SymbioticA

Friday Seminar Series


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The ethos of SymbioticA is that ideas are discussed and shared openly and the Friday Seminar Series is designed to allow an open forum to disseminate artistic, scientific, ethical and philosophical research and practice of resident researchers, visiting artists and scholars. Our Friday Seminar Series are held salon style, in our studio space and commence at 3:00pm on Fridays. All are welcome.

Coral Nurseries' Attempts to Restore Reef Degradation

Date: 3 August 2018
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: Dimity Magnus

With the temperature and acidity levels of the oceans fluctuating due to climate change, our reef systems aren’t having the best time. We also have the dreaded crown of thorns starfish going nuts nomming on all our squishy underwater alien dudes.

It’s all really sad and scary and everyone doesn’t like it but it’s hard enough to cover the basics of feeding, housing and keeping oneself mentally stable let alone trying to figure out how to solve global warming before the reefs die out. The world is going to shit anyways so what can one do except yell about it occasionally?

Well there’s a little team of folk in Cairns called Reef Restoration Foundation who have finally secured the permits to start the first coral gardening setup in Australia. Observing similar setups in the U.S and Thailand the group have mimicked formats and begun to try and test how to grow nurseries off the coast of Fitzroy Island which will be used to help repopulate damaged areas on the Great Barrier Reef.

I first became involved with RRF by finding a small page over the net with founder Gary’s mobile number and was greeted by his huge enthusiasm to have some help with his very small team. After getting up to speed on the project, I trained for my open water and advanced open water diver certification and headed over to Cairns to start cleaning algae off underwater poles with hanging coral babies! When I’m not over in Cairns I help with cataloguing here in Perth amongst my other intrigues. I will be sharing the ins and outs of the project and it's possibilities as well as showing images and footage from the Nursery expansion happening this July.

Dimity Magnus is a Perth based artist, musician, events producer, science enthusiast and electronics fondler with a deluxe obsession for coral polyps.


Playing for Memes: Communication and Cross-Platform Engagement on Twitch

Date: 17 August 2018
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: Lachlan Howells, Honours Student, Curtin University

The online media genre ‘video live streaming’ has seen a recent rise in popularity both as a means of entertainment as well as a focus within academia, and with this rise new theories and terminology have begun to take shape, providing more sophisticated frameworks for analysis. Despite this there remains a lack of a comprehensive understanding regarding the form by which the genre operates and the communicative process that underpins it. In order to contribute to a more sophisticated understanding of the media genre and, in particular, the modes of communication distinct to the live video streaming format, I will bring into question the nature by which communities form around particular Twitch gaming channels and the function symbols, primarily in the form of jokes, have in bolstering communities and fostering user engagement. In order to explore this, I will draw on web memetic theory in order to form conclusions regarding the impact and appeal the live component of live video streaming has on the formation and subsequent spread of stories and jokes via memes online. By tracing the network by which these memes spread from Twitch to other websites, I will draw attention to the manner by which users engage with Twitch alongside other online platforms in order to supplement their participation with live-streaming communities.  This leads me to the question at the centre of my thesis, where I ask how do Twitch users cohere across several online platforms, and what function might this cross platform engagement serve in the development of online communities?

Lachlan Howells is a researcher currently completing his Honours at Curtin University. He is interested in web communities, video gaming, web memetics and new technology.


The Op-Shop Aesthetic: Tissue Culture, and the Art of the Scrounge

Date: 24 August 2018
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: Leon Harris

To be human is to create and interact with tools and toys, knowledge systems and symbolism. We frequently look at the artifacts of the knowledge systems of other cultures such as the churingas of the central desert peoples and admire their beauty as art. Yet these are functional, and are used to encode sacred knowledge. Our objects are rich with possibilities, not only those their makers intended for them. They can in their own ways become portals to knowledge, in the hands of the amateur scientist.

We at the start of the 21st century are surrounded by objects that have both a daily usage and a hidden and parallel potential.
Op shops are filled with the relics of past years fashions, not just in clothes but in consumerism. They represent a vertical slice across time that lets us view one of the greatest of our societies abilities, the production of stuff. To the (self) initiated amateur scientist, worlds of possibilities exist in such places, and objects become a link between their intended daily use and a second chance as part of a home lab.

In this talk, I will briefly describe my hunts through such places for materials to make vacuum pumps, gas chromatography instruments and Geiger counters, before I delve in depth into my current project, which is to make a plant tissue culture lab available for schools and hobbyists.

A Perth lad, Leon Harris started out his professional life as a catch 'em and tag 'em biologist, before becoming fascinated with the biochemistry of an extremely iron-loaded fish. After an old-fashioned biochem-style PhD (it was finished when there was enough data to write up) that involved tissue culture, aquaculture, masses of most types of spectrophotometery, and trudging around south western creeks with a 400 volt electrofisher strapped to his back, he completed a 3 year post doc at the Laboratory of Biochemistry at the NIH. He come back home to WA to start a software business with his now wife, settled, had a family and built a house, in doing so acquiring some carpentry and building skills. The house still hasn't fallen down (so must be judged a success) and now sports a very useful workshop/shed, where many of his crazy ideas are built. Leon became qualified as a teacher 12 years ago, after a period of biochemical consultancy and industrial biochemistry (brewing), and now tortures the younger generation.

He was a founding member of Perth DIYBio, a group of biohacking enthusiasts who occasionally meet at The Artifactory and communicate mostly by Facebook. His two great passions of electronics and biology overlap with his education work so much now that it is hard sometimes to tell them apart, and work and hobbies often seem to feed off each other. When he grows up, Leon wants to be an accountant.