SymbioticA held 33 seminars and events in 2009.
Date: 18 December 2009
The SymbioticA team held an end-of-year gathering on the banks of Matilda Bay. This informal do presented a chance for us to catch up, un-wind and enjoy the river.
Date: 4 December
Speaker: Matthew Gingold
Matthew Gingold’s work in audio/visual installation and performance has largely focused on perception, the body and the various meanings ‘live’ and ‘alive’ can have within these contexts. Usually this is explored through multiple differences and repetitions, and through these, our connections to identity, the everyday and the sublime. Gingold is interested in processes, both physical and algorithmic, that playfully ‘overcode’ meanings or meta-structures. That is, he likes to create rules, many, many rules that by the very nature of complication become obsolete, renewed, changed, unexpected, beautiful, intuitive and generally unruly.
Matthew presented recent works including ‘Flying Falling Floating’, a dance-on-video installation presented at Carriageworks (Sydney, 2008) and MAPFEST (Malaysia, 2009); and ‘Circuit’, an interactive, networked auto-product-generating, video installation presented at eight artist-run galleries during the Melbourne Fringe (2009).
Matthew is a CIA artist in residence and he talked about his project ‘The Perfect Artist’ (forthcoming, National Portrait Gallery 2010), including an insight into what, where and how the portraits will be processed and presented in the final installation. He discussed the recurrent themes of difference, repetition, humour, maths, beauty and making machines behave badly in his work.
If you'd like to be IN the Perth Edition of the ‘Perfect Artist’, please email Matt.
Date: 20 November, 2009
Location: BioTech Art Workshop, Melbourne, The Design Research Institute, RMIT University,Design Hub Gallery, Ground floor, Building 91, 110 Victoria Street, Melbourne.
A public symposium discussion addressed intersections of biotechnology, art, design and cultural change, and the outcomes of SymbioticA’s intensive Biotechnology Workshop hosted by RMIT University.
“We overlook only too often the fact that a living being may also be regarded as raw material, as something plastic, something that may be shaped and altered.” H. G. Wells 1895
“...the very borders between life and death, borders that are still so final, have become so open to negotiation and dispute. As indeed are all those entities such as tissues and ova, hovering between life and death, oscillating between vitality in a test tube or vat of information in a database or biobank…" Nikolas Rose, 2007.
The plasticity of biological life – its ability to change and evolve – is being entertained by new and rapidly accelerating technical capacity. Clearly, this raises new challenges, problems and opportunities that require careful attention.
Artists Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr, and others at SymbioticA; Centre for Excellence in Biological Arts (UWA), have been international leaders in engaging with these issues through artistic practice. Increasingly the role designers may have to play in this terrain is being explored and called into question.
From November 16th to 20th, RMIT’s School of Applied Sciences (BioSciences) and the School of Architecture and Design hosted a one week intensive SymbioticA Biotech Workshop. This workshop was an introduction to biological techniques and issues surrounding the manipulation of living systems, offering a practical and theoretical introduction to the basics of biological techniques and the creation of biological art and design. Through applied ‘hands-on’ methods, the broader philosophical and ethical implications of human intervention with other living things were explored.
Over the week, reports, comments and thoughts arising during the workshop were posted to a blog, including a twitter feed. People can follow the action.
This workshop closed with the wider discussion of an open forum. The aim of this forum was to discuss and reflect upon the workshop, including the broader cultural, research and pedagogical issues it raised, for the benefit of both participants and a wider interested public.
This seminar formed part of the BioTech Art Workshop.
Date: 13 November
Speaker: Hannah Rogers
Can a bridge be racist? Is objectivity stable? And what is really going on in science labs? While this talk won't answer these questions, it will examine how thinkers in science and technology studies have approached these questions.
What is science and technology studies? What does it have to offer artists working with science and technology? Hannah Rogers gave an overview of the field and summarised major streams of thought in S&TS, with an eye to offering good narratives from the history, philosophy, anthropology, and sociology of science- to interest artists working with science and scientists considering their own histories, in the form of histories and theoretical frameworks.
