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Digital Cultures

Digital Cultures research relates to the application of interactive media in cultural contexts to inform and entertain, develop new curatorial, exhibition and archival practices and innovative ways to engage audiences with the cultural impact of digital technologies, heritage and preservation research and practice based creative research.  

Research in this area is focused on where traditional forms of exhibition and performance can be combined with digital media and interactions result in new forms, enhance or extend physical spaces, and help audiences to understand the intention of artists and performers. Through the exhibition, screening and performance facilities in the Hannah Maclure Centre scientific researchers can collaborate with artists and performers  in innovative ways to interpret and represent research findings to public audiences.

Researchers in digital interactive arts and music at Abertay pursue their interests through practice based and active research methods to generate creative outputs for exhibition and installation in collaboration with traditional artist practitioners, musicians, actors and dancers raising new areas of investigation relating to digital curating and exhibition, acquisition and cataloguing, archiving and preservation. These areas come together under the umbrella term Digital Cultures.

Double Blind Test Series

Principal Investigator: David Lyons
Curated by: Raz Ullah

Double Blind Test Series is an exhibition of print works highlighting the artistic research by David Lyons, lecturer and researcher at the Institute of Arts Media and Game Design at Abertay University. The series was conceived as a visual investigation of sensually expressive printmaking, concentrating on the issues surrounding Braille as a design element in his printmaking, paying particular attention to the approaches and techniques used not only in producing his visual style but to those techniques used to keep it tactile.

Lyons produced 12 prints that use visual elements from various sources. The layouts and colours are influenced by the Ishihara Colour Blind Test plates and his readings on colour blindness. Selections of text from William Blake, Aldous Huxley and Tom Wolfe are used as visual texture. Text is also set in Braille and Braille numerals are used in an abstracted and enlarged form. Tactile texture is introduced through Braille, paper selection, printing inks, varnishes and embossing.

As Braille is a communication tool in decline, Lyons asserts that the increasing abandonment of Braille frees it from its restrictive constraints, opening it to exploration and experimentation, and that this may result in Braille becoming a dynamic form of expression for the sighted. Lyons plays with perception, by inviting the viewer to experience Braille through sight, and not touch.

Whereas Braille messages are hidden from the sighted, numbers and patterns are hidden from the colour blind. The prints can therefore be experienced differently depending on one’s perception. Lyons’s series of prints are visually and tactically expressive, engaging the blind, the colour blind, partially sighted and the sighted.

In support of the exhibition the HMC facilitated a panel discussion which formed part of the DARE to be Digital fringe programme. This event brought together academics, experts in the field of vision, artists and designers to exchange knowledge, inspire meaningful design for the blind and explore gaming for the blind and fine art for the blind. The discussion uncovered new perceptions and insights, broadening ideas for the gaming development process and revealed innovative design methodologies.


Impact Conference
David Lyon’s Research Blog
Printmaking Today article: Testing Times
DARE programme information

Forever Falling Nowhere

NEoN Digital Arts Festival 2013

Principal Investigator: Lynn Parker and Clare Brennan
Co-Investigator: Thomas Small (Choreography) Andrew Mitchell (Sound)

Forever Falling Nowhere forms part of Lynn Parker’s (AMG) PhD research into experimental animation and motion capture techniques, projection mapping and audio-reactive visuals. Forever Falling Nowhere is a pioneering new work produced in collaboration with Small Petit Klein Dance Company. The main output of this project was a performance, combining contemporary dance with projection mapping and animation to communicate themes of memory, love and loss.

This project seeks to explore personal expression, aesthetic exploration and technical innovation, and how we can push the boundaries of experimental animation and dance through collaborative working.


Lynn Parker and Clare Brennan will present a joint paper at the 25th Anniversary of EVA London 2014.
Performance information
Small Petit Klein (collaborators)
Festival Article
EVA London Conference

Imagination Will Take You Everywhere

Art, Media and Gaming from Education to Industry

Principal Investigator:  
Co-Investigators: 4J Studios and Quartic Llama
Curated by: Clare Brennan

Imagination Will Take You Everywhere reveals the inspiring creativity, technical excellence and innovation of Abertay’s under graduates, graduates and Dundee’s local gaming industry; from animation to interactive media and games. In collaboration with 4J studios and Quartic Llama, the HMC explores the journey of AMG students and investigates the potential paths within the creative digital industries.

