Culture Lab Newcastle

Staff Profile

Dr Tom Schofield

Senior Lecturer in Digital Cultures

Background

Background

My practice-based research spreads across creative computational and electronic media, archives and collections interface design / visualisation and physical computing. My PhD thesis explored the role of technological materiality in developing works of art and design as part of ecologies of experience and I continue to explore how the materials of everyday technologies can be reconfigured for new forms of creativity.

Membership of Committees 

NICAP Steering Committee member

Institute for Creative Arts Practice Steering Group Member

Education

My PhD thesis (2015) explored the role of technological materiality in developing works of art and design as part of ecologies of experience. I maintain a portfolio website for my practice here.

Languages

Italian (advanced)

French (advanced)

Japanese (intermediate)

Google Scholar: Click here.

Research


Overview


My work with archives and cultural data engages practically with issues of digital culture through creative art and design practice. As heritage is increasingly experienced through digital means, issues of objecthood become sites for potential scholarly and creative intervention. I use art and design methods to help us think about the value of cultural heritage, bring it to new publics and rethink scholarly approaches to it. This work is significant and impactful both inside and outside the university as cultural institutions strive to retain, expand and enthuse audiences and scholars develop new understandings of the possibilities of digital methods, for example in the Digital Humanities.

I build on and extend established methods in design research mixing experimental technical development, exhibition and scholarly publishing arguing for new forms of hybrid contribution to knowledge. In my published work I draw on influences from Science and Technology Studies and contemporary continental philosophy to develop a rigorous critical approach to my creative work.

Current Funded Projects

Artificial intelligence, big data, and machine learning in healthcare: exhibition-situated arts-based public engagement and empirical ethics
HaSS Institute Awards, with Dr Mwenza Blell

Total Value: £4,178

Our project will use methods from participatory and speculative design to explore the contentious area of ethics in AI chat bots for GP care. Apps are already used in place of diagnostic GP services obliging people seeking medical care to explain to an artificial intelligence the nature of their problems. Sustaining a public consultation on this technical and ethically complex area is urgent not least thanks to the strong commercial interests at work in this area and their relationship with government. We have built a cross-faculty network including external academic/non-academic partners to inform an experimental exhibition of speculative futures for AI bots in health asking provocative questions about what place if any, AI has in diagnostic care.
Stage Worlds: a UK-China Innovation Partnership
AHRC, PI: Prof. Jonathan Sapsed

Total Value: £24,276

This project presents a unique performance arts and technology sector collaboration between UK and China-based partners, which will showcase how new technologies, including immersive XR, may open up and bridge experiential theatrical worlds and engage new and younger audiences. All the world is a stage and the stage is a world, but the nature of these worlds of experience is changing dramatically with the potential of new digital affordances. Through two workshop processes of ideation in Shanghai and Newcastle, theatre companies, technology developers and academics will develop project concepts to be implemented in shows accessed both locally and remotely in the UK and China.

Embedding Magic: AR and Outreach

AHRC/EPSRC, PI: Dr Tom Schofield

Total Value: £39,940

This follow on project takes the interaction design research ideas developed in Children's Magical Realism for New Spatial Interactions:AR and Archives and uses it as an education and outreach tool working with young people in economically disadvantaged areas of Newcastle upon Tyne. Working with our partners we will take the workshop methods we have developed and translate them into a Seven Stories offer which can be taken to schools and community groups in East End wards of the city. Together with our partners we will work with children and young people in creative design activities which will present our ideas about memory place and immersive technology and empower participants to relate them to their own community locales.

Children's Magical Realism for New Spatial Interactions: AR and Archives

AHRC/EPSRC, PI: Dr Tom Schofield, Co-I: Prof Kim Reynolds (SELLS)

Total Value: £74,849

We will develop new kinds of spatial interaction with mobile phones using magical realist children’s literature as an inspiration. Our work will place items from the archive of the author David Almond in digital public space around the Ouseburn valley during the Great Exhibition of the North. In doing so we will develop co-design methods for working with cultural institutions and designers/developers to infuse new technical work with creative and scholarly concerns from the humanities.

Knowledge Transfer Partnership: Northern Stage and Newcastle University

AHRC / Innovate UK, Lead Academic: Dr Tom Schofield, Academic Supervisor: Prof Jonathan Sapsed (NUBS)

Total Value: £112,657

This project will establish within Northern Stage a new process methodology that will enable the theatre to incorporate digital technologies as part of the actual production itself and also in post-production activities. The project will focus on the use of Internet of Things technologies as the basis of participatory engagement with experimental theatre.

