The Human Assemblage: The Pursuit of Otherness
Date: 30 November 2017
Speaker: Rae Yu-Ping Hsu
Hsu Yu-Ping (b. 1989) graduated from the School of Occupational Therapy, College of Medicine at the National Taiwan University, and has a Digital + Media master’s degree from the Rhode Island School of Design. Hsu has curated and exhibited at National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts’ DigiArk and FreeS Art Space, with her artworks nominated for the National Art Exhibition, ROC; Taipei Art Awards; and the Digital Art Festival Taipei. Utilizing her cross-disciplinary knowledge and background, Hsu’s art integrates technology and uses mixed media, with relationships and contacts between the human body, technology, and the external world formed through constant dialogues between the three facets.
Looking back at the extensive history between mankind and technology, it is observed that technology has not dictated the potential and the mutability of the human body, the body is capable of taking up different technologies. Through her practice she seeks to negotiate the slippage space within the discourse of addition/subtraction and propose that the body and its otherness were always already one. Hsu examines the intimate interfaces between bodies and machines while bearing this vulnerable and fragile relationship in mind, and asks where does one stop and the other begin? How do we define our own position amidst ever-changing boundaries and placements?
Date: 24 Nov 2017
Speaker: Huilin Sun
A Chinese garden usually consists of pavilions, lakes, bridges, rocks and plants. Its design reflects the Daoist ideology of ‘living in harmony with nature’. In his 17th century book the crafts of gardens; Ji articulated the genesis of the Chinese garden: “On finding a natural site where yin and yang (which are represented by water and rock) are pleasingly balanced, the Chinese felt an urge to embellish them with some small tokens of man such as building a pavilion. Views of them focus on the wilderness; views from them are framed in their pillars. One saying goes: When there is a pavilion there is a garden.” The appreciation of nature, romanticised and stylised, is reflected in painting, and emulated when creating a garden. A Chinese garden is not only a celebration of nature and art but also a space for intellectual stimulation. Over centuries, Chinese gardens have developed sophisticated design principles such as borrow view, block view, create view, frame view and changing view.
Educated in China and Australia, Huilin Sun, as an artist and designer, has published papers in the areas of garden, aesthetics, design and sustainability. She has been committed to applying theory in her praxis of constructing a Chinese garden in the past ten years. She is now initiating a project of building an authentic, substantial public Chinese garden in Perth. Huilin currently works at the School of Social Sciences UWA.
Date: 17 Nov 2017
Speaker: Mike Bianco
This Friday, artist and SymbioticA PhD candidate Mike Bianco will be giving a casual talk about his recent one-on-one performance "The Trees of St. George's Square" which he performed 96 times during Proximity Festival 2017. Bianco will be discussing his research methods for the project, including a brief history of St. George's Square, in addition to sharing his experience producing and performing the work during Proximity Festival.
Mike Bianco is an American artist, researcher, activist, cook, gardener, beekeeper, and PhD candidate with SymbioticA. Bianco’s art practice is largely invested in socially engaged art, and focuses on issues of politics, environment, sustainability, and the impending “century of crisis.”
Date: 10 November 2017
Speaker: Joshua Bamford
Dance is a fundamentally social activity. Studies have begun to examine the role of movement in conveying emotion through music, but much of this work has been with individual participants. This study examined the importance of synchrony in a dance setting for building interpersonal affiliation, through the use of a Silent Disco paradigm. Participants heard the music in slightly different timing to each other, thus forcing them to dance out of time. It was found that pairs experienced a greater sense of interpersonal affiliation while in the synchronous condition than in the asynchronous conditions. These results add to the growing research into the synchrony-bonding effect, providing new insights into why people dance, with possible applications in mental health and community building. This study provides an example of motion capture and silent disco technologies as research methods in the performing arts, concluding that shared experiences are more effective at bringing us together when they are shared in time.
Joshua Bamford grew up in Perth, surrounded by a variety of birds, fish, reptiles, two dogs and his biologist parents. He completed a Bachelor of Music (Honours) and Bachelor of Science at the University of Western Australia, while singing in the WA Opera chorus and working as a circus skills instructor. Since 2014 he has been living as an academic nomad around Europe, completing a Masters of Music Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland, with a research internship at the Department of Cognitive Biology at the University of Vienna in Austria. He is currently the editor of the Australian Music & Psychology Society Newsletter and sits on the council for the International Conference of Students of Systematic Musicology. In 2018 he will commence a DPhil in Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology at the University of Oxford, for which he is currently running a crowdfunding campaign. In his spare time, he conducts choirs and goes swing dancing.