As a national leader in games development, and offering courses exploring all aspects of digital arts and new media, Abertay University encourages their students to be the innovators and ground breakers in tomorrow’s computer games and digital media industries.

The evolution of creative technologies has sparked new life into Scotland’s digital arts culture, which is shining brighter than ever before. Illuminated by the vivid new ideas of our creative young people, the digital arts community in Scotland is consistently generating new ways of engaging audiences through games, interactive arts, sound and moving image.



Exhibition collaborators

4J Studios
Quartic Llama


Principal Investigator: Dr Kevin Farrugia
Co-Investigator: Beatrice Haines (artist)
Curated by: Clare Brennan

Proof is an exhibition of artworks created by Beatrice Haines during her residency at Abertay University’s forensics lab and DCA Print Studio. The residency was conceived by HMC and Yuck ‘n Yum and was supported by the School of Science, Engineering and Technology. The exhibition forms part of the inaugural Print Festival Scotland and Haines will be presenting her work at Impact 8 International Printmaking Conference.

Working alongside Dr. Kevin Farrugia and exploring his ground breaking forensic research, Haines learnt how to visualize invisible pieces of minute evidence using dyes, fingerprint powders, lab apparatus and fluorescent lighting that reveals blood, mud and grease from human skin.

Objects left behind at crime scenes have often been forgotten and rejected. However, in forensics the object is treated with both a sense of respect and care, and a sterile objectivity. People’s clothing, hair and possessions are poked, prodded, dyed, gassed, swabbed, sprayed and cut. The emotional weight of these objects fades as the necessary scientific processes prevail. ‘Proof’ explores the loss of an object’s emotional value as it undergoes scientific treatment, extinction or demotion from the home to scrap yard. The exhibition aims expose the complex research of Dr Kevin Farrugia in an accessible and creative way; and to study and breathe life into these inanimate objects, questioning our treatment of them.


Beatrice Haines presented her residency research at the Impact 8 International Printmaking Conference
Beatrice Haines profile

Player: Videogame Interaction from Atari to Toys to Life

Player: Videogame Interaction from Atari to Toys to Life

Principal Investigators: Robin Sloan and Emilie Reed
Curated by: Rhona Rodger and JP Reid (Perth Museum and Art Gallery)

Location: Perth Museum and Art Gallery
Dates: July 7 – September 18 2016

This exhibition explored the history of how we play games. Creating videogames requires the collaboration of artists, programmers and designers, but games are only truly completed when they arrive in the player’s hands. The controller, whether it is a joystick, a touchscreen, or a collection of buttons, is where the player connects to the game. Designing these objects affects the experience of play as much as the choices of videogame designers.

The aim of the exhibition was to research, collect, and curate both historical and contemporary examples of game controllers and player inputs. This included both seminal devices that set new standards for player control, as well as unique and unusual controllers that many audiences would have been unfamiliar with.

The research that underpinned this project was supported by a grant from the Association of Art Historians (AAH).


Principal Investigator: Prof Wilfred Otten and Dr Ruth Falconer
Curated by: Clare Brennan and Jonathan Baxter

Both literally and metaphorically we stand on soil. 'Without those precious centimetres of topsoil, there would be no plants, no animals, and definitely no humanity.' That means culture, in its many forms, is dependent on soil.

In this exhibition we present the scientific research of SIMBIOS Centre, Abertay University and their ongoing investigations into soil structures alongside the work of seven artists variously responding to soil-related themes, including the emergence of plant life, agricultural practices and current policy on sustainability. The outreach activity includes live art events, workshops, a film programme, and a research hub where visitors to the gallery can engage with complex research in an environment which is informal and in a way which is challenging yet accessible.

