Convergence Sessions + Ash Koosha, Wyles & Simpson, Girlhood

Convergence Sessions + Ash Koosha, Wyles & Simpson, Girlhood


As part of London’s Convergence Festival, your Sessions ticket will take you from day to night, in a collision of talks, interactive presentations, debates and live music programme. On March 23rd, we're inviting our favourite blue-sky-thinkers to Rich Mix to imagine the future of human interaction and expression in a post-digital world.

How has the rapid evolution of AI shaped the world we live in?

What does AI mean for human expression and creativity?

How has digital culture influenced the creation and experience of music?

By day, this is a thinktank to create alternative futures with Dr. Nelly Ben Hayoun and the board members and students of the tuition free University of the Underground, learn the possibilities of love in a world of AI and robots with Researcher and Artist in body responsive technologies Ghislaine Boddington, explore voyeurism in domestic and digital worlds with Artist and Programmer Lauren McCarthy and forecast the impact of technology in music with Experimental Label Nonclassical, Musicologist Adam Harper and Barbican’s Sidd Khajuria.

By night, we'll be showcasing future sounds of Iranian multi-instrumentalist composer, record producer, film director and futurist Ash Koosha with London electronic duos: Wyles & Simpson and Girlhood.

About Sessions

Sessions gives change-makers and risk-takers a platform to share thoughts, collaborate and interact with like-minded individuals and discuss how people and ideas are shaping the future of technology. The programme focuses on the countless opportunities in store for industry pioneers and curious creatives alike, and how using cutting-edge creativity can carve a positive path in this era of uncertainty.

This programme has been created with support from the British Council.


10:30 - 13:30

Since 1989, A public presentation with the University of the Underground's students

Join us and participate; as we witness the presentations of the 14 students in MA Design of Experiences at the University of the Underground, showcasing their individual/ and/ or collective vision for the future. Alongside these individual presentations a panel discussion with University of the Underground 's Board Members: Phil Lee, Creative Director at XL Recordings; Stuart Brown, British Film Institute’s Head of Programme and acquisition, Jurgen Bey the Director of the Sandberg Instituut and tutors Mariana Pestana, Nina Pope, Thomas Greenall with Director Dr. Nelly Ben Hayoun will take place, providing both discussion and critique. .
Started in February 2017, the tuition free University of the Underground aims to teach students how to engineer situations, to design experiences and events to best support social dreaming, social actions and power shifts within institutions, companies and government. For their latest educative endeavor, students at the University of the Underground present Since 1989 part cinemathèque, part record label, part theatre set, it explores the question, 'When post-truth is the new normal, what is the role of fiction in revealing hidden political narratives?' and will have you leave with a plethora of alternative solutions.

13:30 - 14:00


14:00 - 14:30

Ghislaine Boddington: Future Love

Across the next decade the convergence of high level body tech tools will enable the deeper blending of connected bodies at a distance. This talk will outline the positive potentials and opportunities in this for distant lovers, friends and partners, enabled to reunite and engage in a far more satisfactory way than through today's social media streams and 2D screen links. Taking our intimacies beyond the physical, merging us sensually within the virtual, playing our data bodies alongside our physical bodies has been Ghislaine’s focus for over 25 years and she will present her visions on sense enhanced digital immersion environments and remote touch/feel connectivity, a collective sharing through the “Internet of Bodies” where the body itself is the interface. These extensions of our senses through digital means could be seen as dangerous and dark, but can we, with our unique creative spirit, ensure this is leads to the positive enhancement of love, hope and trust?

14:30 - 15:30

Lauren McCarthy: Things I Follow

How do we decide who and what to follow? What happens when we try to become the technologies tracking us? What is the difference between being watched by a person and being watched by a machine? This is a talk about tracking friends, following strangers, and navigating timelines.

15:30 - 16:00

Adam Harper: Digital Dreams and Neurological Nightmares: music in the internet frame

Strong statements on the benefits and dangers of digital technology for musical culture have been percolating for over two decades. It has been considered the ultimate emancipation of music, and condemned as an avalanche of excess. What has been claimed? How have these hopes and fears been expressed in music itself? And, looking at previous technological paradigm shifts in music: have we been here before?

16:00 - 16:30

Nonclassical & Dr. Rebecca Fiebrink: AI Creativity (Machine Learning as Creative, Collaborative Design Tool)

Machine learning algorithms are now capable of creating new images, sound, and other media content, which we can reasonably call novel, sophisticated, and even compelling. This has led many to question whether machines are capable of creating music and art, and what place humans even have in creating future content. However, I believe there are much more exciting questions to explore: How can machine learning open doors to new forms of human creative expression? How can machine learning help computers better understand our most expressive human activities, or augment human creative capabilities?

