Automation and Me - Leeds International Festival

7 May - 10 May
Various times

Automation and Me

Through a series of public talks, workshops and a hackathon, Northern Sound Collective (NSC) will be examining and reimagining the relationship between automation and us.

We live in a world where data-driven algorithmic systems are increasingly automating the decision-making processes. At the same time, we have less and less agency over our devices, and they are becoming increasingly closed. Through a two-day hackathon, NSC are interested in drawing attention to the body and its relations with automation by examining themes such as authorship, accountability, agency, bias and openness. NSC will explore how we can ask better questions about these technologies and their impact on our everyday lives. The hackathon will bring together twenty local, national and international academics, artists and technologists to collaboratively develop new works in an intensive making period across two days. The outcomes are unknown, but could take the form of a performance, video, installation, manifesto, game, sound work, sculpture or zine.


The event will begin with ‘Automation and Me; Living an algorithmic life’, a public symposium where participants of the hackathon are invited to talk about, demonstrate or perform their work. The hackathon will then take place on 8th and 9th May from 1000 – 1900 each day – no tickets are required – come and find out more about the hackathon and see what’s being made. The hackathon will then culminate in a public event to discuss, exhibit and/or perform outcomes on 9th May.


Two workshops have just been added to the line up:

Women Reclaiming AI

Friday 10th May // 10:30–13:00

Women Reclaiming AI (WRAI) is an expanding activist art-work, a collaborative community and a programme of participatory workshops for and with self-identifying women. It is a response to the pervasive depiction of AI as female, subordinate and serving by largely white, western, straight and male development teams. It aims to reclaim female representation and voices in future AI systems, challenging gender (miss) representation and the pervasive lack of diversity (gender, sexuality, ethnicity, etc) within AI development. It does so by empowering women to harness conversational AI as a medium for protest. This project is created by artists-technologists Coral Manton and Birgitte Aga.

About the workshop

We will create an AI assistant that better reflects female identity, using a corpus of inspirational speech from people taking part and other women the collective admire. The workshop will provide you with basic skills to create an Ai voice assistant in Dialogflow (a development platform for conversational systems) and a space to facilitate talking, sharing and listening.

By taking part in the workshop you become part of the expanding Women Reclaiming AI activist art-work and collaborative community – a symbol of  collective action and protest.

No previous experience of coding is required but participants are asked to bring a laptop if they have access to one.

Age restriction: 16+

Introduction to Machine Learning for Artists and Musicians

Friday 10th May // 14:00–17:00

Have you wondered what machine learning really is, and how to get started using it in creative ways as a musician or artist? Or are you interested in creating new musical instruments or art installations that use sensors, cameras, gaming controllers, or other sources of data—which can be notoriously hard to work with even for expert programmers?

In this workshop, you’ll get a hands-on introduction to user-friendly machine learning tools for creating new music and art, as well as for working more effectively with sensors and other data sources in building real-time interactions. You’ll also learn the basics about how machine learning is capable of generating new content, making it easier for non-programmers to build and customise systems, and enabling programmers to build new creative systems more quickly.

We’ll be using GUI-based tools for experimenting with machine learning, so no coding knowledge is necessary. These tools connect to a wide variety of existing hardware and software (e.g., Ableton, Max/MSP, PD, SuperCollider, Arduino, Unity 3D, openFrameworks, Processing, Kinect, Leap Motion, game controllers, cameras, microphones, Arduino, …).

You don’t need any prior machine learning knowledge (though you’ll still learn something new if you’ve previously studied machine learning in a more conventional context!).

The workshop will be most practically useful for people who can do a bit of coding in some environment (e.g., Max/MSP, PD, SuperCollider, Processing, openFrameworks, JavaScript). However, people who don’t do any programming will still be able to fully participate and build hands-on projects, as we have plenty of off-the-shelf examples which can be run without coding.

