Bringing The Zine To Life

To encourage different perspectives and nuanced conversation around the theme of this year’s TEDxSkoll event, we openly invited creative responses to the word truth: what it meant / what it meant to you. The result was an independently curated collection of works by 18 artists from across the UK, including photography, illustration, poetry, stills from moving image, painting, performance and more.

These were selected and compiled by our lead artists Alison Baskerville, Aliyah Hasinah, Louise Byng & Shaheen Kasmani, into the Truth zine, a 32pp document printed in red and black inks by Rope Press. Within the printed pages lie a couple of moving images works, which we would like to bring to life and celebrate here on our blog. Step inside the digital worlds of Balandino, Rosie, Simon and cover artist Robert as we continue our search for the Truth.

Balandino Di Donato
The Wood And The Water

Eleanor Turner, Composer and Performer: “I am a 34 year old harpist and composer always striving to create something heartfelt and original. In the past, I've hidden behind traditional means of expression: classical music and conventional gestures, seated behind a concert harp. Since becoming a single parent for the second time a few years ago, I have been incorporating spoken word and sign language into my compositions, and I stand and move to play the smaller electric harp. Working with Balandino's software has enabled me to have a direct means of communicating my own experiences; the physical manifestation of the anger and compassion of the past 15 years, since first becoming a 'teenage mum', comes out and with a feeling that what I'm capable of is finally converging with what I'm able to achieve: an honest expression of myself.”

Balandino Di Donato, Music Interaction Design: “The control of sound and light during musical performance is often unrevealed, due meaningless micro-gestures on uncommon electronic devices. This disrupts the performance and the audience’s engagement with it. The Wood And The Water reveals to performer and audience the musical performance’s essence by highlighting the relationship between sound light and body movement.

Stills from The Wood And The Water are featured on page 28 of the zine.

To see more of Balandino's work visit:

Robert Leslie

Monuments is a video / audio / photobook project mapping 2 journeys of 8,000 km each through the south of the US 2009-2012. Book Essays by TED prize winners, Ed Burtynsky & Cameron Sinclair.

"We can build these giant monuments, but we can't pay the tuition bill. We will build prisons to lock people up, but we won't pay for schools. I mean, that's a recipe for disaster. And then sometimes, I'm hoping that... You know when thinks come along like Katrina... that sometimes..." Bill Stallworth, Director HOPE Biloxi. A short video from my multimedia eBook, Stormbelt.

Photography works Long Beach, Mississippi and Bolivar Peninsula, Texas from Stormbelt were included in the zine on both page 18 and as the cover artwork.

To find out more about the project visit:

Rosie Kay
MK Ultra

Rosie Kay Dance Company recently premiered their new work MK ULTRA, focusing on the generational gap in knowledge about mind control conspiracies within pop culture today. The work is inspired by pop-culture conspiracy theory and the Illuminati, a shadowy elite cult that brainwashes child actors and singers, and controls mass opinion through puppet performers (who brainwash with music videos and mass entertainment vehicles). This sits on a hotbed of ‘Fake News’ and ‘Alternative Facts’ which often create headlines.MK ULTRA is a work that has been in the making for over three years, with forensic research resulting in a show that could not be more timely. The intersection between fact and fiction, entertainment and news, truth and conspiracy is becoming blurred, leading us to question what reality have we created for ourselves. Creating an audio-visual world, mixing pop-style, athletic dance and unique documentary footage, Kay teamed up with filmmaker Adam Curtis and fashion world wunderkind Gary Card to explore what’s real, what’s a governmental cover up, what’s a fantasy and asks if we are living in a brainwashed ‘filter bubble’.

A striking photograph of MK ULTRA captured by Brian Slater is featured on page 19 of the zine.

To find out more about the show, including where it's touring to next, at:

Simon Le Boggit
Bombastic Mind

"Religion is superstition exploited on an industrial scale. It’s all in your fantastic mind… your fantastic bombastic mind!"

A still from Bombastic Mind is featured on page 11 of the zine.

To find out more about Simon's music project Mental Health, visit:

TEDxSkoll Important Information

Congratulations to those who have secured your tickets to TEDxSkoll on Friday 7th April! For those of you holding out, we have a limited number still available here and we would love you to join us. With only a few days to go the excitement is building, speakers are arriving and we’re making final preparations, so we thought it was time to fill you in with all of the key information that you need to know to make the most of your day. Here it goes:


We have an afternoon full of inspiring talks and performances. These are laid out in two sessions with a break in between to get refreshments and give your brains time to take it all in. You’ll receive a programme on arrival, outlining this in more detail so you can plan your day and get to know our line-up.

