Living Assemblies - Design Your Silken Self

‘Living Assemblies’ is a hands-on workshop, led by designer and researcher Veronica Ranner, investigating the coupling of the biological material silk with digital technologies. 

This workshop is organised in partnership with The Arts Catalyst and in cooperation with Furtherfield.

We invite participants (experts in their own field – artists, designers, scientists, writers, technologists, academics, and activists) to join a weekend-long workshop, in which we will experiment with silk and a range of transient materials to imagine potential future applications for combining biological and digital media.

Traditional methods of crafting silk have barely changed in 5000 years, but recent explorations by scientists are uncovering extraordinary new potential uses for this material.  Reverse engineered silk is one of the few biomaterials not rejected by the human body. Rather, able to be fully absorbed by human tissue, it allows for a range of applications within and interacting with the body, including human bone and tissue replacements, biosensors and biodegradable electronics opening the potential to imagine new wearables and imlantables with a range of functions.

During this two-day workshop, participants will collaboratively explore the potential of reverse engineered silk, currently confined to laboratories. Taking the body as the first site for investigation, Veronica Ranner will ask participants to consider themselves as living assemblies that can be hacked, enhanced and patched into through using bio-digital materials. Activities will involve material experiments combined with a narrative design process to speculate on silk's possible future use in the world.

Workshop details


Day 1

With Veronica Ranner, Clemens Winkler and Luke Franzke, participants will be introduced to transient materials — such as reversed engineered silk — through hands-on experimentation with a range of materials, including agar-agar, gelatine, fibroin, glucose and silk-fibres. They will use digital methods and circuits and combine them with silken materials, to then begin forming their own ideas into speculative objects and artworks.
 

Day 2

Innovator, scientist and intermedia artist, Gjino Sutic will introduce the concept of ‘bio-tweaking’: improving and hacking living organisms, for example through metabolism hacking, neuro-tweaking, tissue engineering and organ growing. Participants will work together with science writer Frank Swain to construct narratives around their work. In the final session, participants will map out their ideas in discussion with the group.


Workshop Leader

Veronica Ranner is a designer, artist and researcher living and working in London. She researches the burgeoning domain of the bio–digital — a converging knowledge space where digitality and computational thinking meet biological matter. She dissects and creates tangible and immaterial manifestations of such collisions, examining hereby the polyphonic potential of alternative technological futures. Her current doctoral work explores paradigm shifts in reality perception by coupling speculative (bio)material strategies and information experience through design research. Veronica holds a degree in Industrial Design from Pforzheim University, a Masters in Design Interactions (RCA), and has worked trans-disciplinary with a variety of science institutions and biomedical companies, and she teaches and lectures internationally. Her work is exhibited internationally, including at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem (2012), Science Gallery, Dublin (2012), China Technology Museum, Beijing (2012), Ventura Lambrate, Milan (2013) and French Design Biennale, St. Etienne (2013). She is currently pursuing a PhD at the Royal College of Art’s Information Experience Design programme and is interested in complex networked cycles, emerging (bio-) technologies and biological fabrication, systems design, material futures and new roles for designers.

Co- facilitators

Clemens Winkler, designer and researcher at the Zurich University of the Arts, Switzerland.
Luke Franzke, designer and researcher at the Zurich University of the Arts, Switzerland.
Frank Swain, science writer and journalist.
Gjino Sutic, innovator, scientist and artist; Director of the Universal Institute in Zagreb, Croatia.
Other experts joining discussions during the workshops will be Bio-informatician Dr Derek Huntley (Imperial College).


Partners & Support

The project is a collaboration between The Creative Exchange Hub at the Royal College of Art, Tufts University (Boston, MA), The Arts Catalyst (London), and Imperial College (London), and hosted and in collaboration with Furtherfield (London). The project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

The Creative Exchange is a national initiative that brings together the best creative and digital minds from leading universities with dynamic and entrepreneurial companies, to create innovative new digital products and services. The Creative Exchange is led by Lancaster University, Newcastle University and the Royal College of Art; funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Find out more at www.thecreativeexchange.org 

Furtherfield is the UK's leading organisation for arts, technology and social change. Since 1997 Furtherfield has created online and physical spaces and places for people to come together to develop and create critical and experimental art and digital technologies on their own terms.
 

Resources & readings:

[1] Primo Levi (1984), Periodic Table, New York: Schocken Books Inc. (http://www.amazon.com/The-Periodic-Table-Primo-Levi/dp/0805210415)
[2] High Low tech instructions for circuits (http://highlowtech.org/?p=1372)
[3] Floridi, L. (2009). Against Digital Ontology in Synthèse,168(1): pp. 151-178. Available at: http://www.philosophyofinformation.net/publications/pdf/ado.pdf
[4] Hu, T. ; Brenckle, M. A., Yan, M. et al. (2012). Silk-Based Conformal, Adhesive, Edible Food Sensors in Advanced Materials, vol 24, nr 8, 1067-1072. DOI: 10.1002/adma.201103814.
[5] Hwang, S-W., Tao, H., Kim, D.-H., et al. (2012), A Physically Transient Form of Silicon Electronics. In Science 337(6102): 1640–1644. DOI:10.1126/science.1226325.          
[6] Transient Electronics (2012), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NnmHZXvJhlk
[7] Fiorenzo Omenetto: Silk, the ancient material of the future (2011), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqqWw3xkMzA
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Republic of the Moon, London

A major exhibition in which artists consider their visions for a Republic of the Moon.

