Short Bio

Robert Walton is an artist and director recognised with multiple awards for his work in theatre, screen, installation, writing, interactive art, and research. He is the Dean’s Research Fellow at The University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Fine Arts and Music. In this role, he leads the development of performances and artworks that explore the creative potential of both ancient and emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence/automated intuition, virtual holograms, theatre, swarm robotics, standing stones, engineered bacterial bioluminescence, MR/XR, storytelling, building information model data, and ambient computing.

Long Bio

Robert Walton (Aus/UK) is a conceptual, media and performance artist and a director whose work includes theatre, choreography, screen, installation, writing, and interactive art. Described by The Times as “an original and talented thinker and theatre maker”, he has directed the creation of over 30 shows.

Robert trained in theatre at Dartington College of Arts (England) and as a technologist in The University of Glasgow’s Master of Science in Information Technology (Software and Systems) programme. His PhD from the University of Melbourne explored the creative use of mobile computing in performance and won the Chancellor’s Prize for Excellence.

Before moving to Australia Robert co-founded two experimental art organisations in Scotland: Reader Performance Group and Fish & Game. These companies enabled Robert to create a wide range of experimental theatre, installation, and interactive site-responsive performance works with long-term collaborator Ivor MacAskill that toured Scotland, UK, Europe and to Australia. Alma Mater, their final work together, was credited as “the world’s first piece of iPad theatre” (The Independent, UK). Robert moved to Australia in 2011 to join the Theatre Department at the Victorian College of Arts, University of Melbourne.

In the last decade his work has increasingly explored the use of emerging technology through a series of innovative collaborations and partnerships. In association with Arts House, Robert initiated In Your Hands, a three-year project with four teams of artists and app developers creating new hybrid artworks exploring the potential of theatre on mobile devices in public space. With funding from the Australia Council for the Arts and City of Melbourne Robert co-created Vanitas, an artwork for smartphones and cemeteries, which was nominated for The Webby Award for best Art and Experimental Mobile App in 2018 and Best Production and Innovation in Site-responsive Performance at the 2019 Green Room Awards.

In 2018 Robert was the inaugural Australia Council and pvi collective Artist in Residence at Blast Theory (UK) where he developed the concept for the hybrid participatory artwork Child of Now. In 2019, the City of Chicago commissioned him to create Exhuming Johnny for the Goat Island Archive and the Year of Chicago Theatre. In 2019 his concept for The Heart won the competition to create a permanent digital artwork for Melbourne Connect. The Heart launched in 2023 and will beat indefinitely. Child of Now was prototyped at Arts Centre Melbourne in 2022 and received an Honorary Mention at the S+T+Arts Prize 2023, the grand prize of the European Commission for innovation in technology, industry and society stimulated by the arts.

In addition to his art practice Robert has undertaken a range of roles for the sector. From 2004-2009 Robert was the Lead Programmer for New Work Network (UK), creating the world’s first social networking site for artists. He co-curated the season of Australian dance and performance works for Culture 2014, The XXth Commonwealth Games Glasgow. In Higher Education he has held the leadership roles of Associate Head of Performance and Programme Leader BA Contemporary Performance Practice at The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and Head of Theatre and Coordinator of Undergraduate Studies, Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne. He wrote the BFA Theatre Practice and BFA Theatre Practice (Honours) degrees and the Acting Breadth Track, a suite of subjects that enables students from across the University to experience conservatoire-style studio-based theatre training.

From 2019-22 Robert was Resident Artist at the School of Computing and Information Systems, University of Melbourne working on projects that combine performance, computing and data for Arts Centre Melbourne and Melbourne Connect.

From 2023-25 Robert is Dean’s Research Fellow at the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music using the performing arts to lead research projects exploring Theatres of Artificial Intelligence.

Who am I?

I am an Australian immigrant from the United Kingdom, born in England but of Welsh, Scottish and Manx ancestry living and working in Naarm (Melbourne), the unceded land of the Boonwurung and Wurundjeri people of the Eastern Kulin Nation. I acknowledge, respect and seek to understand the 1000 generations of arts practice that has been danced, sung and shared in the place where I live. My pronouns are he, him and his.


Current Interests

  • Rehearsing and performing sustainable and equitable futures
  • Radical collaborations, the arts and ‘wicked’ problems, science and art
  • Queering, unmastering, decolonizing, disrupting and enriching everyday life
  • Methods of imagining, knowing, collaborating, making, sensing and feeling
  • Immersion, interactivity, play and dreams
  • Fusing experimental performance, transmedia experience, live art and AI
  • Museums, mobile devices, participation and site-specific adventures
  • Animals, wilderness and space

What’s next?

