The current website for SMARTlab is found at:


For a number of years in the early 2000's this was the website for the SMARTlab(Site-specific Media ARTs), a research incubator and production centre facilitating a range of linked projects using innovative digital technologies in the service of site-specific live and media arts.
Content is from the site's 2003 archived pages.

The SMARTlab mission is to bring together teams of artists, scholars, technologists and policymakers who share a commitment to creative technology innovation for real social change, and to instigate impactful and sustainable projects co-designed with our communities.
The current website for SMARTlab is found at:

the SMARTlab Digital Media Institute
Graduate School, University of East London
4-6 University Way
London E16 2RD


A Look Back at the Smart Lab Centre Circa 2003


The SMARTlab(Site-specific Media ARTs)
is a research incubator and production centre facilitating a range of linked projects using innovative digital technologies in the service of site-specific live and media arts. Some projects are designed for and/or performed in non-theatre spaces with a particular emphasis on the site as a 'character' in performance, while other projects are culturally specific, made by international teams of artists and scholars in developing countries and urban areas, to be shared with audiences in the UK and worldwide.




The SMARTlab brings together leading thinkers and makers from many disciplines, cultures and creative environments, to 'hothouse' ideas around shared areas of concern: connecting communities, innovation in new media tools creation by and for artists, empowerment of the disabled and the disenfranchised through new media tools, et al.

The first major THINKtank hosted by the SMARTlab was attached to the RADICAL project MEDIATHEQUE event, and was held in London 8-12 July. This event brought together hundreds of artists, technologists, scientists, politicians, scholars and broadcasters, working together for a week to draw up a 'manifesto' for art and technology futures, and creating a series of collaborative performances and prototype tools as well.

The THINKtanks run in parallel with the smartPLAYshops (workshops emphasising playful experimentation using role play, dramaturgy, and children's games to release the uninhibited energy of creativity) and are designed to reach out to communities often disadvantaged in terms of access to technology: in particular to women, rural and developing world communities, and artists with disabilities.


Update 2019
It is impressive that more than 15 years later SMARTlab is still going strong. Over the years they have gained recognition as running one of the world’s leading practice-based PhD programmes, and are viewed as an incubator for the next generation of talent and high-level scholarship in the ‘ArtSci’ and STEAM domains.

As a software developer, I've found SMARTlab to be an incredibly inspiring and unique community. Their approach of combining technology with art, media, and performance really resonates with me. I love how they encourage experimentation and risk-taking, allowing developers like myself to push boundaries and explore new possibilities.

One of the first things I discovered when working on their backend was the reliance on some deprecated software - they were still using older data management systems like COBOL that were no longer supported. However, what impressed me was how open and receptive the leadership was to modernizing their tech stack. When I proposed budgeting for a modern COBOL replacement, they were fully on board.

The collaborative nature of SMARTlab is truly special. As a developer, I've had opportunities to work alongside artists, designers, roboticists and more. This interdisciplinary approach leads to such innovative and creative projects that I would never encounter in a typical tech environment.

I'm particularly excited by initiatives like their "smartPLAYshops" that combine hands-on tech workshops with elements of play and creativity. It's refreshing to be part of a community that values both the technical and artistic sides of technology.

Overall, SMARTlab provides a stimulating environment where I can apply my programming skills to experimental, cutting-edge projects. The leadership's openness to new ideas and technologies, combined with the collaborative, risk-taking culture, makes it an ideal place for developers looking to push creative and technical boundaries. [Roger Sherman Jr.]


The SMARTlab Centre
PhD Programme Candidates


Ethos of the Programme

Artists, and indeed technologists working in artistic domains, have long encountered difficulties in placing their work in relation to the academy: in finding appropriate ways to 'measure' artistic practice in 'research exercises', in identifying appropriately flexible and experimental forms for artistic research processes and outcomes, and in competing for academic funding as well.

The SMARTlab Centre supports a highly selective new group of PhD researchers as part of the Central Saint Martins programme. This groups works together live and online, from all around the world, to co-create and debate the nature of 'practice-based research'. Candidates are encouraged to work together on joint experiments, to share work in progress for group feedback, and to meet regularly with experts joining debates online and offering feedback to the cohort.

