SEFT-1 Abandoned Railways Exploration Probe Modern Ruins 1:220

The spectacular SEFT-1 is a road and rail vehicle created by Mexican artists and brothers Ivan Puig and Andrés Padilla Domene, known together as Los Ferronautas.

Ivan Puig and Andrés Padilla Domene (Los Ferronautas) built their striking silver road-rail SEFT-1 vehicle to explore the abandoned passenger railways of Mexico and Ecuador, capturing their journeys in videos, photographs and collected objects.

In their first London exhibition, SEFT-1 Abandoned Railways Exploration Probe: Modern Ruins 1:220, commissioned by The Arts Catalyst and presented in partnership with Furtherfield Gallery, in the heart of Finsbury Park, the artists explore how the ideology of progress is imprinted onto historic landscapes and reflect on the two poles of the social experience of technology - use and obsolescence.

Between 2010 and 2012, the artists travelled across Mexico and Ecuador in the SEFT-1 (Sonda de Exploración Ferroviaria Tripulada or Manned Railway Exploration Probe). In a transdisciplinary art project, they set out to explore disused railways as a starting point for reflection and research, recording the landscapes and infrastructure, stories and testimonials around and between cities. Interviewing people they met, often from communities isolated by Mexico’s passenger railway closures, they shared their findings online, http://www.seft1.com, where audiences could track the probe’s trajectory, view maps and images and listen to interviews.

The artists’ journeys led them to the notion of modern ruins: places and systems left behind quite recently, not because they weren’t functional, but for a range of political and economical reasons. In the second half of the 19th century, the Mexican government partnered with British companies to built the railway line that would connect Mexico City with the Atlantic Ocean – and beyond to Europe. This iconic railway infrastructure now lies in ruins, much of it abandoned due to the privatisation of the railway system in 1995, when many passenger trains were withdrawn, lines cut off and communities isolated.

For this new exhibition, the artists are inviting British expert model railway constructors to collaborate by creating scale reproductions of specific Mexican railway ruins, originally built by British companies, exactly as they are now. One gallery becomes a space for the process of model ruin construction. The room’s walls will show the pictures, documents, plans and other materials used as reference for the meticulously elaborated ruin construction. With this action a dystopian time tunnel is created.

The SEFT-1 exploration probe will be on display next to the gallery 20–22 June, 11–13 July, 18–20 July and 25–27 July 2014.

The Artists

Ivan Puig (born 1977, Guadalajara, MX) has exhibited internationally in Mexico, Germany, Canada, Brazil and the United States. He is the recipient of a number of awards and residencies including the BBVA Bancomer Foundation Grant for the SEFT-1 project (2010-2011) and the Cisneros Fontanals Foundation (CIFO) Grant in 2010. Puig, a member of the collective TRiodO (with Marcela Armas and Gilberto Esparza), lives and works in Mexico City.

Andrés Padilla Domene (born 1986 in Guadalajara, MX) has exhibited work in various contexts including ISEA 2012 (Albuquerque, New Mexico), The National Museum of Art MUNAL (Mexico City, 2011), 04 Transitio_MX (Mexico, 2011), and EFRC, Centro de Arte Contemporáneo (Qutio, Ecuador, 2012). His video work as director and producer with Camper Media includes documentaries, fiction films and TV shows.

Support

Presented in partnership with Furtherfield Gallery

With support from Embassy of Mexico, Arts Council England, Central de Maquetas

Project attached files: 
Editorial checked: 
Taxonomy - artists practice: 
Taxonomy - geographies: 
Taxonomy - themes: 
Project
Exhibition
Commission

Ice Diamond and Whistler

New commissions by Torsten Lauschmann for Ice Lab exhibition

Alongside five imaginative designs for Antarctic research stations, Arts Catalyst and British Council have commissioned artist Torsten Lauschmann to make new work for Ice Lab: New Architecture and Science in Antarctica an exhibition that will illustrate how innovative contemporary architecture is enabling scientists to live and work in one of the most extreme environments on our planet.