16:30 - 17:15

Convergence Roundtable

Barbican's Sidd Kharujia chairs an open discussion about access and integration of technology into creative cultures. Post-digital artist Ash Koosha, Researcher and Artist Ghislaine Boddington and Artist and Programmer Lauren McCarthy consider: where are we now and how far do we have to go?


Adam Harper (Music Critic and Musicologist)

Adam Harper is a music critic and musicologist. He has written on musical pasts and futures for Wire, The FADER, Resident Advisor and Dummy as well as on his blog Rouge's Foam, and lectures at Goldsmiths and City, University of London, Oxford Brookes University and the Universities of Birmingham and Oxford. He is the author of Infinite Music: Imagining the Next Millennium of Human Music-Making (Zero Books, 2011).

Ash Koosha

Ash Koosha (Ninja Tune, Olde English Spelling Bee) revcently announced the upcoming launch of his record label REALMS + new album AKTUAL. Born in Iran and currently based in London, Ash makes the kind of “mind-bending electronic music” (Pitchfork), which has loudly resonated globally in the last few years. He performed his audio-visual sets around the world at likes of Form, MoMA PS1, ReWire, TEDX, Boiler Room (VR), Dommune and ICA LONDON to name a few. Since his last release Ash has collaborated on production and performances with artists such as Polaris Award winner and Bjork collaborator Tanya Tagaq.

The forthcoming release of his new album ‘AKTUAL’ is announced by REALMS. Koosha has already lived and done more than most of his kind, not least playing the lead role of Iranian Cannes award winning ‘No One Knows About Persian Cats, creating the world’s first VR album/performance concept and release of critically acclaimed ‘GUUD’ and ‘I AKA I’ on Ninja Tune. More important to him are his current activities, from Virtual Reality performances, future of humanity studies, sonic experiments and new LP 'AKTUAL' which will be showcased at Convergence 2018.

Ghislaine Boddington (Creative Director, body>data>space)

Ghislaine Boddington, Creative Director body>data>space / Women Shift Digital, is a researcher, curator and director specialising in body responsive technologies and immersion experiences. She is recognised worldwide as a pioneer having strongly advocated the use of the entire body as a digital interaction canvas for over 25 years in her curations and her direction of unique convergence experiences. Ghislaine, coming from a background in performing arts, blends the virtual and physical body through telepresence, motion capture, robotics, wearables, sense/gesture technologies and virtual worlds.

She keynotes globally on her research “The Internet of Bodies”, is a Reader in Digital Immersion at University of Greenwich and consults into the arts, education, corporate and creative industries sectors on future trends.

A Co-curator of Nesta's flagship event FutureFest, she was awarded the IX Immersion Experience Visionary Pioneer Award 2017 by SAT Montreal for her pioneering work on embodied intelligence in digital immersion.You can catch her co-presenting bi-weekly for BBC Click, BBC World Service Radio flagship technology programme.

body>data>space is an interactive design collective based in East London who have advocated for the living body to be at the heart of the digital debate since the early 1990s. Pioneers in telepresence, our focus is on body responsive technologies, virtual physical networks, interactive interfaces, user centred experiences and future collaborative share spaces.


Christian Pinchbeck and Tessa Cavanna are Girlhood, a hotly tipped duo with admirers such as Annie Mac and Julie Adenuga who have a handful of acclaimed singles under their belt. Twisting the tried-and-true R&B formulas into fresh shapes, Girlhood make the familiar fascinating; '90s flavours mesh with Italo disco, with futuristic soul tones and glitched-up samples worming their way through the whole shebang. Recording on Pinchbeck's narrowboat-cum-studio, moored on a canal in the UK capital, Girlhood add their own personalities and ideas to noises which nod to inspirations as diverse as The Fugees, '80s hip-hop, and The Avalanches.

Gwen Webber (Architecture Programme Manager, British Council)

Gwen is interested in urban and cultural production and dissemination. Her work on architecture and design festivals, writing on cities and design and academic pursuits in architecture is testament to this. In 2016 she was project manager of the British Pavilion exhibition Home Economics for the Venice Architecture Biennale and more recently established the Venice Fellowships programme to take place during the forthcoming Art Biennale for the first time.

Prior to this, Gwen was producer of the RIBA 2015 Windows Project and a freelance writer for international and national design and architecture journals including Blueprint, AR and The Architect's Newspaper. She studied Architecture at Nottingham and received an MA in Architecture History at the Bartlett, UCL. In 2013, she wrote Studio Tilt’s first book on participatory practice, Co-Design: A Primer (Black Dog).