It's four decades since humans walked on the Moon, but it now seems likely that we will return there this century – whether to mine for its minerals, as a ‘stepping stone’ to Mars, or simply to do scientific research. In a provocative pre-emptive action, a group of artists are declaring a Republic of the Moon here on Earth, to re-examine our relationship with our planet’s only natural satellite.

After two decades working with space dreamers from the European Space Agency to anarchist autonomous astronauts, The Arts Catalyst transformed Bargehouse into an Earth-based embassy for a Republic of the Moon, filled with artists’ fantastical imaginings. Presenting international artists including Liliane Lijn, Leonid Tishkov, Katie Paterson, Agnes Meyer Brandis and WE COLONISED THE MOON, the exhibition combined personal encounters, DIY space plans, imaginary expeditions and new myths for the next space age.

Marking the start of its twentieth anniversary year, The Arts Catalyst animated the exhibition with performances, workshops, music, talks, a pop-up moon shop by super/collider and playful protests against lunar exploitation.  A manifesto declaring the Moon a temporary autonomous zone, with responses from artists and scientists to novelist Tony White’s call to “Occupy the Moon!” was published in print and e-Book formats to coincide with the exhibition.

The artists in Republic of the Moon regard the Moon not as a resource to be exploited but as a heavenly body that belongs to us all. The exhibition asks: Who will be the first colonisers of the Moon? Perhaps it should be the artists.

The artists

Agnes Meyer-Brandis’ poetic-scientific investigations weave together fact, imagination, storytelling and myth, from past, present and future. In Moon Goose Analogue: Lunar Migration Bird Facility, the artist develops an ongoing narrative based on the book The Man in the Moone, written by English bishop Francis Godwin in the 1630s, in which the protagonist flies to the Moon in a chariot towed by ‘moon geese’. Meyer-Brandis has actualised this concept by raising eleven moon geese from birth in Italy, giving them astronauts’ names, imprinting them on herself as goose-mother, training them to fly and taking them on expeditions. The artist has built a remote Moon analogue habitat for the geese, which will be operated from a control room within the gallery. (* Neil, Svetlana, Gonzales, Valentina, Friede, Juri, Buzz, Kaguya-Anousheh, Irena, Rakesh, Konstantin-Hermann).  Moon Goose Analogue: Luna Bird Migration Facility the documentary film of this project was Ars Electronica award of distinction winner 2012.

Katie Paterson Second Moon and Earth–Moon–Earth.  Second Moon is Paterson's project tracking the cyclical journey of a small fragment of the Moon as it circles the Earth, via airfreight courier, on a man made commercial orbit.  Second Moon makes an anticlockwise journey; orbiting at approximately twice the speed of our Moon, it orbits Earth about 30 times in one year.  The journey could be followed on a free App. Earth–Moon–Earth (Moonlight Sonata Reflected from the Surface of the Moon) involved using a form of radio transmission whereby messages are sent in Morse code, from earth, reflected from the surface of the moon and then received back on earth. The moon reflects only part of the information back – some is absorbed in its shadows, ‘lost’ in its craters. For this work Paterson has translated Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata into Morse code and sent it to the moon via Earth-Moon-Earth (EME). Returning to earth fragmented by the moon's surface, it has been re-translated into a new score, the gaps and absences becoming intervals and rests. In the exhibition the moon–altered score is performed on a self-playing grand piano.

Liliane Lijn’s moonmeme explores the repeating cycle of the Moon’s phases, projecting the word 'SHE', an epithet for the Moon, onto the lunar surface so the letters slowly emerge and then disappear as it wanes. Since lunar projection is so challenging technically, Lijn has worked with an astronomer to present a real-time animation of the projection accompanied by a sound work and by quotations from sources including Pliny and the Talmud to illustrate the profound connections between the Moon and the feminine principal of transformation and renewal.

Leonid Tishkov’s Private Moon tells the story of a man who met the Moon and stayed with her for the rest of his life. In a series of intimate photographs, the artist pairs images of his private moon with verse which describes how the Moon helps us to overcome our loneliness in the universe by uniting us around it. Tishkov and his illuminated moon have travelled the world for almost ten years. He has a dream to fly with her to the Moon.

WE COLONISED THE MOON (Sue Corke and Hagen Betzwieser) were the Republic of the Moon’s artists in residence throughout the exhibition, creating work and running talks and workshops. Corke and Betzwieser’s graphic art and installation projects embody a child-like wonder at the universe. Employing a range of DIY production techniques, their partnership is rooted in absurdism and theatrical performance characterised by slogans and catchphrases. At the Bargehouse, they coordinated protests against the exploitation of the Moon and working with scientists to help us look afresh at our closest celestial neighbour.