Hannah is a PhD candidate in Science and Technology Studies at Cornell University and is completing her fieldwork as a resident at SymbioticA. She received her Master's degree in 2006 from Cornell for a study of tactical media practitioners. Her research at SymbioticA is funded by the National Science Foundation and the Society for Humanities.
Date: 6 November
Speaker: Kings Park and Botanic Garden guide
Kings Park and Botanic Garden, Perth’s oldest and best loved park, is a living collection of the State’s natural and cultural heritage. This special guided tour, lead by the Kings Park Guides, will take the group on a walk to explore the bushland through landscaped parklands and gardens which demonstrate the State’s botanical diversity. Discover plants which had, and often still have, practical uses for both Aboriginals and Europeans.
The guided tour was followed by a picnic in the park.
Date: 30 October
Speaker: Dr Jill StJohn, Wilderness Society
It is over two months since a West Atlas mobile offshore drilling unit leaked oil about 250 kilometres north of Truscott, and 690 kilometres west of Darwin. The fourth attempt at plugging the leak has been postponed due to equipment failure. The leak is considered to have covered 45,000 square kilometres of ocean.
Following a mass protest in the city of Perth on Friday morning, the WA Marine Co-ordinator of the Wilderness Society, Dr Jill St John, presented a paper outlining the enormity of the leak, dangers to the marine life in the vicinity and what individuals can actually do to make a difference.
Dr Jill St John joined the Wilderness Society in 2008 as the Marine Co-ordinator in WA. Jill has a passion for all things marine, especially fish.
Studying and working at both Sydney and James Cook Universities, Jill specialised in the ecology of coral reef fishes. She spent two years researching coral trout in Okinawa, Japan at Seikai National Fisheries Institute before moving to Perth to work as a Research Scientist in the Department of Fisheries. “In Perth I researched iconic temperate reef fish for eight years and often told both recreational and commercial fishers that my real clients were the fish.” Tired of the never-ending blame brawls between “rec” and “commercial” fishers, Jill decided to leave fisheries to campaign for better marine protection in WA.
With its huge coastline and small population, WA has escaped the marine problems of the more populated east. However, the recruitment failure of the famous rock lobster fishery and the recent oil and gas leak suggests WA is catching up quickly.
Date: 30 October 2009
Location: APPEA office, 190 St. Georges Tce., Perth City.
You were invited to dress in black, grab a sign and join in protest the beat until it stops= flash mob protest - To say Never Again… to the oil and gas industry and gain better protection for Kimberly marine life!
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Date: 23 October 2009
Speakers: Michelle Outram, Simon Wise, Tania Visosevic, Cat Hope and Oron Catts
Michelle Outram, Simon Wise, Oron Catts, Tania Visosevic and Cat Hope, delegates on the WASh Program (Western Australia, Shanghai) shared stories on their recent visit to Shanghai, discussed future plans for the program, what it is and why they were doing it.
The aim of the WASh Program, established by the Australia-China Institute for Culture and the Arts (ACICA), is for West Australian media, electronic and interdisciplinary artists to develop their practices, profiles and artforms by establishing links and exchanges with a variety of institutions, organisations and local artists in Shanghai. The vision is a low-cost, long-term cultural and artistic bridging program.
WASh 2009, funded by the Department of Culture and the Arts, consisted of a delegation of six artists/artsworkers (Cat Hope, Oron Catts, Tania Visosevic, Sam Fox, Simon Wise and Michelle Outram) visiting Shanghai with ACICA Director Sheng Liang in September. During the visit, the group presented seminars/talks and attended meetings and social events, successfully establishing connections with organisations, institutions and artists.
Building from this success, WASh 2010, will be a 'pilot' program of linked artist residencies, lectureships and the presentation of works made possible through support from partner organisations in Shanghai and Australian funding.