1.30pm – Registration Opens at Divinity School

2.30pm – Session One

4.15pm – Break

5pm – Session Two

6.30pm – Drinks and Nibbles in the Blackwell Hall at the Weston Library

Please note: sessions will start promptly at the given times. If you arrive late, you may be asked to wait until the next speaker before entering the auditorium. Be sure to dive into your programme when you arrive to begin navigating the session content. The running order may also be subject to change and TEDxSkoll cannot be held liable for visitors missing talks or performances. We would strongly advise attending both sessions in full to make the most of the day.


We’re delighted and honoured to welcome our line up to Oxford and the TEDxSkoll stage. More information about all of our speakers and performers can be found at:


Our iconic TEDxSkoll venue is the Sheldonian Theatre, located on Broad Street. The full address is: Sheldonian Theatre, Broad St, Oxford, OX1 3AZ.


By Public Transport

The Sheldonian Theatre is approximately a 10 minute walk from Gloucester Green bus station and about a 15 minute walk from the Oxford railway station.

By Car

Limited metered car parking is available on Broad Street and on Parks Road and Mansfield Road. The nearest car park is either at the Westgate car park or Gloucester Green car park. Further details about car parking facilities and charges can be found on the Council website. The five city Park and Rides offer a convenient way for drivers to avoid city centre car parking.



Upon arrival, our fabulous team of TEDxSkoll Champions will register you and give you all the goodies you need to start your day. Please remember to bring your ticket with you, either printed or to view on the eventbrite app.

If you have a TEDxSkoll Scholarship ticket, there will be a separate registration desk to welcome you to the event. Our Champions will be on hand to point you in the right direction.



Snacks will be provided during the day, with plenty of tea and coffee too. If you haven’t already sent us your dietary requirements we cannot guarantee that we will be able to accommodate your needs on the day, but we will do our best. There will be plenty of meat, vegetarian and vegan options available. Then, after an afternoon of inspiring talks, making friends and sharing ideas, what better way to unwind and carry on the conversations than by joining us for a drink in Blackwell Hall?


We aim to make sure all of our guests can enjoy the day to its fullest and get the most out of their TEDxSkoll experience. Therefore, if you have any accessibility requirements, please let us know in advance of the event so we can do our best to support you. Please e-mail us at


Curious about this year’s theme? Explore our artist provocations interpreting truth in their own ways. We would also encourage you to use the #TRUTH hashtag to join the conversation in the lead up to the event and on the day.


Download TEDConnect and navigate the conference like a boss! TEDConnect is a free app, available on iOS and Android, that caters to TED and TEDx attendees. It helps you keep in touch with other conference guests, keep track of the program, meet new friends, and learn about your favourite speakers.

To get started with TEDConnect:

  1. First, you need a account. If you don’t have one, sign up here using  the email you used to register. (It’s free.)

  2. Download the TEDConnect app (available in iOS App Store, or in the Google Play Store.

  3. Log into TEDConnect with the same login info as your account.*

  4. Update your profile, meet other attendees, and explore the program!

*If you already have a account and it’s different than the one you used to register for TEDxSkoll, let us know at, and we can update the email tied to your registration.


Just one final reminder to bring your tickets with you, and that’s all from us!

If you have any questions before the event, please feel free to drop an e-mail to and we’ll be sure to come back to you. It’s also worth keeping an eye on our twitter @TEDxSkoll for all of the latest updates.

We can’t wait to welcome you on Friday!

Best wishes,
The TEDxSkoll Team

Artist Provocation: Shaheen Kasmani

Lay back and think of England,
This green and pleasant land

From primary school level, throughout secondary, and then on to A-level, whenever children in this country are taught anything about history it centres around the Tudor kings and queens, the industrial revolution, and Britain’s role in the two world wars. Inward looking at most, Eurocentric at the least. What we aren’t taught about is Queen Elizabeth’s relationship with ‘The Moors’ or the expanse of Queen Victoria’s reign (or her secretary and bestie Abdul Karim). We’re not taught about the people, produce or profits that fuelled the industrial revolution, or the 15 million troops from around the world forced to fight for Britain during the war. How exactly did Britain become such a great superpower? And why is my curriculum so white?

