Chris Speed

Planetary Fax Works: 1990-91 /

Chris Speed /

1990-91 /

Throughout the 80s  and 90s fax machines were common place in many institutions which provided a relatively ‘open’ channel for digital art practice to reach diverse audiences from galleries to businesses of all types. Three fax works were designed to engage strangers at the end of a fax machine to challenge their ideas of being in a globally connected world.

The three fax works featured in FUTURE HISTORY designed were through a combination of technologies including the desktop publishing tool Aldus Freehand and basic collage to produce a single A4 that combined environmental, temporal and spatial information.

‘Brighton via the Antarctic 1 & 2, were designed specifically for a relationship with the Tourist Information Office of the Falkland Islands. Embedded within both faxes is a message to the receiver, a personal image of someone waving / jumping, an image of the planet Earth, and a set of instructions of how to turn the fax paper into a sundial that would allow the recipient to wave through the planet in the general direction of Brighton, UK. At a prespecified point in time, the fax message invited Sally and Anna to wave back to the artist and collaborators.

IDAHO to WARSAW was a global fax message that was sent to 5 locations across the Earth that were aligned to construct a single ‘cognitive line’ across the planet. The fax visualised the line across a traditional map of the world, and encouraged recipients to consider the existence of other people and locations in a networked moment.


Chris Speed is Chair of Design Informatics at the University of Edinburgh. He has a BA in Alternative Practice (Brighton Polytechnic, 1992), a Masters in Design (Goldsmiths 1999), and a PhD from Plymouth University (‘A Social Dimension to Digital Architectural Practice’, 2007). He was a PhD supervisor on the Planetary Collegium and a member of i-DAT.

Chris Speed is Chair of Design Informatics at the University of Edinburgh where his research focuses upon the Network Society, Digital Art and Technology, and The Internet of Things. Chris has sustained a critical enquiry into how network technology can engage with the fields of art, design and social experience through a variety of international digital art exhibitions, funded research projects, books journals and conferences. At present Chris is working on funded projects that engage with the flow of food across cities, an internet of cars, turning printers into clocks and a persistent argument that chickens are actually robots. Chris is a co-organiser and compére for the Edinburgh events and is co-editor of the journal Ubiquity.

Chris was PI for the TOTeM project investigating social memory within the ‘Internet of Things’ funded by the Digital Economy (£1.4m) and the related Research in the Wild grant: Internet of Second Hand Things; PI for the JISC funded iPhone app Walking Through Time that overlays contemporary Google maps with historical maps; PI for Community Web2.0: creative control through hacking, a £40K feasibility study that explores parallels between virtual society (Internet) and actual society (communities); Co-I to the Sixth Sense Transport RCUK funded Energy project (£900k) which explores the implications for the next generation of mobile computing for dynamic personalised travel planning. He is also PI for the Travel Behaviours network funded by the RCUK Energy theme (£140k) and Co-I to both the EPSRC Creating trust through digital traceability project (Hull) and Learning Energy Systems project (Edinburgh).