University of Salford MediaCity, Digital Media Arts project space, February 2012

Concept by Paul Sermon, Installation by Tim Isherwood & Paul Sermon

Drawings and Performance by BA Graphic Design Students (Level 4)

An interactive collaborative drawing ‘machine’ designed on the concept of a neural network, allowing participants to experience a shared creative process, using the principles of open-source and social networked communication through an analogue string system. The underlying concept of the Neural String Network is to introduce participants to the idea of collaborative-shared drawing practice, a dispersed collective that draws on Roland Barthes ‘The Death of the Author’ (1967) whereby each participant plays an equal role as both viewer and artist. Played out like a surrealist ‘Exquisite Corpse’ game of consequences or as a piece of Haiku poetry, the drawing participants contribute marks, signs and signifiers to an open-content drawing, akin to the development of open-source software on neural networks. The string network consists of five drawing table ‘nodes’ within a room/studio space measuring eight by eight metres square. Each node is linked to the other four via pulleys and washing lines, making it possible to peg a sheet of A4 paper to a line and winch it across to any one of the other nodes. The network system uses 10 string connections between the five drawing tables, creating a pentagram within a pentagon neural network design.

Representing the interconnected synapses and neurons of the brain the role of each participant is that of cause and effect, a single instruction initiates a series of consequences that unfold in drawings, marks and patterns that are created whilst being hoisted simultaneously across the room in quick succession. The Neural String Network project was first set up in February 2012 to coincide with the centenary celebration of Alan Turing, a project undertaken by students from the BA Graphic Design programme at MediaCity Salford University. Each participating student was given a single word drawn from the Turing theme, such as machine, brain, code and apple that were interpreted as a drawing by a collective consciousness.


Concept and proposal (3MB) pdf

Paul Sermon's web site

Digital Media Arts project space, MediaCityUK