Date: 13 October 2017
Speaker: Dr Catie Gressier, School of Social and Political Sciences, The University of Melbourne
Hunters and foragers across the globe valorise nature as a practical and ethical guide for living. In southern Africa’s Okavango Delta, white Batswana safari hunters justify their practice through attributing traits to animals normatively associated with humanity, on the one hand, while emphasising their own animality, on the other. In Australia’s southeast, animal ontologies are similarly invoked within self-provisioning hunters’ attempts to create sustainable, emplaced lifestyles and diets that circumvent the industrial food system. Based on long-term ethnographic research within these communities, in this presentation I detail hunters’ constructions of the embodied human as predator, and potentially prey, within their local ecosystems. I argue that this celebration of animality represents a distinct shift away from historical Western depictions of nature as base and inferior, with interesting implications for gender roles and relationships.
Catie Gressier is a cultural anthropologist specialising in settler societies, their ecological engagements, and the anthropology of food. Her first book, At Home in the Okavango, explores emplacement and senses of belonging among the white citizens working in the safari industry in northwest Botswana. In her current role as McArthur Research Fellow at The University of Melbourne, she is examining the changing cultural attitudes to the production and consumption of meat in urban and rural Australia. Her second book, Illness, Identity and Taboo among Australian Paleo Dieters, will be released in late 2017. She is an Editorial Board Member of Anthropological Forum.
Thou Shalt Not Play God(?)
Date: 29 Sept 2017
Speaker: Helah Milroy
Helah Milroy is completing her Masters in Biological Arts at SymbioticA this year and invites you to take a sneak peek into some of the ideas informing her [upcoming] exhibit entitled Invisible Heart. While some are excited about the possibilities of creating synthetic organisms for human and environmental benefit, others warn of the risks that come from 'playing God'. With an open mind Helah asks the question: what is the virtue of faith with regard to synthetic biology? How might the Doctrine of Real Presence benefit our relations with human and non-human others? And what is it to be 'alive'?
Helah Milroy is a descendant of the Palyku people, Port Headland/Marble Bar. As an artist her Indigenous heritage is not the main focus of her artwork, however its influence can be seen in her method, reference to Indigenous knowledge and concern for the natural world. Also evident in her work is her desire to overcome 'otherness' and passion for transcendence and theology. Her work is informed by her background in Philosophy, Gandhian Non-Violence, Theater Performance, Environmental Conservation and more recently Biological Arts. She is currently exploring the ethics of 'playing God' with regards to synthetic biology and what it means to be 'alive'.
This will be an abbreviated version of an event first presented as part of the Flower Festival at Saint George’s Cathedral in 2012. It has been repeated four times – for community groups and at the national conference of the Colour Society of Australia. It will be part workshop activity, part research project, part quiz, part lecture, and part discussion. We will touch on botany, taxonomy, horticulture, landscape design, aesthetics, symbolism, art, illustration, economics, commerce, and value systems. Data collected on previous occasions will be included in this presentation.
Paul Green-Armytage has a background in architecture, design, and education. For the topics to be covered here his expertise is limited; his main qualification is curiosity. Paul taught in the School of Design at Curtin University for 30 years. He developed a research interest in colour, obtaining his PhD in 2005 with his thesis titled Colour, Language, and Design. He has contributed papers at many national and international conferences, several by invitation, and has served as president of the Colour Society of Australia and vice president of the International Colour Association. He retired from teaching in 2006 but remains active as a researcher and writer.
Date: 25 August 2017
Speaker: David Kronemyer
David Kronemyer had a long career in the entertainment business with companies such as Capitol Records and Atlantic Records, but then decided he had enough of it and that it was time for a change (this would be a “pivot” in contemporary parlance). He had a long-standing interest in all things starting with the word “neuro-,” so he became a cognitive scientist and now is a researcher in the Department of Psychiatry at UCLA, with a particular interest in brain stimulation using magnetic and ultrasonic energy. He has given a lot of thought to other interesting problems, such as how people revise their beliefs, and other mind-type stuff. He also sees clients in private practice.
The “phenomenology of the ordinary” is a phrase he invented to characterize one of the ways in which people relate to the world around them, including objects (such as rocks), works of art (such as Rembrandt’s “Night Watch”), tools (such as hammers), pets, and other people (friends, enemies, etc.). He will juxtapose it against its counterpart, the phenomenology of the salient. He will discuss topics such as subjective experience; developing metacognitive awareness; identifying and rating moods; refocusing and intentionally redirecting one’s attention; the difference between avoidance and engagement; motivation; and the relationship between all of these and maintaining good mental health. Handouts will be provided.
Date: 18 August 2017
Speaker: Dr Mace Francis
The Music Mill is a fun, interactive solar powered sound-sculpture made up of various automated musical instruments. Each musical instrument is manually programmed, through the use of pegs and dowels, to create infinite melodies and rhythms. The Music Mill can perform on its own or be used as an accompanying instrument for live musicians. This talk will demonstrate how The Music is programmed and performed.
