I’m passionate about communicating issues of technology, innovation, design, and magic to a wide variety of audiences. I’ve spoken at hundreds of international conferences including three TEDx events.
My talks combine outlandish interaction, improbable illusions, original research, and impossible insights. I’m currently having a lot of fun teaching audiences how to genuinely read each other’s minds using their sense of touch.
I advise on innovation and technology projects to both government and commercial organisations. I have been a consultant, facilitator, and assessor for various UK and European bodies, including Innovate UK and the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills.
I have advised on innovation in a wide range of industries. Most recently in Sustainable Technologies, Locative Media, Internet of Things, Financial Tech, Wearables, A.I. & Machine Learning, Healthcare, Robotics, Design Thinking in Technology Innovation, and Film & TV Technology.
Combining stage mindreading techniques with cutting edge neuroscience I spent 2018 teaching one thousand people to read minds using their sense of touch.
Scientists at Google X. CEOs in Copenhagen. Actors in San Francisco. Game designers in Bratislava. Architects in London. Dancers in Stockholm. They all developed the ability to find hidden objects and to recreate hidden drawings.
One Thousand Mindreaders is part of an ongoing investigation into emerging mindreading neurotech and the connection between touch and empathy.
The Architectural Association, one of the most prestigious and competitive schools of architecture in the world, wanted to explore the links between architecture and magic. Many of the effects that architects create can be considered using magical terminology - vanishes, appearances, transformations, levitations, penetrations, etc.
I created a series of hands-on workshops for them to explore the magical use of space, the manipulation of form and movement to create illusions, the control of focus and attention, and the potential of smart architecture to create magical experiences and mindreading spaces.
I’ve used LEGO Serious Play - as an ideation, business strategy, leadership coaching, and innovation tool - with over 2000 people including disabled artists (see video), scientists, technologists, actors, BBC writers, and young inventors appearing on the CBBC TV show Whiz Whiz Bang Bang.
I used it to help NESTA restructure in 2005 and with senior management as a board member of The Media Centre Huddersfield. I wrote a chapter on using it in learning for this book.
REACT (Research and Enterprise in Arts and Creative Technology) wanted a day where academics from classics, childhood studies, and architecture could come together together with game designers, filmmakers, and engineers to create and pitch ideas to a group of children who acted as both clients and young coaches.
I themed the day around Mystery.
IdeoBird is a friendly mindreading robot bird commissioned as a performative design fiction for NESTA FutureFest 2013. She became one of a series of genuine mindreading technologies I created as Magician in Residence at Pervasive Media Studio.
IdeoBird has performed nternationally and has been featured in The Guardian online, BBC Click’s Christmas Special 2013, US Wired’s special Connectivity 2.0 publication, Deutsche Welle, BBC Radio Bristol, and Makers Magazine.
I’m an experienced coach trained in a range of effective and flexible coaching methods. I provide both Leadership Coaching and Change Coaching for individuals and groups at all levels from placements to C-level executives.
I’ve coached mainly in the media industries for both SMEs and large broadcasters including Granada, BBC, and Channel 4. I delivered a great deal of both one-to-one and group coaching as part of my role as a Media Development Professional for the North West of England’s media development agency Vision+Media.
For the Layered Realities 5G event, I created a performance exploring the promise of remote touch in low-latency communication networks for remote surgery, telerobotics, and telepresence.
The audience learned how to tell if somebody is thinking of a lie or a truth by holding their hand. They played Typtology, a game where they swipe each other’s phones to match slot machine symbols, a disconcertingly intimate action.
Typtology is a game of digital mind-reading that plays with chance, truth, and agency.
The Robot Cabaret event needed to generate debate around bias and trust in Big Data and AI. I created Parry, a superstitious AI that develops it’s own digital fortune-telling beliefs.
Parry told the fortunes of the whole audience, sorted them into personality types, and an unexpected correlation between the date of it’s creation and a number freely created by the audience suggested that Parry’s fortune-telling system is strangely accurate.
Parry is a fascinating, entertaining, often hilarious interactive experience that subtly parodies the real dangers of magical thinking in technology.
The Making The City Playable conference wanted me to comunicate a challenging aspect of cities and play to a large and varied audience. I chose to tackle the link between play and danger. I dramatised this by involving paper party flickers and ending the talk with a visceral moment of play and danger.
