The Decision Machine - Jean Golding Institute Residency


Jean Golding Institute for Data Science at the University of Bristol commissioned an exploratory residency where I explored research on risk and decision making by Dr Ben Shreeve and colleagues, resulting in an interactive installation The Decision Machine as part of the JGI's MShed exhibition in June 2022. 

Ben's research explores decision making in industrial control systems, using a Lego-based table top game Decisions and Disruptions as a training tool to help identify human behaviour and weaknesses in systems. 


The Decision Machine
Ellie Shipman and Jack Stiling

In Bristol Studio, Great Western Lane

Great Western Ln, Bristol BS5 9BB


The Decision Machine is an interactive installation as the result of an artist residency by Ellie Shipman with Jean Golding Institute at the University of Bristol from June 2021 - February 2022. Ellie is a participatory artist and illustrator living in Bristol and working around the world, spending a year in Vietnam in 2019. Ellie regularly collaborates with researchers and universities to create installations, exhibitions and illustrations as part of public engagement projects.

Ellie worked with researcher Dr Ben Shreeve to explore his research on decision making in industrial control systems and big data, using a table-top game called Decisions & Disruptions ( Ellie became particularly interested in the notion of human fallibility in these unfathomably large scale decisions.

The Decision Machine was created as a playful response to this incredibly vital research - a machine adapted from a vintage writing bureau, inspired just as much by Victoriana steampunk as contraptions invented by Wallace and Gromit. The piece was wonderfully fabricated by Jack Stiling of Stiling’s Workshop.

The installation invites viewers to reflect on a decision they need to make in their own lives, write it on a card and insert it into the machine then crank the handle to reveal its answer. The machine will give a simple yes or no response, reflecting the binary 0-1 foundations of digital technology as well as highlighting the almost flippant simplicity of potentially huge decisions prompting reflection on the scale and impact of decision making we undertake every day.

What will The Decision Machine tell you?

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The Decision Machine will later be exhibited alongside the Decisions & Disruptions game at the Jean Golding Institute’s Bristol Data & AI Showcase 2022 on Tuesday 7th June from 10:00 - 17:00 at the M Shed. Find out more and book tickets at