Mace Francis is a composer/musician. Since 2005 he has toured and recorded regularly with his 14-piece Mace Francis Orchestra, receiving an APRA Professional Development Award, the Italian "Scrivere in Jazz" composition prize, the 2015 APRA/AMCOS Jazz Work of the Year and a finalist in the Freedman Jazz Fellowship (2010) for his compositions. Mace is the artistic director of WA Youth Jazz Orchestra and works as a guest composer/conductor in France, Japan and Austria. Mace’s PhD research into site-specific composition was awarded the 2015 Faculty Research Medal at Edith Cowan University.
Date: 4 August 2017
Speaker: John O’Shea
Black Market Pudding is a twist on the traditional Irish blood sausage. It represents an ethically-conscious food product, combining congealed pig blood with fats, cereals and spices. Black Market Pudding is manufactured using blood taken from a living pig. It proposes a cyclical business model to ensure a uniquely fair deal for farmer, animal and consumer. Through a routine veterinary procedure, blood is obtained from the animal in a humane, healthy and safe way. Producers are compensated for costs associated with breeding and maintaining pigs that are kept outside of the traditional food chain. Consumers pay a premium market price for the pudding and the reassurance that no animals are harmed in the making of this product. Black Market Pudding confronts us with the taboo of consuming blood taken from a living animal, echoing the harvesting habits of vampire bats and other blood consuming animals. However, the artist argues that it is no more unusual than drinking milk, eating eggs or wearing wool. Difficult to produce, Black Market Pudding highlights how comparatively easy (and legal) it is to kill an animal while there is no clear-cut legal process for taking and consuming the blood of a live animal. Black Market Pudding was previously produced and consumed legally in the Netherlands, Poland and Ireland, and was displayed as part of Blood: Not for the faint-hearted at Science Gallery Dublin (2014), and featured as part of ARTMEATFLESH live cooking show and evening of SymbioticA in Rotterdam 2012.
John O’Shea is a UK-based curator, producer and artist working with unconventional materials and social structures to create new and experimental approaches to artmaking. In 2011/12 he worked as artist in residence at University of Liverpool Clinical Engineering Research Unit on a Wellcome Trust funded project "Pigs Bladder Football" where he created the world's first bio-engineered football - grown from living pig bladder cells. O’Shea is in Australia through the support of Science Gallery Melbourne, who have commissioned a new version of the work for their Blood: Attract and Repel exhibition: 25-7 -2017 to 5-10-2017. More info here: https://melbourne.sciencegallery.com/blood-attract-repel
Science fiction has explored the consequences of human genetic engineering for decades, and the results are universally dystopic. With the advent of the genome editing technology called CRISPR, we are closer than ever before. CRISPR has been called 'the word processor for genomes', allowing us for the first time to precisely change DNA code in any organism. From its development in 2012 to its use today, we have already progressed to human clinical trials and the first human embryo experiments. What does this mean for our identity as humans? Should it be controlled, and if so, by whom? Are we already on a slippery slope? CRISPR also opens the door to species-wide genetic change, including annihilation through DNA perpetual motion machines called gene drives. Could social pressure to eliminate disease mean the end of the mosquito?
Dr. Ellen Jorgensen is co-founder and President of Biotech Without Borders, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting citizen science and access to biotechnology. She is passionate about increasing science literacy in both student and adult populations, particularly in the areas of molecular and synthetic biology. She cofounded and directed the community lab Genspace in Brooklyn NY where she initiated Genspace’s award-winning curriculum of informal science education for adults and students in biotechnology and synthetic biology, which resulted in Genspace being named one of the World's Top 10 Innovative Companies in Education by Fast Company magazine. Her efforts to develop innovative ways to support citizen participation in science have been chronicled by Nature Medicine, Science, Discover Magazine, Wired, Make, BBC News, Dan Rather Reports, PBS News Hour, The Discovery Channel, and The New York Times. She has a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from New York University, spent many years in the biotechnology industry, and is currently adjunct faculty at The Cooper Union and the School of Visual Arts. Dr. Jorgensen’s two TED talks (Biohacking: You Can Do It Too and What You Need To Know About CRISPR) have received over two million views. In 2017, Fast Company magazine named her one of their Most Creative Leaders in Business.
Date: 21 July 2017
Speaker: Peter Underwood
‘The whole universe is one single nest,’ from the Upanishads, adopted as a motto by Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941). In this special talk, Peter Underwood will discuss two recent radio snippets broadcast on Radio National, both concerning medical research.
Peter Underwood is a doctor, academic and writer. An Honorary Research Fellow at The University of Western Australia, he is a Vice President of the Medical Association for Prevention of War (www.mapw.org.au). He lives in Perth and Denmark, WA.