Moon Vehicle (Joanna Griffin and ISRO scientist P Shreekumar) a presentation of a project devised by the students at Srishti School of Arts, Bangalore, India, with artist Joanna Griffin. Its focus was to reclaim a cultural connection with the Indian Chandrayaan space programme challenging the now-dominant scientific narrative of the Moon and reasserting other imaginaries inspired by Indian narratives of self-determination and agency.

Pop Rock Moon Shop designed by super/collider sold all manner of discerning lunar ephemera.

A Manifesto for the Republic of the Moon published to accompany the exhibition, edited by curator, Rob La Frenais and including Tony White's specially commissioned short fiction Occupy the Moon!, it is available in print, or for free download in .epub and .pdf formats.


Artists websites
Agnes Meyer-Brandis
Katie Paterson
Liliane Lijn
Leonid Tishkov
WE COLONISED THE MOON
super/collider
Support

Republic of the Moon is a touring exhibition, commissioned by The Arts Catalyst with FACT. The first version of the exhibition was presented at FACT Liverpool in winter 2012. The exhibition and residency has been made possible with Grants for the Arts support from Arts Council England and Science & Technology Facilities Council.

Moon Goose Analogue: Lunar Migration Bird Facility links directly to Meyer-Brandis's, Moon Goose Colony, 2011, a project during her residency at Pollinaria, Italy, the site of the remote analogue habitat where the artist has raised and houses the colony of moon geese.  With thanks to Z33 co-producers of Moon Goose Analogue, shown In Space Odyssey 2.0.

Second Moon has been commissioned by Locus+ in partnership with Newcastle University and Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums.  Supported by Arts Council England, Adelaide Festival and Newcastle City Council

Bargehouse is owned and managed by social enterprise, Coin Street Community Builders: www.coinstreet.org

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Arctic Perspective Initiative

Arctic Perspective highlighted the cultural, geopolitical and ecological significance of the Arctic and its indigenous cultures. In collaboration with the people of Igloolik and other communities in Nunavut, Canada, artists and architects are devising a mobile media and living unit and infrastructure, powered by renewable energy sources, which can be used for nomadic dwelling environmental monitoring and media based work 'on the land', away from the established Arctic settlements.

API was initiated artists Marko Peljhan and Matthew Biederman.

The API project website gives details of the process of the project, including the team's visits to Igloolik, Foxe Basin and other Inuit communities in Nunavut, Arctic Canada, the international open architecture competition to design the media unit, and the construction of the prototype unit.

Publications


Cahier No. 1: Arctic Architecture (ISBN 978-3-7757-2679-5) is now available - order online here
Cahier No. 2: Arctic Geopolitics & Autonomy (ISBN 978-3-7757-2681-8) - order online here
 

Exhibitions

Arctic Perspective, London
21 May - 30 September 2010
Canada House, Trafalgar Square, London, UK
The Arctic Perspective exhibition at Canada House showed film and photographic documentation of the API project, including specially commissioned architectural models of the winning entries from an international open design competition for the mobile unit, which received more than 100 entries from over 30 countries. The winning unit architectural designs are by Richard Carbonnier (Canada), Catherine Rannou (France) and Giuseppe Mecca (Italy). Presented in conjunction with the London Festival of Architecture.

Arctic Perspective, Dortmund
18 June - 10 October 2010
HMKV Phoenix Halle, Dortmund, Germany
A large-scale exhibition of Arctic Perspective, organsed by HMKV, was held in Dortmund in the framework of European Capital of Culture RUHR 2010 and the international media-art conference ISEA 2010. The exhibition focused on the notions of architecure, geopolitics, autonomy, technology and landscape. As well as documentation from the API project, the exhibition also featured other positive nothern initiatives that reflect the values of API.

Contemporary Nomadism: Autonomy & Technology in the North (Discussion event)
20 May 2010, Canada House, London
Artists, academics and architects explored the API's cultural, historical and political contexts. Panel: Marko Peljhan, artist and instigator of Arctic Perspective Initiative, director Projekt Atol (Slovenia), David Turnbull, science sociologist (Australia), Richard Carbonnier, architect (Canada), Inke Arns, curator, artistic director HMKV (Germany). Chair: Michael Bravo, Scott Polar Research Institute (UK/Canada)

Arctic Perspective Open Space Conference
24-26 September 2010, PHOENIX Halle, Dortmund, Germany
The API open space conference gathered some of the most dynamic thinkers from and on the circumpolar regions and the open source technology and tactical media communities in an intense three-day situation involving critical debate and reflection.

Support

API is supported by the European Commission Culture 2007 Programme, City of Dortmund, Federal Centre for Civic Education, Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia, City of Ljubljana and Arts Council England.

