Steve Kurtz and Lucia Sommer

Further information

Country of origin

United State of America



Steven Kurtz is a Professor of Visual Studies at SUNY, Buffalo and a founding member of Critical Art Ensemble (CAE). 
Lucia Sommer is a member of CAE, and coordinator of the CAE Defense Fund.
CAE is a collective of tactical media practitioners of various specializations, including computer graphics and web design, wetware, film/video, photography, text art, book art, and interventionist performance. Formed in 1987, CAE's focus has been on the exploration of the intersections between art, critical theory, technology, and political activism. The collective has performed and produced a wide variety of projects for an international audience at diverse venues ranging from the street, to the museum, to the internet. Critical Art Ensemble has also written six books on various aspects of cultural resistance. Its writings have been translated into 18 languages.


Steve Kurtz and Luca Sommer undertook two residencies at SymbioticA

Research projects


Immolation used tissue culture to create a partial ‘catalogue’ of the effects, from the cellular to the social level, of the illegal weapons and torture techniques (according to international law) now being used in the Middle East. The outcome included both a film and an installation for display in museums, galleries and other public spaces.

In addition to microscopic imagery, the Critical Art Ensemble used film footage of the present and past wars that have used immolation against civilian targets as a strategic choice for the purpose of terrorizing entire populations. The goal was to provide a different way of imaging and viewing the human costs of these war crimes, other than the barrage of media imagery to which we have become so desensitized.


Six week residency funded by the artists.

Period of research

August – November 2008, May – June 2007