Event partners

Public Symposium Tickets - Automation and Me, Living an Algorithmic Life

Tuesday 7 May 19:30
£3.00 - £9.00 (advanced booking recommended)
C18–19 Victoria Gate, Vicar Ln, Leeds LS2 7AU

Public Sharing

Thursday 9 May 19:30
Free (advance booking recommended)
C18–19 Victoria Gate, Vicar Ln, Leeds LS2 7AU

Women Reclaiming AI

Friday 10 May 10:30–13:00
£10 (2 x bursary places available)
C18–19 Victoria Gate, Vicar Ln, Leeds LS2 7AU

Introduction to Machine Learning for Artists and Musicians

Friday 10 May 14:00–17:00
C18–19 Victoria Gate, Vicar Ln, Leeds LS2 7AU


Wednesday 8 May 10:00 - 19:00
Free (no ticket required)
C18–19 Victoria Gate, Vicar Ln, Leeds LS2 7AU


Thursday 9 May 10:00 - 19:00
Free (no ticket required)
C18–19 Victoria Gate, Vicar Ln, Leeds LS2 7AU

Additional Information:

2 x bursary places are available for Women Reclaiming AI workshop, please contact to enquire.




Akeelah Bertram is a visual artist who creates immersive environments out of light and sound. Inspired by phenomenology and structuralism, her work aims to situate audiences in unfamiliar environments to challenge physical and ideological perspectives. Akeelah studied Fine Art at the University of Leeds before going on to complete an MA in Sculpture at the Royal College of Art. Over the last 10 years she has produced independent and collaborative works, exhibiting nationally and internationally.

Joana Chicau [PT/NL] is a graphic designer, coder, researcher — with a background in dance. Her trans-disciplinary project interweaves web programming languages and environments with choreographic practices. In her practice she researches the intersection of the body with the constructed, designed, programmed environment, aiming at in widening the ways in which digital sciences is presented and made accessible to the public. She has been actively participating and organizing events with performances involving multi-location collaborative coding, algorithmic improvisation, open discussions on gender equality and activism.

Dr. Rebecca Fiebrink is a Senior Lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of London.  Her research focuses on designing new ways for humans to interact with computers in creative practice. As both a computer scientist and a musician, much of her work focuses on applications of machine learning to music: for example, how can machine learning algorithms help people to create new musical instruments and interactions? How does machine learning change the type of musical systems that can be created, the creative relationships between people and technology, and the set of people who can create new technologies? Much of Fiebrink’s work is also driven by a belief in the importance of inclusion, participation, and accessibility. She works frequently with human-centred and participatory design processes, and she is currently working on projects related to creating new accessible technologies with people with disabilities, designing inclusive machine learning curricula and tools, and applying participatory design methodologies in the digital humanities.

Fiebrink is the developer of the Wekinator, open-source software for real-time interactive machine learning whose current version has been downloaded over 10,000 times. She is the creator of a MOOC titled “Machine Learning for Artists and Musicians,” which launched in 2016 on the Kadenze platform.  She was previously an Assistant Professor at Princeton University, where she co-directed the Princeton Laptop Orchestra. She has worked with companies including Microsoft Research, Sun Microsystems Research Labs, Imagine Research, and Smule, where she helped to build the #1 iTunes app “I am T-Pain.” She has performed with a variety of musical ensembles, including as a laptopist in Sideband and Squirrel in the Mirror, the principal flutist in the Timmins Symphony Orchestra, and the keyboardist in the University of Washington computer science rock band “The Parody Bits.” She holds a PhD in Computer Science from Princeton University.

Shelly Knotts produces live-coded and network music performances and projects which explore aspects of code, data and collaboration in improvisation. Based in Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK, she performs internationally, collaborating with computers and other humans. She studied for a PhD in Live Computer Music at Durham University with a focus on collaboration in Network Music. She is currently a Post-doctoral Researcher at Durham University working on AHRC project: Musically Intelligent Machines Interacting Creatively.

As well as performing at numerous Algoraves and Live Coding events, current collaborative projects include algo-pop duo ALGOBABEZ (with Joanne Armitage), OFFAL (Orchestra For Females And Laptops), and live coding performance [Sisesta Pealkiri] with Alo Allik.

In 2017 she was a winner of PRSF The Oram Awards for innovation in sound and music.