Partners include the Arctic Perspective Initiative, HMKV in Germany, Projekt Atol in Slovenia, C-TASC in Canada, Lorna in Iceland and Arts Catalyst in the UK.

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Sailing for Geeks 2 : Ship-to-Shore

Sailing For Geeks 2 @ Fadaiat took place in the framework of "Fadaiat : freedom of knowledge, freedom of movement" event

Sailing for Geeks 2 : Fadaiat : ship-to-shore took place in the framework of "Fadaiat: freedom of knowledge, freedom of movement" event : a political, technological and artistic laboratory that took place in Tarifa (Spain) & Tanger (Morocco), on both sides of the tense frontier dividing Europe from Africa. Fadaiat means "through spaces" in arabic. Fadaiat 2005 had the theme of exploring ideas of open borders.

Sailing for Geeks 2 established a link between the two sides by sailing boat. On the boat, a crew of activists and artists physically explored the roads of migration between Morocco and Spain. From Gibraltar (UK) to the enclave of Ceuta (Spain), from Tarifa (Spain) to Tangier (Morocco), we entered each country from the sea, cooperating with the processes of immigration control. We traced and documented our course via GPS, radar and radio communication.

The idea of Sailing for Geeks 2 was to try to give a representation of what a border really is. Crossing the Straits of Gibralter by sailing boat is dangerous, with high winds, strong currents and a busy shipping channel, which made it possible for the crew to have some idea of what it is to cross this zone in one of the “pateras”, the boats of fortune of the illegal migrants.

The sailing boat also tested technologies of counter-surveillance deployed on shore by the Makrolab team. At Tarifa, radio ham Aljosa Abrahamsberg fastened an antenna on the Tarifa fortress to intercept maritime communications between cargo liners and Tarifa traffic.

In Tanger, the crew met two Moroccan Fadaiat-Tanger representatives, Hicham Limrami and Youssef Hbib from a Larache organisation which works with immigrants and particularly their children, trying to give them "a boat for life", a craft to succeed in Africa rather than to seek happiness beyond the sea. Both took part in the three day Fadaiat workshop animated by Indymedia Estrecho. "Indymedia enables us to have a support, to connect our local associations to the rest of the world. Here, in Morocco, there is no freedom of speech."

Sailing for Geeks 2 was about physical reality, its visibility and its connections to digital perception - about the collision of representation and the concrete world. Hence mapping the physical space, navigation challenges, fragments of historical and symbolic traces, police control systems and power relations taking place in the straits.

The project will result in a film and other outputs. For more detail, maps, logs of the crossing, etc, see the project web-site

This project was supported by The Arts Catalyst (UK), Ellipse (Fr) and Projekt Atol (Slo).

Links

http://www.fadaiat.net
http://volt.lautre.net/sail/S4G2/index.htm

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CleanRooms, London

New works by Gina Czarnecki, Neal White, Critical Art Ensemble with Beatriz Da Costa, and Brandon Ballengee challenge our responses to biotechnology and explore its origins and implications

Exploring ideas of contamination and containment, ethics and accountability, the works in the CleanRooms exhibition ask the audience to decide how far they themselves would go with the emerging powers of genetic manipulation.

CleanRooms included major installations by Gina Czarnecki, Neal White and Brandon Ballengee, with performances of GenTerra by Critical Art Ensemble.

In Gina Czarnecki's Silvers Alter, life-size human forms "live" within a large video projection in the gallery. They are the subjects for you to manipulate and mate. The 'beings' you create have never existed before. Silvers Alter raises a simple question; to what extent are we prepared to participate in all that we have made possible and that we aspire to make possible for ourselves?

Neal White's Uncontrolled Hermetic recreates one of the controlled areas or clean rooms used in industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. You, the visitor, fulfil the final part of this system, as the contaminating or contaminated body, the weakest link in the ultraclean technology chain: a human being.

US group Critical Art Ensemble with Beatriz Da Costa present their participatory performance GenTerra. Lab-coated representatives from the GenTerra biotechnology corporation introduce their transgenic bioproducts. An installation and a video of the performance explains their work and explores the pros and cons of transgenics

Brandon Ballengee's installation From Farm 2 Pharm, created as a participatory project alongside the Oldham exhibition of CleanRooms, traces the history of humankind's struggle for dominance over natural evolutionary forces with a gallery installation of images of domesticated/engineered organisms.

Events programme

The exhibition was part of the extensive programme of associated Darwin Centre Live events including artist residencies by Brandon Ballengee and Michael Carklin and the Working with Wetware forum.

Working with Wetware, 20 June 2002.
This forum explored the work of artists who work directly with living biological systems. Speakers included Steve Kurtz (US), Oron Catts (Aus) from SymbioticA, Marta De Menezes (Portugal), Ruth West (US), Sandy Knapp (UK), Brandon Ballengee (US) and Gina Czarnecki (UK). The forum was chaired by Kodwo Eshun.

