ASMbly

  • 2013
  • 2014
  • 2015

A pop-up lab and festival of collaboration between artists, scientists and makers.

I was one of the initiators and main organisers of ASMbly (Artists. Scientists. Makers. ). My interest was in experimenting with structures that would generate new collaborations, including the "pop-up lab" itself.

I initiated and organised the bioASMbly event at the first ASMbly, which I then developed into bioLeeds and the sandpit process. From the sandpit process I initiated, coordinated and took part in the Archibio and Textile Proteins collaborations in the first year of the sandpit process, and took part in Glass Goes Where It Likes To Be in the second year.

One of the main parts of the ASMbly structure was hands on workshops, an approach derived from the bioASMbly, bioLeeds and sandpit activity. These were sometimes used as public engagement in science, but I organised them as a way of sharing knowledge and opportunities for collaboration between participants from different disciplines.

I chose the phrase "pop-up lab" while writing the press release for the first ASMbly as way quick to describe the event for the local press in terms that were recognisable for them, and it stuck, but I've never been very happy with it.

Both "pop up" and "lab" are much over-used, and calling something a lab is really just a piece of branding (I use it myself in that way). Activities in such a wide range of fields get called "labs" that it's meaningless to try and connect them. ASMbly itself doesn't really have many lab-like aspects, and it and similar short events are better thought of as introduction agencies or shop windows. As such events like ASMbly have a place in a process of generating collaborations, but they aren't sufficient.

I also contributed general project management activity for ASMbly, things like press releases, social media, events organisation, timetabling, managing the space and so on.