While living in New York, Gwen became interested in the influential work of Soho artists and their impact on the city’s development. Her research on the intersection between art and architecture led her to VoCA, where she coordinated programmes focused on oral history as a tool for the conservation of contemporary public art. Her interest in ideas and development of urban design and material and visual culture underpins her work at the British Council.

Jurgen Bey (Director of the Sandberg Instituut)

Designer Jurgen Bey leads Studio Makkink & Bey alongside architect Rianne Makkink. The studio works in various domains of applied art and includes public space projects, product design, architecture, exhibition design and applied arts. Jurgen Bey is the director of the Sandberg Instituut. The Sandberg’s instituut is the postgraduate programme of the Gerrit Rietveld Academie Amsterdam.

Lauren McCarthy (Artist and Programmer)

Lauren McCarthy is an artist based in Los Angeles and Brooklyn whose work explores social and technological systems for being a person and interacting with other people. She makes software, performances, videos, and other things on the internet. She is the creator of p5.js. Lauren has exhibited at Ars Electronica, Conflux Festival, SIGGRAPH, LACMA, Onassis Cultural Center, IDFA DocLab, and the Japan Media Arts Festival, and worked on installations for the London Eye and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. She holds an MFA from UCLA and a BS Computer Science and BS Art and Design from MIT. She is an Assistant Professor at UCLA Design Media Arts. She is a Sundance Institute Fellow and was previously a resident at CMU STUDIO for Creative Inquiry, Eyebeam, Autodesk, NYU ITP, and Ars Electronica / QUT TRANSMIT.

Mariana Pestana (Architect and Curator) Tutor in the MA Design of Experiences at the University of the Underground

Mariana Pestana is a London based, Portuguese architect and curator. She co-founded the collective The Decorators, with whom she developed spatial interventions and performative situations in the public realm, with the aim to test alternative futures for specific places and people. She lectured spatial design at Central Saint Martins and Chelsea College of Arts, and Design Interactions at the Royal College of Arts. Mariana recently curated the exhibition The Real and Other Fictions for Close, Closer, Lisbon Architecture Triennale and This Time Tomorrow for the V&A at the World Economic Forum. She currently works as a curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and is developing a PhD at the Bartlett School of Architecture, about the ways in which spatial design can enact alternative possible worlds and induce social change. Mariana is a tutor of the University of the Underground, MA Design of Experiences.

Dr. Nelly Ben Hayoun (Director University of the Underground, Designer of Experiences at the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute

Dr. Nelly Ben Hayoun is a designer of extreme experiences that aims to bring the sublime to life. Dubbed the “Willy Wonka of Design,” Dr. Nelly Ben Hayoun is an award-winning French designer and filmmaker who creates multi-dimensional experiential projects at the intersection of science, theater, politics and Design. Wired awarded her their inaugural Innovation Fellowship in 2014, and Icon magazine recognized Dr. Ben Hayoun as one of the top 50 designers 'shaping the future' for her pioneering “total bombardment” design philosophy.

Nina Pope (Artist, award winning filmmaker, Tutor in the MA Design of Experiences at the University of the Underground.)

Nina Pope is an artist that works with public art, installation, filmmaking, and Internet publishing. She forms half of the collaboration Somewhere with Karen Guthrie, which is a creative non-profit designed to “enrich and inform public life”. Within this partnership she has won the first Northern Art Prize in 2008 and in 2010 their new media installation ‘An Artist’s Impression’ was acquired by the Science Museum (London). In 2015 their film ‘The Closer We Get’ won Best International Feature Film at Hot Docs and Best UK Film at Open City Documentary Festival. Nina is a tutor of the University of the Underground, MA Design of Experiences.

Nonclassical (Event Promoter and Record Label)

Nonclassical is a promoter and record label based in East London, with their audience representing a young generation of music lovers who are searching for the latest exciting developments in music. Since their inaugural release in 2004, they have incorporated the ‘remix’ as an essential element of a Nonclassical release, presented over 200 live club nights showcasing the best new classical, experimental and electronic music, and produced mini-festivals around themes including ‘Pioneers of Percussion’, ‘Pioneers of Electronics’ and 'Rise of the Machines’.