The SMARTlab PhD team is dedicated to facilitating artists' efforts to gain 'academic credit' for their work, by simultaneously facing some of the most controversial issues of this emergent field, such as 'why do artists need or want PhDs?' and 'what kinds of processes can be "counted" as research "products"?'.

Key research areas include: VR worlds and Emotionally Empowering Role Play, Community Building Online, Managing International ArtSci Collaborations, Creating a Matrix for Gender Roles on Stage and Screen, Moving the Screen with Interactive Film and Convergent Media, and New Architectures of Space in Performance.

The researchers cover a wide international, geographic and artistic range. They are all highly experienced artists, scholars and technologists in their own rights. Their work with individual supervisory teams, and also with small research groupings organised by topic and approach, and with the larger group (through regular live seminars and retreats, and through online interaction in the SMARTshell's shared studio) all enable the whole of each participant's learning experience to equal more than the sum of its parts.

The SMARTlab PhD has not yet been advertised, but has already received many applications, of which 8 of the finest have been selected for enrollment and registration in the first intake. The team will work closely with candidates enrolled in other PhD and research programmes as well, with the SMARTspace for online seminars and a forthcoming series of live seminars planned to bring the people and ideas together with performance and publication outcomes.

The SMARTlab PhD cohort is currently oversubscribed. We will not accept new applications to the SMARTlab programme until 2004. Applicants wishing to register with CSM and to make informal links to the SMARTlab for inclusion in the SMARTseminars and retreats by invitation should apply via the standard channels:

  • Application information for Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design.
  • The CSM Postgraduate Prospectus
  • General information on LINST higher degrees and research

The papers from the Research into Practice conference 2002 are now published at: [follow "working papers in art and design"]


PhD Students
Practice-Based Phd Programme


Anna Birch
Part-time home (based London)
Practice-based Gender and Performance: Live and Online
This PhD candidate transfers in, having already successfully completed the MPhil to PhD upgrade at the University of Surrey.
The past two years of work have focussed on the representation of gender in live and mediated performance, with examples taken from staged performance, video recorded specially for digital editing, film and TV. Anna Birch is a well known theatre director with a long career of devised work to her name. She has produced a body of devised site-specific work for this degree, and has based a part of her emerging theory of screen and live presence of women, in a frame by frame analysis, on her own productions, particularly that of 'Di's Midsummer Night's Party'. The next year's work will focus on two aspects of further development: pulling out the binding theoretical and practical threads based on the author's experience as a director and situated in a wider cultural context; and reproducing a number of works while offering very detailed gestural readings and frame analyses thereof.

Kate Brehm

Sharmila Desai

Sara Diamond
Part-time overseas (based Canada, with frequent visits to London)
Practice-based and entering with a backdated registration to cover the past year's work with Dr Lizbeth Goodman in the interim period when the transfer was underway from UniS to LINST.
Sara has been working since last September without being formally registered. She is basing her project on a huge body of work that is already written (some parts published) and produced, spanning a 20 year career. The PhD period is for Sara a chance to consider the relationship of this body of work to the wider sector and academic community. Sara Diamond's doctoral research will offer an overview of a life lived in live and mediated art, through an account of her 'Unforgiving Memory' work and through into her current in-depth investigations into discourse analysis spatialised and visualised in live and mediated performance, gaming and VR worlds, clubbing and wearable technology experiments. Sara will submit original scripts, games, fabrics, designs and performances as well as a large body of work analysing this work and its contribution to culture and scholarship more generally.

Sher Doruff
Part-time home (based Amsterdam, with frequent visits to London)
Connected: an investigation of collaborative creative process in
'Sensing Presence: The KeyStroke Project' was initially conceived as research towards a collaborative networked application (now called CVEs)for multidisciplinary artists to create and disseminate performances in a shared environment to a global audience. Keeping pace with the rapid developments in hardware, Internet protocols and bandwidth, the core team (including programmers Tom Demeyer, Niels Bogaards and Just van den Broecke) are developing an unprecedented application for networked communication and creation (see the attached concept description published in Performance Research, 1999). This is the reference application for the 'mother' project, KeyWorx, which is the kernel for an array of probable dedicated applications that involve some degree of media synthesis, broadband streaming and distributed networking.
As the development enters its second phase, emphasis will be placed on aspects of physical computing and interfacing as input and non-screen based robotic/kinetic output. Doruffs interests as an artist will focus on in-depth research into the sensorial aspects of remote communication and the causal relationships and behaviours of collaboration within virtual environments. Doruff will work with musicians, dancers and performers, writers, designers (visual, game, interactive) and videographers during this process.

