Studio Art 03: The Black Box

Studio brief

Increasingly artists are confronted with technologies and systems whose internal operation appears mysterious to its users. We could say that the very tools on which our creative work depends are fundamentally opaque. While artists may have been able to express a certain understanding of analogue technologies, even a basic understanding of how digital technology works eludes the majority of its users.

In science, computing and engineering, a black box is a device, system or object that can be viewed in terms of its inputs and outputs without any knowledge of its internal workings. Its implementation is "opaque". Almost anything might be referred to as a black box: a transistor, an algorithm, a camera or the human brain.

The late media theorist and philosopher Vilém Flusser showed how we might approach the black box beyond a prosaic technological encounter and to consider the functioning technological device as the materialisation of a complex socio-economic regime that eludes the user.

This studio places the concept of the black box as a point from which we will navigate our exploration of images, sound, materiality and technology. While the black box might suggest a poetic apparition of negativity, it also quite simply places the fact of not knowing at the centre of artistic production. This studio is for students working in sculpture, performance, painting and printmaking as much as it is for those wanting to explore a wide range of analogue and digital technologies.


  • Harry Sanderson, Human Resolution, 2013
  • Hito Steyerl, The Wretched of the Screen. Sternberg Press. 2012
  • Social Media Is Not Self-Expression, Rob Horning, 2014
  • Bernard Stiegler, The Discrete Image, 2002


  • Nam June Paik, Sistine Chapel (1993)
  • Ryan Trecartin – I Be Area (2010)
  • Hito Steyerl, How Not to be Seen: A Fucking Didactic Educational. MOV File, (2013)
  • Susan Hiller, Ghost /TV (2019)
  • Ed Atkins, Old Food (2018)
  • Eva and Franco Mattes, My Generation (2010)
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Course Fine Art BA (Hons)
Painting BA (Hons)
Photography BA (Hons)
Fashion Photography BA (Hons)
Tutors Patrick Ward
Dr Jonathan Whitehall
Where Calcutta House
Small Annex, CA2-04
When Monday 10am to 5pm, Thursday 10am to 5pm

Fine Art


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