'I was born in Perth, studied science and then medicine at UWA, and after a spell as a doctor in Oz’s far north, travelled slowly through India and Central Asia, a life changing experience.
Eventually reaching London, I completed post-graduate studies but fell under the spell of both EF Schumacher of Small is Beautiful, and, though irredeemably irreligious, some radical groups practicing ‘liberation theology’. As a result, I ended up with my then-wife and tiny child working as volunteers for several years in the remote mountains of North Yemen.
Returning to Perth and UWA, I was a founder of UWA’s Department of General Practice but continued to work and travel in 'wild places’. In my teaching and research in medicine I have tried to emphasise the ‘human’ and the 'social’ against the notion of humans as elevated bits of clockwork. I believe that this impoverished idea of what we are and can be underlies our increasingly narcissistic and commodified world.
I now share my time between writing and broadcasting, some medical teaching and consulting, running a small farm, looking after my grandchildren, and peace and environmental activism. I reckon Santayana’s saying that 'life is not a spectacle nor a feast but a predicament' is baloney: life is all three'.
Date: 14 July 2017
Speakers: Byron Joel & Harry Wykman
The work of the Regen Australis Project is based upon a key premise that modern, contemporary Australian cultures are dangerously maladapted to the ecological realities of the Australian continent. How do we best develop regenerative cultures in Australia, particularly in the context of crisis?
As long as we can rely on a global, socio-economic business-as-usual model then perhaps we could count on our living standards staying so relatively comfortable as our position as the 'Lucky Country' has come to expect. However, in the event of a major (or even minor) disruption to the dynamics of the current system (energy/fuel, trade/economics, politics, climate etc.) then contemporary Australia could fast come to realise that it is, as our principle premise states: acutely maladjusted to the ecologically realities of the Australian continent. The vast majority of the people and practices that comprise mainstream Australia have never had to survive here, on what has been referred to as the most anomalous and challenging of all inhabited continents in a low-energy scenario. That is to say that more than most modern nations contemporary Australia is simply not equipped to survive without the immense injection of energy and resources it currently receives and relies upon.
Many of the major innovations in modern cultural and agricultural theory and practice have come out of Australia, however we fail to practice them here on a broad scale and sadly what Indigenous knowledge there was has been largely lost or ignored. Yet despite these challenges it is our firm belief that we are still blessed to be living here and that if enough people came to comprehend our situation we would generate the social and political will necessary to implement and establish the kinds of broad scale robust, abundant, ecologically appropriate and beautiful human settlement systems that many of us know are possible. By fostering ecological function, robust regenerative agriculture and educated and empowered people we could, to the degree that any people can, secure a future of wellbeing for our descendants.
In order to search out answers to this key question, this talk will identify major themes for exploration. We make certain assumptions, outlined below, while exploring these themes:
Cultural explorations include, for example:
•Characteristics of Regenerative Cultures
Agro-ecological explorations include, for example:
•Perennial Staple Crops
Growing up in Perth, Western Australia, working for his father’s landscaping and irrigation company, Byron’s love for plants became clear early in the piece, leading him to study Horticulture and Botany, refining his knowledge, skill and appreciation for the human/plant relationship, all the while working in a number of positions at numerous retail and propagation plant nurseries and re-vegetation, tree planting and land care services. Discovering Permaculture in the early 2000s Byron devoured all the information he could find and set to work connecting with like minds and putting ideas to practice, taking his first Permaculture Design Course in 2004 and second in 2009.
After visiting Permaculture Research Institute of Australia for their Internship in 2010 Byron felt eager to return and did so in the positions of both Nursery and WWOOFer Coordinator at Zaytuna Farm. After relocating to New Zealand he held the position of Nursery Manager at Kotare Farm home of the Koanga Institute and the Permaculture Research Institute of New Zealand. Byron has studied and integrated design and implementation techniques from numerous related systems including Holistic Management, Natural Sequence Farming, Bio-dynamics, Natural Farming, the Regrarian Platform, Restoration Agriculture and more…
Byron has worked internationally as both educator and consultant and has an ongoing working relationship with numerous projects in Morocco.
Harry's passion for plants grew out of an early desire to work out a way of living in the world that was not destructive of other people and places. Plants offered a way to capture the abundant energy of the sun to meet the immediate needs of people while creating beautiful regenerative places. This passion became embedded within the design philosophy of permaculture and has led Harry to work in community gardens, commercial and domestic edible garden design, permaculture education and consultation and to intensive food production for market in New York, Fremantle and Perth. Harry is currently the farm manager at Perth City Farm.