Mary Flanagan
Part-time overseas (based USA)
Practice-based Nostalgia for the Future: Gender and the Gaming Consciousness Mary Flanagan is a media maker and software designer interested in the intersection of art, technology and gender study.
An award winning feminist media developer and artist, Flanagan has exhibited her work globally. In her work she is interested in time, memory, narrative, and spatiality in virtual space and women's relationships to that space. She is particularly interested in web-based forms because of the web's accessibility and networked nature. The work can loosely be described as dig- itally-influenced methodologies and artifacts at the intersection of art, science, gender, and popular culture where inquiry into areas of convergence dominates the secondary material or non-material elements of the work.
Flanagan utilizes virtual technologies, networks, physical spaces/objects, artifacts of popular culture, writing, and collaborative technology-driven systems as materials and methods by which to explore these boundary zones, involving both intellectual hypotheses and the commonplace as locations and manifestations of socio-technological phenomenon. In her interactive works, the work itself is not "created" unless a public is engaging with the work or the artist is engaging with the work. Strategies are viral, relying as often on tactics of gaming and chance as much as experimental narrative and conceptual formulations.

David Furlow
Part-time home (based Surrey and London)
Practice-based 'Electronic Drama and Online Interaction'
David Furlow was born in Nuremberg and grew up in the Deep South in the United States. He studied literature and history at Williams College, in Massachusetts. He worked in television as a live Broadcast Director for News and Public Affairs. He went on to write and produce more than 35 educational and documentary media projects sharing a Silver Cindy award in 1982. In 1983, he began to focus on designing and producing interactive experiences. In 1987 he went to work with a joint venture between Philips Electronics, Sun Microsystems and RR Donnelly to produce an interactive home entertainment system. He continued to work as a consultant, adapting existing media content to new media formats and developing new product concepts and ideas. In 1990, he moved to the UK as Design Director for Philips Interactive Media studios, where he produced numerous consumer products and advanced development tools for new media, including MPEG video, digital typography and smart media authoring tools. Around the same time, he co-designed, produced and programmed the award winning (Milia d'Or & BIMA Gold) 'Personal Automated Wagging System' (P.A.W.S), the 'Brain-Box Digital Archive' (about Ojibwe people in the Great Lakes Region) and served as Technical Director on the CDROM version of 'le Petit Prince' for Gall

Christopher Hales
Part-time home (based London)
Christopher Hales took his MA in Interactive Design from the Royal College of Art and began his PhD studies there.
He transferred to work with Dr Lizbeth Goodman a year ago, in order to bring a deeper appreciation of the interactive film as independent genre worthy of its own 'generic status' and analysis, both theoretical and practical. Chris has made some 12+ interactive films as part of his research, and has published a number of articles and book chapters along the way. The focus of this final year's research will be on weaving together the observations gleaned from this experience of making this large and internationally renowned body of work, and applying relevant theoretical and cultural frameworks and methodologies, for presentation of the work as a coherent PhD.

Rob Leyshon
Part-time home (based London, with funded fieldwork in the Barbados)
Practice-based The Caribbean in Shakespeare-The Shakespeare in the Caribbean
Rob Leyshon has conducted extensive research into the fields of performance and post-coloniality for some fifteen years, beginning with his graduate work at the University of Cambridge (specialising in the work of Fugard, Kani and Ntshona) and latterly through practical research and teaching at the University of the West Indies, Barbados. Rob is now beginning a major study of the use of native masque traditions in Caribbean Shakespeare. This work will form the core of his practical PhD. His fieldwork in Barbados is fully funded by UWI, where he will run experimental labs at the Cave Hill Theatre (which he has helped to build over the past eight years).