Date: 16 October 2009
Speaker: Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg
Daisy Ginsberg uses design to explore the implications of emerging and unfamiliar technologies, science and services. This includes creating compelling narratives that allow us to question our unprecedented future, using design to open up new thought areas and unravel the complexity of invisible science. Over the past 18 months, Ginsberg has been exploring how the two very disparate scales of molecular science and human design interact. At the Royal College of Art, London, she began researching synthetic biology, the application of engineering principles to biology, the abstraction of the chaos of life into standardised components and systems. Daisy has now moved into the lab, designing a Synthetic Biology Protocol for SymbioticA during her residency.
Prior to the MA Design Interactions at the Royal College of Art, Ginsberg read Architecture at Cambridge University, worked in urbanism and spent a year at Harvard learning about narrative and design research. Her time at the RCA was spent exploring what design - integral to the developments of the Industrial and Information Revolutions - has to ‘offer’ to a Biotech Revolution.
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Date: 2 October 2009
Speaker: EJ Neafsey
What is spatial information? How is it constructed, maintained and controlled? With the current social valence of spatial information, it is critical that we have an understanding of its continuing development so we can leverage and critique it effectively. This talk sought to deeply engage the audience by way of small group conversations. Questions focussed on issues of deep contention (privacy, access, control, and the like), cultural encoding, possibilities for spatial information and those of interest to the group.
EJ Neafsey is a PhD Candidate in the Environmental Information Science concentration at Cornell University. He completed his undergraduate work at Cornell in January 2005 and received his M.S. degree there in May 2008. He has taught geospatial information science and sustainable agriculture as part of his program at Cornell. Previous research focused on proximal sensing using diffuse-reflectance near-infrared spectroscopy for the estimation of key soil properties to soil classification and survey, in situ, in western and central New York. He is currently developing a spectral database for soil samples in southern New England and prediction models for key soil properties for archived, field benchmark and subaqueous soils in the region. Locally, he is working with the Western Australia Department of Agriculture and Food to update soils maps in the Wheatbelt using field, radiometrics and terrain data and enhance soil carbon measurement techniques.
Date: 25 September 2009
Speakers: Adam Zaretsky and the pFARM Collective
pFARM :: Organic Fetish Biotech documents the activities of the pFarm collective and its phantasmagoric, organic bio-tech experiments in inter-species fantasies, fetishes and flea-market offerings. Created by Adam Zaretsky and the pFARM Collective, the film explores cultural power relations between organic farming, recent advances in new reproductive technology and our domestic conceptions of wildness.
Zaretsky is a PhD Candidate in Electronic Arts at The Department of the Arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). He is a bioartist, performer, researcher and art theorist whose work focuses on Biology and Art Wet Lab Practice. He was the first international resident in SymbioticA, and not only enthusiastically participated in the labs but was instrumental in establishing SymbioticA's undergraduate academic program with the development of the VIVOART course. His work was shown in SymbioticA’s BIOFEEL exhibition in 2002.
No SymbioticA staff participated in Mr Zaretsky’s fetishes as far as we are aware!
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Date: 11 September 2009
Speaker: Andrew Hayim De Vries
Location: Garage Mahal, Lois Lane off Manilya Street, White Gum Valley, Fremantle, WA
Andrew Hayim De Vries led a tour and discussed his latest art/design project Home Where Project #2 Garage Mahal. The house is designed and constructed using simple and cost effective industrial components and practices addressing the key areas of environmental sustainability to minimise the use of power and water and the necessity for maintenance of the property.
The Vertical Greenwalls, vegetable and other gardens on the property are watered by an integrated greywater recycling and rainwater catchment and subterranean drainage system. Through the combined use of natural ventilation and internal insulation, the Vertical Greenwalls and passive solar design throughout the property, Garage Mahal offers a cool sanctuary in the often harsh summer of Western Australia and warmth during winter months.
Andrew Hayim De Vries is a West Australian artist and designer based in Fremantle, W.A. Home Where Project #1 100 Hubble Street was an eclectic example of art, architecture and urban recycling that evolved over a period of 20 years in East Fremantle.
