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Personal profile

Research interests

Paul Sermon is Professor of Visual Communication at the University of Brighton, his practice-based research in the field of contemporary media art centres on the creative use of telecommunication technologies.

Since the early nineteen-nineties Paul Sermon’s practice-based research in the field of contemporary media art has centred on the creative use of telecommunication technologies. Through his unique use of videoconference techniques in artistic telepresence applications he has developed a series of celebrated interactive telematic art installations that have received international acclaim.

Through a sustained research funding income Paul has continued to produce, exhibit and discuss his work extensively at an international level, exhibiting his work throughout Europe, East Asia, United States and Australia. Since 2014 he has produced six new public installation artworks, participated in two international AHRC workshops and led an AHRC funded research project, as well as presenting six new peer reviewed conference papers, published two book chapters and two new journal articles.

Paul was a nominee at the World Technology Awards 2005 and holds a number of external appointments that influence research policy. Since 2004 he has been a member of the AHRC Peer Review College, member of the NWDA funded North West Art & Design Research Group, Chair of Media Arts Network Northwest [ma-net] and advises on various international journal and conference editorials. He has led external collaborations including the AHRC funded REACT (Research Engine for Art and Creative Technology) research community and collaborative postgraduate training programme with MMU. 

He studied BA Fine Art under Professor Roy Ascott at the Newport School of Fine Art from 1985 to 1988 and completed his MFA degree at the University of Reading in 1991. He then went on to be awarded the prestigious Prix Ars Electronica Golden Nica award; in the category of interactive art for the hyper media installation Think about the People now, in Linz, Austria in 1991. He produced the ISDN videoconference installation Telematic Vision as an Artist in Residence at the ZKM Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe, Germany and received the IMF Sparkey Award from the Interactive Media Festival in Los Angeles, for the telepresent video installation Telematic Dreaming in 1994.

From 1993 to 1999 Paul Sermon worked as Dozent for Media Art at the HGB Academy of Visual Arts in Leipzig, Germany. During this time he continued to produced further interactive telematic installations for the Ars Electronica Centre in Linz, and the ZKM Media Museum in Karlsruhe. From 2000 to 2013 he worked as Professor of Creative Technology at the University of Salford and from 1997 to 2001 he was also Guest Professor for Performance and Environment at the University of Art and Industrial Design in Linz, Austria. In September 2013 he joined the University of Brighton as Professor of Visual Communication. 

Approach to teaching

As both a professor and creative practitioner I consider my teaching to be as equally important as my practice-based research in this academic role.

I strive to teach at all levels, from first year undergraduate students to postgraduate taught masters and the supervision of PhD students. Ranging from curriculum led activities and tutorials to international projects and extracurricular activities, I strongly believe in teaching art and design through creative experiences and this practice-based research-informed teaching often directly involves my students in both the conceptual development and public exhibition of such projects. 

Recent projects that demonstrate this include the Neural String Network, an interactive collaborative drawing ‘machine’ designed on the concept of a neural network, allowing my students to experience a shared creative process, using the principles of open-source and social networked communication through an analogue string system.

Played out like a surrealist ‘Exquisite Corpse’ game of consequences or as a piece of Haiku poetry, the students contributed marks, signs and signifiers to an open-content drawing, akin to the development of open-source software on neural networks. The string network consisted of five drawing table ‘nodes’. Each node was linked to the other four via pulleys and washing lines, making it possible to peg a sheet of A4 paper to a line and winch it across to any one of the other nodes. Representing the interconnected synapses and neurons of the brain the role of each participant was that of cause and effect; a single instruction initiates a series of consequences that unfold in drawings, marks and patterns that are created whilst being hoisted simultaneously across the room in quick succession.

Other collaborative student projects have included the international networking project DecodeRecode, celebrating the centenary of Alan Turing’s birth. For 24 hours, students across the globe worked live to share creative content. The students downloaded content from international partners - responded and uploaded it again. Students from all levels engaged through various networking platforms such as blogs, wikis, video conferencing and online virtual environments.