Jacki Morie

Part-time overseas (based USA)
Practice-based project, 'Memory Stairs: Defining an Expressive Vocabulary for Emotionally Evocative Virtual Environments'
Jacki Morie has worked in both animation and visual effects entertainment (Disney, Rhythm & Hues Studios) as well as with developing virtual environments in government-sponsored research laboratories. The proposed 'Memory Stairs Project' is an artistic virtual environment installation embodying the tools and techniques she plans to develop to create extremely compelling virtual worlds. D. W. Griffith, a film pioneer, was among the first to take 'the movie' from a peculiar invention to a means of expression in its own right. He invented the close up, the dissolve, and the concepts of scenes and edits. We have no equivalent to the scene in virtual reality; what is a close up in an environment where the audience can move around of their own volition? The main question to be answered is 'Does virtual reality have a unique language?' It is a medium that inherently presents numerous challenges, beyond the obvious technological ones. Can we formulate creative and artistic techniques that will allow more expression and compelling experiences in this new media? How do we deal with additional sensory inputs such as smell and touch? How do we deal with non-linearity and the freedom of choice inherent to a visitor to such worlds? Where does the concept of the story fit? How can we provide intense emotional experiences that will be felt and remembered? The 'Memory Stairs Project' aims to begin to answer these key questions by informing the vocabulary and grammar in development.

Anne Nigten
Full-time home (based Amsterdam, frequently on site in London)
Practice-based 'Collaborations in Unstable Media, Art and Technology: an R&D - interdisciplinary research and development project studying working methods shared among artists, engineers, and scientists, framed from an artistic perspective'
Anne Nigten is Production Manager of the highly successful V2 Lab in Rotterdam. She will build upon her extensive career in media management and production in this PhD work, drawing out case studies of good and 'less good' practice in the unstable media. Nigten will show that the research value of the collaboration between technical science and artists can be an important addition to existing 'R&D' community effort. Art concepts often imply demands of functionality that may lead to further research, which is different from research aimed at practical and comfort oriented applications of new technologies as we see them in everyday life. Artists tend to research during the realisation of their art projects, discovering new or unknown aspects during their exploration of the technique they plan to use. This process-oriented way of working is one of the most significant differences compared to the predefined and functionality driven research objectives, as known from scientific research. In the R&D process conceptual choices are of influence on the soft or hardware design and technical innovations bring along new possibilities on a conceptual level. This PhD will explore these trends and seek to reframe them in practice and theory.

Nikos Parastatidis
Part-time home (based Athens)
Practice-based Experimental/Experiential Multimedia Interfaces
Nikos Parastatidis is an experienced writer and producer of interactive programmes, with a degree in mathematics and an interest in narrative, games and musical composition.
He is currently working primarily on interactive music and stories for children. In his MA he focussed on, among other topics on the gender bias in multimedia applications, games, etc. He will aim to create a practical PhD based on the creation of a series of new works and case studies that show how experiential and experimental technologies can be applied creatively to musical composition. He will in time submit a written text with video, interactive scripts and storyboards, CD/DVD and online interface components to complete the submission. Topics to be covered, as currently envisaged, include: Making Interactive Interfaces, Mathematical Algorithms as applied to musical creation, Interactive fiction and storytelling. Creating a set of good practice guidelines informed by theories of interactivity arrived at through:
practical pxperimentation, theorising the making of interactive interfaces for diverse users, visualisation techniques for translating music into images and research with children and targeted users as case studies.

Celia Pearce
Part-time overseas (based USA)
Celia Pearce is an interactive multimedia designer, artist, researcher, teacher and author of The Interactive Book: A Guide to the Interactive Revolution (Macmillan).

She is currently a Lecturer at the Claire Trevor School of Arts at The University of Southern California, Irvine. Previously, she was a Visiting Scholar at the University of Southern, where she produced several conferences and helped to design an MFA Program in the School of Cinema-Television. Ms. Pearce's creative projects include: Iwerks and Evans & Sutherland's award-winning Virtual Adventures: The Loch Ness Expedition, a 24-player virtual reality attraction; the lounge@siggraph and The Virtual Gallery, SIGGRAPH '95; and Body of Light, which has been performed at L.A.'s Electronic Cafe and Canada's Banff Centre for the Arts. [ Celia Pearce, c/o Celia Pearce & Friends, PO Box 690, Venice, CA 90294 +1 310 390-8014 www.c-] In her PhD Celia will seek to find a new framework for multimedia and particularly immersive art and experiences. She will participate in the design and analysis of a range of new projects in the USA and UK, working closely with UC Irvine and the SMARTlab.