Phil Lee (Creative Director at XL Recordings, board member at the University of the Underground)

Phil Lee is the Creative Director at XL Recordings, a world renowned independent record label based in London. Phil has worked with artists such as Adele, Beck, Jack White, The xx, Radiohead, The Prodigy, Sampha, MIA, FKA twigs, Sigur Rós, Basement Jaxx, Dizzee Rascal, Vampire Weekend, The White Stripes and so many more. XL Recordings release albums worldwide and operate across a range of genres. Phil Lee won the best commissioner award at the UK Music Video Award in 2016. Phil Lee is a board member at the University of the Underground.

Dr. Rebecca Fiebrink (Senior Lecturer, Goldsmiths)

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, including on the use of machine learning as a creative tool. 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 holds a PhD in Computer Science from Princeton University.

Stuart Brown (Head of Programme and Acquisitions at the British Film Institute, board member at the University of the Underground)

The British Film Institute (BFI)’s Head Of Programme & Acquisitions, Stuart joined the organisation in 2000 and has since worked on numerous BFI seasons, namely Hitchcock, Gothic and Sci Fi, as well as live performance and music events, including Bug: The Evolution of Music Video and Sonic Cinema. Stuart Brown is a board member at the University of the Underground.

Siddharth Khajuria (Senior Producer, Barbican Centre)

Siddharth Khajuria is a senior producer at the Barbican Centre, where he jointly manages a small internal team, the Barbican Incubator. His current responsibilities include managing a new programme of installations for the Centre's public spaces, commissioning and producing digital arts + tech projects, digital strategy, and research into (and delivery of) new models for inter-disciplinary programming. Prior to his current role, he was the Centre’s digital producer and before joining the Barbican, Sidd was a producer at the BBC.

Tom Greenall (Architect and Associate Director at DSDHA, Tutor in the MA Design of Experiences at the University of the Underground.)

Tom Greenall is an architect and Associate Director at DSDHA. His experience covers a range of scales and sectors, from landscape design for the Royal Albert Hall to the master planning of Loughborough Junction, and from residential and commercial schemes in central London to education projects in Sheffield and Doncaster. Tom has acted as a visiting critic at a number of UK institutions and since 2011 he has taught a Design Studio in the School of Architecture at the Royal College of Art – named as the world’s leading Art and Design University by the QS World University Rankings in both 2015 and 2016. Tom’s work has been widely published and exhibited internationally. He has collaborated with leading artists, authors, and architects on a number of award winning projects. Together with colleagues from DSDHA, Tom was awarded the 2015 Fellowship in the Built Environment by the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851. Tom is one of the tutor in the MA Design of Experiences at the University of the Underground

University of the Underground (Master in Design of Experiences)

The University of the Underground was founded in February 2017, as a charity with a ANBI status (RSIN 8575.82.781), with the purpose of creating a global engagement with society as a whole, bringing generations together, to democratise access to public institutions and trigger changes and critical reflections through the use of creative, experiential and design practices. It is both an educative structure with an accredited Master in Design of Experiences and a cultural institution (ie; which host the unconventional research office, a sound studio, produce series of events and a public library).

The University of the Underground currently provides an accredited full time Master of the Arts (MA Design of Experiences) in Design of Experiences in collaboration with the Sandberg Instituut. The curriculum is concerned with a contemporary and strategic foresight implying politics, sustainability, institutions, new technologies and scientific developments both in Artificial Intelligence and in the current digital ecosystems. It makes innovative use of design, linguistic, experiential, political, theatrical, musical and film practices as tools to engage members of the public with the experiences and the debates created.

The University of the Underground aims to produce unconventional research and design practices to better understand and challenge the formulation of culture, the manufacture and commodities of knowledge. It believes in a transnational form of education, which goes across borders and beyond nation-states. It is are based in Amsterdam and London in the basement of two night clubs (De Marktkantine and Village Underground) but is currently nurturing other tuition-free initiatives internationally.

It was founded to reinvigorate creative education threefold: it aims to forge a more diverse leadership by offering free education to the next generation of creatives; it aims to maintain, support and cultivate countercultures that will reactivate the public’s engagement with democratic institutions and their plausible futures; and it aims to define new models of education and cultural leadership that will spread across borders. The University of the Underground exists to teach young creatives how to engineer situations, design experiences, and ignite social change in institutions and governments.

The University of the Underground is composed of a multidisciplinary international team as part of its advisory board, guest tutors and teaching team. The board of the University of the Underground is composed of professionals from different fields of interest such as MOMA Senior Design curator Paola Antonelli, co-director of the Serpentine Gallery Hans Ulrich Obrist, WeTransfer president Damian Bradfield, intellectual activist Prof. Noam Chomsky, Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda Andreyevna Tolokonnikova, filmmaker Douglas Trumbull and award-winning author Dave Eggers, musicians such as Peaches to name a few.

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