IMAGE CREDIT – Antonio Roberts

Sarah-Joy Ford is an artist, curator and researcher currently based in Manchester. She has studied at the University of Leeds, The Hungarian University of Fine Art, The School of the Damned and Manchester School of Art. She is co-director of SEIZE projects; an artist led organisation programming events and exhibitions in the UK. Recent exhibitions include Queen, COLLAR Gallery (Manchester), Weaving Europe: The World as Mediation, Shelly Residence (Pahos), SuperYonic, Copeland Gallery (London) and Wish You Were Here, Stryx Gallery (Birmingham). She has curated two funded projects; THe Guild: Contemporary Textiles, Templewords (Leeds) and Cut Cloth: Contemporary Textiles and Feminism, The Portico Library (Manchester). Recent public commissions include collaborative project for The Yorkshire Year of the TExtiles and Processions: a hundred years of suffrage. Her most recent project Hard Craft was funded by Arts Council England and examined legacies of suffrage through collaborative craft practice at Vane Gallery, Newcastle.

Ford works with embroidery, quilting and surface pattern design in order to ask questions of queer narratives, fictions, histories and identities. Through the embodied materiality of textiles and an affinity with the domestic, the works slip between public and private moments, protest and parade, desire and loss.

Working with textile situates the practice within the historically rich and complex relationship between needlework and women; one that has acted both as a tool for oppression and a weapon of resistance. The history incorporates an assortment of other making practices, quilts, banners, knitting, folk art and other disobedient objects. It is this historical closeness to resistance, disobedience and outside-ship from institutionalism that provides a material space to negotiate, articulate and make visible queer kinship and culture.

She is the recipient of the AHRC North West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership Award for her PhD research examining quilting as a methodology for re-visioning British lesbian archive.

Chiho Oka is a computer musician, sound artist, and student interested in new media/software studies. She has a bachelors degree from Tokyo University of the Arts and is currently studying for a masters.

She composes and performs electronic music and sound art using programming, laptops, and everyday items. She is a member of the Tokyo-based Ensemble for Experimental Music and Theater, performing experimental music, such as that of Fluxus, from the 1960s to the present.
Recent works include live coding performances, a project making a false female artist, and practices for experimental music using electronics and board games such as Jenga and toppling dominoes.

Vicky Clarke is a sound artist working with sound sculpture, DIY electronics and field recordings. Her work explores methods and systems of experiencing material sound; manifesting in performances, installations and self-built machines. Influenced by constructivism, futurism and musique concrete, she explores the form and function of materials; uncovering patterns & properties as sound sources, signals and interfaces.

On her recent R&D project ‘MATERIALITY: Exploring sound sculpture to interface the physical and digital in music making’ funded by Arts Council England, she created a performance system for sound sculpture, materials and live electronic music, working with researchers at the National Graphene Institute to create a graphene musical interface for Ableton Live, premiering at Music Tech Fest Stockholm.

Vicky has recently undertaken a British Council creative research project into Berlin’s music tech – art& science scene, collaborating with OKQO. She has performed at CTM Festival, Sona’s Unpeeled,Breaking the Sound Barrier response to Delia Derbyshire archive, been a resident artist at National Science &Media Museum, Q02 & STEIM and is one third of generative textile collective >THREAD{}.

Vicky is co-founder of Noise Orchestra, a sound art project developing electronic Noise Machines that translate light into sound. Current project ‘SWARM: Play the light of the city’ showcased at Rome Media Art Festival & Manchester Science Festival. Vicky also works as an artist/producer at Future Everything and music educator for Brighter Sound and is based at Rogue Studios Manchester.

Based in Sheffield (UK), Toni Buckby is an artist working with textiles and interactive digital technologies, focusing on the intersection between traditional craft practices, computing and electronics. Her work explores the process of making, the creative integration of experimental technologies with traditional textile techniques and the mathematics of pattern.

Toni specialises in hand stitched embroidery, with a particular focus on the 16th century technique of Blackwork, as well as working with traditional spinning and weaving techniques, e-textiles, digital fabrication methods, electronics and code. Concerned with the physicality of textiles, her practice explores how haptic digital technologies can be used to create interactive art works.

