Tom Betts: The Sublime in Computer Games

Posted by thor_magnusson on March 14, 2015

:::: Friday, March 20th, 2-4pm, @ Recital Room, Falmer House 120 ::::

In this seminar, musician and game designer Tom Betts will present his research and talk about the role of the sublime in the production of audiovisual digital work. He will briefly describe the history of the sublime and how it can be located in contemporary digital art and audio. He will describe how software can be programmed to generate these experiences, and present states where the digital world appears boundless and autonomous. The talk will describe the concept of the digital sublime as developed through the writing of Kant, Deleuze and Wark, music by artists such as Jem Finer, La Monte Young and Autechre and on video games such as Proteus, Minecraft and Love. Tom will describe how he employs computer code as an artistic medium to generate the sublime, generating audiovisual environments that explore permutational complexity and present experiences that walk the margins between confusion and control.

Tom Betts


Tom Betts, aka Nullpointer, is an artist, academic and coder. He’s been a lecturer, designer, published musician, professional artist, warlock… Tom has just completed his PhD investigating the digital sublime in videogames. As part of this research he developed three games exploring the ideas of permutation and generativity in audiovisual game spaces. He is the lead programmer at game development studio Big Robot, who successfully Kickstarted the game “Sir, You Are Being Hunted” and developed the project through early access and Steam digital distribution. For a while he was a published musician and worked on a range of projects including setting up an automated generative radio station and touring with his band Weevil. He has performed with his software and delivered talks at international venues such as DIGRA, FreePlay, UNITE, Sonar, Rezzed and Indievelopment. He has also designed commercial interactive work for the Tate, V&A and Southbank Centre. He really likes generative systems, drinking coffee, watching films where nothing much happens and quite likes ironing.

Tom Betts - Game

The event will be followed with performances by the Icelandic S.L.A.T.U.R collective of experimental contemporary composers.