Roy Ascott is a British artist and theorist, who works with cybernetics and telematics, born in Bath, England. He was educated at the City of Bath Boys’ School. His National Service was spent as an officer in the Royal Air Force working with radar defence systems. From 1955-59 he studied Fine Art at King’s College, University of Durham (now Newcastle University) under Victor Pasmore and Richard Hamilton, and Art History under Lawrence Gowing and Quentin Bell. On graduation he was appointed Studio Demonstrator (1959–61). He then moved to London, where he established the radical Groundcourse at Ealing Art College, which he subsequently established at Ipswich Civic College, in Suffolk. Notable alumni of the Groundcourse include Brian Eno, Pete Townshend, Stephen Willats, and Michael English. He was a visiting lecturer at other London art schools throughout the 1960s. Then he briefly was President of Ontario College of Art and Design, Toronto, before moving to California as Vice-President and Dean of San Francisco Art Institute, during the 1970s. He was Professor for Communications Theory at the University of Applied Arts Vienna during the 1980s, and Professor of Technoetic Arts at the University of Wales, Newport in the 1990s.
He has advised new media arts organisations in Brazil, Japan, Korea, Europe and North America, as well as UNESCO, and since 2000 has been a Visiting Professor in Design/Media Art at the UCLA School of the Arts. He is the founding editor of Technoetic Arts, journal of speculative research, and an Honorary Editor of Leonardo Journal. Ascott was an International Commissioner for the XLII Venice Biennale of 1986 (Planetary Network and Laboratorio Ubiqua). Ascott is also the founding president of the Planetary Collegium, an advanced research center which he set up in 2003 at the University of Plymouth, UK, where he is Professor of Technoetic Arts.
Ascott built a theoretical framework for approaching interactive artworks, which brought together certain characteristics of Dada, Surrealism, Fluxus, Happenings, and Pop Art with the science of cybernetics. He was also influenced by the writings of Anthony Stafford Beer, William Ross Ashby, William Grey Walter, and F.H.George. Since the 1960s, Roy Ascott has been a practitioner of interactive computer art, electronic art, cybernetic and telematic art. In his first show (1964) at the Molton Gallery, London, he exhibited Analogue Structures and Diagram Boxes, comprising change-paintings and other works in wood, perspex and glass. In 1964 Ascott published “Behaviourist Art and the Cybernetic Vision” in Cybernetica: journal of the International Association for Cybernetics (Namur). In 1968, he was elected Associate Member of the Institution of Computer Science, London (proposed by Gordon Pask). In 1972, he became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Ascott has shown at the Venice Biennale, Electra Paris, Ars Electronica, V2 Institute for the Unstable Media , Milan Triennale, Biennale do Mercosul, Brazil, European Media Festival, and gr2000az at Graz, Austria. His first telematic project was La Plissure du Texte (1983),  an online work of “distributed authorship” involving artists around the world. The second was his “gesamtdatenwerk” Aspects of Gaia: Digital Pathways across the Whole Earth (1989),an installation for the Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, discussed by Matthew Wilson Smith in The Total Work of Art: from Bayreuth to Cyberspace, New York: Routledge, 2007.