Torsten Lauschmann's artworks will envelope audiences in a bewitching immersive environment, playfully offering visitors sounds, sights and sensations evoking the disorientating Antarctic landscape. Taking as his inspiration the phenomena of 'whistlers', very low frequency electromagnetic waves recorded in Antarctica, Lauschmann introduces the startling sounds of the frozen continent into the gallery. He extends the experiential atmosphere with a simple yet mesmerising audiovisual journey, Ice Diamond, splicing footage from the British Atlantic Survey research ship James Clark Ross, a vessel that can steam at a steady two knots through sea ice one metre thick, to create a kaleidoscopic vision which he describes as eluding to “the incredible human ingenuity and difficulties in dealing with in this extreme environment.”

Born in Bad Soden, 1970 Lauschmann now lives and works in Glasgow. His idiosyncratic practice using photography, video, sound, drawing, performance and installation is both eccentric and eclectic. Lauschmann merrily experiments with the mathematical, technological and scientific fusing them with comic, fictional, sometimes absurd ideas revealing his boundless curiosity about the World and beyond. From his World Jump Day (2005) participatory performance leap proposed to shift the Earth's orbit, to the intergalactic visions of Father's Monocle and Coy Lover (2012), his art-making explores the real and illusory.

Ice Lab: New Architecture and Science in Antarctica is an international touring exhibition featuring work by Hugh Broughton Architects, bof Architekten, David Garcia, Space Group, International Polar Foundation. It will give visitors a unique view of the inspiration, ingenuity and creativity behind architecture in the coldest, windiest, driest and most isolated place on earth. It opens at Architecture and Design Scotland, The Lighthouse in Glasgow from 26 July-2 October 2013 before touring to Manchester Museum of Science & Industry (21 October-6 January 2014) as part of the Manchester Science Festival.

Events

There will be an associated events programme of talks, workshops and film screenings at both The Lighthouse and at MOSI (TBC)

Publication

Accompanying the exhibition will be a publication with essays written by Dr David Walton (British Antarctic Survey and author of the recent Antarctica: Global Science from a Frozen Continent) and Sam Jab (co-founder of FAT architects, lecturer and writer).

Partners and links

Commissioned and organised by the British Council and curated by Arts Catalyst

Torsten Lauschmann

The Lighthouse

Architecture and Design Scotland

Museum of Science and Industry

We Made That

Editorial checked: 
Taxonomy - artists practice: 
Taxonomy - geographies: 
Taxonomy - themes: 
Project
Commission

Attention Weightlessness

A short film documenting The Arts Catalyst's series of research expeditions between 2000 and 2003, taking artists, dancers, film-makers and scientists into weightlessness.

Flights at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre, Star City, Russia organised by The Arts Catalyst and Project Atol Flight Operations. Material in this film originally appeared in The Arts Catalyst's short films Гора, Artists & Cosmonauts, and Gravitation Off!

Artists included:

  • Marcel.li Antunez Roca (and team)
  • Anna Alchuk 

  • Ansuman Biswas and Jem Finer
  • 
Ewen Chardronnet
  • 
Kitsou Dubois and company
  • 
Vadim Fishkin

  • Flow Motion (Edward George, Anna Piva, Trevor Mattison)
  • 
Stefan Gec
  • 
i-DAT

  • Andrew Kotting

  • Yuri Leiderman

  • Marko Peljhan

  • Mike Stubbs
  • 
Otolith Group with Richard Couzins

  • Andrei and Julia Velikanov

  • Morag Wightman

  • Louise Ki Wilson

  • Dragan Zivadinov

Scientists:

  • Anthony Bull

  • Kevin Fong

  • Rebecca Forth

  • Susan McKenna Lawlor

  • Roger Malina

  • Chris Welch

Philosopher:

  • Mikhail Ryklin

Music extracts:

  • Natacha Atlas, Cosmos Eden, Flow Motion

Partners:

With thanks to the trainers and cosmonauts of the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre, Star City Russia, especially Major Boris Naidyonov

Edited by:

Jack Whiteley

Editorial checked: 
Taxonomy - artists practice: 
Taxonomy - geographies: 
Taxonomy - themes: 
Commission

Nuclear Culture on Film

A day of film screenings and round table discussion investigating nuclear culture from the perspective of the 21st Century from nuclear entropy, utopian and dystopian belief systems, questioning scientific certainty, political agency and the proliferation of nuclear culture.