Graduating from Sheffield Hallam University in 2014 with an MA in Fine Art, Toni has taken part in a number of residencies exploring cross-disciplinary practices in textiles, music and digital technologies. She has produced performance and installation works for the Festival of Algorithmic and Mechanical Movement and is currently working on The Interlace Project at the Derby Silk Mill Museum of Making, a four year commission combining the traditional techniques of spinning and weaving with emergent e-textile technologies, open-source design and community-based co-production. Toni also has several years of experience as an arts organiser and facilitator, including being administrator and workshop leader in digital fabrication for Access Space, an internationally renowned multi-use arts venue for music, workshops, exhibitions and events, with a particular focus on digital technologies.

In 2018 she began her PhD research project, “Re-embroidering Blackwork: exploring digital reconstruction and interpretation through contemporary art practice”, as a Collaborative Doctoral Partnership student at Sheffield Hallam University and The Victoria & Albert Museum.

Becca is an artist, maker, and educator working at the intersection of socially engaged arts, craft practice, and creative technologies. This takes a number of forms, such as working with DIY electronic-textile sensors, creating tactile digital games, and putting on participatory events or workshops. Through her work she is trying to imagine other ways of using or relating to technology, and she makes objects and runs events that can be used to explore situated and embodied approaches to computing.

Becca is a lecturer in the department of Computer Science and Creative Technology at UWE and a studying a PhD at Goldsmiths, University of London. In the past few years she have been resident in a number of museums and arts spaces including Knowle West Media Centre in Bristol, Exploratorium in San Francisco, Somerset House in London, and Wired Lab in Tokyo.

A software developer, ex-academic and electronic night founder (Slut Drop!) based in Manchester. A pragmatic optimist looking to use technology to make a positive impact on the world! Long-time lover of learning in all its forms. Creative and collaborative problem solving is my other favourite past-time.

Coral Manton is an interdisciplinary artist, technologist, researcher and curator – part of the i-DAT Research & Design Collective. Her research interests include games, data visualisation, immersive environments, Ai and activism.  She is a live-coder and an active part of the Algorave community recently taking part in SXSW and curating a sell out Algorave at The British Library. She is lecturer in Creative Computing at Bath Spa University, leading the Games strand of the course. She is a resident at the Pervasive Media Studio, Birmingham Open Media and The South West Creative Technology Network. She is a Research Affiliate of the British Library, interested in the effect that underrepresentation of female histories and trolling/hijacking of female voices online has on future AI technologies.  She will be leading a Women Reclaiming Ai Workshop with her collaborator Birgitte Aga.

Ekaterina is a Leeds based artist originally from Plovdiv, Bulgaria and it was here where her passion for theatre was born. After working as a performer in a children’s theatre, Ekaterina moved to Sofia where she undertook a course in Chekhov’s acting technique, and worked on a variety of projects as a performer, assistant director, and production assistant. These experiences led her to an MA Performance Design programme at the University of Leeds where she is exploring all components of the creative process, from the power of stage lighting and sound, to the use of technology and media.

After moving to Leeds, Ekaterina has experimented with different mediums ranging from theatre and performance all whilst juggling the roles of performer, director and designer. Last year she launched her first work as a lighting designer for a London based theatre company formed by two RADA students, and for a second year now has collaborated with cinnamon; a Leeds based platform for alternative music and arts. Here she has worked as a multimedia and lightning advisor, as well as one of the three project producers.

Ekaterina aims to create strong visual and contextual performances, and is interested in artistic forms born from collaborative work, and audience engagement.  She uses a blend of techniques taken from contemporary dance, collage, puppetry and poetry. One of her projects – Tideland is a physical theatre performance which investigates the relationship between space, performer and audience. It incorporates a large prop – that of an industrial trolley, video mapping and life sound which are designed to move with the performer, and create space for developing non-verbal communication.

Ekaterina is currently developing new work alongside other Leeds based practitioners who work in the fields of dance, music and visual art. Their research is based on gesture and self-expression, and focuses on society structures and beliefs, and self-control. Together they investigate the contrast between openness and closeness; separation and connectedness, and how they shift and transform.

Releasing on Optimo Music, Mice’s unique productions are the result of years of studio experimentation with technology old and new including analog samplers, Max/MSP, self-hacked instruments and 8-track tape.

