Paul Sermon BA(Hons) MFA PhD

University of Brighton
School of Art and Media
Grand Parade
United Kingdom

Tel. +44 (0)7753 167726
University of Brighton, Academic Profile

Born in Oxford, England, 1966. Studied BA(Hons) Fine Art under Professor Roy Ascott at Newport School of Fine Art, from 1985 to 1988. Studied his Master in Fine Art (MFA) degree at The University of Reading from 1989 to 1991. Completed his PhD 'A phenomenology of empathy and presence through telematic art practice' in 2019 at the University of Brighton, School of Art.

Awarded the Prix Ars Electronica Golden Nica, in the category of interactive art, for the hyper media installation 'Think about the People now' in Linz, Austria in 1991. Artist in Residence at the ZKM Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe, Germany in 1993. Received the Sparky Award from the Interactive Media Festival in Los Angeles for the telepresent video installation 'Telematic Dreaming' in 1994.

Dozent for Media Art at the HGB Academy of Fine Arts Leipzig, Germany from 1993 to 1999, Professor of Creative Technology at the University of Salford, School of Arts and Media from 2000 to 2013. Guest Professor for Performance and Environment at The University of Art and Design Linz, Austria from 1997 to 2001.

Since September 2013 Professor of Visual Communication and Leader of Doctoral Studies in the School of Art and Media at the University of Brighton. Principal Investigator for the UKRI-AHRC Covid Response project 'Collaborative Solution for the Performing Arts: A Telepresence Stage' from November 2020 to May 2022.

Download full Curriculum Vitae

Download short Curiculum Vitae

Timeline of Creative Practice

Since the early 1990s I have combined and co-located distant audiences in a variety of familiar settings, in social and fictional contexts. These have ranged from life size projections of remote participants on shared bed surfaces and green-screened television viewers sitting together on the same sofa, to distant gallery visitors seated at the same table and performers sharing the same telepresence stage. From fibreoptic telephone lines to internet videoconferencing these telematic artworks have invariably involved customised video and computing technologies to converge duplicated installation interfaces in gallery settings.

My telematic art installations combine separate participants within the same specular image, allowing the self and the other simultaneous presence in a shared third-space of coexistence. The remote participants are effectively sharing the same eyes – the same point of view, where one’s gaze of the other and reflection of the self are one and the same. Allowing participants an opportunity to observe and reflect on the performed dialogue occurring in front of them whilst being directly responsible for it, thereby expounding the juncture between empathy and presence.

"Sermon aims at expanding the senses of the user, while it is obvious that the other cannot really be touched but that only swift, decisive, possibly tenderly reactive movements can experience the suggestion of touch - a moment of contemplation, as many users observed. The synaesthetical, sensual impression lets the hand and the eye fuse, and it is this effect that characterizes his work." Oliver Grau, Media Art Net

My work provides a space for practice and theory to engage in a dialogue informed by the phenomenological tradition of such as Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Jean-Paul Sartre, and the emergent ‘technoetic’ field of technology and consciousness research defined by Roy Ascott. The theories and concepts I have encountered through my work are firstly experienced within them. It is not until I have publicly installed and observed these telematic installations that I am able to articulate the philosophical discourses they manifest. Discourses that are further explored in my ongoing practice; discussed and contextualised in a range of publications.

Paul Sermon, Professorial Inaugural Lecture, University of Brighton, 2nd March 2016