2014 Seminars

Translation, Recursion and Aesthetics in Data-Generated Multi-sensory Artworks

Date: 5 December 2014
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: Kynan Tan

The increasingly data-aware world of today raises serious questions around big data, data mining, visualisation and analysis. This talk will discuss approaches, methods and conceptual frameworks used in the translation of data and algorithm in multi-sensory artworks. Tan's previous works have used data collected from sleeping brain activity, metagenomics, topography and world population statistics in the creation of 3D-printed sculpture, video and sound. In doing so, the works question both the arbitrary, formless nature of digital information, the action of translation, and the aesthetic linkages that can be made between the outputs and the source material.

Kynan Tan is an artist working with digital processes to investigate networks, data transference and relational structures between multiple senses. These works take the form of multi-screen audio-visual performances, installations, 3D-printed sculptures, improvised sound, and kinetic artworks involving electronic circuits, speakers and lights. Kynan has been the recipient of a DCA Young People and the Arts Fellowship (2013), Australia Council Artstart grant (2013), and participated in the JUMP Mentorship Program (2012), studying with audio-visual artist Robin Fox. Kynan has performed in Japan, Germany and throughout Australia, including events such as Test Tone (Tokyo), Channels Video Art Festival (Melbourne) and the NOW now Festival of Art (Sydney), and his works have also been exhibited at MOCA (Taipei, Taiwan), NH7 Festival (Pune, India), First Draft (Sydney) and the Perth Institute of Contemporary Art.

Somatic Drifts: Tactility, Illusion and Affect in Live Art and Crossovers with Neuroscience Research in Chronic Pain

Date: 28 November 2014
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA, Room 228A, level 2 School of Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology, The University of Western Australia. Entrance 2, Hackett Drive, Crawley. GOOGLE MAPS.
Speaker: Cat Jones

Somatic Drifts, is a full body sensory experience for one person at a time. This new work in development by Cat Jones, investigates the potential for a participant to experience the body of other entities through physical re-association facilitated by touch and visual feedback. In Somatic Drifts, Cat combines sensory experience with deep visualisation to explore difference, trans-human and inter-species empathy and identity transgression. How far can we drift outside of the sense of self? What can this drift enable us to change?

Cat Jones will present documentation of this work in progress and observations of audience sensory, perception and affective responses. She will discuss points of interest arising from her recent ANAT Synapse residencies and research to date at UWA School of Medicine and Pharmacology and UniSA Sansom Institute of Health Research, Body in Mind, into the use of body illusions in the neuroscience research on mechanisms and treatment of chronic pain.

Cat Jones is an interdisciplinary artist, performer, writer, curator and all round creatrix. She works with concepts of sexual and gender politics, human and inter-species empathy through language, social construct, anthropomorphism, and science. With a performance practice spanning 25 years Cat is particularly interested in audience psychology for immersive, interactive and participatory works.
Cat was Artistic Director/CEO, PACT centre for emerging artists 2009-2012, Co-director Eletrofringe, international festival of media arts and culture 2006-2007 and Chairperson of its inaugural Board 2008-2010. Cat was awarded a Creative Australia Fellowship in 2012 to research botanic science, social practice, history, literature and art. Recent performance credits in 2013 and 2014 include Plantarum: Empathic Limb Clinic at Proximity Festival, PICA WA, Evolution: A Walk [with Herbivores] at WIRED Open Day, Muttama NSW, Somatic Drifts, Adhocracy Vitalstatistix, SA, and Anatomy’s Confection, Proximity Festival, FAC, WA. In 2015 she will continue her ANAT Synapse research in neuroscience and research the creation of bespoke scents for augmented reality performance at the Institute of Art and Olfaction in Los Angeles.

Cooperation and conflict in the wild, the effect of social factors on individual behavior in the cooperatively breeding Arabian Babbler (Turdoides squamiceps)

Date: 14 Nov 2014
Time: 3:00
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: Oded Keynan

Cooperative breeding, a social system in which individuals help care for young that are not their own, presents a fundamental problem for evolutionary biologists. Charles Darwin regarded the problem of altruism- the act of helping someone else, even if it comes at a personal cost- as a potentially fatal challenge to his theory of natural selection. Since then, substantial progress had been made in describing and explaining the mechanisms that led to the evolution of cooperative breeding, but many questions remain unanswered to the present day. In my talk I will give a general introduction to the research of cooperative breeding and will present the outline of my PhD thesis, conducted at my study site in Israel and supervised by Dr. Amanda Ridley at UWA. During my research, I analysed a long-term (35 year) database of significant demographic events in the Arabian babbler (Turdoides squamiceps), a cooperatively breeding bird species. My aim was to determine the costs and the benefits of group living, and to better understand the environmental and social factors influencing group dynamics (group formation and extinction) and individual lifetime reproductive success. By researching and studying these traits, I hope to better understand the evolutionary basis of cooperation and conflict in nature.

Oded Keynan is a PhD candidate at Macquarie University and Tel Aviv University, Israel. He worked as a field assistant to Professor Amotz Zahavi in the Arava desert in Israel, whose lab has studied Arabian Babblers for almost 40 years. Keynan also studied the behavior of Southern Grey Shrike and Griffon vultures, and is led by his passion for animal conservation.

Insect Hotels

Date: 7 Nov 2014
Time: 3:00
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: Stephanie Reisch

In a WA first, the Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Visual Arts at The University of Western Australia and the City of Subiaco have collaborated to create art in the form of ‘insect hotels’ – structures used to provide a nesting site for insects. The innovative biodiversity project aims to investigate, design, build, install and monitor insect hotels in Subiaco as a way to protect, enhance and monitor wildlife, as well as provide inspired public art opportunities. As part of first year Visual Arts broadening unit Art in the Environment, UWA students from different degree courses were asked to explore and artistically interpret the form of local insects in the design of monuments or sculptures that will inform the future development of the insect hotels.

