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.

Republic of the Moon: Artist's Breakfast

10.00am, Fri 16 December 2011
The Box, FACT, 88 Wood Street, Liverpool L1 4DQ
Breakfast with the artsits and curators of the exhibition Republic of the Moon

Artists Agnes Meyer-Brandis, Leonid Tishkov, Liliane Lijn and Andy Gracie discuss their work with The Arts Catalyst's curator Rob La Frenais and FACT's Mike Stubbs.

Crash - Moonlanding Workshop
Fri 16 December 2011 - Sun 26 February 2012
FACT, 88 Wood Street, Liverpool L1 4DQ, UK

In conjunction with Republic of the Moon Exhibition, at FACT, Liverpool, WE COLONISED THE MOON (Sue Corke and Hagen Betzwieser) held a series of workshops for young people taking inspiration from unplanned disasters in space.


Agnes Meyer-Brandis is an artist based in Berlin, Germany and has been involved in two major Arts Catalyst initiatives. Meyer-Brandis’ artistic practice is influenced by scientific research focused on the exploration of new worlds. Meyer-Brandis is the founder and director of the Research Raft for Subterranean Reefology (FFUR) which has explored deep in the dark zone above the earth and ice. In March 2011, Meyer-Brandis attended The Arts Catalyst’s Kosmica evening to talk about art, science and weightlessness. At this event, the artist explained details about her project Cloud-Core-Scanner, which involved a microgravity-generating flying manoeuvre carried out with the DLR (German Aerospace Centre). In late 2011, Agnes Meyer-Brandis was commissioned by The Arts Catalyst for a project with the touring exhibition “Republic of the Moon” curated by Rob la Frenais. 
Liliane Lijn has worked across media – kinetic sculpture, film, performance and collage – to explore language, mythology and the relationship between light and matter. In 2005, Lijn was ACE NASA, Leonardo Network artist in residence at the Space Sciences Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2013, Lijn was one of the six artists short-listed to produce a sculpture for the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square. Public commissions include Solar Beacon, a solar installation in collaboration with astrophysicist, John Vallerga on the two towers of the Golden Gate Bridge and Light Pyramid, a beacon for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, Milton Keynes.
'WE COLONISED THE MOON' consists of two artists, Sue Corke and Hagen Betzwieser. The artists combine different talents and interests that converge during collaborative projects. Sue Corke is a visual artist with an interest in the theatre of illustration, whilst Hagen Betzwieser’s art practice explores the gaps and connections between art and science with the aim of creating ‘New New Media’. 'WE COLONISED THE MOON' taps into contemporary unease about the future, whilst also offering an entertaining counterpart. In one project, the artists were able to synthesise the smell of the moon based on reports from the Apollo crew. As it is impossible to smell the moon directly, due to the vacuum in space, the reports are based on the scent inhaled when astronauts returned to their landing modules and the dust of the lunar surface reacted with oxygen and moisture for the first time.
Andy Gracie is a digital artist, creating technological systems designed to interact with natural living systems, incorporating ecosystems and biotechnology. At two Arts Catalyst events, Laboratory Life and Republic Of The Moon, Gracie presented his project “Drosophila Titanus”. The project developed an experimental breeding programme for fruit flies. The project aimed to genetically modify the new breed of fruit flies in order for them to survive on Titan, one of Saturn’s moons, which is considered to host an environment rather similar to Earth. In order to carry out this experiment, Gracie recreated the atmospheric conditions found on Titan using everyday materials such as vodka, smoke alarms and a bicycle pump.

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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Data Landscapes

Exhibition and symposium exploring the use of data and models of climate science within visual  arts contexts.

Data Landscapes explores the use of data and models of climate science within visual arts contexts. The  Data Landscapes exhibition features works by Tom Corby, Gavin Baily + Jonathan Mackenzie; Lise Autogena + Joshua Portway.

The exhibition will be preceded by a half-day symposium on Friday 20 May, investigating the creative potential of climate data, and how multidisciplinary art-science practices can appropriate data models and disseminate them to new audiences. 


Works by Tom Corby, Gavin Baily + Jonathan Mackenzie; Lise Autogena + Joshua Portway

Our modern understanding of climate arises from modeled data, gathered from multiple sources and synthesised across models of various types. ‘Data Landscapes’ presents two artworks that utilise real-time data to create poetic mappings of global systems.