This programme of artists’ films investigates nuclear culture from the perspective of the 21st Century, reflecting on 1980s feminist experimental film and activism, gritty dramatic satire of the 1990s, and recent video-essay works from 2009 – 2012. Artists narrate their own experience of nuclear environments in Britain, the Urals, Estonia, Ukraine, Japan and Canada, travelling back home or to sites of disaster to try and capture the invisible or the unimaginable. Investigating the aesthetic implications of radiation reveals the impossibility of capturing an energy that bleaches the images from film and erases the hard drives of digital devices. The films raise important questions for nuclear critique from nuclear entropy, utopian and dystopian belief systems, questioning scientific certainty, political agency and the proliferation of nuclear culture. A roundtable discussion will tackle some of these issues with artists Kodwo Eshun (Otolith Group) and Mark Aerial Waller in conversation with philosopher Liam Sprod, chaired by Susan Kelly. Curated by Ele Carpenter.

Programme

11am Introduction by Ele Carpenter

11.25-12.30 The Otolith Group, The Radiant, 2012

12.30-1pm Mark Aerial Waller, Interview With a Nuclear Contract Worker, 1999 and Mark Aerial Waller, Glow Boys, 1999

1-2pm Light lunch and Isao Hashimoto, A Time-Lapse Map of Every Nuclear Explosion Since 1945 (2003).

2-2.30pm Yelena Popova, Unnamed, 2011. Introduced by Heidi Brunnschweiler

2.30-3pm Sandra Lahire, Uranium Hex, 1988 and Your Greenham, Short films, 2007. Introduced by Ele Carpenter

3-4pm Roundtable discussion: Kodwo Eshun and Mark Aerial Waller with Liam Sprod. Chaired by Susan Kelly.

4pm Tea & Coffee

4.30pm Chris Oakley, Half Life, 2009.

4.45pm Let Them Believe, 2010, Dir. Todd Chandler & Jeff Stark, featuring Eva and Franco Mattes, Ryan C. Doyle

5pm Closing remarks Susan Kelly and Ele Carpenter

5.30pm End

Curated by Ele Carpenter with students from MFA Curating, Goldsmiths: Heidi Brunnschweiller, Lucia Garavaglia, Lucy MacDonald, Laura McLean, George Vasey.

Screening Notes

The Otolith Group, The Radiant, 2012, HD video, colour, sound, 64 min 14 sec

The Radiant explores the aftermath of March 11, 2011, when the Great Tohoku Earthquake struck the North East Coast of Japan at 2.46pm, triggering a tsunami that killed tens of thousands and causing the partial meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. In the fissures opened by these catastrophes, The Radiant travels through time and space, invoking the historical promise of nuclear energy and summoning the future threat of radiation that converges upon the benighted present. Under these conditions, the illuminated cities and evacuated villages of Japan can be understood as a laboratory for the global nuclear regime that exposes its citizens to the necropolitics of radiation.

Mark Aerial Waller, Glow Boys, 1999, 14mins

In Glow Boys the disaster is brooding, waiting to happen. The film takes place in a British nuclear power plant in the company of contract workers who are also known as 'glow boys'. This term was an in-joke at the Three Mile Island reactor during the clean up operation in the late 1970's. Due to a shortage of contractors the same people would return with new identities. The glow boys or ‘sponges’ would pick up more and more radiation as well as more and more pay, leading good but short lives. The film and it’s companion ‘Interview with a Nuclear Contract Worker’ is based on extensive research, visits to reactors across Britain, and talks with shift workers, locals and nuclear scientists. The musical score is by contemporary atonal composer Paul Clark and includes a specially commissioned musical performance by Mark E. Smith of The Fall. Interview With a Nuclear Contract Worker, 1999, 9mins The character under interview is an extra from Glow Boys. He weaves a complex narration of his experience on the film set, shifting between his work in the reactor and his analysis of the 'nuclear racket'. Constantly in a state of flux, his conversation shifts from the film time, to the moment of being filmed, to his personal time away from the set. He is a temporal nomad, unconstrained by the controls of temporal designation. “If you think about it, we are, in some way, more celestial, almost divinely appointed. It couldn't happen without us.”

