The importance of learning from enlightenment

Now before we begin I just want to make clear that I’m talking about Enlightenment in terms of the Age of Reason, not Spiritualism.

“A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”- Margaret Mead

I’ve often talked with friends and colleges about developing a critical mass of interesting, cultured , creative and socially active people into a group. For me this type of group is the crucible of ideas themselves

Try this taster video

Or a more in depth version: Steven Johnson on TED ‘Where good ideas come from’

As you might already know I spent a few years collaborating in the creative industry.  In my experience something strange seems to happen when groups reach a certain point in which they have to work within a world of other groups.

I’ve recently become involved in a variety of groups and clubs, all with different aims and ethos. There is however a downside, these groups imbue an odd territorial attitude towards eachother. Organisations and communities that would have mutual benefit, or would even benefit from an unusual perspective are fractured and if not willingly ignorant of eachother, they are openly hostile.

It seems odd to me in the great age of sharing and developing information together on a global scale that these attitudes prevail….that’s when I came across something curious

the JUNTO club (pronounced ‘who-n-toe’)

“In 1727, Benjamin Franklin formed the Junto, a mutual improvement society born of Franklin’s love of conversation, personal progress, philosophy, and civic involvement. The group originally had 12 members and was composed of workingmen–the tradesmen and artisans who did not have a place in more elite circles of society. The Junto was thus commonly referred to as the ‘Leather Apron Club.’- The Art of Manliness Blog

These were ordinary men, grouped together to share interesting ideas and practical outcomes.

The club would meet once a week to converse on topics relating to Morals, Politics, or Natural Philosophy. Each week one member had to produce a short essay and present it to the rest, then the discussion would begin.

Inquiry was the main focus and to ensure that the group stayed true to this aim, a president was elected to put a stop to anything that was not rooted in curiosity and an inquisitive attitude, infact small fines were payable by anyone who was deemed to being contentious for the sake of it. Essentially this group had a critical and self-reliant structure.

Most importantly the results from this group were not simply lofty academic ideals, but practical culturally and socially positive enterprise. Infact many of the attributes linked to Benjamin Franklin were actually a series of results from the Junto Club. After 30 years the Junto club split off into more specialist groups, one of the most famous being the American Philosophical Society. Read more about it here and here (scroll down to Junto Club)

So my question is, where is todays Junto club or Scottish enlightenment coffee house? is it even a physical space? do online forums work in the same way? do they have the same impact? are these even the right questions to ask?.

This is important to me, is it important to you?


SOPA and PIPA Stop interaction

this post was not my initial intention for today, but I this subject is to important to ignore…

Now I want to be clear from the get-go, I do not jump on to the bandwagon of this issue lightly. Both S.O.P.A and P.I.P.A are dangerous pieces of legislation that will effect the very way in which content is produced, distributed and informs new content online AND this absolutely effects the purpose of this blog, as I alluded to in my original post, The importance of interaction is to create a bank of knowledge, experience and ideas, taking influence from different fields of thought and study, of different backgrounds, skillsets, methods and ideologies and through this be able to produce a dynamic and vibrant community for ideas to flourish try this RSA animate video from Steven Johnson for more on this. SOPA and PIPA will diminish interaction with eachother through censorship of content.

These laws negatively effect the way in which the online community communicate and interacts together…this is the very heart of the matter and the consequences to informative and creative discourse are unthinkably destructive. Try everything is a remix for a demonstration of how content has been and continues to be made and remade.

Yes this is an American legislation BUT. Consider how much content you enjoy, learn from and need that is created and shared from sources in the U.S.A. These laws will effect your ability to receive them and your ability to react, or discuss them, its effects are certainly global.

Try this video for a short and effective explanation

It is incredible that some of the most important and popular websites on the planet have joined in this protest against SOPA today (18/01/2012) including Google, Wikipedia, Reddit Stumbleupon, WordPress and many other lesser known sites. as far as I’m aware this is a world first, never have such big players in the online world stood up together over the same issue. It’s commendable that each have taken steps (some more drastic than others) over this. Kudos to you guys…Kudos.

So…What?.  I urge you to read more into SOPA and PIPA and to think for yourself, to make sense of what’s going on.

What action can you take? If you are American contact your congressmen, here’s a link that can lead you this way. It’s little effort for alot of reward I promise you that. If your like me and live outside of America, share the displeasure with your friends and colleages. Show how it could effect them personally.