Date: 7 July 2017
As soft and unstable bodies we are increasingly operating in spaces of extended scale and abstract information. We caress our skin, our heart beats persistently, we inflate our lungs with air incessantly and we furtively glance at others erratically. But the body now experiences itself as part physical, part phantom; grounded by gravity but dislocated from any one particular place. To others elsewhere, we increasingly flicker on and off, connecting and disconnecting, appearing here and there, as phantom bodies - as glitches in biological time. Skins collapse onto screens, becoming seductive and interactive surfaces. Skins are stretched, selves are extruded. Images generate vocabularies of aliveness that animate our phantoms. Our bodies are now dissolving into circulating data streams of detached and distributed bio-data. Embedded in vast machine systems of artificial cognition and computational calculation. The monster is not the outmoded stitched up meat body, but the system that sucks the self into
virtuality. In the liminal spaces of proliferating Prosthetic Bodies, Partial Life and Artificial Life, the body has become a floating signifier.
Stelarc explores alternate anatomical architectures, interrogating issues of agency, identity and the posthuman. He has performed with a Third Hand, a Stomach Sculpture and Exoskeleton, a 6-legged walking robot. Fractal Flesh, Ping Body and Parasite are internet performances that explore remote and involuntary choreography. He is surgically constructing and stem-cell growing an ear on his arm that will be internet enabled. In 1996 he was made an Honorary Professor of Art and Robotics at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh and in 2002 was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Laws by Monash University, Melbourne. In 2010 was awarded the Ars Electronica Hybrid Arts Prize. In 2015 he received the inaugural Australia Council’s Emerging and Experimental Arts Award. In 2016 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the Ionian University, Corfu. Stelarc is currently a Distinguished Research Fellow, School of Design and Art, Curtin University. His artwork is represented by Scott Livesey Galleries, Melbourne.
Date: 9 June 2017
Speaker: Laura Glitsos
This presentation will explore vocal techniques on the margins of typical mainstream performance (extreme vocality). I question whether extreme vocality can be read both expression and abreaction of collective trauma in relation to specific socio-historical contexts. For example, Diamanda Galás was an outspoken activist during the 1980s AIDS crisis and her brother, playwright Philip-Dimitri Galás, was also taken by the disease. I read the vocality of Diamanda Galás in the 1980s as, in part, an abreaction of the collective trauma of the AIDS virus in a community context. Diamanda Galás’ musical voice, described as “capable of the most unnerving vocal terror” (2014), is perhaps the psychosomatic presentation of these ‘social affects’.
Laura Glitsos is postdoctoral adjunct fellow at Curtin University and has a broad interest in the interrelationships between bodies, technologies and music. This research emerges from a seminar presented at the MoPop Museum in Seattle in 2016.
Date: 26 May 2017
Speaker: Guy Kirkwood
Buddie Thompson, a self-described ‘midget’ with a penchant for studying his fellow human beings (both ‘little’ and ‘big’), navigated complex and competing conceptualisations of what being short-statured signified in the Depression-era United States. In these years the American ‘Freak Show’ no longer held the same widespread popular appeal it had had prior to the beginning of the century, while the discourses of medical science, reflecting the height of the eugenics movement as well as recent developments in the new field of endocrinology, intersected to make for particularly dangerous ground for those with ‘extraordinary bodies’. Thompson, and other ‘little people’ had career options which expanded beyond the increasingly moralised ‘freak show’, to traveling ‘midget troupes’, ‘Liliputian’ operatic companies, and miniature sized ‘midget city’ exhibits at World’s Fairs, but these involved no less fraught performative styles of self-representation. By closely analysing Buddie Thompson’s insider account of little person show performers, As I Know Them: A Midget’s Story of Show People, self-published in 1936, I will examine how Thompson developed a unique and authoritative perspective which engaged in the complex and competing discourses of both popular culture and medical science. Thompson specifically rejected the social authority of medical physicians and their advice on new experimental hormone treatments, but only by professing to a superior scientific knowledge of the functioning of ‘glands of internal secretion’. He also rejected popular and offensive ‘outsider’ accounts of ‘midget’ show life offered by journalists which traded in obscenity and perverse interest, while nonetheless retaining countless anecdotes which played upon stereotypes of prodigious (but nonetheless ‘healthy’) male midget sexuality. Most importantly, Thompson devoted large parts of his narrative to returning gaze upon ‘John Public’ himself/herself, making his audience and readers the target of a close sociological and psychological study typically reserved for those with supposedly pathological or non-normative bodies. While Thompson lived until 1968, his relatively short show career, which appears to have finished before the end of the 1930s but included involvement in important historical moments like the Chicago Century of Progress World’s Fair, spoke to the increasingly difficulties of self-exhibition for small-statured people as a potentially empowering and profitable occupation supplanted and specifically rejected by the more recognisable minority-modelled organisations such as the Little People of America.
