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Simon Penny

Simon Penny is an Australian practitioner in the fields of Digital Cultural Practices, Embodied Interaction and Interactive Art. His practice has included artistic practice, technical research, theoretical writing, pedagogy and institution building. Over the last twenty-five years, he has made interactive and robotic installations which address critical issues arising at the intersection of culture and technology, informed by traditions of practice in the arts including sculpture, video-art, installation and performance; and by theoretical research in enactive and embodied cognition, ethology, neurology, phenomenology, human-computer interaction, ubiquitous computing, robotics, critical theory, cultural and media studies. Informed by these sources, he designs and builds artworks utilising custom sensor and effector technologies. He built the autonomous robotic artwork Petit Mal in the early 1990s. His machine vision based interactive digital video work Fugitive was exhibited at the opening of the ZKM in Karlsruhe, Germany in 1997. Traces ( a 3D machine vision driven CAVE immersive interactive) was presented at Ars Electronica in 1998. Fugitive Two was commissioned by the Australian Center for the Moving Image (ACMI), Melbourne Australia, in 2000, and premiered there in 2004. He has received funding and/or residencies from the Daniel Langlois Foundation for Science and Art, ZKM, GMD, WDR, and other sources.

Penny has spoken widely internationally and published over 50 papers and essays on digital cultural practices, in several languages. He was director of Digital Arts and Culture conference 2009 (DAC09). He curated Machine Culture (arguably the first international survey of interactive art) at SIGGRAPH 93 and edited the associated catalog and anthology. He edited the anthology Critical Issues in Electronic Media (SUNY Press 1995). He was architect and founding director of the interdisciplinary graduate program in Arts, Computation and Engineering ( He was Associate Professor of Art and Robotics at Carnegie Mellon University (a joint appointment between the College of Fine Arts and the Robotics Institute) 1993-2001. He is a guest professor in the Interdisciplinary Master in Cognitive Systems and Interactive Media at Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona. He has served on juries, boards and review committees for the National Research Council of the National Academies, the Rockefeller Foundation, Daniel Langlois Foundation for Science and Art (Canada), the ‘VIDA’ Art and Artifical Life Award of the Telefonica Foundation (Spain/Latin America), the Banff New Media Institute (Canada), the international board of ISEA and other bodies.

Period of activity 
from 1977
United States