GenTerra performances by Critical Art Ensemble, 21-22 June 2002

Biotech drama workshops led by Michael Carklin 7 - 18 July 2002

Catalogue

The CleanRooms catalogue is available to buy online from Cornerhouse Publications

Price £11.95
ISBN 9780953454617
Pages 48, Binding softback, illustrated in colour and b&w
Dimensions 220mm x 200mm, Weight 

Exhibitions

Gallery Oldham, Oldham, Greater Manchester, UK

5 October - 30 November 2002

Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7, UK

20 June - 3 August 2003

Stills, Edinburgh, Scotland

Gina Czarneckis's Silvers Alter was also show as part of the Designer Bodies: The Future Of Human Genetics exhibition at Stills Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland, 3 April - 6 June 2004

 

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CleanRooms, Oldham

New works by Gina Czarnecki, Neal White and Critical Art Ensemble with Beatriz Da Costa challenge our responses to biotechnology: a science often perceived as secretive and sinister.

Exploring ideas of contamination and containment, ethics and accountability, the works in the CleanRooms exhibition asked the audience to decide how far they themselves would go with the emerging powers of genetic manipulation.

CleanRooms included major installations by Gina Czarnecki and Neal White, and performances of GenTerra by Critical Art Ensemble.

In Gina Czarnecki's Silvers Alter, life-size human forms "live" within a large video projection in the gallery. They are the subjects for you to manipulate and mate. The 'beings' you create have never existed before. Silvers Alter raised a simple question; to what extent are we prepared to participate in all that we have made possible and that we aspire to make possible for ourselves?

Neal White's Uncontrolled Hermetic recreated one of the controlled areas or clean rooms used in industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. The visitor fulfilled the final part of this system, as the contaminating or contaminated body, the weakest link in the ultraclean technology chain: a human being.

US group Critical Art Ensemble with Beatriz Da Costa presented their participatory performance GenTerra. Lab-coated representatives from the GenTerra biotechnology corporation introduced their transgenic bioproducts. An installation and a video of the performance explained their work and explores the pros and cons of transgenics

Artists in Residence

The exhibition at Oldham was accompanied by an extensive programme of educational and interpretative events, including artist residencies by Ruth Ben Tovim and Brandon Ballengee, Saturday workshops for children, talks and demonstrations. New York artist Brandon Ballengee worked with local unemployed young people to explore the origin, growth and contemporary practice of genetic engineering. From visits to local farms, pet stores, parks and markets, Ballengee and his collaborators traced the history of humankind's struggle for dominance over natural evolutionary forces, creating a gallery and on-line installation from images of domesticated and engineered organisms, titled From Farm 2 Pharm.

Catalogue

The CleanRooms catalogue is available to buy online from Cornerhouse Publications

Price £11.95
ISBN 9780953454617
Pages 48
Binding soft back
illustrated in colour and b&w
Dimensions 220mm x 200mm
Weight 190g

 

Exhibitions

Gallery Oldham, Oldham, Greater Manchester, UK
5 October - 30 November 2002

Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7, UK
20 June - 3 August 2003

Stills, Edinburgh, Scotland
Gina Czarneckis's Silvers Alter was also shown as part of the Designer Bodies: The Future Of Human Genetics exhibition
3 April - 6 June 2004

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Republic of the Moon, Liverpool

A touring exhibition of artists' works that reimagine the future of the Moon. Combining lunar narratives, fantasies and futures, Republic  of the Moon reclaims the Moon for artists, idealists, and dreamers.

As the players in the new 21st century race for the Moon line up – the USA rejoining China, India and Russia and jostling with private corporations interested in exploiting the Moon’s resources – a group of artists are declaring a Republic of the Moon: a ‘micronation’ for alternative visions of lunar life.

Republic of the Moon challenges utilitarian plans of lunar mines and military bases with artists’ imaginings and interventions. Combining beguiling fantasies, personal encounters, and playful appropriations of space habitats and scientific technologies, Republic of the Moon reclaims the Moon for artists, idealists, and dreamers.

The last race to the Moon was driven by the political impulses of the Cold War, but shaped by extraordinary visions of space created by writers, film-makers, and artists, from Jules Verne, Lucien Rudaux, and Vasily Levshin, to HG Wells, Stanislav Lem and Stanley Kubrick. Can artists’ quixotic visions reconcile our romantic notions of the Moon with its colonised future, and help us to reimagine our relationship with our natural satellite in the new space age?

Curated by Arts Catalyst and FACT, Republic of the Moon includes major new commissions by Agnes Meyer-Brandis and WE COLONISED THE MOON, and works by Leonid Tishkov, Andy Gracie, Liliane Lijn and Sharon Houkema.