‘Data Landscapes’ is organised by CREAM (The Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media, University of Westminster) in partnership with The Arts Catalyst. It forms part of an AHRC funded network project which has been exploring the use of data and models of climate science within visual arts contexts.

The Southern Ocean Studies by Tom Corby, Gavin Baily + Jonathan Mackenzie reveals hidden systemic complexity using climate model outputs of the Antarctic Southern Ocean. Currents circulating the central Antarctic land mass are generated in real-time and mapped against other environmental data sets. These produce flickering constellations of carbon circulation and wind direction, developing something that might be called a systems or materialist poetics. The project has been produced in collaboration with the British Antarctic Survey.

The project software runs in real-time generating the ocean currents encircling Antarctica, to, which are, mapped various ecological data sets. These geophysical phenomena visually mesh to produce filamented structures from data describing tidal flow, wind direction and geochemical and atmospheric flux. While it’s tempting to see the swirling forms as representative of an Antarctic wilderness, in actuality the patterning effect is as much a product of human activies as natural ecologies. The Southern Ocean is a crucial component of the Earth’s climate system as it may be responsible for absorbing 15% of the planets carbon emissions. Carbon saturation of this stretch of water caused by inaction on climate change, has had knock on effect in terms of increased heat transference throughout the planet; the intricacies of the patterning are bittersweet representing both the beauties of a complex Earth system and a political and social failure.

The project has involved extensive research into how climate systems work, climate model technologies and scientific research methodologies. In doing so it has received expert advice concerning climate data and modelling from Nathan Cunningham, David Walton, Andrew Clarke and Claire Tancell from the British Antarctic survey; access to climate data sets from Bob Hallberg from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Southampton’s Oceanographic Centre and the ARGO programme.

Lisa Autogena + Joshua Portway’s Most Blue Skies combines the latest in atmospheric research, environmental monitoring and sensing technologies with the romantic history of the blue sky and its fragile optimism. It addresses our changing relationship to the sky as the subject for scientific and symbolic representation. Fed by live global atmospheric data, the installation calculates the passage of light through particulate matter in the atmosphere and computes sky colours for five million places on earth, while displaying ongoing calculations and a global map of sky colours. A specially developed lighting system reproduces the colour of the current bluest sky in real time.

Most Blue Skies is an ongoing project by Joshua Portway and Lise Autogena. The first editions of Most Blue Skies were shown at the Gwangju Biennale in South Korea in 2006, Copenhagen Climate Summit, 2009 and Tensta Kunsthalle, Sweden, 2010. A scaled down presentation of the project will be shown here.

Most Blue Skies attempts to answer the child’s question: “Where is the bluest sky in the world?” - and it is a painstakingly laborious pursuit for an answer: Advanced realtime satellite and atmospheric sensor data is processed by custom-built software, simulating the passage of light through the atmosphere and calculating the colour of the sky at millions of places on earth. Minute by minute, as the earth rotates and weather systems change, the location of the most blue sky is displayed, along with the most accurate possible reproduction of it’s colour.  It plays with the tension between the simplicity and romance of the image of the blue sky, and the complex technology involved in measuring and representing it. It explores our changing perception of the sky space above us and the effort required to sustain a human vision of nature.

Developed with support from Tom Riley, Newcastle University, Space and Atmospheric Physics at Imperial College London, The Met Office, UCL Colour and Vision Research Laboratory, The Alexandra Institute, The US National Physical Laboratory and NASA.


Friday 20 May 2011, 1:30 – 6pm. Free.

The Data Landscapes symposium will investigate the creative potential of climate data, and how multidisciplinary art-science practices can appropriate data models and disseminate them to new audiences.

