emergent computation


How can the human experience add messiness and plurality to our cultural understandings of computational systems?

• TBD Summer 2022
• Based in Berlin, Germany
• Four weeks, full-time
• Small class of participants

Artist / Student (Full Time)*
€1825 early fee**, €2195 regular fee

€1955 early fee**, €2395 regular fee

€2125 early fee**, €2595 regular fee

Early fees until 19. July


Algorithms allow us to spot inconsistencies that alert us to an underlying problem, but how far can we expect human emotions to follow these rules? Through the cracks of the sleek computational systems that increasingly mediate every aspect of our lives, the messines of the human experience seeps out, refusing to be tucked flush into codified systems. This class asks us to look inwards in order to understand what values we want to inject into our technological landscape.

Emergent behaviour is defined as a surprising pattern that emerges in the whole that wasn’t there in parts. It is an organised collective behaviour with no centralised conductor, something like the unrehearsed riff that unexpectedly emerges from a group of jamming musicians. It is a phenomenon that often arises in machine learning systems to help to solve complex problems without having to programme equally complex code. Consciousness can also be described as the emergent behaviour of neurons firing in the brain and so we see an overlap forming in the way we understand human versus computational behaviour. This class seeks to creatively explore these overlaps, using practical experiments to take us out into the world and propel our understanding of what is and isn’t emergent behaviour.

We will go back to the basics of machine learning, exploring the fundamental principles of neural networks in lo-fi and hands-on ways, in order to gain a more holistic understanding of emergent behaviour. Through a curated series of lectures, field trips, movie nights and workshops that will culminate in an exhibition, we aim to collectively cultivate a more soulful and inclusive approach to computational thinking that goes beyond cold tech demos and instead observes what emergent computation can say about us as humans.

in this course,
you will be
introduced to

  • Creative and critical perspectives on machine learning
  • An opportunity for introspection and self-reflection with others
  • Theory, tools and frameworks for thinking about emergent computation
  • Building slime mould mazes and messy, playful diy science
  • Professional development for artists and creatives
  • Exciting humans working in the field
  • Hands-on learning in Python, Processing and simulation software
  • Concepts in Reinforcement learning
  • Ethics and AI
  • Critical and conceptual development of projects to be exhibited in a final group showcase
  • A variety of guest speakers with different perspectives and relevant practices
  • An amazing network and community of like-minded creative beings and potential future collaborators

course outline

Week 1: A week for getting to know each other, field trips around the city, messy diy science, slime moulds, film nights, and introductions to critical discourse on emergent computation

Week 2: Delving further into the technical side with Object Orientated Programming, python, and simulation softwares. We'll explore flocking, cellular automata, SIR models and epidemiology as models of emergent computation.

Week 3: This week will focus on machine learning as a prime example of emergent computation. We explore the history of machine learning, tracing it back to the present day, becoming confronted with the more philosophical questions of modern computation.

Week 4: Final week will be spent developing personal and collaborative projects and that will end with a group exhibition.

who is this
program for?

This program invites artists, designers, technologists, filmmakers and writers and anyone with a curiosity for film or machine learning to connect and collaborate with a group of like-minded creators. No prior experience needed.

meet the