🖖🏻 Joel Gethin Lewis
I am a consultant, lecturer and artist. I love being a catalyst for learning for both students and clients, helping them to build capacity and enable them to pass on their knowledge to others. I particularly love thinking about new uses of technology as part of a group and then helping to make those uses happen.
Ever since I saw the Wizard of Oz I've been interested in the mechanisms or systems that enable stories to be told or society to function. I am interested in making work that allows for real-time interaction between people, places, stories and objects through the use of technology.
I am currently researching solar-powered computing, the history of weaving and global scale augmented reality sculpture.
If you've got a joke, poem, recipe, spell or otherwise, get in touch:
Since 2017 I've consulted for organisations on a freelance basis - based on more than 20 years of experience working on interactive projects that blend the analogue and digital to make something new. Some organisations that I've worked with:
- Universal Everything
- Google Cultural Institute
- Victoria and Albert Museum
- Nexus Studios
Since 2021 I've been the Course Leader of the Diploma in Apple Development 🍎 at the Creative Computing Institute, Camberwell, University of the Arts London. Find out more about the course in this interview.
Since 2017 I've been a mentor at Arts Emergency, which aims to increase access to the arts and humanities to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
- Joel has played a huge role in the direction I've angled my discipline during my design studies. He has a sort of x-ray vision going straight to the core of what I've been doing, which has been so helpful in communicating and in cultivating my own area of expertise. Whenever I've been working on a new project, he always brings up numerous other projects which are either similar, can extend the breadth or sharpen the focus of mine. Our conversations have actually been an important mental support for me, and to hear things like “JUST GO” when I've been trying something new have also been turning moments.
- Learning content and delivery - Creating imaginative and captivating content for young people, which takes them on a learning exploration through playful and impactful delivery. Research - Curiouser and curiouser, able to intertwine interests and areas to provide a brilliant second brain to any peer, person or project. Joel opens up new pathways for re-imagination. Mentor & champion - For all the reasons above with the addition of being an active listener, great at holding space, caring, positive and open to the possibility of everything and everyone's potential.
- Iterating quickly without getting bogged down in the 'what ifs' of production readiness. Joel has an excellent 'yes - and' improvisational style. Quickly grasping concepts and systems to do something useful with them. Being a synthesiser - Joel has a wide range of experience to draw on and combine in interesting ways.
- The big idea - distilling it, communicating it, extracting it from people, finding it amongst the noise? Explaining why something is brilliant, finding a good way of presenting & communicating the interesting/crazy stuff that others don't know how to communicate. Getting people excited.
- Joel is the nutty professor. Someone that you believe could go deep into the technical swamp. But never gets bogged down in it. He's an encyclopaedia of awesome. I always leave our conversations feeling smarter. He's generous with his time, wisdom and contacts. Someone I could play idea ping-pong with all day. He makes me believe that anything is possible - infectious optimism. He has good ethics and principles.
- Mentor & Teacher - always able to offer considered, useful, creative advice, expansive in approach and open to all different directions. Open-minded, intelligent, kind and thoughtful mentor. Great energy, enthusiasm and optimism. Real empathy and compassion too. Consultant & Strategist - unique creative ability to connect artistic concepts with technology, science and innovation. Lateral thinker and beyond! Fantastic at gaining the investment, imagination and enthusiasm of others. Technical & Creative Director - ability to lead multi-disciplinary teams, scope feasibility of creative and technical ideas very quickly and then turn this into an action plan and team who can deliver something brilliant and original.
Some quotes of mine that I keep repeating:
- Real-time or it didn't happen.
- Design is constant apology, Art is never having to say you are sorry.
- Reality is the killer app.
- Binaries don't exist, even inside computers.
- Analogue gives infinite resolution, digital gives infinite variation.
- From 2019-2021 I was a Lecturer in Creative Computing on the Diploma in Creative Computing at the Creative Computing Institute, Camberwell, University of the Arts London. Watch a presentation from me and the inaugural cohort.
- From 2015 to 2022 I was a member of the faculty of Year Here as well as a mentor. Year Here aims to help recent graduates build smart solutions to entrenched social problems.
- From 2017 to 2019 I was an expert tutor on the MA in Visual Communication course at the Royal College of Art, London.
- From 2017 to 2019 I was the Interaction Design Tutor on the MA in Narrative Environments course at Central St. Martins, University of the Arts, London. I was also a lecturer in Digital Media on the BA in Graphic Communication Design. Finally, I was an associate lecturer on the BA and MA Graphic Design courses from 2012 to 2015.
- From 2016-2017 I was an associate lecturer on the MFA in Computational Arts course at Goldsmiths, University of London.
- From 2014-2017 I was a member of both the Graduate School Industry Programme and the Industry Mentoring Scheme for postgraduate students and graduates at London College of Communication, University of the Arts, London.
- In 2014 I was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. I remained a Fellow until 2022.
- In 2011 I co-founded Cariad Interactive with Wendy Keay-Bright, a studio based around creating interactive software for young autistic people and adults with profound and multiple learning difficulties.
- In 2008 I co-founded Hellicar&Lewis, on open source craft, design and technology studio. Hellicar&Lewis ran between 2008 and 2016, creating work for companies, museums and charities.
- In 2009 I founded The Enlightenment Club, a monthly social club.
- In 2008 I co-founded YesYesNo, with Theo Watson and Zach Lieberman. I was part of YesYesNo from 2008 to 2010.
- In 2007 I co-founded This Happened, An event about the stories behind interaction design, with Chris O'Shea and Andreas Müller.