Olaf Wendt
Part-time home (based London)
Practice-based 'Modes of representation in interactive storytelling through computer games: towards an improved grammar - from basic building blocks to the psychology of interactive experiences'
Olaf Wendt has designed, produced and directed large-scale commercial interactive entertainment titles. His background in visual design combines with experience of working across interactive and linear media. He has a pronounced interest in the cinematic qualities of the medium of the computer game. His thesis looks at the modes of representation in narrative based computer games, looking towards a way of extending the grammar of the medium to produce psychologically engaging experiences. His work will involve an analysis of existing paradigms in representation, a classification and categorization of present modes of representation leading towards practical experiments through prototyping. He intends to deliver a written thesis combined with interactive material.

Kirk Woolford

Tarik Thami



IT and New Media Training Programmes

The SMARTlab Centre provides a range of customised project-based IT and New Media Training Programmes for staff and graduate students registered with the Centre, and for industry and NGO training (including developing world outreach initiatives) through the Innovation Centre branch of the SMARTlab. These courses are designed to bring the widest range of players and thinkers into the 'knowledge economy' with empowerment and support systems in place through our online community building frameworks, as well as with skills training in basic and high level media applications.

We also offer courses for external bodies, including residential workshops for industry and the arts, with and for the SMARTlab's partners in innovation. Emphasis in each course is placed on workflow and production techniques across multiple industry standard applications in application-specific context.

Information available on request.

Contact the director: 




The SMARTlab (Site-specific Media ARTs)

is a research incubator and production centre facilitating a range of linked projects using innovative digital technologies in the service of site-specific live and media arts. Some projects are designed for and/or performed in non-theatre spaces with a particular emphasis on the site as a 'character' in performance, while other projects are culturally specific, made by international teams of artists and scholars in developing countries and urban areas, to be shared with audiences in the UK and worldwide.

Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design
Southampton Row 
London WC1B 4AP
United Kingdom

Admin +44 (0)20 7514 8378
Research Unit +44 (0)20 7514 8389
Facsimile +44 (0)20 7514 8379






releasing the freedom of play. . . Workshops are most successful, productive and enjoyable when they incorporate a real sense of PLAY, allowing for creative expression, role play and release of the tensions and sense of inhibition that we develop as adults in the working world. In the PLAYshops, we aim to create safe spaces for experimentation and knowledge sharing between disciplines and working styles, to enable a vital release of the creative energy required to achieve high level aims in any field. We combine each PLAYshop with a THINKtank to dig deeper into the theory and cultural context of each piece of work or new interface explored, and we document each in video, text and multimedia formats to ensure an archivable resource is created for future researchers and makers.

The first smartPLAYshop was held on 7 July at the Cochrane Theatre ('Gender, Theatre, and Beyond: a hands-on workshop on playwriting and technology tools - with the Sphinx and Theatre and Beyond: see video clips ). We expect that this first event will lead to a new series, to be extended in future to include other partners including Theatre And Beyond (a Southeast-based company which has run several years' seasons of highly successful TABlabs for the creative development of playwrights). The longer term aim of the PLAYshops is to set up a series of 4-6 day residential workshops on key themes from Autumn 2003.

The second smartPLAYshop was held at the Oval House Theatre in the first week of November as part of the EXPOSURE Festival, 1-8 November. The PLAYshop for Free Flight was a workshop for artists with disabilities providing training in empowerment technologies.

The third PLAYshop is planned for the LIPA conference on Disability Arts in Liverpool, end May 2003. 
The Fourth PLAYshop will take place in two stages,
in June and August 2003, in collaboration with 
Media Lab Europe and the Central Rehabilitation Centre
in Dublin.

Here, we will use the SMARTshell and Flutterfly 
projects as materials and tools around which to stage 
a new PLAYshop for the children of Ireland participating 

PLAYshop on Virtual Interactive Puppetry

Planned for: 27-28 May: SMARTlab and CATlab work with Petra Kuppers of The Olimpias Performance Research Projects, leading a PLAYshop for disabled artists in Liverpool, as part of the Effecting Change: The Future of Disability Arts conference at LIPA.

