Roy Ascott (born 26 October 1934) is a British artist, who works with cybernetics and telematics, on an art which is technoetic, focusing on the impact of digital and telecommunications networks on consciousness.
26 October 1934 (age 84)
Bath, Somerset, England
|Education||King's College, University of Durham (now Newcastle University)|
|Known for||art, technoetics, syncretism|
|La Plissure du Texte, Electra, Paris; Planetary Network, XLII Venice Biennale; Telematic Embrace: visionary theories of art, technology and consciousness, University of California Press; 未来就是现在:艺术,技术和意识 [The Future is Now: Art, Technology, and Consciousness], Gold Wall Press, Beijing, 2012|
|Awards||Doctor Honoris Causa, Ionian University, Corfu, Greece. Honorary Professor, Aalborg University. Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts London. Prix Ars Electronica Golden Nica Award for Visionary Pioneers of Media Art 2014.|
Ascott exhibits internationally (including the Biennales of Venice and Shanghai), and is collected by Tate Britain and Arts Council England. He is recognised by Ars Electronica as the “visionary pioneer of media art”, and widely seen as a radical innovator in arts education and research, having occupied leading academic roles in England, Europe, North America, and China, and is currently leading his Technoetic Arts studio in Shanghai , and directing the Planetary Collegium. In 2018 he became the subject of Cybernetics & Human Knowing: A Journal of Second Order Cybernetics, Autopoiesis and Cybersemiotics entitled "A Tribute to the Messenger Shaman: Roy Ascott".. " Dr.Kate Sloan's comprehensive study of his early work "Art Cybernetics and Pedagogy in Post-War Britain: Roy Ascott's Groundcourse" was published by Routledge in 2019.
He is President of the Planetary Collegium, Professor of Technoetic Arts Plymouth University, and the De Tao Master of Technoetic Arts at the DeTao Masters Academy in Shanghai.He is also Chief Specialist of the Visual Art Innovation Institute at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. He is the founding editor of the research journal Technoetic Arts, an honorary editor of Leonardo Journal, and author of the book Telematic Embrace: Visionary Theories of Art, Technology and Consciousness. University of California Press
He is recipient of the Prix Ars Electronica Golden Nica award for Visionary Pioneer of Media Art 2014. The award is for “those men and women whose artistic, technological and social achievements have decisively influenced and advanced the development of new artistic directions.” He is a Doctor Honoris Causa of Ionian University, Corfu, Greece; Honorary Professor at Aalborg University Copenhagen; Honorary Professor at University of West London.
Roy Ascott was born in Bath, England. He was educated at the City of Bath Boys' School. His National Service was spent as a Pilot Officer in RAF Fighter Command working with radar defence systems. From 1955-59 he studied Fine Art at King's College, University of Durham (now Newcastle University) under Victor Pasmore and Richard Hamilton, and Art History under Lawrence Gowing and Quentin Bell. He was awarded the degree of B.A. Hons Fine Art, Dunelm in 1959. On graduation he was appointed Studio Demonstrator (1959–61). He then moved to London, where he established the radical Groundcourse at Ealing Art College, which he subsequently established at Ipswich Civic College, in Suffolk, working with artist tutors such as Anthony Benjamin, Bernard Cohen (painter). R. B. Kitaj, Brian Wall, Harold Cohen (artist), and Peter Startup. Important to the development of his understanding of cybernetics was his friendship with Gordon Pask. Notable alumni of the Groundcourse include Brian Eno, Pete Townshend, Stephen Willats, and Michael English. Ascott taught in London Ealing, and was a visiting lecturer at other London art schools throughout the 1960s. Then briefly was President of Ontario College of Art, now OCAD University, Toronto, then Chair of Fine Art at Minneapolis College of Art and Design, before moving to California as Vice-President and Dean of San Francisco Art Institute, during the 1970s. He was Professor for Communications Theory at the University of Applied Arts Vienna during the 1980s, and Professor of Technoetic Arts at the University of Wales, Newport in the 1990s.,. where he established the Centre for Advanced Inquiry in the Interactive Arts. He established the Planetary Collegium in 2003.