Creativity Works

European Regional Development Fund / Innovate UK, PI: Prof Eric Cross, CI: Dr Tom Schofield, CI Prof Barry Hodgson

Total Value: £1010,000

Creativity Works, which involves all five North East universities - Newcastle, Northumbria, Durham, Sunderland and Teesside - will help firms grow through research and innovation.


Out of Bounds

AHRC, PI: Dr James Proctor, CI: Dr Tom Schofield, CI Dr David Kirk, CI Dr Gemma Robinson

Total value: £77,380 

On publication, the anthology, Out of Bounds (OOB), was hailed by the leading Caribbean poet and novelist, Fred D'Aguiar, as 'an alternative A-Z of the nation'. The book focuses on black and British Asian poets as they imaginatively interact with the diverse landscapes of Britain, from the Highlands of Scotland, to the Isle of Wight. The proposed Out of Bounds project re-purposes this critically-acclaimed book to engage schools, young people and the wider public in thinking imaginatively about one of the most pressing issues facing Britain today: migration. While questions of diversity, belonging and inclusion are included in Scotland's Curriculum for Excellence and are being embedded in the revised GCSE curriculum, high profile national debate around immigration has transformed the themes of this book into a key part of daily public life. This project invites the next generation to explore these issues of national and regional belonging through the creation of an online multimedia resource, and a series of live poetry events across England, Scotland and Wales led by OOB poet, Vahni Capildeo.


Plural Heritages of Istanbul's World Heritage Sites: the case of Land Walls

RCUK-TUBITAK (AHRC), PI: Prof Chris Whitehead, CI: Dr Tom Schofield, Turkish Cis: Dr Asu Aksoy Robins, Istanbul Bilgi University; Dr Figen Corakbas, Anadolu University

Total value: £392,452

The project will develop new valorisations of the Istanbul Land (Theodosian) Walls, working with communities to co-produce both situated and web-based, public-facing digital heritage interpretation resources that reflect non-official, hitherto unauthorised understandings of the Walls and their environs. The project also builds capacity, in line with the aims of the Newton Fund, through modelling heritage management/interpretation practice, digital technologies and community engagement within the heritage sector.


Crossing Borders in the Insular Middle Ages

Humboldt Alumni Network Grant,PI: Victoria Flood (Birmingham University), CI: Dr Tom Schofield, CI: Prof John Bowers

Total Value: £22,000

This project will develop an emerging research network, tracing the transmission and translation of literary texts across the Insular world – Britain, Ireland and Iceland – during the period 1250—1550. Bringing together scholars from institutions across Europe (UK, Germany, Switzerland and the Russian Federation), we aim to produce a pilot for a digital database of transmitted and translated medieval texts. The database will detail key texts in two important medieval categories – historical and scientific literature – identifying known manuscript witnesses, with date, provenance, and language. 

History

I have contributed as a research associate to projects funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council.
May-Aug 2015: Research Associate, Computer Science, CuRAtOR: Challenging online feaR And OtheRing, Newcastle University. (ESRC funded)April-May 2015: Research Associate, Computer Science, Charting the Digital Lifespan, Newcastle University. (EPSRC funded)2013-2015: Research Associate, Computer Science, Poetics of the Archive: Creative and Community Engagement with the Bloodaxe Books Archive, Newcastle University. (AHRC funded)Oct 2011-Jan 2012: Research Associate, Architecture Landscape and Planning, PATINA (Personal Architectonics through Interactions with Artefacts), Newcastle University (EPSRC funded)

Teaching

I am the Degree Programme Director for the MA in Creative Arts Practice and convene the following modules:

  • HSS8121, Public Making
  • DMS8013, Advanced Creative Digital Practice: Graphics Data and Physical Computing 

Across the university

  • I contribute to the faculty PGR training programme
  • I contribute to modules in BA Fine Art

PhD Supervision

I currently supervise the following PhDs

Dan Foster Smith, 'Augmenting Creativity: exploring AI to assist in creative ideation processes'

Megan Wilson, 'Children, Heritage and Digital Technology'

Kathy Clough, 'Curating and interpreting historic institutional collections in the digital realm: the Maurice Broomfield photograph archive.'

Sixian Chen,  'Designing Embodied Experience as Affective Behaviour Intervention'

Outside the University

I frequently mentor hack events and teach creative technologies to artists, writers and musicians including for the British Council and Future Everything.

Publications