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Prof Jon Thomson
Slade School of Fine Art
Gower Street
Prof Jon Thomson profile picture
  • Professor of Fine Art
  • The Slade School of Fine Art
  • Faculty of Arts & Humanities

Beginning in 1995, Thomson set up The Slade Centre for Electronic Media in Fine Art (SCEMFA) (www.scemfa.org) with Professor Collins bringing together artist-researchers predominantly based at the Slade working digitally on the cutting edge of contemporary art practice. At the same time he began working collaboratively on individual research with Alison Craighead (Reader in Contemporary Art and Visual Culture, University of Westminster and Lecturer in Fine Art at Goldsmiths University of London) under the name Thomson & Craighead (www.thomson-craighead.net). These two working relationships remain at the heart of his research practice to date.

In 2007 Thomson successfully completed an AHRC small grant in the creative and performing arts in collaboration with SCEMFA and the British Film Institute, London.  This combined the three principle strands in his research; an interest in using live information as a material component of an artwork; a more general look at the growing relationship between physical and digital space; and how the internet is altering our understanding and interpretation of factual information.

From 2007 – 2012 Thomson built on the work done under this AHRC grant. Working with a number of organisations (Channel 4 Television, Animate Projects, New Media Scotland, and Creative Scotland) he developed Flat Earth Trilogy (thomson-craighead.net/trilogy.html); a series of experimental documentary artworks exploring how the worldwide web is changing our understanding of what a documentary can be.

Then in 2012, he joined the Nuclear Culture research project (http://nuclear.artscatalyst.org) established by Dr Carpenter (Goldsmiths University London): a widely interdisciplinary project hosted by Arts Catalyst London including artists, scientists, activists, and members of the UK’s Nuclear Submarine Dismantling Project Advisory Group set up in 2006 to discuss the decommissioning of our current fleet of nuclear submarines and as such has been highly innovative in combining research with public engagement, knowledge exchange and national policy direction.

This has led them to take up further interdisciplinary research opportunities and in 2014 they were invited to work with computational biologists Professor Barton and Dr Scurch in the eminent School of Life Sciences at the University of Dundee, to develop work using the human genome as an artistic material. This was done with the assistance of a Wellcome Trust award for art (£38,000), an artwork called Stutterer, most recently exhibited at The Sanger Institute near Cambridge.

These last two projects mark a development in his work, which is beginning to consider the impact Big Data is having on society, and how we as individuals can measure our own experience against unfathomably large bodies of information and inhuman timescales.Three monographs on Thomson and Craighead have been published to date; Thomson & Craighead (Film & Video Umbrella); Never Odd Or Even (Carroll/Fletcher Gallery); and Flat Earth (Dundee Contemporary Arts). Their work is written about in a growing number of publications and exhibition catalogues defining the field of media art and contemporary art indicating the relevance of their research to theorists, art historians and curators as they build the critical framework surrounding contemporary art practice after the internet.


Research Themes
Research Summary

Thomson's practice-based research has considered how the development of the internet, in particular the worldwide web, has transformed the way we all perceive the world around us, and how our constant ability to be physically somewhere but virtually anywhere affects our socio-political understanding of the world both as individuals and as societies.

Thomson works as a visual artists working in collaboration with Alison Craighead under the name Thomson & Craighead and has been exhibiting their research widely in galleries and museums across the world in particular in Europe, North America and China.

You can explore their current and past work on their archive website at http://www.thomson-craighead.net or visit their blog at http://thomson-craighead.blogspot.com

Teaching Summary

Thomson is a 0.4 Professor in fine art media working across the school with MA/MFA and PhD students

01-OCT-2011 Reader in Fine Art The Slade School of Fine Art University College London, United Kingdom
01-OCT-2000 – 01-OCT-2011 Lecturer in Fine Art (0.4) The Slade School of Fine Art University College London, United Kingdom
01-SEP-1999 – 01-JUL-2001 Lecturer in Fine Art (part time) Ruskin School of Drawing & Painting Oxford University, United Kingdom
01-OCT-1997 – 31-OCT-1997 Visiting Professor (Fine Art) Fine Art Royal University College Stockholm, United Kingdom
24-SEP-1997 – 24-SEP-2000 Lecturer in Fine Art (PTE 0.2) The Slade School of Fine Art University College London, United Kingdom
Academic Background
1992   Postgraduate Diploma Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design
1991   Bachelor of Arts (Honours) De Montfort University
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