Guy Kirkwood is a PhD student at The University of Western Australia whose research focuses on late 19th and early 20th century American 'freak shows'. His working thesis aims to locate the perspectives and performance strategies of specific individuals within different historical and cultural moments, as well as within distinct regimes of normalisation. He has also taught some second and third year units at UWA, focusing broadly on African American history, as well as American colonialism. Guy hopes to finish his PhD at the end of the year and to have the opportunity to pursue future projects in the 'sideshow' of academia.
Date: 19 May 2017
Speaker: Håvve Fjell
Håvve Fjell's practice focuses on his own body, revolving around physical challenge and pain endurance. As a young boy Fjell had a close relationship with pain and as a teen he explored tolerance and pushed his threshold actively. Becoming a Fakir was more discovery than decision for Fjell; defining who he is and directing his life's work. In this talk Fjell will give an introduction to his work before opening for questions and casual dialog with the audience.
Håvve Fjell performed as a Fakir for the first time in 1991, forming his company Pain Solution in 1993. The evolution of Pain Solution was informed by members past and present, gradually shifting from ritualistic physical theatre and performance art to a focus on Sideshow and entertainment. Pain Solution has performed in 25 countries and work continues into the present day. In 2002 he formed the body suspension platform Wings of Desire which hosts the annual Oslo SusCon; the longest running event of it’s kind. Fjell also established The Fakir Academy: an education program dealing with issues in and around body suspension. Fjell's first book, ‘Ten Years of Pain’, made with sister and photographer Helene Fjell, was published by Hertervig Forlag (2003). The following publications, ‘Learning to Fly’ (2012) and ‘To Bleed or Not To Bleed’ (2015) by their own imprint PS Media. PS Media is currently working on ‘Stretched Skin’ by Stelarc, to be released in November 2017.
Date: 12 May 2016
Speaker: Kevin Vincen
Kevin Vinsen is helping solve the extraordinary computational challenges facing the Square Kilometre Array (SKA). A Senior Research Fellow with the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), Vincen is a computational astronomy polymath - expert in numerous coding languages, artificial intelligence, genetic algorithms, high performance computing, data intensive astronomy, data mining, business analysis, games development, and command and control systems.
The data requirements for the SKA are astronomical, quite literally. When complete, the amount of data flowing from the SKA’s 10s of thousands of antennae will be measured in exabytes per day. Just one exabyte contains as much information as 2,000,000 Bluray Disks, a stack of 12km high each day.
Vincen enjoys talking about his passion for big science projects and speaks often at schools, community groups and for industry audiences. When he’s not dealing with super computers Kevin works on on a citizen science project called the PS1 Optical Galaxy Survey (POGS), a part of the SkyNet initiative. Using the collective processing power of home computers POGS is helping astronomers and astrophysicists to calculate the spectral energy distributions from optical infra-red and ultraviolet images to produce the first public catalog of its kind. This will require 10’s of millions of CPU hours to calculate and 100’s of TBytes of storage.
Vincen considers himself one of the luckiest astronomy geeks on the planet. He is paid to do what he loves - astronomy and computing with some of the biggest baddest computers on the planet. No wonder he is always smiling.
Date: 21 April 2017
Speaker: Eugenio Viola
Eugenio Viola, PhD is an Italian Curator and Art Critic. He is the current Senior Curator at PICA – The Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts. Since 2009 he has held curatorial positions at MADRE, the Contemporary Art Museum of Naples. From 2013, as Curator at Large, he has been responsible for the research and development of the museum’s collection and co-curated the first Italian large-scale exhibitions of Boris Mikhailov and Francis Alÿs as well as a complex Daniel Buren project, conceived in two parts and across two years.
From 2009 to 2012, he was the Curator of the museum’s Project Room. During this time he was responsible for presenting “Transit” Project (2009 – 2011), a series of exhibitions and residencies in partnership with institutions from the Middle East as well as an annual performance festival named “Corpus. Art in Action” (2009-2012).
Viola has also worked as a guest curator for several Italian and International institutions, curating solo exhibitions devoted to: Regina José Galindo (Frankfurter Kunstverein, Germany, 2016); Karol Radziszewski (CoCA - Centre of Contemporary Art Znaki Czasu, Torun, Poland, 2014); Mark Raidpere (EKKM - The Contemporary Art Museum of Tallinn, Estonia, 2013); Marina Abramović (PAC - Contemporary Art Pavilion, Milan, Italy, 2012); Francesco Jodice (MSU - The Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb, Croatia, 2011); and ORLAN (MAMC - Musée d’art moderne et contemporain, Saint Etienne, France, 2007). In 2015 he curated the Estonian Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale. He is a scholar in theories and practices related to performance and Body Art and has published and lectured extensively on these subjects.
Date: 21 April 2017
Speaker: Nathan Thompson
Is the art we make and culture we build simply an evocation of ancestral memories? What is the basal thread running through our creative inspirations... are they just entangled solutions ingrained biologically since before language? How have our experiences been changed by the technologies operating on symbolic representations of this world around us? All material suffers entropy but is all data lost with it?