Local artist and adjunct lecturer at UWA, Stephanie Reisch, will speak about this recent initiative in relation to public art, which she believes plays a pivotal role in activating and revitalising the connections between people and their environment.

Quantum Weirdness, Laser Imaging and The Light of Einstein

Date: 29 October 2014
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: W/Prof David Blair, Director Australian International Gravitational Research Centre.

David Blair's talk will be divided into two parts:

Quantum weirdness: beautiful impossibilities, obvious confusion, live:
With a simple apparatus David Blair will show how a laser and a windscreen wiper allows you to generate images, in real time, that expose the weirdness of the quantum world. The hope is that the audience will be confronted with the reality of the mysterious correlations or non-locality that is the most baffling aspect of the quantum world.

Plans for The Light of Einstein:
Next year is the centenary of Einstein’s theory of gravity and is also the International Year of Light. In the second part of his talk, Blair will talk about ideas for The Light of Einstein Exhibition that aims to bring this all together with art and science.

David Blair is the Director of the Australian International Gravitational Research Centre (AIGRC) based in the School of physics at The University of Western Australia. AIGRC was established in 1990 to enable a cooperative research centre providing a national focus in a major frontier in physics: the detection of gravitational waves and the development of gravitational astronomy. Through strong national and international participation, the research centre concentrates on the development of advanced technologies driven by the goal of the next generation large scale gravitational observatory construction.

The Legal Limits to Altering the Human Body

Date: 17 October 2014
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA, Room 228A North Wing APHB (right above the seminar room)
Speaker: Dr Theodore Bennett, Assistant Professor, School of Law, The University of Western Australia

A core concept underpinning the modern liberal state is the notion of the autonomous individual that is the individual whose freedom should be maximised by law and policy to the extent that this is compatible with the rights and freedoms of others. Yet Australian law places limits on our freedom to make choices about something as personal and self-regarding as the boundaries and configurations of our own bodies. A number of questions arise about the calibration of autonomy and regulation with regards to alterations to the human body, and these questions will provide the focus of this talk. Firstly, what limits does law place on our ability to alter our bodies? Secondly, why are these limits placed where they are? Finally, are these limits justifiable restrictions of our autonomy?

Dr Theodore Bennett is an Assistant Professor in the School of Law at the University of Western Australia. His research interests include legal discourse, the legal regulation of bodies and the connections between law and society. He has published a number of articles on how the law regulates various types of bodily practices and body alterations, including cosmetic surgery, healthy limb amputation, sadomasochism and female genital mutilation.

Artlink Magazine launch - Biotech Art Edition

Date: 19 September 2014
Time: 5:00pm
Location: The Bird, 181 William St Northbridge, Western Australia
Round table speakers: Stelarc, Oron Catts, Ionat Zurr, Guy Ben-Ary, Kirsten Hudson, Stuart Bunt, Donna Franklin and moderated by Elizabeth Stephens.


Bio-art inhabits a realm within the art/science/medicine/technology matrix and this international issue examines a world where human beings are evolving in response to the rapid progress of biotechnology in medicine, genetics, and science.

The work of a biotech artist might include extensions to the body; the relationship of living to non-living; bio-couture (living ‘textiles’) the future of cyborgian systems; man-machine interactions and a great deal more.

Microbes and bacteria are one of the new frontiers in the understanding of life on earth, and have started to appear as the raw materials of art in various contexts.

Public Seminar With Honor Harger

Date: 12 September 2014
Time: 4pm (**please note later-than-usual start)
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: Honor Harger, Executive Director ArtScience Museum Singapore

In this talk, Honor Harger will discuss her curatorial approaches including those in her role as Executive Director ArtScience Museum Singapore. Additionally she will share details of her recent project involving the sounds of the sky, using art to connect her audience to the universe via radio waves emitted from celestial bodies turned into sound by ordinary radio receivers’ speakers that convert electrical signals into sound waves.

Honor Harger is a New Zealand-born artist and curator who has a particular interest in artistic uses of technologies and the cultural impact of scientific ideas. She is Executive Director of ArtScience Museum in Singapore. Prior to arriving in Singapore in March 2014, she was artistic director of Lighthouse, a digital culture agency in Brighton, UK from 2010 to 2014. She has also worked at Tate Modern (UK) transmediale and the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation (Germany), Artspace (New Zealand), and many other arts organisations and festivals around the world.

Honor also writes the blog, Particle Decelerator, which collects together news from the worlds of science, art and technology, placing a special emphasis on the collision between the quantum and the cosmological. Her artistic practice is produced under the name r a d i o q u a l i a together with collaborator Adam Hyde. One of their main projects has been Radio Astronomy, a radio station broadcasting sounds from space. Honor has lectured widely including at the TED conference, LIFT in Geneva, the European Space Agency, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, California Institute of the Arts and the American Film Institute.

Nerves in Patterns on a Screen

Date: 29 August 2014
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: Devon Ward

The recent exhibition by Devon Ward Nerves in Patterns on a Screen investigated the levels of care and control that humans maintain over microscopic life in order to generate knowledge. Traditionally a hierarchical order is maintained during laboratory experiments, whereby someone observes and something is observed. This project explores how biological technologies that digitally record the activities of life can be reframed as a means of destabilizing this order. Instead of extending of our perceptual boundaries, the limits of the observational tools are shown.

