The Office of Experiments emerged out of an investigative impulse to understand and explore how techno-scientific infrastructures, institutions and their complex relationships shape contemporary society, from ethics to the landscapes and environments we live in. This interested emerged from early art residencies and projects across scientific institutions by the artist Neal White, who sought an alternative model for collaboration outside of the confines of academic or creative disciplines, cultural or educational institutions.
It became evident that the area is an entanglement of interests that has emerged since the mid twentieth century and expanded rapidly. Recognising that the area is of great interest to a wide group of people, including from within different artistic domains and histories, such as; conceptual art, sculpture, land art, photography, critical cartography and the moving image, the Office of Experiments emerged as an entity to support collaboration with scientists, activists, architects and others in the production and authorship of work without institutional affiliation.
The Office of Experiments is a not for profit organisation, and has no official or legal status. Our work is project based and thematic. We support projects as well as practitioners and researchers through redistribution of fees from project commissions, whilst acknowledging that we are also subsidised voluntarily through participants who also work in institutions, as professionals or as enthusiasts.
Office of Experiments was established in 2004 during a project commissioned by Arts Catalyst, and whilst engaging in dialogue with founders of social practice organisation the Artist Placement Group, Critical Practice, at Chelsea and others. Our founding principles are based on artistic, philosophical and historical concepts (including temporal inquiry) first in art, then later by examining how art can create epistemic things through alternative approaches to visual methods, to fieldwork, to maps, data, and through the use of software tools from other disciplines (Rheinberger). Our aim then and now is be incidental to the world beyond art, whilst contributing to art itself.
Our work received direct support from Nicola Triscott and Rob La Frenais of Arts Catalyst, the leading International transdisciplinary art agency, based in London and now Sheffield. Early projects were also developed through independent initiatives, and commissions with organisations such as Center for Land Use Interpretation (USA). We align ourselves to a number of other marginal institutions in UK and USA.
For a more detailed and academically focussed interview on Office of Experiments, read Jussi Parikka’s website here:
Office of Experiments individual projects involve a range of artists, activists, architects and academics:
Neal White (UK), N55 (DK), Steve Rowell (USA), Tina O’Connell (UK & Ireland), Lisa Haskell (UK), Rob Smith (UK) and Anna Troisi (I/UK), Luce Choules (UK), Dr Kathrin Soldhju (DE), Professor Gail Davies (UK), Dr Dominic Walker (UK), Dr Nicholas Langlitz (DE/USA) Erik Kearney (IE) and Bill Thompson (US/UK) with Rob La Frenais, Nicola Triscott, Anna Santamoro, Claudia Lastra, Lala Thorpe, Ross Roberston and others at Arts Catalyst.
Timeline, Credits, Associate members and other key figures
Between 2008-12, research and mapping projects (Overt research) were developed with guidance from the International artist and photographer Steve Rowell (Associate, USA Office), first whilst he was a programme manager at Center for Land Use Interpretation (USA). During this period, critical and online development was coordinated by programmer and activist, Lisa Haskel (Associate, London). Further support and insights came from Professor Gail Davies (Associate, UCL now Exeter University), as well as autonomous research activist Mike Kenner ( Honorary Associate).
From 2012 we explored scientific sites in the UK and USA, using data obtained from scientific infrastructures. In this period, the research focussed on dislocated resources, infrastructures, and data from financial trading networks, communications and science to art, as installation / sculptural projects. Translating open source data, collected from global and remote sensors, new methods, approaches and concepts relating to audio, frequency and light driven work were developed, underpinned by custom designed and engineered technologies.
Some of these were aided by Anna Troisi, Rob Smith and Rebecca Birch (Field Broadcast) and on social/public projects, and in constant ongoing support, from artist Tina O’Connell (Associate, Ireland / UK). Office of Experiments most recent projects were developed with long time collaborator (since 1997), electronics engineer Erik Kearney (Associate), and sound composer Bill Thomson (Associate). This work has been supported and developed in conjunction with Alice Smits of zone2source , Amsterdam and a team of research-led architects that form the Monsoon Assemblages project (UK).
From 2016, Neal White refocussed Office of Experiments work into the University of Westminster, where he established; The Deep Field Project.
We would like to thank our many collaborators and supporters, but specifically;
Tina O’Connell (IE) – collaborator, advisor, partner. John Latham and Flat Time House curators; including; Sophie Olfers (DE), Simon Gould, Elisa Kay, Antony Hudek (BE), Sarah Andrews and Gareth Bell-Jones. O+I and APG, including Incidental Unit (initiated with White), and with tribute to our dear friend and inspiration for so many years, Barbara Steveni.
To curators and supporters of research, complex and challenging projects; Rob La Frenais (Arts Catalyst), Stephen Foster (John Hansard), Donald Smith (Chelsea College of Art), Lisa Le Feuvre (Henry Moore Institute) and Erich Berger (Solu, Finland). To colleagues and staff at CREAM, University of Westminster.
With an honorary mention to activist and autonomous researcher: Mike Kenner.
CREAM at University of Westminster – London, University of Minnesota – Minneapolis, USA, Chelsea Space, Chelsea College of Art, UAL – London, Royal College of Art – London, The Media School at Bournemouth University – Bournemouth and University of Reading – UK.
Arts Catalyst (UK), Zone2Source (Holland), Portikus – Hochschule für Bildende Künste Städelschule, Frankfurt am Main – (Germany), The Latham Estate (UK), O+I (formerly Artist Placement Group) (UK), The Centre for Land Use Interpretation (USA), The Henry Moore Foundation (UK), Arts Council of England (UK), Camberwell Offsite Projects (UK), John Hansard Gallery (UK), Max-Planck Institute (Germany), FACT, Liverpool (UK), B-Side (UK), Museum of London (UK), Heritage Lottery Fund (UK).