The symposium will touch on issues of public engagement and understanding of climate science, the role of interdisciplinary arts in an era of environmental change and communication and curatorial strategies. The symposium coincides with the Data Landscapes exhibition, 21-22 May 2011 featuring  The Southern Ocean Studies by Tom Corby, Gavin Baily + Jonathan Mackenzie reveals hidden systemic complexity using climate model outputs of the Antarctic Southern Ocean. Lise Autogena + Joshua Portway’s Most Blue Skies combines the latest in atmospheric research, environmental monitoring and sensing technologies with the romantic history of the blue sky and its fragile optimism.
2.00: Tom Corby, introductions, themes and overviews
2.15: David Walton
2.45: Anne Sophie Witzke
3.15: Philip Brohan
3.45: Break
4.15: Ed Gillespie
4.45: Natasha Freedman
5.15: Lise Autogena, Joshua Portway
5.45: Discussion and reflections
6.30: Private view of exhibition
Tom Corby is an artist and writer working at the University of Westminster. His work produced collaboratively with Gavin Baily and Jonathan Mackenzie explores intersections of complex systems, technology and information and has been exhibited amongst other places at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Zentrum fur Kunst und Medientechnologie (ZKM).
Prof David Walton is an Emeritus Fellow with the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), following on from 40 years working as a scientist and board member. As a member of BAS Board he was responsible for the Environmental Information Division (EID). Prof. Walton has taken a keen interest in NERC data management. The Antarctic Environmental Data Centre (AEDC) was part of his remit (part of EID). He was responsible for establishing the BAS artists and writers programme run jointly with Arts Council England.
Anne Sophie Witzke is a curator working and researcher working at the Alexandra Institute in Copenhagen. In 2009 she curated Re-think Information as part of the COP15 Re-think: Contemporary Art and Climate Change exhibition at the National Gallery of Denmark. Her research explores how the climate crisis is also an “information crisis” or an “epistemological crisis” and will discuss ideas and arts practices that reflect upon these issues.
Philip Brohan is a climate scientist working at the Met Office Hadley Centre for Climate Change. His research focuses on historical analysis of proxy weather data. He is currently involved in the citizen science project Old Weather that uses historic records to predict future climates.
Ed Gillespie is the director of the Futerra communications agency. Futerra produces some of the leading policy research on the communication of climate change and sustainability. Reports include Sell the Sizzle. The New Climate Message, 10 Tips for Sustainability Communication and The Rules of the Game.
Natasha Freedman is deputy Director of Cape Farewell. She is a producer/director with a particular interest in developing interdisciplinary arts projects. Prior to working for Cape Farewell, she worked for six years with the internationally renowned theatre company Complicite.
Lise Autogena & Joshua Portway are artists who have been working together since 1991. In their ambitious multimedia collaborations, they explore our relations to the networks, economies and technologies that surround us, and how our human experience is changed by the incorporation into these systems. Using advanced technologies, such as the visualisation of live global data streams, their complex multilayered installations explore a sense of global presence, time and human interdependence.

For more details click on the link opposite.

Video footage is available at

Supported by

Data Landscapes is supported by the AHRC, University of Westminster and Arts Council England.


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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.


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


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

The Arctic Perspective Open Space conference, Dortmund, Germany 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.
Collectively, the conference served as working meeting to envision future strategies of circumpolar interconnectedness, exchange, strategies and tactics of autonomy, the landscape of current circumpolar geopolitics, mobility, open-source information sharing, citizen sensing strategies, ecology, culture and the arts.
Active members of indigenous circumpolar communities, thinkers, writers, architects, artists, and technologists took part in the open space. They were working towards making an inclusive statement regarding an autonomous, indigenous driven future of the global North as it relates to access to new technologies and infrastructures and a future, technologically mediated, ecologically sound mobility.
The open space conference was held in conjunction with the Arctic Perspective exhibition at the PHOENIX Halle Dortmund (18 June – 10 October 2010) in the context of the European Capital of Culture RUHR 2010.
The 3-day gathering of some of the most dynamic thinkers from and on the circumpolar regions and the open source technology and tactical media communities included some events open to the public.
Friday, 24 September 2010
PHOENIX Halle, Dortmund, Germany
19:30 David Turnbull, Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab (VEIL), Architecture Faculty, Melbourne University (AU): Performativity: A Key to Autonomy, Mobility, and Working with Multiple Knowledges and Technologies in Distributed Systems (keynote)
Saturday, 25 September 2010
PHOENIX Halle, Dortmund, Germany
The Canadian Arctic Perspective: Inuit Culture, Technology, Autonomy
Michael Bravo, Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge (CA/UK): An Arctic Geopolitics without the Inside Out: Experiments in Autonomy (keynote)
Film screening: Inuuvunga – I Am Inuk, I Am Alive, CA 2004, 57 min 40 s

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.


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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Near Earth: A Week of Space Creation

A week of Space Creation at the Roundhouse, London, with artists and scientists took 100 young people on a journey that explored space through digital photography, animation, sound and music, drama and the performing arts. Part of SPACE SOON.