Date: 3 September 2009
Speaker: Josh Schwebel
There is no way that a vague and jargon-heavy paragraph will give you any idea of what an artist's work will be. What is the purpose of a description of the work - is it meant to provoke thoughts? Questions? Confusion? Certainly not to actually tell the viewer what the work is or does. Because if I told you what the work was, why would you need to see it? Words like 'space', 'body' and 'relation' have all but no content when they are used to generalise in place of specific and meaningful gestures. Filling up a paragraph with words is a formal gesture, a placeholder occupying a comfortable location in the suburban neighbourhood of the work, not too close, and perhaps just civilly sharing a fence or some bushes.
Joshua Schwebel is a Canadian artist in the third person, in residence at PICA. He showed only the best, only the best, none of the worst.
Date: 28 August 2009
Speaker: Perdita Phillips
Location: Anatomy Museum- ground floor of Vet Building, Murdoch University
Dr Perdita Phillips showed the results of her 2009 Art Meets Vet Science Artist in Residency program at Murdoch University’s School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences. Her X-ray sculptures, photographs and drawings were situated in both the clinical and research areas. Working on themes of internal and external surfaces the artist has investigated diagnostic palpation as the point of contact between human and nonhuman worlds.
The artist floor talk was followed by the exhibition opening at 5pm.
Perdita Phillips artistic practice includes sculpture, photography, drawings, sound, video and installation. Whilst materially diverse, underlying themes of ecological processes, and a commitment to a resensitisation to the physical environment, are apparent. Working with objects, environments, found things and made things, Perdy creates a world where everyday entities and events are brought out of their invisibility.
Perdy was an Australia Council SymbioticA resident in 2007/2008 and is undertaking a SymbioticA Adaptation residency, funded by the Sidney Myer Fund and The Australia Council InterArts Office in 2009.
In Vetland ran from 29 August to 25 September.
Date: 21 August 2009
Speaker: Caroline Baillie
Location: SymbioticA, UWA
Waste-for-Life (WLF) is a loosely joined network of scientists, engineers, educators, designers, cooperatives, innovators, and documentarians that work internationally and inter-disciplinarily to develop poverty-reducing solutions to environmental and social problems. WFL works at the intersection of waste and poverty using low-threshold/low-cost technologies to add value to resources that are commonly considered harmful or of minimal worth, but are often the source of livelihood for society’s poorest members. Two WFL team members visited Buenos Aires for six months in 2007 and again in 2008 for an additional month. There, they met and worked with several cartonero or waste-picker cooperatives. This talk presented a view of these cooperatives through the lens of WFL and the potential affect the intervention may have on co-ops working within Buenos Aires vast garbage collection and recycling machinery.
Professor Caroline Baillie was recruited as Chair of Engineering Education for the Faculty of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics at The University of Western Australia. Caroline is particularly interested in ways in which science and engineering can help to create solutions for the environment as well as social problems. Before coming to Perth, Caroline was Chair of Engineering Education Research and Development at Queens University, Kingston, Ontario, where she was also cross appointed into Chemical Engineering, Sociology and Women's studies. Formerly she was lecturer at Imperial College, UK and the University of Sydney, as well as Deputy Director of the Materials Subject centre, part of the Learning and Teaching support network in the UK.
Date: 14 August 2009
Speaker: Boo Chapple
Australian artist Boo Chapple discussed the 2009 Honours Class “BioArt: contemporary art and the life sciences” she ran at The Arts & Genomics Centre (TAGC), in Leiden, The Netherlands. The class was an art and science crossover lab that encouraged students from various disciplines to foster interdisciplinary exploration of the intersections between art, and life through hands-on laboratory protocols, and critical readings. During her time at TAGC, Boo also cooperated with Leiden University Prof. Dr Ron de Kloet in an ArtScience project on stress.
Boo Chapple is an artist and researcher whose conceptually driven practice has been enacted across a diverse range of media including sound (installation, performance, design), performance installation, video, and art/science projects. Boo was a SymbioticA resident in 2004 and 2006. The bone audio speakers she researched during her year long Australia Council SymbioticA residency were exhibited in “Art in the Age of Nanotechnology” from the 24 September - 29 November 2009 at the John Curtin Gallery. In 2007-08 she undertook at 12 month residency at the Design Research Institute, RMIT.