Maybe the reason for generations not being taught the truth about the county’s history is that it is indeed a dirty and sordid tale of occupation, crime, murder, theft, rape and pillage. To see some of the fruits of colonial labour for free, one just has to take a walk round one of the many wonderful museums, showcasing treasures from as far as Mesopotamia and Malaysia. Perhaps the series of leaders of the nation are ashamed of what they and their forefathers have done. Nobody talks about the concentration camps in Kenya, or how Churchill committed genocide in Calcutta, nor about the many slaves and plantations in the Caribbean owned by the British. And its not just blood that has been spilt, but resources stolen and art looted. Language, culture and values have been imposed on entire populations. Aspects of heritage were incorporated and passed off as owned by the dominant narrative, and still are. Perhaps people are ashamed. Or perhaps they are in denial. Or maybe it’s a case of ego.

Either way, studies show that trauma can be inherited, and passed on to future generations. Can a fake sense of self and superiority be inherited too? And if we don’t know who we are as a country, who we really are, or in which direction we’re going, how can we even begin to define what British values might mean, especially in the midst of a national identity crisis, even as we are increasingly questioning the identity of others, at an institutional level down to the individual. Don’t we need spaces of honesty, recognition and healing? Surely Rhodes must fall?

We are currently seeing an increasingly romanticised view of history that is one sided and doesn’t take lived reality into account. People are proud of their history without realising the brutality that was inflicted upon populations around the world. Ideas about imperialism are still prevalent and effect the psyche of the country. We are presently being made to suffer through some odd sort of nostalgia, which for many of us immigrants and children of immigrants, is like looking at back at an abusive and toxic relationship, and the abuser claiming how wonderful and whimsical it all was.  Was it a lot of bad stuff with some good bits, or mainly good stuff with some bad bits, which makes it ok? If we know our history and our heritage, then we know ourselves.

And stop moaning about immigration.

Further Reading:

Shaheen is one of the Lead Artists working on TEDxSkoll, who have been commissioned to create a new piece of work in response to the theme of Truth. We know that artists play a key role in challenging our interpretations and preconceptions of the world around us, and have the power to make us think and feel differently on topics that are vast or intangible. For this reason, provocations from Shaheen and 3 further artists will be on display at TEDxSkoll, as well as featuring on our blog in the run up to the day. They will also be curating a publication to accompany the event, featuring their findings, along with artwork collated from an open submission process.

Artist Provocation: Aliyah Hasinah

Since the 1980s, tonnes of toxic and nuclear waste has been dumped in 8 coastal areas bordering Somalia. This waste has been dumped by Italian, German and French power plants, as reported by Greenpeace. Not only has this destroyed the ecology of the seas in which the waste has been dumped, but also devastated the local food economy and stunted environmental growth in the vicinity.

It is within this context, out of desperation and a means of survival, that a rise in piracy began to occur on the Somali coast, although this is far from the headlines that made newspaper rounds and Hollywood blockbusters in 2012. Ultimately, we were told an edited version of the story.


The trees whisper a little quieter these days

Tired of asking for water,

shrivelling into dry dirt


This scorched earth smells of white saviours and

3 minute

side-man news reports.

A famine. An afterthought.

There are of course many questions.

Why was the waste dumped in that specific location? Was the instability of the government being exploited? Why wasn’t the ‘Somali Pirate’ phenomenon contextualised in western media? What have been the effects of continual nuclear waste exposure over the last 30 years?

And more importantly why haven’t we heard (have they even gotten airtime?) the stories from Somali journalists, civilians and those affected first hand by this environmental disaster? Where are those lenses?

Truth is often associated with facts and scientific reason. The term ‘logic’ also gets bounced around. It is not usually associated with paradox, or concerned with the idea of multiple truths.

But who’s lens of the truth gets labelled as the truth?  - Of course there are things that are 100% true i.e. Global Warming is not a myth… clean coal, however, is. Or is it all subjective?

If truth is absolute, who gets to define it? Are the truths told by the West more important? Is that neo-colonialism?
This proverb springs to mind: (There are variants of this proverb across the African continent - multiple truths, takes, narratives - as Africa is not a one size fits all continent as its media portrayal may lead you to think).