Mice’s all-hardware live AV sets incorporate custom designed instruments and live voice sampling with audio-reactive visuals. Shape-shifting between hard hitting beats and experimental soundscapes, she has performed live in UK and international venues including Corsica Studios (London), The Tate Modern (London), Mensch Meier (Berlin), WOMB (Tokyo) and DAMAS (Lisbon). Her high energy DJ sets explore the weirder side of electro, italo, tech noir, acid and experimental-pop. She is the resident DJ at London experimental AV dance party series Electrolights AV and has guested on NTS Radio, Rinse FM and Threads Radio.

As an instrument designer, Mice has collaborated with Native Instruments, The Barbican and The One-Handed Musical Instrument Trust. She is a doctoral candidate in Media and Arts Technology at the Augmented Instruments Laboratory, Centre for Digital Music QMUL London and her instruments have been shown at Ars Electronica.

Partially sighted, Mice’s early childhood was navigated in virtual blindness, an experience that forged her fascination with sound. In a 2016 interview with London’s OMNII collective she reflects on how her early relationship with sound continues to inform her music. “I’m always trying to sculpt immersive sonic landscapes like the ones I grew up in. Disintegration is part of that too. I lived by my Sony Walkman and played so many tapes to the point of destruction. I love that sound.”

Lia Mice is currently based in London where she shares a recording studio with producers A’Bear, xname and Merkaba Macabre, and designs instruments and sonic sculptures. Otherwise, you can usually find her on the dance floor.

…~I love creating sounds…& have a particular interest in & passion for hip hop & Dub production techniques…that I love to use to craft intimate ~soundscapes. My sounds have been played at various festivals & events including…Play! Festival at Royal Holloway, Café Oto & the W3 Gallery…I collect & play vinyl…& am particularly interested in women’s uses & experiences of sonic technologies. In relation to this…I am developing an idea I call ~black-techne~ that seeks to uncover ~black sonic technological practice~…& the ways in which sonic technologies have acted as creative tools for ~black subjectivity & ~creative freedoms…In January 2015 I joined UCL & Royal Holloway’s collaborative research project, Making Suburban Faith as a PhD student. My research focused on the relationship between…~sound & ~spirituality…in three suburban faith communities: a Hindu Temple, an Anglican church & a Pentecostal church…Along with my own explorations into ~sonic practice…my academic research explores the nature of acoustic sound, chanting & ritual in ~sonic-sacred spaces. My PhD research & ~sonic curiosities cross in ways that feed into a growing attentiveness to the relationship between the ~acoustic & the digital~ in particular relation to sound…I am currently working on creating a soundscape that intersects these fields for a series of performances in London in May 2019. My SoundCloud is at:

Art Historian and Independent Curator, who holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Management and History of Art together with a Teaching Degree in Management and History of Art, both degrees issued by Universidad del Salvador (USAL).


During her training, she worked at local art fairs that brought her closer to contemporary art, without resigning to her fondness for History of Art, which she fed through participation in academic research.

After her graduation, she got a post-degree In Cinematographic Writing (TecSal). She also studied at a Seminar in Curatorial Practice addressed by Eugenia Garay Basualdo at Centro de Investigaciones Cinematográficas (CIC) and a Seminar on Curatorial Management of Electronic Art addressed by Jorge Zuzulich (Arte X Arte Gallery). In addition, she got her certificate in Contemporary Art Curatorship (USAL), collaborating in the planning and art handling of exhibitions, in many exhibition centres. In parallel, she worked as a Gallery Assistant for several years, gaining experience and increasing her knowledge of management, curatorship, and art handling.


She was also  Project Manager for the Center for Experimentation and Research on Electronic Arts (CEIArtE) and Chair assistant in “Curatorship of artistic patrimony” at the Bachelor degree in Art History.


She currently works as a tutor for the educational project called Mala Praxis -Malpractice- (UNTREF), which seeks to bring the relationship between Art and Technology to the educational context of public schools for the democratization of the higher education. Academically,  is taking a specialization course in Conceptual Design, undertaking her thesis to obtain her Master’s Degree in Technology and Aesthetics of Electronic Arts, and is a doctoral student in the PhD in Compared Theory of the Arts (UNTREF).