She has received several sound commissions (ABC/The Listening Room, Performance Space) and exhibited work in national and international contexts, including Ars Electronica, the Beijing Biennale of Architecture, the San Francisco MoMA and Enter3, Prague. She has been an invited panellist at the Whitney Museum, an invited speaker for Eyebeam, NYC and presented work at numerous national and international art events and conferences. Her writing and art projects have been published in Leonardo Journal, Aminima, Art of the Biotech Era and Plastic Green.
Date: 7 August 2009
Speaker: Meredith Walsh
Box jellyfish have no brains. Cubomedusae have 24 eyes, many with sophisticated lenses but no brain that science can see. As some sort of brain is considered indispensable to sight their need for all this sensory hard-ware confounds conventional neuro-scientific logic. Their eyes are not the problem; they fit the standard ocular definition (more or less). The problem is vision without cognition, sight without a central processing unit. To address science’s empirical ability to perceive life according to the capacity of the human brain, Meredith is attempting to develop a perception of the jellyfish’s brain for which biological science currently has no concept.
Meredith Walsh has an ongoing interest both philosophically and practically in perception and thought as it relates to the empirical power of scientific practice to define the material living world. Her research has explored this theme through a number of residencies, including SymbioticA, the CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific Research Organisation) and iVEC (the hub of advanced computing in Western Australia), and her writing/presentations for interdisciplinary audiences such as ICAD (the International Conference of Auditory Display).
Date: 31 July 2009
Speakers: ROCKface – Marnie Orr and Rachel Sweeney
Inhabitate introduces current cross disciplinary research developed between dance artists Orr and Sweeney working in geologically significant sites across the UK and Australia. Since 2005 ROCKface have created innovative performance methods combining contemporary choreography with ecological and environmental exchanges through a parallel transnational terrain inquiry. This paper opened ROCKface's definition of dance ecology topographic movement training, choreography as a cartographic practice and transfer of properties.
ROCKface was founded in 2006 by Rachel Sweeney (IRL) and Marnie Orr (AUS), to investigate site-driven physical performance languages related across disciplines. We aim to highlight the sensory, kinetic intelligence of the dancer working in situ, drawing from intuitive and proprioceptive memory through distinct perceptual modes of engagement and also in consultation with a range of ‘field’ professionals from geographic and ecological disciplines.
Date: 24 July 2009
Speaker: Kaori Yamashita
Location: Central TAFE Art Gallery
Surroundings Around opens up a discourse about ecosystems and integrity through focusing on the relationship between human activities surrounding the fishing culture. The work focuses on the pattern of tears on the cheeks of the native blowfish (Weeping Toado) to evoke empathy and reveal human hypocrisies towards other animal species and “by-catch”. By-catch is the unwanted and untargeted capture of sea life that is discarded at the end of fishing trips. While dolphins and turtles are protected species in commercial fishing, the native blowfish is discarded as by-catch in recreational fishing.
Kaori Yamashita was born in 1979 in Kyoto, Japan. She graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Printmaking at the Kyoto City University of Arts in 2003. Her early work explored the theme of self-searching in relation to other people through self-portraiture. Kaori is also interested in the relationship between humans and the natural world and has developed this theme through her screen-printing practice. She has researched biological arts related to bioinformatics while undertaking of Master of Information Science at Nagoya University in Japan from 2003 to 2006 and is currently completing a Masters of Science, specialising in Biological Arts at SymbioticA, in the School of Anatomy and Human Biology at the University of Western Australia.
Date: 17 July 2009
In RiP: A remix manifesto, Web activist and filmmaker Brett Gaylor explored issues of copyright in the information age, mashing up the media landscape of the 20th century and shattering the wall between users and producers.