Workshops were led by Semiconductor, Luke Jerram, Kate Tierney, Tony Hall, Trevor Mathison, Mat Fox, Marcus Ahlers, Hilary Westlake and Morag Wightman, with the input of scientists Chris Welch, Kevin Fong and Mark Lythgoe.

Part of the international art and space event Space Soon.

Space Animation

Led by Semiconductor - animation artists Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhadt - participants took snapshots produced from satelites orbiting the earth and explored how to create time-lapse digital animation sequences.

Space Digital Film & Photography

Led by arist Luke Jerram, participants explored the tricks of film and photography and learned how experts manipulate images from space. 

Space Radio

Led by artists Kate Tierney and Antony Hall, participants worked to decode and transmit sound from space.

Space Music 1 - Recorded

Led by musician Trevor Mathison, participants experimented with panning, overlaps, fades, dissolves, delay and reverbs to record their journey to space.

Space Music 2 - Live

Led by Mat Fox. Participants joined an out-of-this world band and created some cosmic sounds and recorded their own live sessions.

Exploring Energy

Led by Marcus Ahlers, participants collected electricity from sunlight, built hydrogen fuel cells and became energy technologists of the future.

Space Drama

Led by theatre maker ilary Westlake. Participants explored outer space themes using iconic music and images and created a striking theatrical performance.

Space Movement

Led by dancer Morag Wightman. Participants worked suspended off the floor and explored aerial dance with Morag Wightman, one of the very few dancers to experience zero gravity first hand, to create a new piece exploring gravity.

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Kapelgraf Zero-G, Vadim Fishkin

Experiment with floating drops and installation, created for MIR Campaign 2003

Vadim Fishkin: "I remember the impression a black-and-white telecast from a Soviet space station made on me as a child. I recall the moment when a cosmonaut poured out water from a glass - the suspense and transformation of the water into amorphous shapes and different oblong drops captured my attention so much that I forgot about the people levitating around it.

Many years later, it all came back to me with a Stanislaw Lem novel. The story was about extraterrestrials from Venus who described our material civilization with accuracy, but failed to
recognize people as individuals and creators. Instead, they talked about particles of some strange, soft (liquid) mass, continuously separating into oblong drops. It remained for them a puzzling substance - a form retaining information - that they couldn't decipher.

The Kaplegrafs are devices that can translate data into the language of "water drops" and use water to convey meanings that transcend normal linguistic conventions. In normal gravity, the Kapelgraf translates a time-based substance (sound-voice) into a more substantial but still ephemeral substance (drops of water). In microgravity conditions, the drops remained in space, changing direction in mid-air according to the subtle variations in the balance of forces on the aircraft. The coloured drops were programmed to “visualise” sequences of Johann Strauss' Blue Danube while levitating around in elliptical paths.


Producer: DUM (Ljubljana)
Drop rhythm by Tomaz Grom
Special thanks to Bojan Vukovic for technical assistance
Commissioned by The Arts Catalyst and the MIR Consortium (Arts Catalyst, Projekt Atol, V2, Leonardo Olats, Multimedia Complex for Actual Arts)
Flight: MIR Campaign 2003
Funded by the European Commission Culture 2000 Fund and Arts Council England


MIR: Art in Variable Gravity, Cornerhouse, Manchester, UK (Arts Catalyst/MIR)

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Brilliant Noise - Glorious Soviet Cosmos (Space Soon)

SPACE SOON Space Film Night

The astonishing Russian documentary First on the Moon by Alexei Fedorchenko shakes our understanding of the history of human spaceflight. 

Dream Time by Jane and Louise Wilson shows the lingering power of the Russian space programme in the cash-strapped post-Soviet era.

In Semiconductor’s Brilliant Noise, untouched images of our sun, captured by the SoHo satellite, present an alternative aesthetic of space.

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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.


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



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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Sounds of Space, Kate Tierney residency

Kate Tierney's investigation of sounds of deep space at the Centre for Astrophysics & Planetary Science, University of Kent

Kate Tierney is a multimedia artist specialising in sound and its perception. Her artwork responds to and interprets environments and encourages interaction, experimenting with the physical nature of sound. With a background in electronics, engineering, computing and sound design, Kate’s projects often include the design/build of crucial hardware and software.

