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i-DAT’s underpinning research concerns making ‘data’ palpable, tangible and accessible. It involves creating new experiences through the design and construction of networked, sensing and intelligent ‘things’ and software.

Digital Practice is central to exploring the significance that data, its harvesting, processing and manifestation, can play in contemporary culture.

The research is collaborative and participatory at its core, engaging audiences and communities and cultivating a rich transdisciplinary approach through collaborations across the arts and sciences.

i-DAT’s research ethos and methodologies build on over twenty years of practice-based initiatives and have evolved from a series of ‘Operating Systems’ and digital projects that have contributed to the strategic activities of not-for-profit, public, private and community sectors, including Arts Council England, Councils, UNESCO Biosphere, museums, festivals and Schools. i-DAT’s projects are delivered by the i-DAT Collective, a collaborative group of interdisciplinary artists, technologists and researchers.

As part of its 20th anniversary Ctrl+Alt+Del i-DAT has synthesized a set of speculative research themes which will be the focus of its activity for the foreseeable future. These research themes will feed off and contribute to the funded research projects: South West Creative Technology Network (Research England), the Impact Lab (ERDF), eHealth (ERDF):

i-DAT’s research themes and projects provide a rich context for Full Time and Part Time research students from a variety of disciplines, who can either engage with these major initiatives or build their research activity grounded in their own creative practice.

i-DAT’s core supervisory team have more than 40 PhD completions in a broad range of areas, such as design, software development, interactive architecture, education/play, architecture, performance and robotics.

Supervisory teams can draw on collaborating research groups (such as eHealth, Geography, Robotics) and i-DAT contributes to the supervision of Professor Roy Ascott’s Planetary Collegium in Plymouth and Shanghai DeTao Node (as well as the historic Nodes in Milan, Zurich, Greece, and Lucern). Located in the Arts Institute i-DAT contributes to research initiatives in the Sustainable Earth Institute and the Cognition Institute.

i-DAT is the catalyst behind the CODEX international Postgraduate Research network operating in collaboration with Jiangnan University, Nanjing University of the Arts and Soochow University in China.

For further information on i-DAT’s MRes, ResM, MPhil/PhD or CODEX please contact:

Research Themes: 

Quorum – Cultural Computation: 

Quorum creates playful synergies between audience behaviours, interactive media environments, physical objects (or things) and modern integrative, sub-symbolic, computational techniques. Quorum proposes new analytical techniques which focus on enhancing audience engagement through the use of conversational AI, Artificial Neural Networks, Self Organising Maps and Deep Learning Networks to innovatively integrate subjective and objective data.
Example Projects: TIWWA / Emoti-OS / Artory


Big, little and smaller data (Macro-Meso-Micro). Small-Faraway explores the harvesting, analytics, visualisation and sonification of data. This research investigates techniques to capture data from an instrumentalised world, such as Atomic Force Microscopy, remote sensors and the MET Office. It uses software and hardware, such as game engine technology, to create real-time models for display them in a variety of formats, such as Fulldome, VR, mobile phones and bespoke devices.
Example Projects: Quorumscape / Impact Lab / A Mote It Is

Behaviourables & Futuribles*:

i-DAT’s creative interventions into the realms of the Internet of Things, remote sensors, robotics, Props and Wearables (everywareables?) has established a rich framework for investigating the emergent properties of things that sense and like to talk about it. The design, engineering and fabrication of these devices or things, is a very haptic and intimate part of this research theme.
Example Projects: Beyond Digital – Towards Biological / Bio-OS / Sloth-Bots

Interactive & Immersive Environments: 

The development of meaningful experiences in digitally enhanced physical, augmented and virtual spaces presents the research challenge for this theme. The digital Umwelt is explored through interventions in the fabric of urban and rural environments, augmentation using real-time data layering on mobile devises and the construction of immersive virtual environments for head mounted systems or the shared VR of the fulldome environment.
Example Projects: The Immersive Vision Theatre / Arch-OS / Murmuration

Ludic Systems: 

Playful subversion runs through all of i-DAT’s activities. It is both a creative methodology (ludile) and a provocation for critical engagement. Embedded in most of our project outputs this theme also manifests itself in projects that engage audiences in real-time city wide social gaming, interactive systems and playful software. The approach runs through our workshoping, participatory design and co-development processes.
Example Projects: Noogy / Moby Dick Big Read / Resurgam


South West Creative Technology Network Fellowships: [OPEN] Not strictly PGR funding but i-DAT is a partner in the South West Creative Technology Network (SWCTN), a £6.5 million project to expand the use of creative technologies across the South West of England. The network offers three one-year funded programmes around the themes of immersion, automation and data. The collaboration will invest in interdisciplinary fellowships and prototype production across three challenge areas: ImmersionAutomation and Data. Our focus on creative technology brings together arts, design, computer sciences, engineering and business development to deliver new products and services. www

AHRC 3D3 Consortium: [OPEN] i-DAT contributes to the Arts and Humanities Doctoral Training Centre in the Faculty of Art, Plymouth University ( In collaboration with University of the West of England (lead) and Falmouth University, Plymouth University has been successfully awarded a Centres for Doctoral Training (CDT). The studentship places will be advertised by the CDT on an annual basis, and studentship will be awarded on open competition.

CogNovo: [CLOSED] i-DAT contributes to the Cognition Institute and a partner in the CogNovo Project is a multi-national doctoral training network that offers research training in Cognitive Innovation, both as a new field of scientific investigation and as a strategy for research and innovation. EU FP7 Marie Curie Initial Training Network (FP7-PEOPLE-2013-ITN-IDP 604764; 2013-17 €4.1m) “CogNovo: Cognitive Innovation”. Using creative technologies to promote behaviour change.

ALErT Project: [CLOSED] i-DAT is also involved in PhD supervision of the ALErT Project developing immersive geological simulations with Professor Iain Stewart on the EU FP7 Marie Curie Initial Training Network (FP7-PEOPLE-2013-ITN-IDP 607996; 2013-17).

The i-DAT Research Workshops build on the heritage of a series of practice based production workshops, seminars and symposia. These include: Skunk-Works, Balance Unbalance 2017, Transimage 2016Scale Electric, Far Away So Close, AHO+Bartlett=i-DATVR/IVT Research Group, etc.

E/M/D/L / The Overview: Leonardo 50th Anniversary Celebration. Tate Collective TIWWA development workshop.

Workshop methodologies critically and playfully engage with themes, technologies and behaviours which frame the symptoms of individual and collective practices of the i-DAT research community.

From 2018 i-DAT will be delivering research workshops in collaboration with the Message and Design Knowledge research groups through the Design Area Research activities.

The schedule can be found here…

*“Behaviourables and Futuribles.” Control (London) 5 (1970). Reprinted in Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art, ed. Kristine Stiles and Peter Selz, 396 (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1996). Reprinted in Telematic Embrace, Visionary Theories of art Technology and Consciousness by Roy Ascott, 157 (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2003).