The film’s central protagonist is Girl Talk, a mash-up musician topping the charts with his sample-based songs. But is Girl Talk a paragon of people power or the Pied Piper of piracy? Creative Commons founder, Lawrence Lessig, Brazil’s Minister of Culture Gilberto Gil and pop culture critic Cory Doctorow are also along for the ride.
A participatory media experiment, from day one, Brett shared his raw footage at opensourcecinema.org, for anyone to remix. This movie-as-mash-up method allows these remixes to become an integral part of the film. With RiP: A remix manifesto, Gaylor and Girl Talk sound an urgent alarm and draw the lines of battle.
Date: 10 July 2009
Speaker: Sherryl Vint
Posthumanism, animal alterity, ethics and biopolitics addressed representations of animals in science fiction from the point of view of Foucault's ideas about biopolitics. Using Karen Traviss' ‘Wess'Har Wars’ series as an example, it explored the ways that challenges to the human/animal boundary open up a space for a new kind of posthuman identity that emerges from a new sense of ethical relations among species.
Sherryl Vint is an Associate Professor at Brock University in Canada. She is the author of ‘Bodies of Tomorrow: Technology, Subjectivity, Science Fiction’ (2007) and has completed Animal Alterity: Science Fiction and the Question of the Animal. She is an editor of ‘The Routledge Companion to Science Fiction’ and of the journals ‘Extrapolation’ and ‘Science Fiction Film and Television’.
Date: 3 July 2009
Location: Cullity Gallery, The University of Western Australia
SymbioticA’s Friday Seminar showcased outcomes of the week long Adaptation Workshop. Works created in response to five days of interrogating the problems, challenges, and potentials of a unique site combining stories of creation and evolution, desalination and floods, histories of human development (built and social), to environmental threats and new species, were on display in the Cullity gallery, accompanied by a public presentation.
Drawing upon experts in water research, biological arts, geology, ecology, architecture and computer science; and Lake Clifton, Mandurah where local insight and experiences will develop a rich and varied story of the complexities of foreseeing a vision for the site in 2049. Work (or work in progress) stemming from the workshop was presented, viewed and discussed in an open and informal setting.
Date: 19 June 2009
Speaker: Lucas Bowers
Western Australian based studio ericaamerica, are often described as creators of new territories between art and fashion. Creative duo Lucas Bowers and Erica Wardle prefer to remain a little more ambiguous about their categorisation, seeing their practice more as the creation of inhabitable artistic spaces - most often through clothing and dioramatic installation. Essentially the ericaamerica team explore any media necessary to bring alternative worlds across the border and into ours.
The duo showed their installation "The cave of wonders" at the WA Museum, as a sister exhibition to "Nick Cave: The exhibition." The show examined and interpreted the work of the legendary singer/songwriter while equally examining the museum's role in history.
Lucas Bowers discussed the challenges both logistical and ethical of creating art from anthropological, historical and zoological objects and materials, and of challenging ideas about the role of museums in modern society, both within the organisation and without.
ericaamerica have designed costumes for the BioKino group and ORLAN during their residencies at SymbioticA.
Date: 12 June 2009
Speaker: Pia Interlandi
Whilst fashion and ritual are an integral part of our living existence, Pia Interlandi’s research investigates the role of fashion at the end of life and beyond. Observing ‘eco’ trends in both the apparel and funeral industries, transformational processes including decomposition, dissolving, and reincarnation were explored in order to create a series of garments that explore the relationship between garment and [deceased] body.
Aiming to embody notions of ‘life cycles’ and the philosophy of ‘cradle to cradle’ design, the garments and textiles were used in conjunction with performance and ritual, eventually to be used as proposed alternatives for internment.
Pia is undertaking her PhD (Architecture and Design) at RMIT University, Melbourne.
Date: 5 June 2009
Jonathon Thwaites, UWA Radiation and Safety officer and advocate for sustainable technology discussed biodiesel, alternative fuels, solar and nuclear power and uranium mining on World Environment Day 2009.