The Moon Goose Analogue: Lunar Migration Bird Facility, Agnes Meyer-Brandis’ poetic-scientific investigations weave fact, imagination, storytelling and myth, past, present and future. In this major new work  the artist develops an ongoing narrative based on the book ‘The Man in the Moone’, written by the English bishop Francis Godwin in 1603, in which the protagonist flies to the Moon in a chariot towed by ‘moon geese’. Meyer-Brandis has actualised this concept by raising eleven moon geese from birth in Italy, giving them astronauts’ names*, imprinting them on herself as goose-mother, training them to fly and taking them on expeditions. The artist will build a remote Moon analogue habitat for the geese, which will be operated from a control room within the gallery. (* Neil, Svetlana, Gonzales, Valentina, Friede, Juri, Buzz, Kaguya-Anousheh, Irena, Rakesh, Konstantin-Hermann).

Luring us onto the surface of the Moon, WE COLONISED THE MOON (Sue Corke and Hagen Betzwieser) will create an immersive audience experience, Enter At Own Risk. For this new commission, the artists will create an intimate immersive installation in the form of a laboratory-like room in which a lone astronaut tenderly gardens a group of rocks, spraying them periodically with the smell of the Moon - a scent the artists have had synthesised based on reports from the Apollo crew.  The artists question what is real and what is imagined? the nature of the fake and the authentic object, the art of showmanship and illusion through this experimental performance piece, drawing on the entertainment iconography of early astronaut training.

Leonid Tishkov’s Private Moon, by contrast, brings the Moon down to us. Tishkov tells the story of a man who met the Moon and stayed with her for the rest of his life. In a series of photographs, the artist pairs images of his private moon with verse which describes how the Moon helps us to overcome our loneliness in the universe by uniting us around it. Tishkov and his illuminated moon have travelled the world for almost ten years. He has a dream to fly with her to the Moon.

Transforming the everyday into the mesmerisingly beautiful, Sharon Houkema’s M3, created with characteristic simplicity with an overhead projector and a bucket of water, conjures a moon so tantalisingly close you can almost hold it.

Interweaving artistic metaphor and scientific rigour, Andy Gracie‘s DIY-astrobiology experiment Drosophila Titanus attempts to select and breed an organism – a new strain of fruit fly – that might survive on Titan, a moon of Saturn. The artist recreates the environmental and atmospheric conditions found on Titan using everyday materials such as vodka, smoke alarms and a bicycle pump. The first iteration of the experiment was performed by Gracie with Kuaishen Auson, Janine Fenton and Meredith Walsh, in Laboratory Life co-commissioned by Arts Catalyst and Lighthouse earlier this year.

In Liliane Lijn’s moonmeme, the artist reveals her concept to write on the Moon from the Earth using a laser beam. The word ‘SHE' is projected onto the surface of the moon, the meaning of this word being gradually transformed as the Moon moves through its phases, the work combines territorial appropriation, the technological extension of human consciousness and mythologies. moonmeme is a symbolic union of opposites and an homage to the feminine principal of transformation and renewal.

The artists in Republic of the Moon regard the lunar orb not as a resource to be exploited but as a heavenly body that belongs to us all. Who will be the first colonisers of the Moon? Perhaps it should be the artists.

Occupy the Moon

To coincide with the opening of Republic of the Moon, Arts Catalyst has commissioned Tony White to write a short fiction Occupy the Moon.

Supported by

Republic of the Moon is a touring exhibition and programme curated by Arts Catalyst and FACT. It has been made possible with Grants for the Arts support from Arts Council England.

Moon Goose Analogue: Lunar Migration Bird Facility, 2011 links directly to Meyer-Brandis's, Moon Goose Colony, 2011, a project during her residency at Pollinaria, Italy, the site of the remote analogue habitat where the artist has raised and houses the colony of moon geese. Pollinaria, Italy

FACT, AV Festival 2012, Arts Council England

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The Urpflanze (Part 2)

A new commissioned body of work and installation by Melanie Jackson, shown in Transformism at John Hansard Gallery, University of Southampton in January 2013, and as a solo show at Flat-Time House, London, in March 2013.

In a series of moving image works and ceramic sculptures, Melanie Jackson continues her ongoing investigation into mutability and transformation, which takes its lead from Goethe’s concept of an imaginary primal plant, the Urpflanze, that contained coiled up within it the potential to unfurl all possible future forms. Contemporary science likewise imagines the potential to grow or print any form we can envisage, by recasting physical, chemical and biological function as an engineering substrate that can be programmed into being. These emerging technologies present new possibilities for the instrumentalisation of life on a previously unimagined scale.

In March 2013, Jackson's multifaceted work was installed throughout the ground floor of Flat Time House, the former home and studio of artist John Latham (1921-2006).

In the eighteenth century, the development of sophisticated techniques of ceramic production signified a victory of chemistry, culture and capital over formlessness. It pushed the capacity of the material to accommodate highly detailed representations, to radiate colour and sheen, to perform. Like clay, liquid crystals also have a visceral biological and mineral morphology that can collapse into formlessness, whilst harbouring the potential to assume (or emit the image of) any form. The mastery of the material is played out in a desire for the real in high definition, and a longing for the appearance of unknown and fantastical forms.

