The Overton window, also known as the window of discourse, is the range of ideas the public will accept.

The ‘fitness’ of a political idea is dependent on the mood of the population. However, political ideas are rarely presented in an unbiased manner. Stories are spun and sensationalised, dependent on the political leanings of the media owner. The Daily Mail contains stories that would never be printed in The Guardian, and vice versa.

Political ideas can be made more palatable if the prevailing narrative of the media outlet supports them. For example, stories about ‘benefit cheats’ and ‘welfare queens’ support the notion of curtailing welfare budgets without ever explicitly mentioning Government policy.

As more extreme views get discussed, the Overton window shifts, and previously unthinkable ideas become normalised and accepted. In many ways, the media influence the Overton window even more than politicians.


Play School was BBC children’s programme which ran from 1964 to 1988. Part of the show featured a section where the audience were invited to look through the window at a scene filmed outside the studio. Often a factory or a domestic scene. A literal invitation for children to explore the world of adults.

It struck me that the Play School window could offer a glimpse of what’s through the conceptual Overton window.


Watching the Trump campaign from the UK, I have been struck by the images of Trump supporters, people who will queue in the baking sun for hours to take part in the horrorshow of a Trump rally.

I am fascinated and terrified by these baying crowds. Who are these people? How can they not only accept, but openly embrace an ideology of hate?

Each of them is a human being, equipped with the same faculties for intelligence and empathy, yet they are apparently so enamoured with this man that they are blind to the hatred and lies he speaks.

This bot examines them, one by one, to try and see the humanity.

@everytrumpette draws from the large corpus of photographs of the attendees of Trump rallies. A face detection algorithm identifies a member of the crowd, and then zooms in. A unique soundtrack is created from samples of Trump’s own words.

Whatever your feelings about Hillary Clinton, the fact remains that Donald Trump is clearly an entirely unsuitable leader of the United States. Much has been written about the danger that he represents, yet in the increasingly polarised climate of American (and UK) politics, it seems rationality is taking second place to emotion.

I understand the desire for ‘something different’ or ‘anything but these bastards’, and that desire undoubtedly drives some to find answers in the fringes of politics. However, Trump’s nomination by the Republican Party legitimises a fascist ideology of hatred and mistrust which can only be counter to the advancement of humanity.

Unfortunately, appealing to fear is a vote winner.

We’ve seen it before, and it doesn’t end well for anyone.

If you have a vote, please use it wisely.

The bot will post every 2 hours until November 9th 2016.

Adventures at the edge of culture

Here’s video of the talk I gave in May at The Odditorium, about ideaspace and algo-culture, alongside Alan Moore, John Higgs and others.

I talk about @factbot1, @theresamaybot, MachineImaginedArt and Algo-incantations amongst other things.

It’s 23 minutes long, of course.


Here’s a video of Alan Moore in conversation with John Higgs, later on in the evening.

360 style transfer

There’s been much excitement about Prisma, offering lovely artistic style transfer effects via an iPhone app. I think we’ll look back at this point in time as the moment when creative deep learning algorithms went overground. I’m looking forward to seeing where it leads.


I thought I’d apply some style transfer effects to 360 photos.

I’m quite pleased with the results.

Click here to take a look. [works rather nicely on a smartphone with gyroscope]


Acrylic on Canvas, 400mm x 500mm

Donald Trump, the man who may yet become the 45th President of the United States.