The research of the Centre for Astrophysics and Planetary Science (CAPS) focuses on the origin and evolution of galaxies; the birth of stars; astrochemistry; asteroid and cometary impacts on planets; spacecraft damage; and detector development. CAPS is heavily involved in several major astronomical missions, and the recent Huygens probe to Titan was built at Kent.

Kate's residency involved a practical, aesthetic and intellectual exploration of the following questions:

1. As scientists have extended the normal range of perception to show visual images of deep space, how can sound in space (which exists, but is too tenuous to be heard with ears) be similarly represented?

2. How can the dynamism & violence of the universe be revealed, including that of the immediate environment of Earth? How can sound be used to do this?

3. How do we filter out background noise, both in real life & in astronomy? 

Her residency included a trip to attend an observing run at Subaru telescope, Mauna Kea, Hawaii.

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Creative Arts Project: Astro Black Morphologies

Flow Motion Astro Black Morpholoties schools project

Working in partnership with Highfield Primary and Bassett Green Primary School, the John Hansard Gallery provided young pupils with the opportunity to participate in a large scale art-science project, based on its recent exhibition, Astro Black Morphologies. The project, lasting ten days, led over 300 children, between the ages of 4 and 11, on a journey through outer space. The children started their journey by exploring the innovative, multi-sensory exhibition of sound and visual transformation of Black Hole data at the John Hansard Gallery. Through open discussion, the young pupils considered how art and science complement each another before creating their own art-science work.


Supported by the expertise of Museum Studies, Physics and Astronomy/Astrophysics student volunteers from the University of Southampton, artist Ratna Begum worked with pupils to depict designated themes of the solar system on 8ft tall panels. A total of 15 wall panels were designed by the pupils to display in their schools. The panels, once linked together, materialized into one large scale painting of Earth to the edge of the Universe!

Funded by

This project was financially supported by a Community Fellowship grant (made possible by the Higher Education Active Community Fund).


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The Lab

An interdisciplinary arts-science curriculum project

Teachers days, artists' training and workshops for students took place during the 2004/5 school year. The artists worked within three main themes, Transformation: Sound and Electronics, The Changing Nature of Materials and (Un)Natural Selection: biodiversity to biotechnology.

The artists:

Flow Motion (Anna Piva and Eddie George) worked with pupils to record and process sounds from their environment. They created loops and rhythms, used multi-track and mix. The final piece, interspersed with moments of melody, driving rhythm and rap, contained intensely personal voices and sounded astonishingly professional.

Kate Tierney worked with pupils using stills camera and video. Using reflection as a theme, the pupils began to manipulate images using Photoshop and Flash. The finished piece brought together still and video images and animated text and showed a budding awareness and obvious delight in abstract visual language. A presentation/installation which combined the visuals from Kate’s workshop with the sound from Flow Motion’s workshop was screened at the end of the three days.

Lucy Stockton-Smith’s workshops were designed to encourage the pupils to explore and identify the structure and function of organic materials. They made slides of organic materials which they projected large scale and used as a basis for drawings and prints. The workshops were a hotbed of fervent discussion and activities throughout the two days.

Sally Hampson’s workshops were also designed to explore and identify the structure of organisms. The pupils used close observation to create beautiful, finely detailed lifelike drawings and sculptures. The concept of the museum was also explored imaginatively.

Siobhan O’Neill’s workshops used drama and storytelling to explore the role that genetics and culture play in defining what makes us unique and what similarities we share. Over the two days each pupil created a self-portrait with sound, image and text that showed a growing expansive awareness of self.

Tony Hall’s workshops explored cymatics, patterns in liquids caused by sound. Pupils devised their own experiments with household liquids and foodstuffs to create choreographies of changing patterns, which they captured with drawings, microscopic images and short digital videos.

Marcus Ahlers worked with the pupils to build Solar Puddles and Solar Cells, and explored their practical applications. A Solar Puddle, consisting of a shallow pool of water in the earth contained by layers of plastic tarp and insulated from below with natural materials, pasteurises water. The Solar Cell, built from junk materials such as plastic bottles and tubing, utilizes natural dyes extracted from plants and converts solar energy into electrical energy.

Artist Luke Jerram held workshops for 11 year olds about to start in Year 7 at Castle Community School as part of a summer school. The children made hot air balloons and seacraft.


Castle Community School, Creative Partnerships Kent.

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