I am Leila Johnston. I’m an artist and writer, among other things. I currently work at Sheffield’s Site Gallery as their first Digital Curator (from January 2017). For a summary of my recent artistic practice, see my artist CV.
I’m interested in putting people, tech and science out of context to highlight, and hopefully overcome, damaging assumptions and biases about what should be done, and who should be the one to do it.
I was the first digital artist-in-residence at leading contemporary dance company Rambert, October 2015-February 2016. I’ve written a small book about it, calling for a rethink of digital culture – linked here, along with other media from the residency. It’s reviewed here, by Furtherfield.
From 2013-2017, I ran a regular experimental live show, podcast and magazine called Hack Circus which allowed me to explore ideas around speculative science, subversive tech, psychology etc with others, in a playful and unique way. This episode of BBC Click from March 2015 explains Hack Circus very well. The podcast has its own website, here.
I have done several residencies, including Site Gallery in Sheffield (The Happenstance Project, 2012) Lighthouse in Brighton, and the theatre and photography museums, in Helsinki. I was selected for a development programme at Future Everything in Manchester in 2015, and picked for Collusion‘s AI Lab in Cambridge, in 2017.
My exploration of life extension was commissioned for the Brighton Digital Festival and British Science Festival in 2015. I was ‘In Conversation With’ Richard Dawkins, on stage at the Lowry theatre in Manchester the same year.
I give talks on everything from digital culture to creativity in the James Cameron Terminator films. I’ve spoken at two TEDx events, New Scientist Live, The Royal Institution, The Royal Academy of Arts, and loads of other places.
I have a First Class Honours degree in the History of Art from the University of York (2003), and an MPhil from the University of Cambridge in critical theory (‘Criticism & Culture’, English Faculty, 2006). Here’s my LinkedIn.
Home is Sheffield, but I travel a lot and I’m always looking for people to connect with for my various projects. So, if any of that sounds interesting, please get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org.