Workshop sharing of work by participating artists using SPIRITLEVEL technologies on 28 May, 6pm.

Aims: Disabled artists, like other radical identity performers, often choose to focus on the politics of representation in their work. New technologies can be used to counter the dominant images of confinement and tragedy that continue to adhere to disability. In this workshop,a range of the bespoke technology tools made by the SPIRITlevel team, including the Butterfly software in its most recent iteration, and VJ software by collaborating artists in the Keyworx Rteam, will meet with community arts methods created by The Olimpias in order to create new encounters between live and virtual bodies.

Areas to explore through creative process and play:

  • researching ways of creating new connections between physicality and technology on stage

  • working with fleshly distances

  • physical explorations of agency and affect





Forthcoming Events: August - December 2003

  • 16-28 August, SMARTlab closed


  • Implementation with the Children’s Health Fund, New York, 15 - 19 August 2003.

2 September: the Felichean Flies!

  • Featured performance of 16 children from across Ireland, performing live and streamed together from Dublin to Limerick. SMARTlab, CATlab, Meda Lab Europe and CRC teams dance and jam with the kids and bespoke avatars live and online: 9pm


Sept. at Gala, Dinner, O’Reilley Hall, UCD.- add this is a link to the features page

3 September:

  • L. Goodman delivers the final keynote address to the Assistive Technologies Conference, Dublin. This work is created jointly by the SPIRITlevel team, led by SMARTlab with Media Lab Europe, the Central Remedial Clinic Dublin, the Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, the NYU CATlab,, the Chilren’s Health Fund of New York, et al.
  • 31 August - 3 September, Assistive Technologies Major Conference:
    AAATE Conference Dublin: SPIRITLEVEL team participating and performing with the
    children of the CRC on the night of Tuesday 2 September
    First week September: SK Dance Jury, Cologne
    Project Integration Retreats in New York, mid-late September.
  • 11 September: PHOENIX RISING stream from New York (Ground Zero) to London (SMARTlab) to the ISAin Phoenix: artists to plan th Bodysense rehabilitation workshop in live stream online.
  • October – November: Lizbeth and team take up an artist in residency position as part of the National Endowment for the Arts funded project on BodySense: creating an online performance and creation space linking children in the desert to children in New York: the Phoenix Project. . . Rising >From the Ashes (linking two communities of children with difficulties breathing, due to fire exposure and pollution from catastrophe- the Phoenix flies for the Arizona children and meets the characters that inhabit the world of the TRUST project for children in New York) 
    ALL SMARTlab Projects and sites to be updated in October, including the very productive PhD cohort,. So WATCH THIS SPACE!
  • ACCESS will be installed at Ars Electonica in Linz during the festival, sept. 6-11, and the exhibition lasts until sept 21. the project was awarded Honorary Mention in Interactive Art. 

5 September

Dr Goodman will join Ahktar Badshah of the Digital Partnership at the UN (New York) on 5 September to work with international guests dedicated to the ongoing Digital 




2003 Core Staff

Management Team  

Dr Lizbeth Goodman

Joy Barrett
Projects and
Productions Manager

Taeyoung Kim
Interactive Designer

Jo Gell
Technical Manager
MA Royal College of Art

Jana Riedel
Assistant Lab Manager

Barbara Touati
Finance and Grant Administrator

Design/Support Team

Peter Bond
Co-ordinator, Theatre: Design for Performance

Robert Charlton
Web Designer SMARTlabCentre Site
MACD 2002

Jonathan Goodman
Programmer, Web Editor

Roy Hanney
Manager, Film and Video
Back Hill TV Studio

Ben Hyde
IT and Media Support

Rufus Kahler
Web Construction
Masters Communication Design 2002

Mo-Ling Chui
MA Interactive Media LCP

Anita Mckeown
Production Assistant
Outreach Artist

Maria Pattinson
Theatre and Beyond

Armin Rüede
Web Construction
Masters Communication Design 2002

Paul Theron
Business and Industry Liasion Coordinator

Junior Tomlin
3D Designer & Illustrator

Robynn Weldon
Copy Editor

Fiona Wilkie
Editorial Assistant