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AUTOICON: the digital-body Lunchtime talk with Stephen Weller

24 Jan 2020

Join us for a free lunchtime talk exploring Donald Rodney’s interactive media work AUTOICON with Stephen Weller

  • Venue

    Stuart Hall Library

  • Address

    16 John Islip Street
    SW1P 4JU

  • Date & time

    Friday 24 January 2020

  • Free, booking required

Expanding on the essay, ‘Acknowledging the Body in Online Art’, join us for a free lunchtime talk exploring Donald Rodney’s interactive media work AUTOICON with Stephen Weller.

Completed by a close group of Rodney’s friends and collaborators in the years following his death from sickle cell anaemia, AUTOICON presents a multifaceted record of the artist’s body in a navigable data trail of medical information, images, interviews, and ‘memories’, affectionately rematerialized into an intimate digital embodiment of the artist.

Produced in part by Iniva and preserved on CD-ROM within the Stuart Hall Library’s collection, AUTOICON uses a Java-based AI and neural network allowing users to interact, converse, and collaborate with its digital body. The implementation of a web crawler and ‘montage machine’ allows for the production of new artworks according to a rule-based system drawn from Rodney’s own creative process. This data body represents equally a playful act of survivability for an artist who spent much of his life faced with his mortality and embraces the creation of a reactive and extended virtual space through which to remember and mourn his loss.

Understanding and reading AUTOICON projects it into our contemporary moment of machinic surveillance, algorithmic data collection and prediction, online identity construction and digital death. This interactive talk will explore how can we materialize the structural, informational and interfaced bodies of the internet? It seeks to answer the question: what does it mean when the physical body exceeds the confines of the digital?


Stephen Weller is an Art History graduate and Stuart Hall Library volunteer living in London. His research is focused on the intersections of identity, technology, and questions around networked figurations of the body and subjectivity.