and resistance. With a focus on collaboration and testing rather than final outputs, we’re excited about the new perspectives and partnerships that will emerge, not just from the artists and researchers but through participation with a range of communities and audiences. In this way, the projects might service as platforms to inspire collective imagination and shared futures. – Beatrice Pembroke, Executive Director, Culture at King’s College London
Project teams are inviting audiences across the King’s community and beyond to participate within the development of their projects. Students, researchers, and creatives, as well as activists, local community groups and members of the public will have the opportunity to contribute to and inform the teams’ exploratory and development creative processes directly. This may be either as a test-user of a protype videogame exploring the role of AI in the judicial system, a participant in discursive and multi-sensory food workshops, or as a surveyor and storyteller of telescopes and cosmic narratives, which are currently being built and formed at King’s.
This year’s Kings x Somerset House Studios research projects explore themes of resistance, activism and algorithmic justice. Artists and academics having the opportunity to work together is integral to the wider creative ecology, producing unique perspectives and distinctive work, and we’re excited to see where these collaborations go.– Marie McPartlin, Director of Somerset House Studios
Meet the six teams and projects:
Artefacts of Resistance: creating archives of transnational protest movements, by Dr Srilata Sircar from the King’s India Institute in the Faculty of Social Science & Public Policy and Manu Luksch from Somerset House Studios, will create a digital media archive documenting contemporary protest movements that builds on transnational solidarity networks. While building an accessible, dynamic portal for protestors, researchers, artists, and students, the project’s innovative audio-visual performance will demonstrate the project’s capacity to communicate, inspire, and unite.
Cosmic Wonder, by Dr Jeffrey Grube from the Department of Physics in the Faculty of Natural, Mathematical & Engineering Sciences and Sonya Dyer from Somerset House Studios, blends scientific labour and discovery with artistic labour and storytelling. Using the first radio telescope being built at King’s by students as entry point for exploring the cosmos and the speculative narratives that this work inspires, the project enables new and less traditional perspectives on questions of space, futurity, race and gender to be explored, written and recorded.
The edge of the moment: kairos and climate crisis, by Dr Sarah Lewis, in the Department of English, Faculty of Arts & Humanities and Sam Williams from Somerset House Studios, intersects the conceptual with the physical. This project explores the notion of kairos – the moment of opportunity – within the context of the current climate crisis through the lens of discussion, film and multi-sensory food experience.
Artefacts of Resistance
'Andromeda' (2021), video still, Sonya Dyer
Dinner inside the Malm whale, Gothenburg Natural History Museum
Live and Let Live
The Fake Haven, 2021, Vivienne Griffin, Digital video, sound, 16:30 (still)
The First 10,000 Years, Gary Zhang in collaboration with Agnes Cameron
Live and Let Live, a project by Dr Anna Dubiel from King’s Business School and Andy Merritt from Somerset House Studios, with social and environmental issues at its heart. The collaboration will develop an interactive boardgame to help explain how micro-insurance to cover the cost of wildlife-related damage to crops or property can help humans and wildlife to live together in greater harmony in countries with frequent instances of human-wildlife contact.
MERCY, by Cari Hyde-Vaamonde from the Dickson Poon School of Law and Vivienne Griffin from Somerset House Studios, a project which explores the little-known role of AI and algorithms in judicial systems. Bringing together cutting-edge research with the uniquely visual language of art, the project will develop an interactive video game, which puts the player in the courtroom and spotlights the distinct lack of mercy when machines are making the decisions in court.
Self-witness: countermapping the data politics of asylum, by Dr Lucrezia Canzutti from the Department of War Studies in the Faculty of Social Science & Public Policy and Gary Zhexi Zhang from Somerset House Studios, a project where human, digital and material boundaries collide. The project aims to explore the crucial role of data in migrants’ asylum claims. Developing a digital interface and installation of artefacts, this project aims to shed light on human narratives and raise awareness on the very tangible effects that data has on asylum seekers’ lives.
Running from November 2021 – April 2022, the projects are already underway, and will culminate in an innovative showcase to arts industry representatives and academics at Somerset House.