Robin Buckley is a sound artist and musician currently based in London. Their work explores the politics and aesthetics of technology and queerness. In 2018, they participated in a week long residency called Sonic Cyberfeminisms at Wysing. They are currently working on a residency at Call & Response in Deptford developing an ambisonic piece exploring gender dysphoria. They’ve been selected by Somerset House for the Amplify residency in collaboration with Mutek in June.


Their essay Is Marcus Schmickler’s Palace of Marvels (Queered Pitch) a Radical Political Album? was published in International Computer Music Association’s journal ARRAY.  In 2017 they released Brostep In The Style Of Florian Hecker, an eight channel electroacoustic composition that challenges ideas of economic and cultural values within sound art and contemporary computer music. It was released both as a digital file and as a video game environment (coded by Calum Gunn).


Robin has also released vinyls, tapes and digital files as rkss for Where To Now?, Seagrave and Alien Jams. Their latest album DJ Tools, released on Lee Gamble’s UIQ, is based on their live performances where Robin recontextualises EDM sample packs into fragmented computer music and was selected by Pitchfork Magazine as one of their top ten experimental albums of the year for in 2018. Recent live performances include the ICA, Sonic Acts Festival, Cafe Oto and schwarzescafé Zurich, as well as DJ sets at Wysing Art Festival, La Gaîté Lyrique, MILANOROVINA Milan and Homodrop London.

A creative technologist, ‘hackathon queen’, and open-source evangelist from Manchester, Sophie intertwines her interdisciplinary skills and interests with a critical and feminists approach to technology. Sophie’s most recent exhibited work at The Great Exhibition of the North 2018 focused on how the rituals and artifacts of paganism can be transposed into an IoT experience, Hidden Values/Hidden Stories is a digital dowsing experience which hopes to confront the audience with the idea that IoT can be a sensual, tactile, and beautiful experience over simply an informative one.
She is currently working on developing an open-source vibrator building workshop.

Tamar Clarke- Brown is a London based artist, writer and curator. Her interdisciplinary work is focused on experimental futurisms, intimate choreographies, technology and diaspora. She has worked with institutions including Serpentine Galleries and Autograph ABP and presented at the ICA, Tate Galleries, Somerset House, Kadist (Paris), Bard Berlin and more. She contributes to platforms including i-D, Gal-Dem and AQNB. She is one half of (faux) tech-firm and collective ‘CBT’, who provide alternative solutions for self-care and security in the age of intimate surveillance.

INTERVENTION founder Yewande Adeniran (aka Ifeoluwa) is a multifaceted artist, lecturer, writer, DJ, NTS radio host, and head of record label 404. As a DJ, she if known for her R&B club cuts, post-trance edits and is regularly found dipping into post punk and UK Techno. Her monthly residency on NTS Manchester pioneers her favourite sounds, with everything from bubblegum internet music to post-trance and emo grime, pushing her love for internet subcultures to a worldwide audience. Over Summer 2018, she held a residency at the Arnolfini, helping to curate a series of events. During this time, her contribution to the critically acclaimed Discwoman Mix Series, gained her a new loyal fanbase, alongside a residency in Manchester with Fatima Al Qadiri. Her craft revolves around expressing herself through activism as well as music and art – leading to her exhibiting her photographic installation on Bristol’s People Of Colour and performing at No Bounds festival the past two years. She is now a resident for No Bounds. As an academic, she has written and lectured on Race, Gender, Sexualit, with research spanning across queer theory, postcolonial theory, visual arts and internet subcultures. She also works as a freelance music journalist for Mixmag, The Wire, Insert and The Quietus.

Betül is a London-based artist and PhD candidate. Her artistic practice spans writing, photography and multimedia installations. Throughout each medium, she questions the relationship between image and text and experiments with the meaning-construction process of multimodal text in digital art. Having a background in Language and Communication Technologies, she researches on reading comprehension and interaction design. Her current PhD research in Media and Arts Technology at Queen Mary University of London focuses on how audiences respond to text-based interactive artworks in museums.