Jackson’s exhibition extends fairytale themes of absurd disruptions in vegetal scale, from Zola's ‘revolutionary’ carrot to the fantasies of remediation that science may have in store for us. The work begins in the botanical garden and leads us to the laboratory, from the clay pits to the factory floor, from its own animated voxels to the interior of the screen, and the forms and processes of its own production.

Melanie Jackson has collaborated with writer Esther Leslie on the production of a text that has informed the work and a publication that will be distributed as part of the exhibition.

In her essay for the exhibition guide, Isobel Harbison describes: “Jackson’s is an expansive, ambitious and intuitive work not easily reducible to cursory description. Her attention to the illusory surface textures of protean forms is not solely attentive to liquid crystals but extends metaphorically to other social and scientific developments (a fictional Jack-and-the-Beanstalk becomes a modern genetic scientist, or crystals self-organise into a palace whose display function changes consumer society forever). Perhaps most interestingly, her work carries within it a reflection on the new nature and task of the contemporary artist. Jackson’s real enquiry seems to be about the modified face of representative sculpture in the digital age, from Greek mythology’s morphology to natural biology, and from the produce of the clay factory floor to the process of 3d printing.Significantly, her sculptural inquiry is brought forward in video in conjunction with three-dimensional form embodying both kinds of contemporary physical encounter, now as often on screen as in the flesh.”
 

Biographical information

Melanie Jackson inhabits different tropes of art making to interrogate possibilities of representation against the engaged practices of the world. She is interested in ways in which thought and affect is conducted through the material, and much of her work has explored this against the context of work, production and the flow of international capital.  She is currently investigating the relationships between nature and technology through a series of experiments with fauna and flora, and the technologies available to her. Melanie is a lecturer at Slade School of Fine Art, her solo exhibitions include The Urpflanze (Part 1), The Drawing Room, London (2010), Road Angel, Arnolfini, Bristol (2007), Made In China, Matt’s Gallery, London (2005).  She won the Jerwood Drawing Prize in 2007.

Support

Melanie Jackson's commission has been supported by a Wellcome Trust Arts Award and the Slade School of Fine Art. The exhibition is supported by Arts Council England.

Website links

Melanie Jackson

Flat Time House

 

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2nd International Artists Airshow

Three years after the first Artists Airshow, a day of art and flying in and around Europe's largest wind tunnel at Farnborough, the 2nd International Artists Airshow took place at Gunpowder Park.

The 2nd International Artists Airshow reflected both the explosive and ephemeral nature of Gunpowder Park and investigated the artists' almost impossible dream of flight.
Two performance works started the day: Ben Blakeborough's
Winged Self was a flying platform designed and flown by the artist, then, in Eagle, Ruth Maclennan encouraged a trained eagle to document the moving public on the ground. In Gunpowder Park's dense woodland, Sonia Khurana's video installation Bird explored the possibility of flight through the constraints of the human body, and Hehe's Smoking Lamp responded to the direct pollution caused by cigarette smoke, whilst on a nearby hill their Air De Londres was an observation point from which people viewed and listened to the polluted skies over London. In the field station, Rachel Chapman, in her project Mapping the Air, collected spores from visitors clothing throughout the day. By examining airborne spores, the trajectory of a person's journey and their activities were be traced.
The day's finale was Anne Bean, Mark Anderson, Nick Sales (UK)'s Black Mass, in which they made a large scale pyrotechnic work which launched a sky bourne sculptural mass of dense black smoke which aimed to block out the sun.
Late in the evening, following the 'Aesthetics of Impossibility' symposium, visitors went on a night field trip to view the insects attracted by Brandon Ballengee's ultra-violet Love Motels for Insects.
The 2nd International Artists Airshow was a collaboration between The Arts Catalyst and Gunpowder Park.

Artists' Projects

Winged Self, Ben Blakeborough (Australia)
Blakeborough has been training himself to fly 'winged self' for several years, a real flying platform that hovered according to the artist's body movements.
"The theory of the Winged Self has developed from concepts elucidated by Charles Zimmerman in the 1950s. His chief concept was simple; every human possesses the necessary built in balance and reflex control within the middle ear, nerves and muscular system - if man could create a controlled, powerful downward column of thrust below his feet, he could easily balance and hover in one place. By leaning in the direction one wanted to travel, one could tilt the thrust vector and hence move in that direction. Many novel and ingenious concepts from this period were funded by defence budgets but the findings and aircraft eventually fell by the wayside. Thankfully Zimmerman’s ideas of the free flying self have survived due to the documentation of his ideas and flying apparatus." Ben Blakeborough


Eagle, Ruth Maclennan (UK)
Mclennan encouraged a trained eagle to document the moving public on the ground, with the results transmitted live on screen. Eagle looks at the communication between hunter and eagle, while the audience is in a strange position as both witness of the flight, and object viewed by the ‘eagle-camera’. The eagle plays the role of a machine (a flying camera), while still retaining the autonomous will of a wild bird of prey.
"Eagle is an ongoing art project that explores the symbolism and experience of the co-operation between birds of prey and humans, in particular the relationship of eagle hunter to trained eagle which originated in Central Asian nomadic cultures. Falconry is a dance of death: a ritual that represents the complex interdependence of humans and animals. In eagle hunting, the eagle stands in for the human hunter, the human killer. This surrogate role is the sign of culture, of the ritualisation of death.”