Important to his development as an artist centred on matters of consciousness and the mind, was a series of visits Brazil in the 1990's. He stayed with the Kuikuro in the Mato Grosso, and widely immersed himself in many Santo Daime and União do Vegetal ayahuasca ceremonies, as well as the Candomblé and spiritist groups of Allan Kardec, right through from Fortaleza and Salvador down to São Paulo and Rio Grande do Sul. Joel Weishaus has written San Francisco Chronicle 29.6.2003: “Ascott's visionary path began with his study of cybernetics pioneer Norbert Wiener; paleontologist-theologian Teilhard de Chardin, who envisioned the "noosphere" ("the engendering and subsequent development of all stages of the mind, this grand phenomenon"); and the artist Marcel Duchamp, whose "The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even, or Large Glass (1915-1923)" embodies the qualities and complexities of Ascott's reflective mind. Into this heady mix he stirred chance operations based on the "I Ching" and investigations into practices such as behavioral art. But it is his experiences with the shamans of the Mato Grosso, with whom he ate the entheogenic ("searching for the God within") drug ayahuasca, that sets him apart. In Brazil, Ascott experienced consciousness at ground level. Here the artist's vision of reciprocity between high technology and deep insight began to focus his sharp pedagogical mind ("All art is, in some sense, didactic: every artist is, in some way, setting out to instruct") -- a mind that doesn't shy away from visceral insights even as it conceives neologisms ( "cyberbotany, " "telenoetics" and "cyberception") that paradoxically yoke and extend body, mind, technology, spirit and earth”.
International Art Education and Research LeadershipEdit
He has advised new media arts organisations in Brazil, Japan, Korea, Europe and North America , as well as UNESCO, and was Visiting Professor (VI), Design|Media Arts, University of California Los Angeles (2003–07) at the UCLA School of the Arts. Ascott was an International Commissioner for the XLII Venice Biennale of 1986 (Planetary Network and Laboratorio Ubiqua).
He is the founding president of the Planetary Collegium an advanced research center which he set up in 2003, with its Hub currently based in the University of Plymouth, UK, and nodes in China, Greece, Italy, and Switzerland. In March 2012 he was appointed De Tao Master of Technoetic Arts at  (DTMA), a high-level, multi-disciplined, creativity-oriented higher education institution in Shanghai, China.. In 2014, he established the Ascott Technoetic Arts Studio at DTMA  creating the Technoetic Arts advanced degree programme, taught jointly with the Shanghai Institute of Visual Art. The DeTao-Node of the Planetary Collegium was established in 2015. He is a Doctor Honoris Causa of Ionian University, Corfu, Greece.
Roy Ascott was among the first artists to launch an appeal for total spectator participation ... At present, Ascott is one of the most outstanding artists and theoreticians in the field of telematics.
In his first show (1964) at the Molton Gallery, London , he exhibited Analogue Structures and Diagram Boxes, comprising change-paintings and other works in wood, perspex and glass. In 1964 Ascott published "Behaviourist Art and the Cybernetic Vision" in Cybernetica: journal of the International Association for Cybernetics (Namur). In 1968, he was elected Associate Member of the Institution of Computer Science, London (proposed by Gordon Pask). In 1972, he became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
Ascott has shown at the Venice Biennale, Shanghai Biennale, Electra Paris, Ars Electronica, V2 Institute for the Unstable Media , Milan Triennale, Biennale do Mercosul, Brazil, European Media Festival, and gr2000az at Graz, Austria. His first telematic project was La Plissure du Texte (1983),  an online work of "distributed authorship" involving artists around the world. The second was his "gesamtdatenwerk" Aspects of Gaia: Digital Pathways across the Whole Earth (1989), an installation for the Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, discussed by (inter alia) Matthew Wilson Smith in The Total Work of Art: from Bayreuth to Cyberspace, New York: Routledge, 2007. Retrospective exhibitions of his work were shown in May 2009 at Plymouth Arts Centre, England, then in the Incheon International Digital Arts Festival, Incheon, South Korea in September 2010, and at SPACE (studios) in Hackney, London in 2011. Syncretic Cybernetics, a comprehensive exhibition of his work, was featured in the 9th Shanghai Biennale 2012. Roy Ascott: The Analogues (featuring his work of the 1960s) was shown at the Plug-in Institute ofContemporary Arts , Winnipeg, July-Sept 2013. In September 2014, a mini retrospective of his work was shown in Linz, at the time of his Ars Electronica Golden Nica award . He discussed his work on Geran TV . The seminal work of 1962, "Video-Roget"  was acquired in 2014, by the Tate Gallery, London for its permanent collection. Two key works were included in "Electronic Superhighway", at the Whitechapel Gallery, London in 2016 . "Art in Europe 1945-68" shown in ZKM, Karlsruhr, Germany Oct 2016/ Jan 2017, included his "Change-painting 1966" . His early work was the subject of the exhibition "Roy Ascott: Form has Behaviour", at the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, Jan/Apr 2017 .
