Alice Bucknall
Former Somerset House Studios resident

Alice Bucknell

Alice Bucknell is an artist and writer whose work explores interconnections of architecture, ecology, magic, technology, and nonhuman and machine intelligence.

Somerset House Studios
New Wing

Alice Bucknell is a North American artist, writer, and educator who grew up in Florida and is currently based between London and Los Angeles. She studied at the University of Chicago and the Royal College of Art.

Working primarily through game engines and speculative fiction strategies, her work explores interconnections of architecture, ecology, magic, and non-human and machine intelligence. Recent projects have focused on the tensions between sustainability, eco-tourism, and the precarious environment of the Florida Everglades (Swamp City, 2021) and questions around outer space exploration, the politics of language, the agency of artificial intelligence, and alien life (The Martian Word for World is Mother, 2022).

In 2021, she founded New Mystics, a collaborative platform for exploring new forms of artistic practice that merge magic, mysticism, and ritual with advanced technology, featuring regularly published texts co-written with artists and the Language AI GPT-3. In 2022, she organized New Worlds, an experimental event series at Somerset House Studios that focused on the politics and poetics of emergent worlding practices. She is currently an Associate Lecturer in MA Narrative Environments at CSM in London and regularly teaches elsewhere including the Royal College of Art in London, the Berlage in the Netherlands, SCI-Arc in LA, and Fabrica in Italy.

'Working across disciplines is a huge part of my approach, as is systems thinking, where attention is focused on the many (often unlikely) ways that things interrelate. Working at this scale, you begin to see the world not as a singular universal thing but as an ever-changing ecosystem comprised of many smaller worlds; to me, this is a crucial method for speculating on future worlds.'

In 2023, she is developing her first video game, The Alluvials, a cross-temporal and multi-authored narrative world exploring the politics of drought and water scarcity in Los Angeles. Hinging between past and future visions of the city and its complex relationship to water, the project is narrated by a host of nonhuman and elemental characters, including the Los Angles River, wildfire, a speculative desalination corporation, and the ghost of LA's celebrity mountain lion, P-22. It merges game engine technology, collaborations with AI, data visualisation, climate forecasting, and on-the-ground research to explore the climactic, ecological, ideological, and economic forces shaping the region’s water crisis.

As a writer, Bucknell is interested in time-based and interactive approaches to storytelling that straddle the line between fact and fiction, present and future, ecology and technology, self and world. She seeks out an expanded approach to art writing that ditches the mythic primacy of a single author or narrative world, often working in collaboration with AI writing partners: custom-trained language models that hinge between writer and subject, collapsing both. She is a regular contributor to publications including ArtReview, frieze, Flash Art, e-flux architecture, Mousse, and the Harvard Design Magazine. Her first speculative fiction short story, “Synthetic Loopholes,” was published by e-flux architecture in May 2023.