Living neural tissue is employed as both medium and agent in this project. Digital animations are choreographed and corrupted by the electrical signals of neurons as our technological gaze is disrupted by the agency of life. A collection of chapbooks accompanies the digital, featuring typographic collages and biodigital poetries that cut up the rules of language. These works ruminate on the imposition of symbolism on both digital and biological life, creating a biosemiotic exchange in which an electrical impulses are imbued with meaning.

Nerves in Patterns on a Screen is the culmination of Devon’s research while pursuing a Master of Biological Art with SymbioticA at the University of Western Australia. During this research, he engaged with scientific laboratory practices, drawing inspiration from the unpredictable and sometimes chaotic experiences when working with wet biology. The outcome, Nerves in Patterns on a Screen, explores the digitization of life processes and the materiality of the digital.

Devon Ward is an artist, designer and interdisciplinary researcher pursuing a Master of Biological Art at SymbioticA within the University of Western Australia. His work investigates the liminal space between art and science and engages with living materials as a medium for artistic expression. His process involves entering into the scientific laboratory as a means of elucidating and subsequently subverting the tools of objective observation, repositioning them as a means for subjective cultural investigation. Biological technologies are used to investigate the digitization of microcellular life and symbolic translation that occurs within this process. Through this trans-disciplinary practise Devon develops absurd ruminations on the influence of language and symbolism within technology and biology.

Devon hails from the Gulf Coast of Florida and received a Bachelor of Fine Art from the University of Florida in 2010 with the honour of Magna Cum Laude. After graduating he worked as a graphic designer, exploring cultural transmission through visual and typographic signs.

Devon participated in the City of Perth’s Light Locker Exhibition in 2013 and his photographs have appeared in the West Australian. He held two solos shows titled Through a Glass Darkly (2012) and Man-myth (2010), each of which explores the half-life of narrative and meaning as it is slowly unravelled and transformed by the passage of time. His upcoming Master’s exhibition titled Nerves in Patterns on a Screen uses living neurons as a medium to explore the agency of life.

Creativity: Art + Science

Date: 22 August 2014
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: Janice Lally PhD

A fascination with modes of thinking, the nature of creativity as well as the neuro-physiological basis of these have led me to pursue work within the domains of art and science throughout my adult life. My conviction, through my own experience, that the practices of art and science are varied dimensions of the same spectrum has driven my continuing engagement with art and science. This presentation will discuss some of the ways in which I have worked within art and science including collaborative partnerships with artists and scientists and some outcomes from these projects.

Janice Lally’s career combines art gallery and art museum directorship, management, research and curatorship with her work as an independent consultant and arts manager in the visual arts, crafts, design, public art and cultural heritage sectors in Australia, Berlin and Hong Kong since 1986. Her earlier career was as a research scientist working in biochemistry and molecular biology.  She holds a MSc in Clinical Biochemistry from Flinders University. Her research at the Australian National University included Neurophysiology, Biochemistry and Zoology. Her work in molecular biology continued in Medicine and Biochemistry at UWA. Working in both the science and art arenas, she completed a BA Hons (Fine Art) at UWA and focussed on fulltime work in the arts. However, the  passion for both domains continued. They came together again in 2003 in her PhD awarded by the University of Melbourne, Department of History and Philosophy of Science/Fine Arts for her thesis The Aboriginal Collection in the Berlin Museum of Ethnography. In 1990, as inaugural Public Art Manager for Arts South Australia, she was invited to establish the Public Art Program,  which  accrued national and international acclaim. Later, as Curator of Public Art for the City of Adelaide, she initiated a public art project, Sensing with Light, by John Tonkin, the interactive new media artist. This was commissioned in partnership with the Institute of Photonics and Advanced Sensing, University of Adelaide in 2010 and is now in final stages of production.

As Gallery Director and Curator at JamFactory Contemporary Craft and Design, then as Curator at Flinders University Art Museum, both in SA, Janice curated and managed numerous exhibitions. This included national and international touring exhibitions such as Ritual of Tea for the Adelaide Festival of Arts 2002 which toured to Object Gallery, Sydney and Light Black (2003-4) that travelled to Japan and Taiwan.Prism: Contemporary Australian Art (2006) featuring 74 works involved 35 artists and 20 lenders, both public and private, was developed in partnership with the Bridgestone Museum of Art for the Ishibashi Foundation, Japan, for tour to Tokyo.

Janice invited contemporary artists to work with the Flinders University Art Museum  collection and to collaborate with a neuroscientist and anatomist for the exhibition Identity: Portraits and Places- document or insight? (2007).  Six major SA artists were also commissioned to produce new works relating to art and science for Not Absolute (2009). As inaugural Manager, Art for Public Places (1990-97) and Senior Project Officer (1997-2000) at Arts SA she prepared policy and guidelines to support public art projects and new initiatives including the SALA Monograph. Her current position as Curator of Public Programs at the UWA Museums - including the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery and Berndt Museum - enables her to work across disciplines, also collaborating with Campus Partners in the humanities and sciences. This brings together her interest in extending and communicating ideas through art and science. Janice served as a Board Member for four years for the Contemporary Art Centre of South Australia (2000-4) and is currently a member of the International Council of Museums, Museums Australia, Australian Experimental Art Foundation and Contemporary Art Centre of SA.