I’m working on Child of Now, a new project about the mass imagining of the next century. I’m looking for collaborators expert in: demographics, futurology, smartphones and AR/Mixed Realities. If that’s you, or you want to know more, please get in touch.
I am also working on…
The Heart, a permanent installation built into the foyer of Melbourne Connect that combines live building data, Artificial Intelligence and a large volumetric display to reveal the pulse of the building and its community that will beat for at least the next 42 years.
Stone Swarm (aka Sacrifice), a new interactive installation combining swarm robotics, ancient standing stones and performance with Melbourne Flight Lab and Swarm Robotics Team.
Squid-inspired lighting: the functional bio-bulb (aka Liquid Moonlight) creating the world’s first “functional bio-bulb” – a light that works using bioluminescence with biomedical engineer Matt Faria and mathematical biologist Stuart Johnson.

In Development


Bachelor of Arts with Honours


Dartington College of Arts

Master of Science

Information Technology (Software and Systems)

University of Glasgow

Postgraduate Certificate

Learning and Teaching in Higher Arts Education

Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Doctor of Philosophy

Overlooked Performances: Mobile Computing, Site-Responsive Arts Practice and the Spectral Dramaturgy of Vanitas

University of Melbourne

Robert Walton’s production attains the fluid potency of a fever-dream 
– The Age

A spine-tingling encounter
– The Guardian

A wholly new theatrical experience
– The List

The world’s first piece of iPad theatre. Eerie, unsettling and very, very clever.
– The Independent

An original and talented thinker and theatre-maker
– The Times

A brand new way of looking at the world
–  The Stage

Nominees like Robert Walton and Jason Maling (Vanitas) are setting the standard for innovation and creativity on the Internet. It is an incredible achievement to be selected among the best from the over 13,000 entries we received this year.
–  Claire Graves, Executive Director of The Webby Awards

Child of Now enables people to know the past and see the future.
–  Jury Statement, S+T+Arts Prize 


A Building With Heart: A New AI-driven Art Installation at Melbourne Connect

The Heart, a new large-scale permanent art installation that responds to the pulse of the Melbourne Connect community, will be...

Interview: Standing stones and swarm robotics…

Standing stones and swarm robotics… artist Dr Robert Walton explores the mysteries of old and new technology By Megan van…

Interview: The Age – Arts Centre hosts ‘a probe we’re sending into the future’

Arts Centre hosts ‘a probe we’re sending into the future’ By Stephen A Russell The Age February 28, 2022 — 1.49pm…

Interview – Child of Now – Joy Sunday Arts Magazine

Loved talking about Child Of Now at JOY 94.9 Sunday Arts Magazine on 2 May 2021. I chatted with David Hunt and Neil…

Interview: Imagining a building with heart

  An interview with Jo Conlon for Melbourne Data Analytic Platform about my new artwork The Heart, a project I…

Interview: Robert Walton on Child of Now and bringing your heart to work

An interview by Rochelle Siemienowicz. Visit the original here.  Robert Walton on Child of Now and bringing your heart to work…

Interview in The Saturday Paper by Claire G. Coleman

Stealing time and cultivating “radical empathy” with artist Robert Walton. By Claire G. Coleman. Robert Walton and I find a…

Confronting the feel, smell and taste of blood – Pursuit

Interview Article The inaugural exhibition at The University of Melbourne’s Science Gallery Melbourne, explores our relationship with the sometimes confronting topic…

Digital Theatre: live and mobile – RealTime

Realtime Feature by Malcolm Whittaker

Interview: What to do if you didn’t get in – ArtsHub

Missing out on an offer to study may feel like the end of the world. It’s not. by Troy Nankervis…

Interview: VCA gets FR!SKy for Fringe – ArtsHub Interview

A festival-within-a-festival, FR!SK aims to help emerging artists get to grips with professional practice. By Richard Watts Published Tuesday 9…

Interview: Strong tradition, new moves – RealTime Interview by Keith Gallasch

From RealTime Special – ARTS EDUCATION: THEATRE & PERFORMANCE Written by Keith Gallasch in August/September 2014 edition in print and online….

Season 2 Arts House Events

Come along to five events I am hosting at Arts House during their brilliant 2014 second season. The Supper Club…

Robert Walton gets HOT – Radio Interview with Gareth K Vile

Cheeky wee interview with Gareth Vile where we discuss live art, theatre, dance, Fish & Game, Australia and of course the…

HOT Interviews in The Herald, The Scotsman & The List

Three great interviews and previews in the Scottish press: The Scotsman carried an interview preview with Lucy Guerin and I….

On Earthquake at VCA – The Age

The Age carried this story about the two Australian premieres staged at VCA in October 2013. I directed one of…

RealTime Interview – Arts Education: Utopia and Horrors

Melanie Beddie and I appear in Keith Gallasch’s RealTime feature on Arts Education (RealTime 116). We outline our ‘utopian’ vision…