Interactive computer artEdit
Since the 1960s, Ascott has been working with interactive computer art, telematic art. and systems art. Ascott built a theoretical framework for approaching interactive artworks, which brought together certain characteristics of Dada, Surrealism, Fluxus, Happenings, and Pop Art with the science of cybernetics. He was also influenced by the writings of Gordon Pask, Anthony Stafford Beer, William Ross Ashby, and F.H. George.
Ascott's children, - Lincoln, Justin and Claudia - are graduates of British art schools (National Film School, Saint Martin's, and University of West of England respectively. Their early education was in the cities in England, Canada, and the United States that Ascott passed through as, variously, college president, dean, and professor; from London through to Toronto, Minneapolis, San Francisco,and finally Britain. They are now based in England, China, and Spain. Their mother, artist Elizabeth Anderson, Ascott's first wife, died in 2015. Ascott is now married to artist Josephine Coy, and based in Somerset at Glastonbury (on the St. Michael ley line!).
- The Future is Now: Art, Technology, and Consciousness. 2012.Beijing: Gold Wall Press.2012
- Telematic Embrace: Visionary Theories of Art, Technology, and Consciousness. Ed. and Intro. by Edward A. Shanken. Berkeley: University of California Press. 2003.
- Technoetic Arts (trans: YI, Won-Kon), (Media & Art Series no. 6, Institute of Media Art, Yonsei University). Yonsei: Yonsei University Press. 2002.
- Art & Telematics: toward the Construction of New Aesthetics. (trans: E. Fujihara). Tokyo: NTT Publishing Co. 1998.
Books edited by Roy AscottEdit
- Ascott, R., Girao, L. M. (eds). Presence in the Mindfield: art, identity, and the technology of transformation. Aveiro, Portugal: Universidade deAveiro. 2011.
- Ascott, R., Gangvik, E., Jahrmann, M. (eds). Making Reality Really Real. Trondheim: TEKS. 2010.
- Ascott, R., Bast, G., Fiel, W. (eds). New Realities: Being Syncretic. Vienna: Springer. 2009.
- Ascott, R. (ed). Engineered Nature: art and consciousness in the post-biological era. Bristol: Intellect Books. 2006.
- Ascott, R. (ed). Art Technology Consciousness. Exeter: Intellect Books. 2000
- Ascott, R. (ed). Reframing Consciousness. Exeter: Intellect Books. 1999
- Roy Ascott is mentioned as a major influence to Stephen Willats in: Emanuele Guidi, "Stephen Willats -- The world how it is and the world how it could be", in Kunstforum International, Volume 207: Social Design, March/April 2011, pp. 180-187
- "Art Into Pop".
-  Cybernetics & Human Knowing A Journal of Second Order Cybernetics, Autopoiesis & Cybersemiotics A Tribute to the Messenger Shaman: Roy Ascott, Volume 25
- "Technology and Intuition: Roy Ascott".
- Wolfe, Morris. OCA 1967-1972: Five Turbulent Years. Toronto: Grubstreet Books, 2002. ISBN 0-9689737-0-1
- "New Media M.A. Research Blog - Media Studies, University of Amsterdam - 2006 - September".
- "UCLA Design Media Arts / Calendar".
- "Planetary Network - Venice Biennale 1986".
- Popper, Frank (2007). From Technological to Virtual Art. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. p. 77. ISBN 978-0-262-16230-2.
- "Plymouth Arts Centre Blog". Plymouth Arts Centre Blog.
- A critical survey of Ascott's work is provided by Edward A. Shanken in his introductory essay "From Cybernetics to Telematics: The Art, Pedagogy, and Theory of Roy Ascott" in Ascott, R. 2003. Telematic Embrace: Visionary Theories of Art, Technology and Consciousness. (ed. Edward A. Shanken). Berkeley: University of California Press. 
- "Telematic Embrace: A Love Story? Roy Ascott's Theories of Telematic Art" by Edward A. Shanken, 2001.
- Telematic Connections 2001 exhibition and online platform curated by Steve Dietz and inspired by Ascott's work.
- Entry for Roy Ascott at the "Media Art Net" includes a biography and links to further sources, including articles by Söke Dinkla, Inke Arns, Rudolf Frieling, and Oliver Grau respectively
- La Plissure du Texte, in the online catalogue "Media Art Net"
- "Roy Ascott: Teaching Change", a Tate Blog article written by Elena Crippa, 15 June 2011
- Webpage of the retrospective at Space London "Roy Ascott: The Syncretic Sense", May 20 - June 25, 2011
- Time Out recommendation for the exhibition "Roy Ascott: The Syncretic Sense"
- "Degree Zero", article on Roy Ascott's Groundcourse, frieze magazine, web version of printed article, published on 02/09/06, written by Emily Pethick
- References for Roy Ascott with the German art magazine "Kunstforum International"