Sandra Lahire, Uranium Hex, 1987, 11mins

Sandra Lahire (1950-2001) was an important feminist experimental filmmaker. Using a kaleidoscope of experimental techniques, Uranium Hex explores uranium mining in Canada and its destructive effects on the environment and the women working in the mines. A plethora of images ranging from the women at work to spine-chilling representations of cancerous bodies are accompanied by unnerving industrial sounds and information about the effects of uranium mining. Marina Grinz writes: “The radiation of the body is transferred to the radiation of the picture. The radon 222 that disintegrates the skin seems here to over-expose the film image. …. Radioactivity is deployed as a radioactivity of the film image in itself.” Uranium Hex was made in collaboration with Jean Matthee, Anna Thew, Lis Rhodes et al. Funded by Channel4 at the London Film-makers' Cooperative.

Your Greenham (2007) Selected short films, 25mins

In 2007 the Guardian commissioned Beeban Kidron and Lindsay Poulton to document the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp online. Throughout the 1980s the peace camp attracted hundreds and thousands of women who protested against the deployment of cruise missiles at the USAF Greenham Common base until they finally left in 1991. ‘Your Greenham’ is an archive of 80s films and images alongside new interviews with women about their experience of the peace camp and non-violent direct action protest (NVDA). Far from nostalgic, the new films record the enduring legacy of Greenham on the lives and politics of women who took part in the protest.

Yelena Popova, Unnamed, 2011, 17mins DV, colour, sound, 4:3.

Popova’s video essays are investigations into the history of two unnamed towns built as secret settlements for the development and production of nuclear technology in the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Unnamed reflects upon the long suppressed nuclear disaster in the late 1950s in the city where the artist grew up. As the film develops, the representation of the disaster becomes a central metaphor for the 20th century. By alluding to Maurice Blanchot’s L’écriture du désastre (1980) the failure of science is compared to understanding (the comprehension of details) as opposed to knowledge (the awareness of consequences and coherence). As the title suggests, this video-essay reflects on the question of how invisibility of both the history of the town and a prototype disaster of the 20th century can gain a form of sensuous perceptibility so that it can be faced and considered. Part 2 ‘Nuclear Utopia’ focuses on a similar secret settlement built by the Soviets in Estonia. On her journey to this place, the narrator is constantly reminded of her experience as a child in such a town. The juxtaposition of past and present, which is at the heart of this quest, circles around the notion of ‘communist utopia’. The perfect system imposed by force as a central aspect of Stalin’s ideology (Jameson, F., 2007:xi) is addressed within the exceptional framework of this hidden nuclear site. As an enclave within an enclave, the unnamed town works as metaphor for the questionable premise of a fulfilled utopia. (Heidi Brunnschweiler).

Chris Oakley, Half Life, 2009, 15mins.

‘Half-life’ looks at the histories of Harwell, birthplace of the UK nuclear industry, and the development of fusion energy technology at the Culham facility in Oxfordshire. Produced with the cooperation of both these organisations, the film examines nuclear science research through a historical and cultural filter. Drawing on archive footage of the sites, alongside contemporary materials, the work takes structural clues from nuclear physics, exploring the heritage of nuclear energy from the roots of the technology that drove the industrial revolution. The relationship between nature, and our reliance on mineral energy resources, and the portrayal of the often-mundane realities of nuclear research seek to ‘normalise’ emotionally driven debates around the subject. With the recent widespread acceptance of the reality of climate change driven by carbon dioxide emissions, the work explores the realities and myths surrounding the nuclear sciences. Commissioned by the Arts Catalyst and SCAN.