Anthropology of Life : Classical and New Approaches

Date: Friday 15 August 2014
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: Perig Pitrou, CNRS, Laboratoire d'anthropologie sociale, Paris

In contrast to Western philosophy, which, at least since Aristotle, has considered the distinction between life and the living to be fundamental, anthropology seems not to have given much thought to the difference between the two. However, the existence of an entity called ‘The One Who Makes Live’ among the Mixe, an Amerindian group living in the state of Oaxaca in Mexico, proves that ethno-theories of non-Western peoples often make the distinction between the characteristics and vital processes of living beings (growth, degeneration, reproduction, et cetera) on the one hand, and the more or less personified causes that produce them on the other. Given these circumstances, this article pursues a two-fold objective. First, based on the results of ethnographic inquiry, to try to describe the categories of non-human agents with which the Mixe understand this production or making of the living. Second, I suggest that in parallel with numerous approaches developed by anthropologists past and present, the anthropology of life would benefit from an approach based on a ‘general pragmatics’ in order to better understand the diversity of conceptions of life.

Perig Pitrou is researcher in the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Laboratoire d’anthropologogie sociale, Paris. He has carried ethnographic fieldwork in Mixe Highlands of Oaxaca, Mexico, and has written on ritual and sacrifice, ethnotheories of life and resolution of conflict. He is the co-editor of the book La noción de vida en Mesoamérica (CEMCA-UNAM). In 2013-2014, he conducted the research program "Of Living Beings and Artifacts. The interrelation of vital and technical processes". He is now deputy director of the interdisciplinary program "Domestication and Fabrication of the Living" (CNRS). Together with Dimitri Karadimas, he is organizing a seminar on "Anthropology of Life" at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales.

Crafting Biotextiles: No Shapeless Meaning + No Meaningless Shape

Date: 1 August 2014
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: WhiteFeather

Crafting Biotextiles is a project which aims to explore the application of textile pattern + structural integrity to the construction of organic matrices for use in tissue engineering. Manually fostering cell culture growth on traditional, aesthetic textile forms speaks to the intersection of hands-on wet biology practices with creative craft processes. 3D-printed weaving tools remain as part of the living cultures after practical use, as an integral and conceptual part of the overall laboratory apparatus: a comment on materiality as well as the agency and haptic intelligence of microbiological systems to design themselves in cooperation with intentional/artistic human design.

WhiteFeather is a Canadian artist/researcher, educator, consultant and writer based in Montreal. The majority of her work deals with ideas around physicality and ephemerality, affectation and instinct, where cloth can stand in for skin and/or bodily matter can become material for making. She is a multiple-award and grant recipient, for her sculptural fibre-based works constructed from organic, found and mixed media. She has shown and performed work in solo, group and collaborative exhibitions in Canada and the US and has been featured in international magazines, newspapers, hardcover art books and television spotlights. WhiteFeather saw her work go viral in 2012 with 5+ million hits in 3 days, via reddit front page. Also a nationally published feminist poet, WhiteFeather holds a Bachelor of Applied Arts (BAA) degree and a Certificate in Adult Education (C-AEd), both from the University of New Brunswick, as well as a Diploma in Textiles from the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design (Dipl). She is currently completing her Master of Fine Arts degree in Fibres and Material Practices as a fellow at Concordia University, Montreal.

cellF control: Public talk with Darren Moore

Date: 25 July 2014
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: Darren Moore

In his talk entitled ’cellF control’, musician and SymbioticA artist-in-residence Darren Moore will discuss his involvement in Guy Ben-Ary’s artistic project ‘cellF’. The premise of the project is to sonify neural activity from neurons grown in-vitro. The neurons used in the project will be derived using stem cell technology to transform Ben-Ary’s skin cells into neurons. The activity from the neural network grown in-vitro will then be sonified using analogue modular synthesisers.

Moore’s role in the project is to oversee the making of a custom-made analogue modular synthesizer and to direct the musical aesthetics of the sounds produced by the synthesizer. In this talk, Moore will elaborate on the background of the project, aesthetic considerations and the process involved to sonify the neural activity.

Darren Moore is a drummer, composer and electronic musician born in Edinburgh, Scotland. Having lived his formative years in Perth, Australia, he graduated from the Western Australian Conservation at Edith Cowan University with a Bachelor in Music (Jazz Performance) in 1997. He has since lived and worked professionally as a musician in Perth, London, Melbourne, Sydney, and Singapore.

Darren is currently the Programme Leader of BA(Hons) Music Programme at LASALLE and is currently a Doctorate of Musical Arts candidate at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, his research looks at the adaptation of Carnatic Indian rhythms to the drum set.

The Artist is Patient

Date: 11 July 2014
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: Bec Dean

In this talk, Bec Dean will discuss the beginnings of her postgraduate research into biomedical art practice, including examples of previous curatorial projects with Performance Space.

Bec Dean is a curator and writer who trained as a visual artist. She is currently Curator at Large with Performance Space and is commencing a PhD at the University of New South Wales. She joined Performance Space as Associate Director in 2007 and became Co-Director with Jeff Khan in January 2012 until February 2014. Bec was previously curator at the Australian Centre for Photography (2005-2007) and Exhibition Manager at Perth Institute of Contemporary Art (2002-2005). Her curatorial interests revolve around interdisciplinary and new media practices, collaborations in art and medicine, performance and site-specificity. Recent projects include Performance Space’s SEXES festival, co-curated with Deborah Kelly and Jeff Khan, Local Positioning Systems at MCA, Australia with Jeff Khan (2012), Awfully Wonderful: Science Fiction in Contemporary Art at Performance Space with Lizzie Muller (2011). Recent contributions in publications include the books Deborah Kelly & (Artspace, 2013) and Unsitely Aesthetics edited by Maria Miranda. She has written catalogue essays and texts for Art Gallery of NSW, Art Gallery of WA, Artspace (Sydney), the Institute of Modern Art (Brisbane), Artlines for the Queensland Art Gallery, PICA (Perth), Artlink, Art & Australia, Broadsheet, RealTime and many more. Bec has recently co-edited an issue of the magazine Artlink, called Sexing the Agenda.