Thwaites is the WA Convenor of the Alternative Technology Association and his passion and commitment to the environment extends to making and running his vehicle on biodiesel, implementing an extensive grey water system in his home and covering his roof with solar panels. In his spare time he teaches the public how to make biodiesel.
Jonathon Thwaites was the finalist in the Western Australian Environment Awards for the Community Achievement category. He is the driving force behind the Perth Sun Fair.
The United Nation’s World Environment Day is a day used to stimulate worldwide awareness of environmental issues and encourages political action.
Date: 22nd May 2009
Speaker: Carmel Wallace, Victoria, Australia
Carmel Wallace’s art practice focuses on the advantages of multi-disciplinary exploration of place and its ramifications for environmental awareness and ethics. Complementing her art practice with teaching, writing and curating, Carmel has instigated, co-ordinated and participated in numerous art projects, all of which are defined by the involvement of a great cross-section of the community from the arts and non-arts sectors.
Carmel was in Western Australia to exhibit in Walk, a project centred on the environs of the Great South West Walk in Victoria. Its exhibition outcome travelled nationally and was in the Bunbury Regional Art Gallery from 2 May to 16 June 2009.
Carmel ran a workshop and also spoke at the Walk exhibition.
Date: 15 May 2009
Speakers: Buzz Dance Theatre Artistic Director Felicity Bott and Moving Images designer Sohan Ariel Hayes
Contemporary Dance often engages critically with the body in contemporary culture. For 25 years Buzz Dance Theatre’s arts education practice has been moored in contemporary dance. Their latest theatre work, Depth charge, imagines the body-in-future-culture.
Our bodies and our perception of bodies - whether as real, virtual, fleshy homo sapiens or digitally rendered avatars - are changing fast. New technologies such as genetic engineering present a new labyrinth of transformation and controversy as human beings (in some parts of the world) begin to move “beyond nature”. In the lifetimes of children and young people today, pressing ethical concerns present themselves.
Over the past year, a cross-generational team of artists - both dance students and dance professionals - embarked on a journey of imagination. Using choreography, digital imaging and live music, Buzz Dance took some small steps into the labyrinth of bioethics surrounding genetic freedom and ‘trans humanism’.
Buzz Dance Theatre Artistic Director Felicity Bott along with artists from the work, including Moving Images designer Sohan Ariel Hayes, talked about using choreography, digital imaging and live music to imagine future bodies.
Date: 8 May 2009
Location: Mandurah, WA
SymbioticA and the City of Mandurah extended invitations to attend the Art: Business and research seminar on 8 May as part of the Stretch Festival 2009.
Oron Catts, Director of SymbioticA, Centre of Excellence in Biological Arts at The University of Western Australia discussed ‘Artists in Research Laboratories: Pushing the Boundaries of Art - A Project for Lake ’.
As part of SymbioticA’s Friday Seminar series a site visit to Lake Clifton was undertaken before the seminar.
Date: 3 April 2009
Speaker: Kathy High, USA
Kathy High showed selections of video clips from her works that cover topics such as new reproductive technologies, telepathic animal communication, and transgenic animal research. Her feminist bias frames her construction of our engagement with medicine, interspecies relations and our desires to make transparent and to ‘give voice.’
Kathy High (USA) is a visual/media artist, independent curator, and educator. She produces videos and installations posing queer and feminist questions into areas of medicine/bio-science, science fiction, and animal/interspecies collaborations. Her works have been screened in galleries and museums internationally including the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim in NYC, and she has also received awards for her media works from the Rockefeller Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts, among others.
High is an Associate Professor of Video and new Media at the Department of Arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), Troy, NY, a department specializing in integrated electronic arts practices. In 2007, High started the “BioArts Initiative” at RPI, a collaboration between the Arts Department and the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies.
Date: 20 March 2009
Speaker: Oron Catts, Director of SymbioticA
In a broad scoping of issues surrounding life and ecology, SymbioticA’s long term project Adaptation opens important dialogue and debate surrounding human inaction, intervention, responses and responsibilities to the world at large.
This seminar discussed Adaptation and the narratives that surround Lake Clifton, current projects, brokering new collaborative partners in the community and within UWA, and the call for expressions of interest.
