Skip to main content

Your creative future starts here:

Story

BA Fine Art: Drawing graduate Ella Fitzgerald on bias and ethics in automation technology

Digitally created image, showing a human male face, subject is wearing glasses and has wrinkled skin. The text ‘classifying’ is overlayed over the face.
  • Written byGrizelda Kitching
  • Published date 07 December 2021
Digitally created image, showing a human male face, subject is wearing glasses and has wrinkled skin. The text ‘classifying’ is overlayed over the face.
‘The Classifier’ by Ella Fitzgerald
BA (Hons) Fine Art: Drawing, Camberwell College of Arts, UAL | Photograph: Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Fitzgerald graduated from BA Fine Art: Drawing in 2021.

During Ella’s undergraduate study they undertook a diploma at the Creative Computing Insititute which is also located here at Camberwell: the option to study an additional diploma year at the Creative Computing Institute during your degree is open to all 2nd-year UAL students.

The year-long diploma in Creative Computing helped inform Ella’s fine art practice, by introducing coding skills. Ella’s practice is particularly interesting as it is an example of what can be explored and achieved on the latest course to join our Fine Art programme here at Camberwell; BA Computational Arts.

We asked Ella to tell us more about their work which looks at bias and ethics in automation technology.

‘The Classifier’ by Ella Fitzgerald

Can you please tell us about your UAL Graduate Showcase project?

My most recent project is called The Classifier. It is made by archiving working-class people’s hopes and thoughts about the future.

I intended to challenge the dystopian narrative around working-class communities' relationship to Artificial Intelligence, instead facilitating a space to discuss alternatives shaped by collective action and engagement where Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be channelled for working-class human flourishing.

This is achieved through the viewers’ interaction with the Voice Ai, the embodiment of The Classifier. The Classifier aims to question the (historical) treatment and disregard of intersectional communities through offering alternative ways of being for the viewer.

‘The Classifier’ by Ella Fitzgerald

This video is part of a larger body of work using a Voice Artificial Intelligence experience and interactive database.

For this project I had to overcome the gap between my technical skills and the visualisation I wanted to achieve with this piece. With so many elements in this collection of work such as video, AI, and coding a website, I had to dedicate a lot of time to learning the new technologies enough to break them for my purposes. I also used open-source technologies to make the work accessible for me and that share my ethos of accessible futures.

An abstract digitally created shape, named Alien, floating centrally, the shape is filled with a Louis Vuitton design pattern. The shape is floating in a graffitied building.
‘The Classifier’ by Ella Fitzgerald
BA (Hons) Fine Art: Drawing, Camberwell College of Arts, UAL | Photograph: Ella Fitzgerald

Did completing the Creative Computing Diploma at the Creative Computing Insititute change your practice?

I was doing a lot of performance-based work in my 2nd year, that was about automation, class and gender. Studying the Creative Computing Diploma, changed my outlook on the art I was creating. I really wanted to experiment with technologies and question their use in my community of working-class people.

During lockdown I was isolating in my family home. As my practice turned mainly digital, it allowed me to hone more skills and focus these technology experiments directly in relation to my family and the community around me.

Having to practice digitally also made me question who I was making work for, which landed me on deciding my final project would be hosted online rather than as part of an in-person exhibition as this reaches my chosen audience of intersectional working-class communities directly.