A Lab For Apologies and Forgiveness: Artist's Talk with Moe Beitiks

Date: 27 June 2014
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: Meghan Moe Beitiks

G. sulfurreducens was discovered in 2001 by scientist Derek Lovely of University of Massachusetts at Amherst. It is primarily known for its ability to reduce Uranium-6--a non-containable form of radioactive uranium--to Uranium-4, a containable form of radioactive uranium. In A Lab for Apologies and Forgiveness, Beitiks explores this ability of the bacteria through multiple lenses: ecological, cultural and historical.

Version 5 of the Lab, an attempt to performatively 'Intra-Act' with the bacteria, is in process place within the SymbioticA facilities. Beitiks studied the maintenance of an anerobic gassing station and the care of the bacteria at the Environmental Microbiology department at La Trobe University in Melbourne. In the space of her "Lab," Beitiks looks for connections between ecological, cultural and emotional processes, inspired by the work of Karen Barad and Jane Bennett.

Meghan Moe Beitiks works with associations and disassociations of culture/nature/structure. She analyzes perceptions of ecology though the lenses of site, history, emotions, and her own body in order to produce work that interrogates relationships with the non-human. The work emerges as video, performance, installation, writing or photography depending on what arises from her process of research and improvisation. She has presented work in California, Chicago, Brooklyn, Wales, London, Latvia and Russia. She was a Fulbright Student Fellow in Theater to Latvia and was recently declared the School of the Art Institute of Chicago's recipient for the Edes Foundation Prize for Emerging Artists.

Measuring Motion Signatures, Preventing Injury and Disease and Perceiving the World Around Us:  the Art and Science of Biomechanics.  

Date: 20 June 2014
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: Jacqueline Alderson

The biomechanics group at the University of Western Australia is arguably most well known for their role in measuring doubtful bowling actions in cricket. However, residing in the very first Human Movement department in Australia and with the legacy of the very first biomechanics PhD completion (1970’s) in the country, the group are internationally recognised for far more than measuring the odd elbow extension angle that comes through their lab. From capturing all forms of human and animal locomotion, advancing musculoskeletal modelling methods, measuring the deep brain signals of Parkinson’s patients and assisting surgeons improve the gait of children with cerebral palsy, the group is recognised the world over for its diversity and novel approach to biomechanics research. This talk will provide a snapshot of some that work, with a special emphasis on how a multitude of art forms are currently capitalising on the breakthroughs of this emerging discipline.  

Associate Professor Jacqueline Alderson specialises in sport and clinical biomechanics in the School of Sport Science Exercise and Health.  She is a fellow and current director of the International Society of Biomechanics in Sports, a member of the executive board of the Asian Council of Exercise and Sport Science and the International Cricket Council’s panel of human movement specialists. A recipient in excess of 1 million  funding from a diverse range of government and industry bodies including; the Australian Research Council, the Australian and Western Australian Institutes of Sport, Cricket Australia, Hockey Australia, Sir Charles Gardiner and Princess Margaret Hospitals and Vicon Motion Analysis Systems. She is passionate advocate for the promotion of science in Schools and has served as a biomechanics consultant/writer for the Australian and New Zealand Learning Federation. Her current research interests are in the areas of; markerless motion capture, visual perception motor coupling, injury prevention and retraining.

Dance ‘Becoming’ Knowledge. Reflecting the Body’s Capacity to Generate Knowledge in Choreographic Objects

Date: 13 June 2014
Time: 3pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: James Leach

To stimulate his creative practice, the choreographer Wayne McGregor began investigating the possibilities of digital media as tools for dance making over a decade ago. He conceived a vision for an autonomous ‘entity’ that could solve choreographic problems alongside his dancers, and looked to Artificial Intelligence to realize this aim. But the conversations soon ran aground. With no description of the creative thinking process in contemporary dance, it was impossible to specify what an ‘artificially intelligent dance agent’ would do. So McGregor turned to cognitive science, instigating a decade of scientific research around his creative process. Descriptions emerged of the way dancers manipulate imagery to generate new forms of movement, and these descriptions informed the development of a computer interface, effectively providing a tool for manipulating spatial forms. But its use was limited. The ‘entity’ did not inspire. This story is the background to recent research into what kind of knowing emerges in choreographic exploration. Focusing on what McGregor and his dancers understand as ‘the Body’ we explored the body's relational and elicitory capacities. This research allowed the development of a novel choreographic object, both tool and experience, used by McGregor and his dancers in the rehearsal studio. ‘Becoming’ (as it was named by its makers) alerts us to the possibility of presenting the unique qualities of ‘the body’ as a source of exploration and knowledge, and of its capacity to affect others as a social, moral, relational, emergence, in the practice of contemporary dance.  

James LEACH is Directeur de Recherche, CNRS (CREDO-Aix/Marseille University-EHESS) and Australian Research Council Future Fellow in Anthropology and Sociology at the University of Western Australia. He is a social anthropologist who has worked for 20 years in Papua New Guinea, publishing books and articles on creativity, ownership, kinship and place, and ecological knowledge. He has also worked with free software developers, art-science collaborators, and contemporary dance companies on similar themes of creativity, knowledge production and exchange, and on the role of technology in social form.

Before and Beyond Marriage: Japanese Women's Friendships

Date: 6 June 2014
Time: 3:00
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: Laura Dales

The average age of first marriage in Japan has steadily increased over the last century, as has the likelihood of never marrying for both women and men. In conjunction with the decline in average length of marriage—a result of greater divorce and later marriage—these patterns suggest that Japanese people are spending more of their lives outside marriage.