With climate change hinting at catastrophic results to some life forms (while others may benefit) it is the capability to adapt which is an advantage for the future. Embedded in Lake Clifton, south of Mandurah, Western Australia, Adaptation proposes a dynamic program of production-based artist residencies and events with a vibrant outreach and community program. Lake Clifton, as a location and a metaphor, offers a microcosmic peak into the broader issues of ecology and life itself.
Perdita Phillips’ three dimensional audio soundscape tour The Sixth Shore engages with the physical and social environment allowing the ground position and orientation of a participant to influence the soundscape that they hear. The SymbioticA Research Group’s Desalination Project is a kinetic sculpture commenting on the use of technological advances to circumvent Lake Clifton from the effects of salinity, climate change and urban development.
The Desalination Project and The Sixth Shore are supported by Australia Council for the Arts, The Western Australian Government’s Department of Culture and the Arts, The Sidney Myer Fund and The Mandurah City Council.
Date: 6 February 2009
Speaker: Craig Hilton, NZ
Craig Hilton is a New Zealand scientist, artist and educator. After completion of a PhD in genetics and biochemistry at the University of Otago in New Zealand, he took a position at Harvard Medical School and then later at the University of Massachusetts as an oncologist and immunologist. He then returned to New Zealand in 2003 where he obtained an MFA at the Elam School of Fine Arts.
Various international journals have published his medical research findings.
Craig Hilton's interests include the use of photography and other media, to investigate the relationships between the photograph and the viewer and to explore the intersections and interactions between science and art, technology and biology.
Date: 30 January 2009
Speaker: Caitlin Berrigan, USA
Caitlin Berrigan’s practice is conceptual, carried by material things: tactile and edible sculpture, immersive installation, electronic media and participatory performance. She is interested in when the artwork itself becomes embodied, producing sensate forms of knowledge.
Berrigan’s work is driven by the intimate and complex relationships we have with the environment, the interwoven narratives of technoscience and culture, the molecular, the viral, the grotesque, the unnerving spaces of the body and social responsibility. To make politicised subjects palpable in an artwork releases them from our normalized encounters, creates rupture, and hopefully inspires a new—if unresolved—way to approach them.
Berrigan is a Master’s candidate in Visual Studies at MIT in Cambridge MA, USA. She has presented her work in the Whitney Museum’s Initial Public Offerings, Storefront for Art and Architecture New York, Gallery 400 Chicago, Anthology Film Archives, L.A. Freewaves, and SIGGRAPH, among other venues and festivals.
Date: 23 January, 2009
Speakers: Sam Fox, Director of Hydra Poesis
Hydra Poesis is an arts company based out of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Arts (CIA) Studios in West Perth. The company seeks to utilise multiple and hybrid performance forms towards the poetic realisation of new thoughts and cultural actions.
Sam Fox, director of Hydra Poesis, talked about the company's investigations into contemporary Australian lifestyles through hybrid performance works in development - Trademark Manouevres and Prompter.
Driven by the integral connection of content and form, Hydra Poesis’s previous experimental works researched mediated lifestyles and post industrial power. They have involved the development of body-based speaker systems and muti-channel motion-based audio for performance, weaponised camera systems, teleprompters and audience-invasive projection screens integrated with physical and live performance.
Date: 16 January, 2009
Speakers: Sandra Hall and Lee Griffiths Directors of Friction Arts, Birmingham, UK
Friction Arts has an internationally recognised reputation for socially engaged participatory arts, or Art where you live”. By not doing 'drive by' art, Friction Arts clearly demonstrates an ability to ‘get under the skin’ of communities and create projects that make huge and lasting differences to the people with which they collaborate.
Friction Arts’ directors Sandra Hall and Lee Griffiths discussed their practice, approach and methodology, including stakeholder management; the matrix of commissioner expectation(s); ethical evaluation and project legacy.
This seminar followed on from Amanda Alderson’s seminar on engaging communities through art on October 17 2008.