Brendan Walker Collection

Ref: NFA0171

Title: Brendan Walker Collection

Scope: Colour portrait photographs of people on thrill fairground rides by Brendan Walker

Dates: 2005
Level: Fonds
Extent: 9 items
Name of creator: Brendan Walker

Administrative / biographical history: Brendan Walker trained as an aeronautical engineer at Imperial College, London. After graduating, he worked for British Aerospace Military Aircraft in Warton, Lancashire for five years developing ejector seats. Brendan became frustrated with the pace of the aerospace industry and looked into expanding his engineering training into the fields of art and design by taking an MA in Industrial Design Engineering at the Royal College of Art.

After finishing his studies, he worked at Hollington’s Design Studio as part of the team designing and building electro-mechanical installations. Motivated by his own interest in moving structures and the experience of thrill, he started to research people’s response to thrill experiences at a forensic level to spot the triggers and motivations that drive thrill seeking behaviours.

For eight years Brendan combined his professional practice with working in the research studio of the Interaction Design Department at the RCA and collaborated on several major international projects.

His research applies art, design, science and engineering to explore the phenomenon of thrill. He studies the physiological response to thrill fairground rides and works with the sector to design the ultimate experiences. He has worked as an advisor for Thorpe Park and Alton Towers, for which he helped develop the Wicker Man and TH13TEEN and has worked with Tussauds Studios on the development of thrill rides of the future. Brendan has created technology-inspired work which has been displayed in Tate Modern and has created various mechanical installations for art galleries. Additionally, he is the founder and director of the Thrill Laboratory, a collective of scientists, technologists, artists and designers creating thrilling experiences.

Brendan is currently a Professor of Creative Industries at Middlesex University and has previously held posts as Deputy Head of Design Interactions at the Royal College of Art, Principal Research Fellow in Computer Science at the University of Nottingham and associate lecturer in Industrial Design at Central Saint Martins. He is also the Managing Director of Aerial, a company specialist in the creation of tailored emotional experience.

Additionally, Brendan is the Founding Director of Studio Go Go Limited, a ride design company supported by Innovate UK. He is also an experienced public speaker and broadcaster and has a passion for communicating science.

He has worked with international companies such as Nissan, Durex, Samsung, Royal Caribbean, and Merlin Entertainment.

The content of this collection relates to ‘Punters: auto-portraits of fairground thrill’, an exhibition of photographs taken by a specially designed machine that was controlled by human emotion through and algorithm. The photographs show people’s response to the experience of extreme thrills on fairground rides.

Brendan conducted this project during his Research Fellowship at the Royal College of Art. He designed and built the body mounted auto-portrait machine to detect the emotion of thrill through real-time sampling and analysis of physiological reactions. The research was conducted through the summer of 2004 using a range of George Irvin’s rides.

Brendan is the author of ‘The Taxonomy of Thrill: Chromo 11’ and ‘Thrilling Designs’

Related Collections: Bob Chase Collection, John Anderson Collection, Dick Scott-Stewart Collection
Source: Donated by Brendan Walker
System of arrangement: Catalogued according to type
Subjects: Fairground Rides, Travelling Entertainment
Conditions of access: Items are available to view by appointment in the NFA reading room
Restrictions: None
Copyright: Copyright Brendan Walker
Finding aids: Online finding aid available here