Productive Marginals

Productive Marginals is a series of real and meta computer characters who respond to the Productive Marigins archive.
about the artist

Matthew Olden is a computer artist who makes interesting things by programming his computer.

He makes a wide range of computer programs that make music, do visuals and manipulate data. Matthew then more often than not uses these programs in performance.

Matthew records music under the name I am the mighty jungulator.

He tries to keep an up to date blog, where his public can download his latest music, programs and pictures of himself.

The Productive Marginals are a community of computer personalities with specific tasks to complete upon the Productive Margins archive.They are computer programs that inhabit the same space and time as user, working in the background as we go about our daily computerised tasks.

 A spread sheet program offers the same function of how a account clerk was once employed, to add up long rows of data, but what the program lacks in the work place is the subtle effects of humanity in a work situation. The non work social-interactivity between employees when a task is completed, is what makes the next number crunch bearable. A slight subtle movement in air can cause a butterfly effect in our acquisition of data and experience, a marginal thought explored.

The Marginals are locked into total engagement, They are the agents of the archive, like a colony of ants they march forward and chomping through the archive, the rule based system they function under being their only motivation, but over time they come to produce a larger community. 

 Like a  busy New York tenement block, each Marginal brings a different story  to the overall picture of the environment it inhabits. A communal commonality based on familiarity and circumstance rather than action,practice or interest.

This marginal existence could be seen as a urban digitised office space community.The Marginals  are  the hum and buzz of a busy office, the diversity of the  Marginals draw the users attention to non-specific work/non work tasks away from the solo input node of the modern work station, a modern day Hawthorn effect.

 A previous work of mine, Making Friends And Enemies, investigated the production of a community of computer agents dealing with the cross over of machine/human consciousness, here the characters became the artist, and the artist became the characters, anticipating the coming of post humanity where the boundary between us and our agents is dissolved.
 With the Productive Marginals the boundaries between the archive and it agents become blurred, aspects of the archive talk to other aspects of the archive and refers to aspects of itself rather than a external reality, like the library in the book  “The Name Of The Rose”  by Umberto Eco, “books always speak of other books, and every story tells a story that has already been told,”, in our case the Marginals offer up this information feedback up to the user, in an hope to offer insight to how the project see’s itself. 
 The Marginals could be seen as the archives unconsciousness, producing a host of signs and signals in the same way we dream,the Marginals themselves being based on archetypal artists and philosophies that deal with aspects of divining information. Like an oracle looking into cloudy water the user can contemplate the information space and architecture that the archives agents create.
Key Marginal is a text search engine who analyses documents for keywords, getting audibly more excited as he matches his search criteria.

Sentimental Marginal is a computer program who reads pdf-documents and assigns a positive or negative analysis upon them, then acts accordingly.

Markov Marginal  performs a Markov chain probability analysis on text files to develop surrealist poetry.

Marginal Voices are a selection of synthesised voices of famous personalties, they love to practice their speak patterns so each takes turns reading the minutes of meetings, each taking a real life persons part.
The Marginal Prophet looks towards AI chat-bots to answer questions posed by the Productive Margins research.
Kurt Twitters translates research papers into sound poetry.
Key Marginal Canvaser makes exploratory cinema with footage suggested by keyword searches.
Marginal Value analysis text documents and produces musique concrete from statistical information.
Muggletonian Marginal has a strong opposition to philosophical reason and comments upon the validity of research.

Interzone Marginal creates an archive fueled  Dreamachine to conjure up images to access the third eye.


1. Of, relating to, located at, or constituting a margin, a border, or an edge: the marginal strip of beach; a marginal issue that had no bearing on the election results.
2. Being adjacent geographically: states marginal to Canada.
3. Written or printed in the margin of a book: marginal notes.
4. Barely within a lower standard or limit of quality: marginal writing ability; eked out a marginal existence.
5. Economics
a. Having to do with enterprises that produce goods or are capable of producing goods at a rate that barely covers production costs.
b. Relating to commodities thus manufactured and sold.
6. Psychology Relating to or located at the fringe of consciousness.
One that is considered to be at a lower or outer limit, as of social acceptability: “is fascinated by marginals, by people who live on the edge of society” (Dan Yakir).

Productive Margins, University of Bristol
8-10 Berkeley Square, Bristol, BS8 1HH

Tel: +44 (0)117 3940042