Japanese feminists have advocated for a reconsideration of women’s unmarried (single, divorced, widowed) life as liberating, interesting and inevitable (Haruka 2001; Sakai, 2003; Ueno 2007, 2009). In the context of demographic shifts, friendships, romantic relationships outside marriage, and work relationships represent possible support structures in a period of economic uncertainty.

But what of the emotional benefits of extra-familial relationships? What do platonic or romantic relationships outside the family offer women, when marriage is no longer inevitable or enduring? Scholarship in other societies suggests that relationships outside the nuclear reproductive family may constitute a “set of counter-heteronormative relationship which sexual/love relationships are decentred, and friendship is prioritized” (Roseneil 2010: 79-80). Does this suggestion also hold in the Japanese context?
In this paper I use data from recent fieldwork to explore the affective and practical implications of intimate relationships outside the family for women. In particular, I explore the ways that extra-familial relationships of intimacy support or destabilize the reproductive family, and the meaning attributed to these relationships by Japanese women.

Laura Dales is Assistant Professor in Asian Studies in the School of Social Sciences at UWA. Her research interests include women’s groups, sexuality, singlehood and gender in Japan, agency and feminist ethnography. Recent publications include the monograph Feminist Movements in Contemporary Japan (Routledge, 2009). Laura is currently working on an Australia Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher (DECRA) project examining intimacy beyond the family in contemporary Japan.

The Social Necessity of Artistic GMO

Date: 30 May 2014
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: Akihiro Takahashi

Genetic recombination technologies have a great potential. However, these technologies have not been accepted willingly in modern society. It is attributed in part to the fact that the prevalent genetically modified organisms (GMO) were designed for a market economy by producers. And consumers are forced into a decision to use GMO without their consent. Therefore, stories on GMO have been complicated by a mix of scientific and emotional matters. Essentially, the potential in this technology would go beyond presently-used methods such as an increased crop production efficiency and biomass energy supply. I think that artistic culture has the power to make people aware of their emotion, and to sort these matters. Especially, biological/biomedia art works effectively to resolve the problem of GMO. My suggestion is that genetic recombination technology should be used artistically and culturally, not economically. I would like to take this opportunity to discuss what art works could be created by using genetic recombination technology.

Akihiro Takahashi was born in Yamagata, JAPAN, 1987. He has enrolled in The Graduate University for Advanced Studies, studies molecular biology in National Institute of Genetics. His thesis is "Analysis of the maintenance mechanisms of genome integrity during DNA replication in budding yeast". Becoming interested in biological art, Akihiro exhibited the painting by using fungi in the Arafudo Art Annual 2013, the Art Festival held centering on Tsuchiyu Onsen, FUKUSHIMA.  In this festival, he set up a science communication event in the form of Japanese tea party, and talked about the each person's perspective such as artists, scientists, or inhabitants.

Magnetic Brain Stimulation

Date: 16 May 2014
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: Dr Jennifer Rodger, School of Animal Biology, The University of Western Australia

Jennifer Rodger will share insights into her research using multi-electrode arrays (MEA) and the use of magnetic stimulation on neurological conditions such as Parkinson's disease, depression, epilepsy and stroke. Rodger will also discuss her work with Guy Ben-Ary, who has employed MEAs for artistic use.

Dr Jennifer Rodger is an Associate Professor and NHMRC Senior Research Fellow at Experimental and Regenerative Neurosciences within the School of Animal Biology, University of Western Australia.

She completed a BScHons in Biochemistry at the University of Bath, UK, followed by a PhD in Molecular Neuroscience at the University Pierre et Marie Curie, France. Dr Rodger subsequently moved to the University of Western Australia to work with Professors Lyn Beazley and Sarah Dunlop in the field of neural regeneration. She currently leads a research team investigating issues of brain plasticity relevant to brain disorders and employs various experimental models, especially the visual system, to ascertain how morphological and functional improvement can be achieved in the injured brain. Her most recent work focuses on the use of pulsed magnetic fields to promote neural circuit reorganisation and repair.

Dr Rodger has published 72 peer-reviewed papers including key papers in the prestigious Journal of Neuroscience and FASEB Journal. She holds funding from the NHMRC, ARC and Neurotrauma Research Program (WA).

Artist talk with Emily Parsons-Lord

Date: 9 May 2014
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: Emily Parsons-Lord

Plants become weeds when they misbehave, contravening our tidily planted rows of crops, and breaching the manicured boundaries of our parks and gardens. They escape from gardens, stowaway in bags disguised as the crops beside which they grow, invade land that has been disturbed, shamelessly capitalising on destruction. Weeds are opportunists; the first residents in the spaces afforded by the slow crumbling of human infrastructure, or the preparation of the earth for human activity. They are the constant companions to humans, they hitchhike on the shoes of travellers, or in the trappings of trade, and seek new lands and pastures to appropriate.
Weeds are the physically and conceptually sculpted artefacts of the story of humans on earth. There is no biological definition of a ‘weed’, no close genetic grouping, no DNA sequence that mark certain plants out to fulfil their weedy destiny, as saboteur and outlaw. Weeds are also physically contrived by the rhythmic use of changing technologies developed for their very annihilation, ironically and unintentionally coercing them to evolved with the perfect defences to resist our weapons. They will outlast the pyramids, withstand the change in climate, and conspire their preservation throughout time. Their physical form encodes their relationship with humans, perhaps the most enduring monument of human values and challenges.

Emily Parsons-Lord is a photomedia artist from Sydney at the early stages of her PhD at SymbioticA. She discusses her work what she hopes to achieve through her PhD.

Emily's work considers the unintentional effects of humanity on the environment, using weeds as a case study.