Nathan John Thompson explores the possibilities of man/machine interaction, mechanical sentience and the hidden creative corners that arise from these relationships. He is currently Artist in Residence at SymbioticA thanks to an Australia Council for the Arts research grant, researching new technologies in human based IP Stem Cell and Soft-Robotics.
Date: 13 April 2017
Speaker: Tucker Marder
Tucker Marder is an artist, filmmaker and plantsman. Spanning sculpture, performance, video and landscape design Tucker’s work uses formal abstraction and comedic gesture to promote an exuberant environmental ethic. He has collaborated with institutions such as The National Aviary, The Nature Conservancy and Phipps Conservatory. Tucker is a recipient of the Frank Ratchye Grant for Art at the Frontier and in 2016 and is a Redford Center Grant Honoree.
Tucker’s performance “STAMPEDE!”, comprised of over 200 live Crested Runner Ducks and large motorized abstract puppets premiered as part of the 2015 Parrish Road Show. Tucker is the founder/director of the Folly Tree Arboretum, a collection of over 200 rare and unusual trees intent on showcasing nature’s sense of humor. Tucker received his MFA from Carnegie Mellon University.
Date: 28 March 2017
Speaker: Kieron Broadhurst
Kieron Broadhurst is a artist based in Perth. His work investigates the speculative potential of fiction within contemporary art practice. After completing a BFA(Hons) from Curtin University he was selected to participate in Hatched at PICA. He has since exhibited regularly, including at Firstdraft, PSAS, Moana, Success, FELTspace and Free Range. Broadhurst is currently undertaking a Doctorate of Philosophy (Art) at Curtin University, where he also works as a tutor.
Broadhurst's current research focusses on how concepts from science fiction (SF) might be appropriated into contemporary art practice. This research has been practice led, with concerns that contemporary art shares with SF being addressed through the deployment of these appropriated SF concepts. This presentation will examine the science fiction concept of cognitive estrangement, and how he utilised it within his exhibition The Island at Moana Project Space (2016), to produce a work that speculates on the role utopian thought plays in relation to gallery space and the art objects within it.
Date: 31 March 2016
Speaker: Ghislaine Platell
There are approximately 3,000 termite species worldwide, efficiently digesting plant matter (primarily cellulose) in various forms ̶ from wood, to grass to soil. They use a combination of the enzymes they produce and that of thousands of microorganisms in their gut. First generation bioethanol technologies convert sugar or starch (i.e. food) into fuel. Could termite gut bacteria hold the key to cost efficient and ethically sound biofuel production?
Ghislaine Platell is a PhD candidate at the Centre for Integrative Bee Research (CIBER) and the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology (PEB) at UWA. She studies the diversity of the gut bacteria of Western Australian termite species. She was selected for the inaugural round of the Homeward Bound program, a global leadership and strategy initiative for women in science, culminating in a three week voyage to Antarctica.
Ghislaine will put her work on termite gut bacteria in the wider context of renewable energy, ending on how it led to her visit of the only termite-free continent.
Date: 24 March 2017
Speakers: Molly Biddle & Peter Cheng
Peter & Molly make a display of the body in the search for moral reason.
Morality bears little relationship to utilitarianism, while carrying the weight of historicopolitical relativism, and prescribed sociocultural convention. We must be critical of what is allowed and that which has been prohibited, and the sorts of philosophies and yearnings that have caused us shame and repose. The inheritance of righteous or noble vocabularies, which seem to speak on our behalf, reflect a social and cultural normalcy that does not tell us what our lives are truly like. Perhaps the now equivocal practice of the merging of art and science will provide the ideal conditions for the exploration and critique of human authenticity.
Peter & Molly will explore inherited systems of purity, religious romanticism, unrequited love, animals as objects, food culture and the artist as a tool. This talk aims to expose the emperor of contemporary art, revealing him in his most naked reality, as Peter & Molly unveil the inferior processes underlying the formation of high end art.
Peter & Molly are performance-oriented artists based in Perth, Western Australia. They have been working in partnership since July 2015, and have since exhibited works at Australian galleries including Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts. Their collaborative practice is founded upon a project of disruption and critique aimed at hermeneutic cultural and social systems; employing methods of film, sound and sculpture, to create striking, large-scale installations.
Peter Cheng was born in 1990 and is an artist, filmmaker and photographer. As part of his ongoing series of documentary shorts, Perth Artists, Peter has sought to open a dialogue on the subject of artistic practice, and the variety of means, approaches and contexts specific to established and emerging artists, and has accordingly taken up a residency at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts. Since graduating film school in 2011, Peter has contributed to several projects spanning contemporary art, performance and film, including Tracey Moffat’s Art calls, Derek Kreckler’s Accident & Process, Performing Lines and STRUT Dance, and the Proximity Festival. Additionally, Peter collaborated with Abdul-Rahman Abdullah, and Cecile B. Evans for the 2016 Sydney Biennale.