Let Them Believe, 2010, 15:17 mins. Dir. Todd Chandler & Jeff Stark, featuring Eva and Franco Mattes, Ryan C. Doyle

Let Them Believe was shot on location in Chernobyl and Manchester. The film follows a group of artists plotting to steal a carnival ride from the radioactive zone of Chernobyl. The artists explore the site describing their personal reasons for going and the difficulty of making art in the face of a nuclear accident. The aesthetic of the film was probably inspired by Tarkovsky’s movie Stalker, scavenging scrap metal from the Zone; but shifts gear into another reality when they build the merry-go-round ride for the AND festival in Manchester. The narrator tells us “you can go to Chernobyl it’s safe in small doses, like the time it takes to ride.” She draws an analogy between the spin of the merry-go-round and the head-spin of the accident “when truth disappeared, when science gave up.” The work was inspired by nuclear artist James Acord.

Isao Hashimoto, A Time-Lapse Map of Every Nuclear Explosion Since 1945. 2003. 14’25”.

The Japanese artist Isao Hashimoto has created a beautiful, undeniably scary time-lapse map of the 2,053 nuclear explosions which have taken place between 1945 and 1998, beginning with the Manhattan Project's "Trinity" test near Los Alamos and concluding with Pakistan's nuclear tests in May of 1998. This leaves out North Korea's alleged nuclear tests in this past decade. Each nation is marked with a flashing marker on the map whenever they detonate a nuclear weapon, with a running tally. Hashimoto, who began the project in 2003, says that he created it with the goal of showing the fear and folly of nuclear weapons. The map is based on the data “Nuclear Explosions, 1945-1998’ by Nils-Olov Bergkvist and Ragnhild Ferm, co-published by the Swedish Defence Research Establishment (FOI) and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPIRI) in 2000.

Roundtable discussants

A roundtable discussion on nuclear critique from nuclear entropy, utopian and dystopian belief systems, questioning scientific certainty, political agency and the proliferation of nuclear culture.

Kodwo Eshun is a writer, theorist, filmmaker and co-founder of The Otolith Group with Anjalika Sagar, 2002. Their practice includes curating, publishing and production of artists work. Their research into aural and visual cultures is informed by the legacy and potential of the moving image and the archive. In 2012 The Otolith Group made the film ‘The Radiant’ exploring the aftermath of the Great Tohoku Earthquake and the partial meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Liam Sprod was born in England before the possibility of nuclear war prompted his parents to relocate to Hobart, Australia. There he studied, researched and taught philosophy at the University of Tasmania. Eventually tiring of merely reading European philosophy he has been undertaking research throughout Europe, tracing the various end-of narratives from the ends of history in Berlin and Jena, through the end of poetry in Auschwitz, to the end of television in Timisoara, Romania.  The result of this was the book Nuclear Futurism (Zero Books, 2012).  He is currently a PhD Student with the London Graduate School at Kingston University, where he is working on the confusion of time and space in post-Kantian philosophy as a way to open up the confrontation between realist and idealist tendencies within that tradition.

Susan Kelly is an artist and writer whose research looks at relationships between art and micropolitics, rhetoric and practices of organisation. She works in performance, installation, video, and writes and publishes. She works both independently and collectively with various political art research groups in London, and teaches Fine Art at Goldsmith's College.

Mark Aerial Waller makes films, events and sculptural installations that seek relationships with the historical positioning of culture; that mythologically potent archival data can coexist in the area between the reconfigured present and its original home. This work includes the film Glow Boys (1999), made in part at Oldbury and Sizewell reactors, after a year's research meeting staff and contractors at BNFL sites across the UK, Midwatch (2001), where interviews with veterans of the first British nuclear weapons tests collide with  Melville's Moby Dick in a psychologically charged exchange. Waller lectures at Central Saint Martins and Norwich University of the Arts and exhibits internationally.