Creativity, sleep and dreams: cross-cultural explorations

Date: 2 May 2014
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: Katie Glaskin

Despite cross-cultural differences, dream experiences have been identified as sources of creativity, innovation and inspiration in both Western and non-Western cultures. While not everyone remembers their dreams, many of those who may not experience dream-inspired creativity may nevertheless wake from sleep, or rise from disturbed sleep, having solved problems or thought of new ideas. In this paper, I explore connections between creativity, sleep and dreaming, in different cultural contexts. I examine how these examples complicate a conventional understanding of creativity as being located in the individual, and I consider what I regard as parallels between ‘creativity’ in waking life and our understanding of how these might be generated in sleeping or dreaming experiences.

Katie Glaskin is Associate Professor of Anthropology in the Discipline of Anthropology and Sociology at UWA. She has conducted ethnographic research in the Kimberley region of northwest Australia since 1994, where she has conducted both academic and applied anthropological research. She has published on sleep and dreams, creativity and innovation, property and personhood, culture in litigated settings, native title, and humanoid robots, with a focus on Japan. Her major publications include co-edited volumes Customary Land Tenure and Registration in Australia and Papua New Guinea (ANU E-Press, 2007), Mortality, Mourning and Mortuary Practices in Indigenous Australia (Ashgate, 2008), and Sleep Around the World: Anthropological Perspectives (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).

Evolution of Human Communities: A Primatologist’s Perspective

Date: 11 April 2014
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: Cyril Grueter

One of the universal features of human sociality is the fact that our social networks are highly integrated: human societies exhibit several nested social layers including families, bands and communities. Several factors have been identified as creating disincentives for hostile intergroup relations, including economic interdependence, intermarriage and cooperative defence against external adversaries. I will explore the emergence of amicable relations between human communities and identify precursors in non-human primate societies. 

Cyril Grueter completed his PhD degree in biological anthropology in 2009 at the University of Zurich/Switzerland, which was supervised by Prof. Carel van Schaik. Grueter research was aimed at understanding the evolutionary determinants of multilevel societies in primates and included 20 months of observations on wild snub-nosed monkeys in China, complemented with comparative cross-species analyses. Subsequently he worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig/Germany and conducted a field study on the feeding ecology and feeding competition in mountain gorillas in Rwanda between 2009 and 2010 in collaboration with the Karisoke Research Center. In 2012, Grueter took up an Assistant Professor position at the School of Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology at The University of Western Australia.

Information Environmentalism: a Governance Framework for Intellectual Property Rights

Date: 4 April 2014
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: Robert Cunningham, Assistant Professor Faculty of Law, University of Western Australia

Information environmentalism is a normative discourse that seeks to protect and nurture the information commons. The information commons is important within the information age because it provides critical raw material for creativity and innovation. An outstanding challenge when protecting and nurturing the information commons is defining its parameters. Something cannot be protected until it is clearly delineated. Yet delineation alone is not enough. For this reason, the book seeks to build an information environmental governance framework. This framework can be relied upon when seeking to protect and nurture the information environment (generally) and the information commons (specifically). The framework is built upon four discrete theoretical foundations of environmentalism: (i) welfare economics; (ii) the commons; (iii) ecology; and (iv) public choice theory. In building an information environmental governance framework, the costs of propertising information and the benefits of the information
commons are underscored. Several innovative governance tools are also advanced, including an information environmental discipline (information ecology), an information environmental ethic, Information Commons Rights, informational national parks and the separation of (economic) power doctrine.

Throughout his professional career, Robert has engaged with the law in his capacity as both legal practitioner and academic. As a legal practitioner his efforts have largely concentrated on the provision of legal information, court advocacy and education within the Community Legal Centre sector. In academia his pursuits have primarily focused on the manner in which the law interfaces with sustainability, corporate accountability, international trade, and intellectual property rights. He is currently engaging in a book concerning the intersection between theories of environmentalism and intellectual property rights to be published by Edward Elgar later this year. Along with a PhD from the Australian National University, Robert holds a Bachelor of Business (Accounting), Bachelor of Laws (Hons), Master of Laws (Hons), and a Graduate Certificate of Legal Practice from the University of Technology Sydney. He presently lectures in Intellectual Property: Creative Rights, and is Unit Coordinator of Corporations Law, International Trade Law and Corporate Finance & Securities Regulation within the UWA Faculty of Law.

Invitation to The Finale : MCA ARTIST TALK

Date: 28 March 2014
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: Benjamin Forster

For six-months Benjamin Forster was lurking in the office spaces of the MCA, gifted a swipe card, key, official email address, and the title of artist in residence. During this time he had been using the MCA as a case study, while researching how drawing could be seen to underpin all organisations. Now as the Australia Councils gracious support has been exhausted, he will be talking to you, reflecting on all that has been, and speculating on what could possibly be.

Benjamin Forster’s practice* may be positioned within contemporary drawing, bringing together digital and biological technologies, installation and print to trace the boundaries of logic, economy and the role of the artist in art making. He received a Bachelor of Visual Arts with
 First Class Honours from the Australian National University in 2009.
His Drawing Machine project was exhibited in Hatched 09: The National Graduate Exhibition at PICA, as well as the International Symposium on Computational Aesthetics 09 in Victoria, Canada. In 2012, Forster’s work was included in PRIMAVERA at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney in 2012 and NEW13 at ACCA in 2013. Benjamin is currently co-editor of un magazine along side Robert Cook.