“Stuart Nolan dazzled the delegates with some slight of hand and a rather terrifying looking animal trap, reminding us of the importance of danger and play as an act of rebellion.” - Pete Vance, Producer for Creative Producers International.
When you imagine an action clearly in your mind it causes a physical response in your body. In partnership with the University of Bristol, I created a series of devices to explore this physical imagination.
OuijaBird is a two-player game that measures your physical imagination. Some people have strong physical imaginations - actors, athletes, musicians, dancers (especially Tango dancers). I devised exercises to train the physical imagination to increase empathy, leadership, dexterity, and creativity.
I was interviewed for Lush Player’s Turning Point... the programme that asks... what was the decision or conversation that changed your life forever?
"I think there's nothing like losing something to make you fascinated by how it works."
A bit of a ramble, I blame a flu bug from Ghana. We recorded by the river near my house. If you listen carefully you can hear my cat The Jinx make a contribution at around 3'45".
I was asked to appear at the Arts Council England No Boundaries conference in both Bristol and Manchester at the same time. I performed the world’s first simultaneous interactive impossibility for two geographically distant audiences. The performance was live streamed to 1400 screens in 46 countries.
“Every organisation should have a magician-in-residence.”
“STRONGLY AGREE! I want one. In fact, I want a @StuartNolan-in-residence!”
- Tweets from conference audience.
I helped Arts Council England and Innovate UK develop an Arts and Technology pilot programme supporting innovation in art, technology and business. Then, as a mentor and facilitator, I supported the artists on the programme at MadLab. They were driven, smart, and a joy to work with.
I spent three years as an Associative Creative on Being There: Humans and Robots in Public Spaces, a £2m EPSRC project exploring how we can design social robots.
I researched the history and potential of empathic robots through labs, commissions, residencies, performances, and by making robots with some amazing artists, technologists, psychologists, and sociologists.
The 2014 Risk and Network Threat Conference (RANT) for senior level Information Security professionals wanted to challenge preconceptions about security threats. They asked me to unsettle the audience and to consider emerging and unanticipated risks to information security.
I taught the audience to genuinely read each other’s mind by simply holding each other’s hands. I then showed them the potential of my muscle reading technologies to covertly obtain information and compromise networks. Today, in 2019, thought identification technologies have advanced to the point where we must prepare carefully for their uses and inevitable misuses.
I was comissioned to create two performances for the 2015 Venice Biennale that explored the links between mind-reading, theatrical magic, art, and technology.
Dinnerlock and Marseilles Map were exhibited as part of the Boîte-en-Valise show in the gallery of the Swiss Consulate and performed in several of the gallery gardens of Venice.
The Royal Shakespeare Company and Watershed asked me to facilitate a two-day creative lab for eight exceptional artists. They saw The Tempest and had a backstage tour of the incredible technology used in the production.
I used a number of techniques I’ve created over the years to help them develop ideas inspired by Shakespere’s themes of magic, power, migration, leadership, nature, and weather.
“Pareidolia, paranoia, digital sleights of hand. Conversations are a kind of alchemy. So, what happens when you put a magician and a data scientist together, and get them talking?”
As an advisor on technology innovation projects, I’ve seen a lot of both genuine excitement and ludicrous hype around Blockchain. To explore these different rhetorics I created Teller, a Blockchain ledger that can store individual acts of fortune-telling and generate chains of superstition.
Teller was comissioned for a think tank of technology developers to provoke debate around our hopes and dreams for finincial technology.
I work with many of my clients on the power of curiosity, helping them to create fascination and engagement.
The Strange Thing is perfect for adding curiosity to an event. A charming talking point that will get everyone puzzling, debating, and thinking out of the briefcase.
Originally commissioned by Arts & Heritage as a modern take on sideshow exhibits, The Strange Thing has entertained many audiences from filmmakers in Copenhagen to game designers in Helsinki, from festival-goers at The Green Man to C-level executives at Manchester’s Urbis Building.
Bristol Museum & Art Gallery commissioned a performance to run alongside their Jeremy Deller: English Magic exhibition. They asked me to create a 1-hour experience responding to the themes of the show. I was taken by Deller’s use of both Neolithic arrowheads and native British animals in his show.
My performance involved the whole audience using pendulums made from Neolithic arrowheads and a mindreading robot bird to create moments of mystery. Audience members used a traditional form of English hypnotic ventriloquism to turn their own arm into an animal and to converse with it to create their own original English myths.