Links to online resources

The Otolith Group, The Radiant, 2012 HD video, colour, sound, 64'14

Mark Aerial Waller, Glow Boys, 1999, 14mins
Cecile Massart, Cecile showed a film in 4 parts of her exploration of radioactive waste storage sites in Belgium. Details to follow.

Sandra Lahire, Uranium Hex, 1987, 11mins

Your Greenham (2007) Selected short films, 25mins
Yelena Popova, Unnamed, 2011, 17mins DV, colour, sound, 4:3.

Chris Oakley, Half Life, 2009, 15mins.
Let Them Believe, 2010, 15:17 mins Directed by Todd Chandler & Jeff Stark. Featuring Eva and Franco Mattes, Ryan C. Doyle

Isao Hashimoto, A Time-Lapse Map of Every Nuclear Explosion Since 1945. 2003. 14’25”

The roundtable discussion with Liam Sprod, Mark Aerial Waller, Kodwo Eshun and chaired by Susan Kelly, reflected on the films and issues raised by them.

Supported by

The Nuclear Culture on Film programme is a partnership between Arts Catalyst and Goldsmiths College, University of London. Supported by AHRC, Arts Council of England.

Editorial checked: 
Taxonomy - artists practice: 
Taxonomy - geographies: 
Taxonomy - themes: 
Event

The Making of Primate Cinema, Edinburgh Zoo

A film documenting artist Rachel Mayeri's collaborative research process with Dr Sarah Jane Vick

In Primate Cinema: Apes as Family, the artist imagines a primate social drama in a contemporary urban context and shows this to a chimpanzee audience. Her two-screen video installation juxtaposes the drama enacted by humans in the guise of apes (of a young female city ape befriending a group of outsiders) with mesmerising footage of the reactions of its ape audience at Edinburgh Zoo.

Research over 2010-11 took place in different spaces in Los Angeles and Edinburgh, with much filming in the Budongo Trail at Edinburgh Zoo.  In the final work, we are never sure whether we are seeing a lab, zoo, wildlife park, rumpus room or post-apocalyptic landscape inhabited by half chimp/half humans. Mayeri’s intriguing and amusing story-and-response structure contains darker undercurrents in its contemplation of the lives of our captive close relatives.
To make Primate Cinema: Apes as Family artist Rachel Mayeri collaborated with comparative psychologist Dr Sarah-Jane Vick, testing different styles and genres of film to gauge chimps’ responses and discussing issues around cognition and communication in research primates. 

Support

Wellcome Trust Arts Award, Mediterranean Institute of Advanced Studies and Arts Council England. With the kind support and collaboration of Edinburgh Zoo's Budongo Trail.

Editorial checked: 
Taxonomy - artists practice: 
Taxonomy - themes: 
Project
Commission

KOSMICA Film Night, October 2012

For the first time, KOSMICA devoted an entire evening to artists films about space, changing its format to bridge Earth and space through art and other cultural experiments out of this world. 

  • Film screenings from 7pm, with an introduction by Nahum Mantra
  • A chance to discuss and debate what you've seen with film makers including Ulrike Kubatta.

    The Films

    The One-Way Ticket 12.29'' , Joseph Popper

    Today we find our frontiers for manned exploration and adventure into the unknown on the brink of exhaustion. Out of this predicament, The One Way Ticket proposes to send one person on a voyage into deep space from where they will not return. The notion of not coming back opens up an exceptional scenario, so far unprecedented in the history of human space travel. Focusing on the experience of the lone astronaut, the short film is a response to research into a range of human factors that are particular to the mission and also underline its extraordinary nature. It depicts a collection of episodes transmitted from the spacecraft. Based along the path of the mission trajectory, the images simulate the experience of being in space and also infer some of the unique phenomena that can occur on a one-way trip.

    Campo del Cielo 5.14", Katie Paterson
    A large Campo del Cielo meteorite, which has been travelling through space and time for over four and a half billion years, has been cast, melted, and then re-cast back into a new version of itself, retaining its original form. A newly formed yet still ancient meteorite, still imbued with its cosmic history. The iron, small rocks, metal and dust inside becomes reformed, and the layers of its cosmic lifespan - the warping of space and time, the billions of years of pressure and change, formation and erosion - become collapsed, transformed and renewed.
    In years to come, the meteorite will be launched into space.

    She should have gone to the moon 58", Ulrike Kubatta
    She Should Have Gone To The Moon presents a uniquely personal chapter in the history of the space race. It tells the astonishing story of the pilot and pioneer, Jerri Truhill, who was trained in 1961, as part of NASA’s top secret Mercury 13 programme, to become one of the First Lady Astronauts. The documentary is a lyrical journey propelled by childhood aspirations, shattered dreams and a lifelong battle against female stereotypes and male prejudice. This is a film about Jerri Truhill’s ambition to conquer the unknown and the filmmaker’s fascination with a woman, who dared to break down all barriers in aviation. Set against the historical backdrop of the Space Race, the documentary both constructs an intimate portrait of Truhill and explores a unique chapter in American culture and society.

    Editorial checked: 
    Taxonomy - artists practice: 
    Taxonomy - themes: 
    Event

    Bionic People: workshop with John Williams

    Two-day filmmaking workshop for disabled artists and filmmakers, part of DadaFest and Shape/The Arts Catalyst's Specimens to Superhumans programme

    Gary Thomas from Disability Arts Online, attended as reviewer/participant and made this short film about the workshop.

    A two-day practical workshop with award-winning filmmaker John Williams to create short films that imaginatively address themes of disability, bioethics and prosthetics. This practical and inspiring two-day workshop is for disabled artists who already work with film/video and disabled emerging filmmakers who want to explore and extend their work in these media.

    John Williams is a writer/director with over 10 years experience. His films combine live action, animation and visual effects, engagingly dealing with highly sensitive subjects, including mental health (‘Robots’), young children dealing with the death of a friend (‘Hibernation’) and a child’s complex feelings towards his robotic dialysis machine (‘Paraphernalia’).

    Williams’ graduation film 'Robots' won over 10 international awards, and his films continue to win major awards across the globe, from the Young Director’s Award at the Cannes Lions to ‘Best Drama’ at the LA Short Film Festival for his short film ‘Paraphernalia’. His powerful film 'Hibernation', about two boys who try to bring their friend back to life, won over 20 international awards and has been screened in over a thousand cinemas worldwide. Williams recently directed 'Magic', starring Jane Horrocks, for Channel 4's Coming Up series, and has just completed his first feature script with Sound Films entitled 'Here on Earth' the story of one man's mission to the moon. He also works on pioneering music videos for the likes of Coldplay and Radiohead.

    Context

    Bionic People is the final event in the Specimens to Superhumans series curated by The Arts Catalyst and Shape exploring contemporary issues around biomedical science, disability and ethics, and how these are explored, represented and critiqued in art.  Earlier events included Labyrinth of Living Exhibits at the Hunterian Museum with Aaron Williamson, Sinéad O'Donnell, Brian Catling and Katherine Araniello, Alternative Ways of Thinking at Cheltenham Science Festival with Simon Baron-CohenJon Adams, Gabriel Hardistry-Miller and Ben Connors and "All that happened to us..." at Roehampton University with Ann Dickie, Anna BergströmTrevor Mathison, Professor Raymond Lee, Dr Siobhan Strike and Dr Jin Luo.

    Websites

    DadaFest

    John Williams videos

    John Williams abstract

    Shape

    Support

    Wellcome Trust People Award and Arts Council England

    Editorial checked: 
    Taxonomy - artists practice: 
    Taxonomy - themes: 
    Experience
    Event

    Cinema as Primatology Edinburgh Arts Festival panel discussion

    A panel discussion about the development of Primate Cinema: Apes as Family being exhibited in the Sculpture Court at Edinburgh College of Art during the Edinburgh Art Festival 2012

    DNA sequencing has placed humans firmly within the great apes, so how do our cognitive abilities differ from those of chimpanzees?  Creativity is considered to be a divide between humans and other species, but do we share basic preferences for novelty and perhaps even form and content with our closest relations? The symposium will explore similarities and differences in perception, cognition and socio-emotional behaviour between humans and chimpanzees, through the perspectives of artists Rachel Mayeri and Andrea Roe, and vet Andrew Gardiner who worked on a Wellcome Trust Medical Humanities Project entitled 'Pedigree Chums: science, medicine and the remaking of the dog in the 20th century', collaborating with colleagues at CHSTM, Manchester. 