Global protest is beginning to truly come into it’s own. Your actions can have consequence on a worldwide stage, all you need is internet access, a little research and the will to do it. Don’t forget fundamentally were talking about access to content, that is the most powerful and wonderful thing of all…Don’t let other people take that away from you, or from anyone else.

Thank you for reading, we can make a real difference when we work together.


  • As I finish writing this sentence I have just become aware of the real life protests in New York, USA, read about them here
  • The Obama administration has made progress on this proposed law, but there is more to be done.

And now in the interest of fairness, I want to play devils advocate for a moment. I do wonder if SOPA/PIPA did go through that, over some time the impact would mean the U.S.A. would probably have less cultural influence on the internet. Certainly other more liberal countries would clamber to fill the gap with interesting and engaging content…It could turn out to be Americas biggest cultural mistake.


psychology research Jung 1

So, I’ve kick started the new year with more time dedicated to research and as a result I have been digesting thoughts at a rate of knots

My current focus has been within psychology I have especially been taken by Carl Jung, I realise now just how important the distinction from Freud really is

I’ve started my journey with Jung: on the nature of the psyche. which is essentially two essays together. ‘On Psychic Energy’ and ‘On The Nature of Psyche’.

Now I want to stress that I have always cringed at the term energy, I’ve heard it used too many times in a new-age sense as if it carries some sort of mystical meaning (don’t get me wrong I understand that Jung became increasingly into mysticism as he reached the end of his life). Jung is careful to mention that energy can be used in a scientific and metaphorical sense and that the two can be confused. Energy is a fascinating concept, this book has helped me conceive the distinction between force and energy. These are fundamental terms in trying to understand how the physical and metaphysical may interact with eachother, a pertinent example of this is the distinction between mind (sentience) and brain (physical presence)…in other words what is the relationship between body and mind? how do they interrelate?

“the distinction between force and energy is a conceptual neccesity, energy is really a concept and as such does not exist objectively in the phenomina themselves, only in the specific data of experience”-C Jung

force then is the measurable physical manifestation of energy

However the distinction becomes difficult when you consider the concept that matter itself may simply be a representation of energy

“from the energetic standpoint, substance is nothing more than an expression or sign of an energetic system”-Jung

this relates to the workings of the brains processing because it is essentially electrical signals passing through a network, in other words a system of energy transfer.

” a qualitative concept is always a description of a thing, a substance; where as a quantitative concept deals with the relations of intensity and never with a substance or a (psychical) thing”- C Jung

I find this quote useful because we can talk about the transfer of energy from one neuron to another, but in a way we can also say that a thought has transformed from a previous thought into a new thought. (this is a huge generalisation, but I find it as an appropriate metaphor).

It is here that I would like to take a quick step back

I may have an outsiders perspective on Psychology, but my inquiring and inquisitive nature forces me to question.  I can’t help but have the impression from reading books on this subject that alot of the time psychology finds phenomena that can’t currently be explained through the scientific method and then attributes it with a name. I find myself reading and re-reading at points in which these unknown entities are being discussed in relation to eachother. I can understand the question of where psychology is Science or an Art-form originates from. Jung seems keenly aware of this balancing act in his writing. Is this a typical impression of the layman? or is there something fundamental in the structure of academic text in psychology?. I’m going to keep reading and try to work this out. I’m excited to move onto the next essay, which is on the Psyche itself.

In my next post I will discuss another impression I’ve had from my interest in Psychology.

Why are Ancient Greek myths and theater linked with Psychoanalysis and characteristics of the mind?

I will end this post with one more quote, I think it describes why it is important to keep chasing the phenomena of the mind, even if there is no means to full describe the qualitative concept of thought.

” Certainly it is necessary for Science to know how things are ‘in themselves’ but even science can not escape the psychological conditions of knowledge and psychology must be particularly alive to these conditions”-C Jung


Where Next?

We live in strange times,

I’ve been a part of some exciting and interesting things and I am grateful to have done so;

I’ve been ambitious and varied, I’ve worked on projects spanning Economic regeneration to theory pushing Interaction design, sometimes I bit more off than I could chew and that’s fine. Turning mistakes into learning opportunities is an important part of developing as a person.

I love the expanse and atmosphere of the creative industries, but the financial climate is becoming truly serious and understandably these industries have been hit hard in terms of funding. It’s difficult to justify a role as a creative practitioner in this climate, there comes a point in which you need to think strategically. I want to move onto research in New media interaction and psychology, I think I have some interesting thoughts in this department and I understand it’s hard to quantify the direct economic value of this research. I can’t make a living wage from this.