My teaching projects have also taken my students to international locations and events, including the experimental application workshop with our project Exquisite Network at Shanghai University College of Fine Arts.

I have always drawn motivation from the opportunity to develop and exhibit collaborative student projects on an international scale, inspired by my own experiences as a student of Professor Roy Ascott in the mid-1980s.

Supervisory Interests

I believe it is vital to build a strong PhD student base to provide currency in the digital arts discourse, for the benefit of undergraduate students and the staff, as well as industry partnership opportunities and digital arts enterprise developments. Therefore since joining the University of Brighton in 2013 I have taken on five new PhD students as their lead supervisor, including completions in May 2016 and March 2018. These PhD students are all undertaking practice-based/led research in related interactive digital media, virtual reality and computing subjects, which has been an area of PGR growth since I commenced the post. In my role as PhD supervisor I aim to bring my students together to build a PGR community through collaborative meetings, symposia and exhibitions, such as the group PhD show ‘Digital Encounters’ for the British Science Festival, Brighton in September 2017. To date, I have supervised five PhD students to completion as lead supervisor, three at the University of Salford and two at the University of Brighton, as well as two external supervisor completions. I am currently supporting colleagues new to supervision to help develop their experience and academic career by inviting them to join the supervisory teams for my current PhD students. I continue to gain PhD Viva experience, with thirteen PhD external examiner appointments to date, eight of which since joining the University of Brighton.

Education/Academic qualification

Master, University of Reading

1 Oct 19894 Jul 1991

Bachelor, University of South Wales

Sep 1985Jul 1988

External positions

Selected subject expert for Forth EqUIP Symposium hosted by the AHRC/ESRC Social Transformation, Cultural Expressions, Cross Cultural Connections

28 Jun 201629 Jun 2016

AHRC Creative Lab Brazil Fellow

25 Oct 20154 Nov 2015

AHRC UnBox Fellow, National Institute of Design

24 Feb 20147 Mar 2014

RCUK DE2013 Programme Co-Chair, RCUK Digital Economies Conference: Open Digital, MediaCityUK, University of Salford

4 May 20136 Nov 2013

Visiting Professorship MA Media Art Histories, Center for Image Science, Danube University Krems

1 Mar 2007 → …

Contributions Reviewer, International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media

1 Jul 2004 → …

AHRC Peer Review College and Fellowships Panel Member

1 Apr 200431 Mar 2014


  • N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
  • telematic
  • media
  • performance
  • digital
  • network
  • virtual reality
  • telepresence
  • interaction
  • public
  • engagement

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Research Output 2006 2019

Out of sight, out of mind

Gould, C., Sermon, P. & Ambrose, J., 22 Jun 2019, (Accepted/In press).

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review

Open Access
Natural Landscape
Art School

Shared Objective Empathy in Telematic Space

Sermon, P., 1 Apr 2019, (Accepted/In press) Shifting Interfaces: Presence and Relationality in New Media Arts of the Early 21st Century. Aldouby, H. (ed.). Leuven, Belgium

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapterResearchpeer-review

Gregory Bateson

Touched, a penumbra keyboard projection

Sermon, P., 22 Jun 2019, (Accepted/In press).

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review

Open Access
Rubber Hand Illusion

AHRC Design Research for Change Showcase: 3x4: Exploring metaspace platforms for inclusive future cities

Sermon, P. & McAndrew, C., 20 Sep 2018

Research output: Non-textual outputExhibitionResearch

Open Access
Design Council
Global South

From Edwardian Selfie to Telepresent Comic

Sermon, P., 28 Feb 2018, 3, 1, p. 39-54 16 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Open Access
Video Conferencing

Activities 2015 2015

  • 1 Exhibition, performance

Design History and Practice: New Perspectives from University of Brighton, Gwangju Design Biennale

Yunah Lee (Organiser), Megha Rajguru (Participant), Paul Sermon (Participant), Catherine Moriarty (Participant)
15 Oct 201513 Nov 2015

Activity: EventsExhibition, performance