SIMBIOS are a multidisciplinary research team working on complex ecological and environmental issues.  SIMBIOS staff use modelling and experimental approaches to interrogate soil ecosystems focusing on the emergence of ecosystem services from the microscopic complexity of soils.  For this exhibition SIMBIOS have created a number of video fly-throughs showing the complex structure of soil. They have also contributed material for the research hub where visitors to the exhibition can explore the connections and disconnections between scientific research on soil and other environmental issues alongside related research within the humanities and social sciences.

Through this exhibition and the supporting outreach activities we provide a platform for further discussion and exploration of the ground-breaking research of the SIMBIOS scientists.


A-N Magazine: exhibition review


Work Title: Pathfinder
Principal Investigator: Christos Michalakos


Pathfinder is an audiovisual performance-game, exploring the synergies between multiple contemporary creative practices. The work navigates between music composition, sonic art, projection/light art and game art. At its heart lies a bespoke electro-acoustic instrument, the augmented drum-kit, used not only to provide the sonic content of the work in real-time, but also as a highly expressive game controller that interacts with an instrument-specific game. The musical instrument offers a much wider range of expressive possibilities, control and tactile feedback in comparison to a traditional general-purpose game controller, and as a result it affords a more diverse and nuanced game play performance. Live electronics, lights, projections and the drum-kit all make up the performance-game’s universe, within which the performer has to explore, adjust, navigate and complete a journey. Where does the game end and the instrument begin?

The augmented drum-kit was developed over the course of five years, and consists of a traditional drum-kit mounted with sensors, contact microphones, speakers and bespoke software. The acoustic kit also becomes the control interface of the electronics with the use of machine listening techniques and gestural analysis resulting in a highly physical performance. There is minimal interaction with the laptop during the piece - all control of the electronic sound (including game, light and projection control) is carried out through the acoustic instrument; the computer serves only as the mediator for all assembled pieces of digital and analogue technology.

Pathfinder was performed at the following conferences / festivals:

International Conference on Live Interfaces (Brighton 2016)
New interfaces for Musical Expression (Brisbane 2016) – Best Performance Award
DiGRA / FDG (Dundee 2016)
Edinburgh Game Symposium (Dundee 2016)
Sonorities Festival of Contemporary Music (Belfast 2016)

For more info:


Principal Investigator: Alison Rouse
Co-Investigators: Rosie Stenhouse and Clare Brennan
Curated by: Clare Brennan

Trans-formations is a multi-faceted project which includes an exhibition, a publication, a symposium and a series of workshops.

The project was fuelled by the research of Alison Rouse. Alison’s MSc by research (Counselling) at Abertay University (August 2013) explores the ways in which the personal creativity of counsellors and psychotherapists informs their therapeutic work with their clients. The artworks in the exhibition are the participants’ response to being asked to represent, in a form/media of their choice, what creativity meant to them.

Rosie Stenhouse’s PhD research produced a series of poems. These poems were developed from her analyses of the narratives told by research participants about their experience of being a patient on an acute psychiatric inpatient ward. One of the aims of this research was to allow the voices of people who had been patients in a psychiatric hospital to be heard. Writing in the usual academic tradition would give precedence to the voice of the researcher, so Rosie turned to a representative form of writing, poetry.

The study of creativity is a neglected area within counselling research and yet it is fundamental to our development both as individuals and in our professional role as counsellors. Research suggests that clients frequently come to therapy when their existing ways of dealing with their difficulties no longer are working for them (Bohart and Tallman, 1999). Consequently the work of counselling is often concerned with enabling clients to tap into their own creative and problem-solving resources. It is argued that a counsellor’s ability to access their own creativity has a direct relationship to the effectiveness of this therapeutic task (Carson & Becker 2004; Kottler & Hecker, 2002; Leitner & Faidley, 1999; Winnicott, 1971). The aims of this study were to gain a deeper understanding of ‘creativity’ in the counselling context, and in particular to explore counsellors’ personal and professional experience of their own creativity and the ways in which these relate and inform each other.

Through the exhibition and related research activities and outputs we will engage staff, students, artists and the wider public in an open dialogue, exploring creativity and therapeutic practice. We will discuss our human experience and well-being; and investigate the ways in which we communicate through the language of research.


Exhibition article
Publication link
Rosie Stenhouse profile

Enquiries for further information on projects and exhibition opportunities should be directed to,