So where next? People have told me that I have a natural talent in teaching and I’m finally listening, I’m qualifying myself on several teaching courses now and for the near future. Some of these courses mean that I can travel the globe, meaning that I can expand on my network, skills and life experience. I still want to enter into research and I’m still trying to get a clear perspective on a Masters course and university that suits, but frankly…this wont pay the bills and I know it.

Putting things in perspective, I am lucky. I live in the first world, I speak and read English fluently and I’m part of a country with a fantastic social welfare system. You have to realise the real context and remember that there are 3+ Billion people on the planet that can’t read or write, that’s almost HALF of the population of the planet.

Whats more, I am privy to a wealth of information and connections that generations before could only dream of, never has so much information been accessible for people through all income brackets

The truly powerful thing now is a collective of interesting, creative and critical thinkers. To be within this is truely what I want from life.

We live in strange times when access to a huge wealth of information is coupled with backwards thinking from work industries, industries that don’t make the most out of their work force, there is a demand for specialisation from workers and an assumption that motivation only comes from the incentive of wealth.

I and many others in my position are members of Generation Y. We are motivated by ideals, we are excited by ideas, we are enthused and engaged with working collaboratively.  I started this blog under the premise that Interaction is Important.. I stick by that claim and urge other creative and academic practitioners not to conserve what little they have, I urge them to take a new perspective on their situation and interact with eachother in order to create something incredible and unmissable together.

It’s been a long while since I posted something, I wanted to make sure that I had something to really say.

Thank you for your attention, I will start posting more regularly from now on

Martin Billingham



Id machine: plinth building and design

My original intention was to use veneered MDF, but after some first and second hand research I decided a more ergonomic and interesting way to solve my problem. After several experiments I found a formula that made a convincing wood grain effect.

So I began constructing my plinth in the workshop and devised an adhoc transportation system so I could apply the wood grain effect elsewhere

I had learned that creating a multi-tonal and textured effect was the secret to creating a convincing wood effect onto MDF, I managed to half my budget and produce a better aesthetic compared to my initial intentions.


Id machine: exhibition concept

I began making a model to describe the concept I want for my exhibition, I wanted to alter the sense of space for the viewer. I want the participant to sense that something isn’t quite right as soon as they have entered the space.

The desired effect is to create and eerie sense of perspective when entering the exhibition, this is known as forced perspective.

Forced perspective in architecture

“In architecture, a structure can be made to seem larger, taller, farther away or otherwise by adjusting the scale of objects in relation to the spectator, increasing or decreasing perceived depth.For example, when forced perspective is used to make an object appear farther away, the following method can be used: By constantly decreasing the scale of objects from expectancy and convention toward the farthest point from the spectator, an illusion is created that the scale of said objects is decreasing due to their distant location. In contrast, the opposite technique was sometimes used in classical garden designs and other “follies” to shorten the perceived distances of points of interest along a path.”
I can apply techniques like The Kellison Sticks method in order to produce correct mathematical proportions.
There is a strong history of forced perspective in film making, one of the most notable examples can be found in Hitchcock’s work ‘Vertigo’, here the dolly/zoom technique produces acts as an unsettling metaphor for ‘Scotties’ fear.

Hitchcock's 'Vertigo'

this technique is used in film making “…to suggest that a character is undergoing a realization that causes him or her to reassess everything he or she had previously believed”.
It’s this unreal situation that I want the participant to take part in, I want an odd sensation that things aren’t what they seem to permeate the whole experience, to act as a signifier that you are entering a world with different rules. I want to also refer to other metaphors for entering a surreal space, for example the concept of entering ‘deeper down the rabbit hole’ in Alice in Wonderland
I also want the placement of the frames in my exhibition to reflect the nature of sound itself,  as if the frames were markers for the ripple effect from the waves of sound being produced.

Sound Waves and their Sources 1933

I want to do my up most to ensure that the experience is as immersive as possible. It has always been my intention to produce a cognitive and emotional response within my participants in the same way cinema does with it’s viewer, will I be able to achieve this?….I think so

Id Machine: Show design sketch

Here are some initial designs for appropriate exhibition space for my project within the AUCB degree show

degree show design sketch 1

degree show design sketch 2

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