Bird, Sonia Khurana (India)
Khurana’s video installation was constructed in Gunpowder Park’s dense woodland, in a small shed, similar to those used for bird hides, as a site specific work that explored the possibility of flight through the constraints of the human body.
“Bird is about being a body. It is about an encounter with failed flight. It is an investigation of two kinds of limitations: the body confronting its own flesh and the forces of gravity, and a discrete questioning of accounts of the body which overlook sexual difference.”


Air De Londres and Smoking Lamp, Hehe (Helen Evans and Heiko Hansen, France)
Hehe take one step beyond the notion of flight by looking at the air itself and its quality. Continuing with a project started in Paris using public air-monitoring equipment, they utilised an automated monitoring station not far from Gunpowder Park, in Ponder's End in Enfield, that measures ozone (O3) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). At Gunpowder Park they made an observation point where people viewed and listened to the 'coloured skies' over London. Smoking Lamp was an interactive installation which responded to the direct pollution caused by cigarette smoke, which also marked the end of smoking in public in England on 1 July 2007.


Black Mass, Anne Bean, Mark Anderson, Nick Sales (UK)
Following on from a massive 'sky drawing' created for Artists Airshow 1 with adapted parachute rockets, a co-ordinated detonation device and 100m ribbons, Bean, Anderson and Sales were commissioned to make a large scale pyrotechnic work which reflected the history of munitions manufacture at Gunpowder Park and launched a sky bourne sculptural mass of dense black smoke which aimed to block out the sun.


Mapping the Air, Rachel Chapman (UK)
Chapman set up a mobile "spore extraction laboratory" where spores were collected from visitors clothing throughout the day. By examining airborne spores that collect on skin, hair, clothing the trajectory of a person's journey and their activities can be traced, revealing the ecology of the environment that person has passed through – sometimes quite specifically. Collating what is collected from a set of people on a given day generates a kind of ecological 'map' of the air for that particular day, interrelated to the topography of land below.

Rachel Chapman's Mapping the Air

Links to artists' websites:

HeHe
Anne Bean
Rachel Chapman
Ruth Maclennan

Support

Grant for the Arts from Arts Council England, the Henry Moore Foundation, and ANAT

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A Field Users Guide to Dark Places - South Edition, Office of Experiments, 2010

An evolving, experimental database of techno-scientific and industrial sites in the UK. This first phase covers the South of England.

A Field User's Guide to Dark Places - South Edition Now Online.

This is an Arts Catalyst commissioned online database of sites of secrecy, science and technology in the UK by the Office of Experiments. The South Edition of the database was created and presented as part of our exhibition Dark Places, in 2009-10, curated by Office of Experiments, The Arts Catalyst, John Hansard Gallery, and SCAN.

It is part of the ongoing Overt Research Project, run by Office of Experiments. to map and record advanced labs and facilities around the UK, and to involve the public in this exploration and revealment. 'A Field Guide to Dark Places' is the first of these experimental resources. It draws on and develops responses to the vast infrastructure of the techno-scientific and industrial/military complex, probing aesthetic, political and philosophical questions around spaces that are inaccessible or in some cases secret. It is focused on physical sites in the South of England (with reach of Southampton where the exhibition was shown).

Participate

The initial research was conducted by artists Neal White and Steve Rowell. The artists' aim now is to extend the scale of this work by opening up this resource to enthusiasts, amateur scientists and urban explorers and extending it across the UK. If you would like to take part, we ask that you attend a physical event. We run a number of events at which you can register to become an official Overt Researcher. These have most frequently included 'Critical Excursions'.

In order to register here as an Overt Researcher, we ask that you attend an Overt Research Project event. For more information on these events, please use the contact form.

Critical Excursions

The form of a Critical Excursion is experimental and varies depending on context. Recent Critical Excursions have included an intellectual and emotional tour of physical sites by vehicle "Secrecy & Technology: Legacy of the Cold War' around Southampton, with around 50 attendees. We utilised an experimental mix of factual, historic -informational and conspiracy video / audio on board a coach whilst moving around physical sites. Exceptional highlights were entry into a former Nuclear Bunker, a drive-past of Porton-Down and lunch and lecture at ISSEE (International School of Security and Explosives Education) at the Department of Homeland Security. More information and responses to the Critical Excursion are available at the following links.

New Scientist Blog - New Scientists take.
Angela Last Blog - A Mutable Matter reflection.
Geoforum Editorial - Theoretical Framing by Dr Gail Davies for the Scholarly Journal Geoforum.

Media

BLUEPRINT has published an extensive six page full colour featureon office of Experiments Dark Places project in the April 2010 Edition. Only available as a printed publication.

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