Who am I?

Work enquiry? You might find my new CV site LeilaJohnston.com easier! (Jan 2018)


I am Leila Johnston. I’m an artist and writer, among other things. I specialise in the place where science and technology intersects with culture. I currently work at Sheffield’s Site Gallery as their first Digital Art Curator (from January 2017). I also make my own work; for a summary of my recent artistic practice, see my artist CV.

Here’s a nice photo of me in 2017, taken by the brilliant Kate Derbyshire.

I was the first digital artist-in-residence at leading contemporary dance company Rambert, October 2015-February 2016. One output from the residency was a small book I wrote calling for a rethink of digital culture – linked here, along with other media from the residency. It’s reviewed here, by Furtherfield. A second output was an installation at the Lowry.

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.

parachute2I 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 and follow-up R&D, in Cambridge, in 2017. I’m the first artist-in-res at CenSAMM.

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 also write books and humour, and articles for people like WIRED UKNew Scientist, and Creative Review. I’m one of the Huffington Post bloggers.

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.

(In case it matters) 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 art 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: leila@finalbullet.com.

With Martin Kemp and Liliane Lijn at New Scientist Live (September 2016) photo by Judd Flogdell

On a panel with Martin Kemp and Liliane Lijn at New Scientist Live (September 2016). Photo by Judd Flogdell