- From 2005 to 2008 I worked as the interaction designer at UnitedVisualArtists.
- For 2004 I worked in the interaction department of Fabrica.
- In 2001 I worked as an interaction designer on the Prada Epicentre project at OMA/AMO.
- From 2001 to 2003 I completed an MA in Interaction Design at the Royal College of Art.
- From 1999-2004 I worked as a writer, interaction designer and researcher at Dazed&Confused Magazine from 1999-2004. From 2001-2004 I was the webmaster of Another Magazine. From 2000-2003 I was a photo assistant at Rankin Photography.
- From 1998 to 2001 I did a BSc in Mathematics and Computer Science at Imperial College.
- In 1997 I worked as a Pre-University Employee at IBM.
- In 1994 I did work experience as a Game Tester at Bullfrog Productions.
- Also in 1994 I did work experience as an engineer at Lucas Girling.
Since 2017 I've been researching on two long term projects:
- EveryWhere: a solar powered, mesh networked, open source hardware and software platform that allows anyone to add augmented reality content to their environment.
- Another Sky: a series of global scale augmented reality sculptures, inspired by the history of weaving and digital simulations of life.
I've been giving presentations internationally since 2006. Highlights include a D&AD Presidents Lecture, Edinburgh Festival, In-progress, New World/Today at Apple, What Design Can Do, TOCA ME, Dorkbot, INSTINT, Design Indaba, Art && Code, FutureEverything and Semi-Permanent. For an example please see my 2019 lecture on ten thoughts for the future.
🕸 Other websites:
- For complete lecture notes, workshop details and presentation slides please see my GitHub pages site.
- Source Repository: GitHub of latest projects.
- Previous site: Pre Universal Everything personal site.
- Even earlier site: Pre United Visual Artists personal site, with freelance work, Fabrica projects and my Royal College of Art portfolio.
- Archive Source Repository: LGPL Source for selected older projects.
- ScreenLab 0x02. Gateway and Portals. 2012.
- MoMA. Talk to Me. 2011
- Maurice Einhardt Neu Gallery. Cosmos. 2009
- Centre Pompidou and Triad New Media Gallery. We are the time, we are the famous. 2006
- Royal College of Art. Probes and Arcade. 2003
As part of Hellicar&Lewis:
- Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
- The Turbine Hall, Tate Modern, London
- The National Poetry Library, London
- Semi-Permanent, Hong Kong
- onedotzero, London
- Watermans Gallery, London
- Kalied Editions Gallery, London
- Outline Editions Gallery, London
- The Banff Arts Center, Canada
- The Victoria and Albert Museum, London
- Yota x onedotzero, St. Petersburg
- FOAM Gallery, Amsterdam
- Tate Britain, London
- Open Source Housing Crisis. Urban Pamphleteer. 2016.
- Art of Interaction Design. IDN. 2004.
- Royal College of Art. Migrations (MA Dissertation). 2002.
- 2022 Fellow, Advance HE (previously HEA), UK.
- 2020 PGCert Art and Design Education, Royal College of Art, London, UK.
- 2003 MA Interaction Design, Royal College of Art, London, UK.
- 2001 BSc Joint Maths and Computer Science, Imperial College, London, UK.
💭 Unrealised Projects:
Please get in touch if you'd like to discuss them:
- Five Systems
Memosyne Atlas II
- Rebuild the Memosyne Atlas, but reimagined with new insights provided by machine learning.
- A room with a single lightbulb that turns off when everyone in the room has their eyes closed.
Half waterfall half nothing
- An ambisonic sound installation. Half the room is completely silent, half sounds like the depths of a waterfall.
- An American motel room inside a white cube. Visitors enter via the front door. Inside the motel room, it feels like 2am. Cars passing outside the room cast light through the blinds of the room.
- A series of hand drawn graphite pencil statements on A0 pieces of archival paper. Each statement is an Escher sentence – also known as a comparative illusion. For example: "More people have been to Russia than I have".
The Ouroboros Array
- Inspired by the Ouroboros. An array of separate rooms are linked by placing dual projectors in them, with projection screens. Cameras face the screens. Each room is linked to the next and previous room in the array of rooms via the camera and screen pairs. The final room in the array is linked to the first, in an infinite loop for the duration of the installation. In this way, a person can clap in any of the rooms and have the clap pass down the chain to the their left and have it come back to them on their right, and vice versa.
- Inspired by a passage from The Scientist as Rebel by the late Freeman Dyson.
- Water is shown at critical opalescence in a series of glass containers, so that light might be projected through them. The necessary equipment to maintain the physical phenomenon surrounds each sample of water. The light is projected on the matt white walls of an otherwise pitch black room.
The A***hole Room
- A single room, one vertical wall entirely full of Marshall amplifiers, floor to ceiling. Every amp visibly cabled to a single contact microphone gaffer taped securely to the floor of the room. Every amplifier is powered, with all dials at maximum. Visitors must tiptoe if they want to keep their sense of hearing. All other surfaces are painted matt white.
The Whole World
- The current human population is 7,969,911 at the time of publication. What does a particle simulation of 7 billion particles look like? Is it possible to set up a series of screens so that individual pixels could represent a single human? What about for other forms of life?
- Whenever you touch a thing in a space, you see all the people that have ever touched it.
- An augmented reality iOS app that allows you to recognise different animal tracks, identifying the animal and creating an animation of them walking the steps in camera.
A work in progress:
- Royal College of Art: Interaction Design MA.
- Imperial College: Joint Maths and Computer Science BSc.