2015 Seminars

 Life With Endometriosis

Date: 23 July 2015
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: Hunter Cole

Hunter Cole will give an overview of her past work in art and science with painting, digital art, installations and work with bio-luminescent bacteria. She will also discuss the project done at SymbioticA called Life with Endometriosis. The endometrium is the lining of the uterus. Endometriosis is a disease where endometrial tissue grows outside the womb in other parts of the body. Endometriosis can cause extreme pain and infertility. The Life with Endometriosis Project will integrate video of interviews of women with endometriosis with micrographs of growing and dying endometrial cells. Digital collages of women with endometriosis and micrographs of endometrial cells will be integrated with drawings and quotes from their interviews.

Both an internationally shown artist and also experienced geneticist, Hunter Cole reinterprets science as art through abstractions, digital art, installations and work with bio-luminescent bacteria. She holds a Ph.D. and Master's degree in Genetics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a Bachelor of Science from the University of California-Berkeley. She teaches biology and art at Loyola University Chicago. She created a course, Biology Through Art, where students have the opportunity to create innovative artworks in a biology laboratory. Her latest project is Life with Endometriosis. Hunter Cole also has endometriosis.

Trans|Xeno :: On the Materiality of Being

Date: 10 July 2015
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: J.J. Hastings

J.J. Hastings’ creative practice is focused upon the unique biological trace of our corporeal being through time—a material imprinting upon both the Earth as well as our bodies that is both temporal and spatial in character—that is both deliberately and instinctively driven through technological mediation. Her earlier research examined the material basis of our identity at varied scales, from the subatomic to the interstellar, representing an evolutionary metamorphosis of the cosmos into myriad biological forms.

Owing to her advanced training in both disciplines, J.J.’s work focuses upon the intersection and interplay of art and science—from philosophy to practice—merging scientific and artistic research. Throughout her residency at SymbioticA, she has experimented with an array of processes and biomaterials as well as explored the meteorite collection of the UWA’s Earth Museum. In this talk, she will present her diverse array of projects, and discuss their future direction.

As an alumna of New York University, Harvard University and the University of Oxford (New College) with advanced degrees in both Biology and Bioinformatics, respectively, Ms. Hastings’ career in research spans over a decade. In 2014, J.J. completed the MA (Fine Art) in Art & Science at Central Saint Martins in London, graduating with Distinction. She is a member of both the Lumen and London Alternative Photography Collectives.

As an independent scientific investigator and artist, J.J. continues to develop new ways to translate academic laboratory methods into outcomes that challenge the norms of both disciplines, moving them into new spaces for exploration.

Ms. Hastings' residency at SymbioticA was made possible through the generous support of the American Australian Association and the Oregon Arts Commission.

Inhabiting Digital Spaces

Date: 24 April 2015
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA, Room 228A, School of Anatomy Physiology and Human Biology
Speaker: Dr Josh Harle

For the last few years, Josh Harle has been trying to make sense of the world: critically investigating contemporary forms of spatial representation from online maps to first-person shooters, and developing his own.

In this talk Harle will give an overview of his recent practice, demonstrating a variety of 3D virtual environments and 'rebel online maps' as background to an introduction to photogrammetry and his current residency project.  

The Trafalgar St Tunnel is Harle's in-progress 3D reconstruction, using photogrammetry tools to generate geometry from 3500 images of a graffiti tunnel over two points in time. The focus of the project is to extend the use of photogrammetry from clinical, abstract “fly-through” visualisations, to something that acknowledges the scale, atmosphere, and context of the site itself.  Harle's approach to composing the tunnel is anchored in Michel de Certeau's spatial theory of “space as practiced place”, read through a (lifelong) study of compelling fictional videogame environments.  

Some key features of the reconstruction –  ambient lighting and sounds, recorded tours, and a newly introduced time-lapse feature – will be demonstrated and discussed in a wider context of artificial life and modes of temporality in digital environments.  

The tunnel is a precursor for extending the project to remote rock art sites.

Josh Harle is a multidisciplinary researcher and media artist, with a background in computer vision, philosophy, and fine arts. His research investigates the virtual spaces generated by emerging technologies, our encounters with the world through them, and their social consequences.

Harle’s practice explores the contemporary use of digital technologies to map and make sense of the world. His works take various established and emerging mapping technologies – laser scanning, photogrammetry, geolocation tracking – and re-appropriates them as expressive mediums, altering their outcomes to introduce an affective element which is normally absent.

Josh Harle is currently working with the advanced visualisation lab iVEC, and the Centre for Rock Art Research and Management supported by an Australia Council ECAP grant.

Circles of Fire: The Artist as Patient and The Patient as Artist

Date: 10 April 2015
Time: 3:00 pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: John A. Douglas

John A Douglas is Sydney based interdisciplinary artist working across video, performance, live art installation, photomedia, sound and objects. John’s work has investigated diverse topics including cultural and gender identity in cinema, history and myth making, landscape and place. In his most recent body of work, he investigates the ontological effects of disease through performance and landscape. Douglas is an artist who has lived with chronic renal disease for over ten years and, uniquely, his practice intersects objective biomedical science and medical treatment with his own human and subjective experience as a renal patient. His interdisciplinary practice explore the artist’s lived experience with chronic renal failure, drawing upon the aesthetics of medical imaging, landscape as metaphor and the relationship of the performed body to medical treatment. His work has been described as both ironic and comical while being meditative and reflective. Douglas aims to inform and engage audiences, awakening them to the medical and non-medical (emotional) experiences of long term illness and the challenges that need to be met in order to survive. His work provides the viewer an opportunity to reflect on ones own mortality and the fragile cycle of life and death. 

He is currently the recipient of an Australia Council grant to research and develop a new work in response to his recent renal graft transplant. 

Life as an Instrument of Art

Date: 17 April 2015
Time: 3:00pm
Location: Curtin University Western Australia, Building 201, Room 504C NOTE THIS SEMINAR IS NOT AT SYMBIOTICA
Speaker: Oron Catts

Realising that (the concept of) life is going through some radical transformations; artists have been experimenting with ways of articulating these shifts. This talk would cover the some of the strategies and projects that artists at SymbioticA have employed to deal with life as both raw material and an ever contestable subject of manipulation.  Looking at all levels of life – from the molecular to the ecological this talk would attempt to present the need to develop a new cultural language where words seems to be no longer appropriate.

Oron Catts is the Director of SymbioticA.


'Friending' Anatomy: The Naturalization of Anatomical Images in Contemporary Culture

Date: 6 March 2015
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: Dr. Nina Sellars

Are the various new modes in which we engage with anatomical images of the body effectively redefining what it means to be human? In an era when virtual anatomies increasingly circulate on the Internet and bioengineered human organs are being printed from volumetric images, it can appear that the image-objects of contemporary anatomy have an ontological order not altogether dissimilar from our own. Presented from the perspective of a visual artist who has experience working in the medical context, this talk aims to promote a critical reflection on the study of anatomy and the various processes used for anatomical imaging. The talk begins with the premise that the anatomical body is as much defined by the methods used to behold it as it is defined by the structures that it claims to reveal. 

Dr. Nina Sellars is an artist and Research Fellow at the Alternate Anatomies Lab, School of Design and Art, Curtin University, Perth, Australia. Sellars lectures also on anatomy for artists and is a prosector, i.e. a dissector of cadavers for medical display, and an Adjunct Lecturer at the Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia. Her interest in anatomy has taken her from working in classical drawing ateliers and wet anatomy labs to working in physics labs and medical imaging facilities – here she explores the cultural implications of clinical imaging modalities.