Until lions have their own historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter
— Igbo Proverb

Who holds the power for a truth to be considered legitimate?

My thinking around this provocation was very much centred around the process of questioning what we accept as truth and what is fed to us as true; as reality, as concrete. I’m interested in the idea of historiography (the study of histories, plural), whose narratives get air time and why? Are they really true or are we being told they are for another reason? Every story adds to the eco-system of building context.

I ask a lot of questions, I know. The point of this blog and my provocation is to push us all to ask more questions about the truths we’re told to ensure stories are collated in a healthier more holistic fashion, in a decolonial fashion.

Can we focus on our stories instead of his story?

Aliyah is one of the Lead Artists working on TEDxSkoll, who have been commissioned to create a new piece of work in response to the theme of Truth. We know that artists play a key role in challenging our interpretations and preconceptions of the world around us, and have the power to make us think and feel differently on topics that are vast or intangible. For this reason, provocations from Aliyah and 3 further artists will be on display at TEDxSkoll, as well as featuring on our blog in the run up to the day. They will also be curating a publication to accompany the event, featuring their findings, along with artwork collated from an open submission process.

Artist Provocation: Louise Byng

There's Something About Lenna

Lenna or Lena (pictured above left) is a standard test image that has been widely used in the field of image processing since 1973. Standard test images are digital picture files used across different institutions to test image processing and image compression algorithms. By using the same standard test images, different labs are able to compare results, both visually and quantitatively.

With this particular image, the story goes that imaging scientists at the University of Southern California, hurriedly searching the lab for a good image to scan for a colleague’s conference paper, scanned an image from a men's magazine. Lenna is Lena Söderberg, cropped from the centerfold of November 1972's issue of Playboy.

This scan became one of the most used images in computer history. In a 1999 issue of IEEE Transactions on Image Processing, Lenna was used in three separate articles, and the picture continued to appear in scientific journals throughout the beginning of the 21st century. Lenna is so widely accepted in the image processing community that Söderberg was a guest at the 50th annual Conference of the Society for Imaging Science and Technology in 1997.

The possibility for image compression is what has made the World Wide Web the wildly popular communications medium it is today. Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer Science adds, of Lenna:

Over the past 25 years, no image has been more important in the history of imaging and electronic communications, and today Lena is considered the First Lady of the Internet.
Lena montage by Rathus.jpg

To explain the image's popularity, David C. Munson, editor-in-chief of IEEE Transactions on Image Processing, noted that it was a good test image because of its detail, flat regions, shading, and texture. However, he also noted that its popularity was largely because an image of an attractive woman appealed to the males in a male-dominated field.

The continued use of the image has produced controversy because the Lenna photo has been pointed to as an example of sexism in the sciences, reinforcing gender stereotypes. In a 1999 essay on reasons for the male predominance in computer science, applied mathematician Dianne P. O'Leary wrote:

Suggestive pictures used in lectures on image processing convey the message that the lecturer caters to the males only. For example, it is amazing that the "Lena" pin-up image is still used as an example in courses and published as a test image in journals today.

The use of the test image at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax County, Virginia also provoked a guest editorial by a senior in The Washington Post in 2015 about its detrimental impact on aspiring female students in computer science.

The full illustrated piece at the top of this post expands upon the Lenna test image using drawing to depict the full Playboy centerfold image, whilst the above squares match the 512x512 test image size, showing alternative crops.

My provocation is designed to catalyse thought around the importance of context or seeing the bigger picture in relation to the truth. Images, as with quotes and information, can be cropped to fulfil the purpose suited to a specific author or group. An example of this in action is the media's depiction of Mark Duggan, whose expression is revealed to be one of grief rather than anger or menace when you 'zoom out' from the visible segment to see the full image.
It is also to remind us that dominant perspectives exist in all areas of life, and no images are truly objective or for all.

Sources used: transmediale festival 2016, wikipedia, IEEEmotherboard.

Byng is one of the Lead Artists working on TEDxSkoll, who have been commissioned to create a new piece of work in response to the theme of Truth. We know that artists play a key role in challenging our interpretations and preconceptions of the world around us, and have the power to make us think and feel differently on topics that are vast or intangible. For this reason, provocations from Byng and 3 further artists will be on display at TEDxSkoll, as well as featuring on our blog in the run up to the day. They will also be curating a publication to accompany the event, featuring their findings, along with artwork collated from an open submission process.