Night Shift: Exhibition floor talk

Date: 21 March 2014
Time: 3:00pm
Location: Free Range Gallery **Note venue off campus
Speaker: Shannon Williamson

Join artist Shannon Williamson at Free Range Gallery for a discussion on the theme of 'shift-work' and it's influence on her recent drawing practice. Made in response to her dichotomous role as both artist and sleep scientist, 'Night Shift' explores intimate and personal accounts of the shift worker's bodily experience through drawing.

Exhibiting in solo and group shows in New Zealand, Australia and America since 2001, Shannon Williamson's multi disciplinary practice focuses on the language of the body and human anatomy. Shannon graduated from the University of Canterbury, School of Fine Arts, New Zealand in 2009 with a BFA (Painting major with 1st class honours) and completed a Graduate Certificate in Adult Sleep Science in 2012 at the University of Western Australia where she now works as a Sleep Scientist. Since relocating to Perth, Shannon has been an artist in residence with SymbioticA (2012) and the Fremantle Arts Centre (2013).

Suspense and Suspensions: Materials and Dialogic Tension

Date: 14 March 2014
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speakers: Miik Greek and Chris Malajczuk

Artist Miik Green and nanotechnologist Chris Malajczuk collaborate on art projects. Although from diverse backgrounds, they converge to explore ideas about resistance, transformation and limbo. They will present select works from 2011 - 2014, discussing life and its conservation, revealing the unseeable and approaching materials as scientist and artist. Their current series of Premographs (Latin for pressure/picture) looks at materials under tension, where cells, arteries and dendritic forms seem to emerge under stress. Green draws links here to arts practice - between resistance and revelation - where Malajczuk sees these as an invitation for instability.

Miik Green is a multidisciplinary visual artist living in Perth, Western Australia. Green draws his inspiration from the microscopic aspects of nature, and is currently involved in cross-disciplinary artistic collaborations that integrate the fields of science, mathematics, chemistry and physics. The strength of his practice lies in his ability to translate microforms such as fungi, coral, seed pods, diatoms, blood cells and radiolarian, into paintings and sculptural pieces, while preserving the integrity of the original form.

Green is a PhD candidate at Curtin University and recipient of an Australian Postgraduate Award and Curtin Research Scholarship. He is represented throughout Australia by Flinders Lane Gallery (Melbourne) and Linton & Kay Contemporary (Perth). Green has completed a Bachelor of Arts (Hons, 1st Class) through Curtin University, a Bachelor of Visual Arts, Painting at Edith Cowan University in Western Australia and an Advanced Diploma of Industrial Design through the WA School of Art and Design.

Chris Malajczuk is a PhD candidate within the Biomolecular Modelling Group (BMMG) based at Curtin University, where he previously attained his bachelor's degree in Nanotechnology (First Class Honours). Malajczuk's research explores atomic-scale biophysical mechanisms specifically involved in solvent cryoprotection and more recently protein transport within the central nervous system. He was an invited guest at the 2013 CECAM conference 'Coupling between protein, water and lipid dynamics in complex biological systems' hosted by the Swiss Institute of Technology in Switzerland, and was an Australian representative at the inaugural International Summer School for Young Scientists at Tomsk State University (TSU) in Russia in 2011. He is a current recipient of the Australian Postgraduate Award and Curtin Research Scholarship.

The Rights of Rock Art: Human Entanglements with the Lives of Artefacts

Date: 7 March 2014
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: Sven Ouzman, Centre for Rock Art Management and Research, University of Western Australia

Rock art is one of Archaeology’s most varied, visible and theoretically-informed artefacts. But this ‘artefact’ (Latin: arte + factum ~ ‘thing made by [human] skill’) is not simply brought into the world by human agency. Rather, rock art is both constitutive of human-ness and leads its own life. More than simply visually spectacular imagery, rock art embodies a complex and multi-sensorial entanglement of human-stone relationships. An emerging issue for research and curation is what our human obligations towards rock art are beyond anthropocentric notions of knowledge and conservation. I propose to probe this and related issues using ancient and modern Indigenous rock arts from northern Australia and southern Africa.

Sven Ouzman's research interests include rock art, graffiti, heritage politics, Indigenous knowledge, intellectual property issues, landscape, creolisation & cross-cultural contact, monuments, origins, and understandings of time. His research in Australia, Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa has led to documenting over 2500 rock art sites- producing 234 site reports and conducting 7 excavations. Details of his publication output and curatorial work can be found at: Assoc/Prof Sven Ouzman UWA Staff Profile.

Applications of iPS Cells in Science and Art

Date: 14th February 2014
Time: 3:00pm
Location: SymbioticA
Speaker: Dr. Michael Edel

Dr. Michael Edel is an Australian with European nationality and is currently a tenure track Group Leader funded by the Ministry of Science and Innovation, Spain. He completed his Bachelor of Science with honors in Anatomy and Human Biology and Physiology, his Post-Graduate Diploma in Education and his PhD in Pathology on the role of angiogenesis in breast cancer metastasis at the University of Western Australia (UWA). He is now group leader of the Control of Pluripotency Laboratory at the University of Barcelona, Faculty of Medicine.

His team works with adult stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) at a clinical grade level for research into new cell based treatments for heart disease, eye disease, neuronal disorders and spinal cord injury. The research seeks to define the role of cell cycle genes in pluripotency and cancer leading to a number of high impact publications (Nature Biotechnology 2008, Genes and Development, 2010; Stem Cells and Development, 2012). In collaboration with hospitals, he also models human disease using iPS cells, such as Retts syndrome and Atrial fibrillation to identify new directions to treat these diseases. Consequently, he is recognized as a Senior Research Fellow at University of Sydney, Faculty of Medicine, Children's Hospital, Westmead, and NSW, AUSTRALIA.

Please refer to his group’s web page for more information: