Avant-Gardes and Speculative Technology (AGAST)

Principal Investigator: Dr Eric White

Contact: ewhite@brookes.ac.uk +44(0) 1865 484 096

Project start: September 2014

Funded by: European Commission, CILIP

About us

The Avant-Gardes and Speculative Technology (AGAST) Project recovers the forgotten promise of modernism: that art and technology can combine to produce positive social change.

Based at Oxford Brookes University, AGAST is an interdisciplinary collaboration. We work in partnership with the Open University and University College London as well as local, national and international partners.

Together with our partners, we: 

  • recreate inventions by experimental twentieth-century writers and artists
  • work with Mixed Reality (MR), an emergent media technology that mixes digital data and real time video
  • co-create new digital art installations, workshops and toolkits with award-winning British artists and writers
  • help young people in Oxfordshire and overseas claim neighbourhood space while they acquire new interdisciplinary skillsets.

2 women wearing a VR headset

Research impact

People using VR headsets

The AGAST project focuses on the following core Impacts: 

  • Co-creating new art from research with leading artists and writers 
  • enhancing marginalised and difficult-to-reach young people’s STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) skills in co-creation workshops 
  • Improving STEAM, literacy, cultural heritage, and outreach policies in organisations that support them

Our events, research publications, art installations, and digital resources form a ‘virtuous circle’ with our co-creation workshops. Exhibits provide young people with a palette of ideas to develop their own VR stories and models, which they create after the events.

Since its launch, AGAST has:

  • staged 5 interactive exhibits 
  • run 21 co-creation workshops
  • co-created an array of new technologies, including 3 Mixed Reality applications with our partners at the Performance Augmentation Lab (PAL), and one bespoke Virtual Storytelling application with our partners at Oxfordshire County Libraries 

Together, they have improved policy, built capacity and engendered public understanding about the ability of interdisciplinary research to reduce problems of urban marginalisation.



Name Role Email
Professor Sue Brownill Professor of Urban Policy and Governance sbrownill@brookes.ac.uk
Professor Alex Goody Professor of Twentieth-Century Literature and Culture agoody@brookes.ac.uk
Dr Eric White Reader in American Literature ewhite@brookes.ac.uk

Featured Project Research

AGAST has co-created the following initiatives:

  • TRAAK!, an AR re-imagining of an early Futurist musical synthesiser with sound artist Mike Blow; 
  • The Reading Machine, an AR headset experience featuring texts by Iain Sinclair, which recreates a prototype electronic reading device developed by the American expatriate writer Bob Brown in 1930;
  • UNBODY, a Hololens exhibit inspired by Brown’s poetic experiments, in which Jay Bernard explores how words haunt and re-create our physical selves.