Molly Biddle was born in 1991 and is an artist, writer, and sound-producer. In her practice, Molly draws upon her background in sexology and psychology, engaging with questions pertaining to moral dumbfounding and social boundaries. Molly gained experience in sound production while studying at the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts, and is currently a songwriter for “Safe Sex,” a project which promotes liberal and safe sex practices via music, media and performance art. Molly has also spent the past three years working in suicide prevention, in addition to her involvement as an arts support worker for people experiencing mental illness.
Date: 17 March 2017
Speaker: Isla Hansen
Getting Air: Technology and the Levitating Body in Sports Media outlines a history of technological developments related to capturing the athletic human body in motion. The role of filmmakers, artists, and inventors through the 20th century in this continued culture of photographing, tracking, and capturing the levitating body, reveals these images as texts in which cultural fears and desires can be read Theorists such as Marshall McLuhan, Judith Butler, and others serve to analyze and critique the ideology that drives technological progress in relation to the human body and compels the ongoing re-iteration and mass distribution of these bodies and images.
Isla Hansen is an artist working across New York and the Rust Belt to reinterpret and complicate the relationship between the human body and technological progress. Her solo and collaborative installations, systems, and performances have been exhibited at the Columbus Museum of Art, MOCA Cleveland, Industry CityGallery, the Parrish Art Museum, the Hammer Musem, Miller Gallery, and the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. Isla has been the recipient of the Daedalus Foundation MFA fellowship and a Frank-Ratchye Fund for Art at the Frontier Grant from the Studio for Creative Inquiry. She received her MFA from Carnegie Mellon University and her BA from Columbia University. Currently, Isla teaches in both the department of Art and at the Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design at the Ohio State University.
Date: 3 March 2017
Speaker: Jonathan W. Marshall
What does it mean to describe a pathological disorder of movement as “performance” and to describe it in theatrical terms? Dr Jean-Martin Charcot (1825-93)---a founding figure in the history of neurology (with whom Freud studied)---gave highly theatrical lectures on neuromotor illness, including hysteria (or hysterio-epilepsy as he called it). By seeing the acquisition of movement in theatrical terms, Charcot created a powerful tool for the analysis and teaching of neuromotor disease. But was it all “just performance”, an empty theatre of tremours and screams, and if it was, what did this mean? Marshall has explored this topic in his recent monograph Performing Neurology: The Dramaturgy of Dr Jean-Martin Charcot (Palgrave, 2016). In this seminar, Marshall will introduce the work of Charcot’s school and discuss how this concept of Charcot’s both supported and undermined his practice, leading him to alternatively be described as the conquering “Napolean of the neuroses” as well as a tawdry, Wagnerian “ham-actor”.
Jonathan W. Marshall is the postgraduate coordinator at the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts, Edith Cowan University. Trained as a historian, his interdisciplinary research ranges across the relationship between neurology and the arts, animals in art, photomedia, sound, butoh dance, Australian choreography, and other topics. Marshall is a contributing editor for the national arts magazine “RealTime Australia”.
How are perceptions of incongruence and disorder – dissipating structures, incompatible scales of magnitude, temporal misdirections, ‘transgressive’ mixing, toxicity, and contagion – construed through disciplinary protocols? How are they experienced somatically, or bio-socially? To what extent have the various mathematical, physical, meteorological and philosophical frameworks, such as undecidability, non-linear dynamics, autopoiesis, or posthuman performativity, re-calibrated the socio-semantics of perception?
This talk focuses on two sets of artistic practices that push the limits of congruence: the 1960-70s work with iterability (Brecht), with obsessive irruptions of sameness (Kusama), with faintness (Shiomi), and with scatology (McCarthy); and, the 2010s work with electro-biology (Davis), cross-species swarming (Shen), and bio-digital circuits of continually transforming matter (Yoo). By bringing naturalist concerns to bear on conceptual and/or social processes, complexity is articulated through the lenses of ludic ethology and existential refrains (Guatarri), a form of organisation that is simultaneously an investment of energy, a patterning, a practice, and a relation.
Dr. Natasha Lushetich is an artist and theorist. She is currently Senior Lecturer in Interdisciplinary Practices and Visual Studies at LaSalle College of the Arts, Singapore, having previously lectured at the University of Exeter, UK. Among her recent publications are: Fluxus The Practice of Non-Duality (Rodopi 2014); On Game Structures, a special issue of Performance Research, co-edited with Mathias Fuchs (2016); and Interdisciplinary Performance Reformatting Reality (Palgrave 2016).