    The panel discussion was chaired by Rob La Frenais, who commissioned Rachel Mayeri's video installation Primate Cinema: Apes as Family.

    Websites

    www.edinburghartfestival.com
    www.ed.ac.uk

     

    Project attached files: 
    Editorial checked: 
    Taxonomy - artists practice: 
    Taxonomy - geographies: 
    Taxonomy - themes: 
    Event

    Dark Places: artists investigations of technological history

    A session at the British Rocketry Oral History Project (BROHP) conference 2007

    Arts Catalyst presented the work of contemporary artists who explore the cultural and architectural legacy of the Cold War nuclear and space programmes as part of the British Rocketry Oral History Project (BROHP) conference 2007.

    Speakers included the novelist and journalist James Flint, artist Louise K Wilson, and curator Rob La Frenais. The session was chaired by Nicola Triscott, Director of Arts Catalyst.

    James Flint discussed some of the issues raised in his novel The Book of Ash which wove American development of nuclear science into a gripping story of art, atoms, alchemy, politics and paranoia, and was inspired by the American “nuclear sculptor” James L. Acord. Louise K Wilson‘s artworks explore perceptual, social and cultural aspects of science and technology. In A Record of Fear, she created sound and video works for Orford Ness, Suffolk – formerly a secret military testing site. To create Spadeadam, she investigated a UK Cold War test site, now used by Britain's Royal Air Force as an electronic warfare training range. Rob La Frenais reviewed some of Arts Catalyst’s art projects in the fields of space research and nuclear science and its work negotiating artists’ access restricted sites of science and technology in the UK and abroad.

    Speakers

    James Flint is the author of the novels Habitus (1998); 52 Ways to Magic America (2002), which won the Amazon.co.uk Bursary Award for the year 2000; and The Book of Ash (2004), winner of a 2003 Arts Council Writers’ Award. He has also published a short story collection Soft Apocalypse – Twelve Tales from the Turn of the Millennium (2004). His short fiction has appeared in collections published by Penguin Books, the New English Library and the ICA. When it was published in France in 1992, Habitus was judged as in the top five foreign novels of that year's Rentrée Literaire. Time Out called it "probably the best British fiction début of the last five years". He has worked as a section editor for Wired UK and science editor of the technology and art periodical Mute, and has written features and reviews for many national newspapers and magazines, including The Guardian, The Observer, The Daily Telegraph, Time Out and Arena.

    Louise K Wilson is a visual artist, whose work includes installations, sound pieces and video. Her recent work which springs from a curiosity into how the technology of flight affects our physiological states and psychological selves. To this end, she has participated in a movement experiment in zero gravity, co-opted a team of air traffic controllers in formation cycling on Newcastle Airport runway and been a passenger in an aerobatics plane repeatedly looping the loop. Previous associations have included the Montreal Neurological Institute, the Science Museum, London, the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre, Russia, the RSPB and Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service. Exhibitions have included Artists Airshow, RAF Farnborough (2004); Arena, Baltic (2003); Blue Streak, Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, Carlisle (2003), Runway/ Spadeadam, Gallery TPW, Toronto (2003) and A Record of Fear, Orford Ness, for Commissions East (2005). Her video Spadeadam is in the Archive at the Imperial War Museum, London.

    Rob La Frenais, Curator, Arts Catalyst

    Nicola Triscott, Director, Arts Catalyst

     

    Editorial checked: 
    Taxonomy - geographies: 
    Taxonomy - themes: 
    Event

    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

     

    Editorial checked: 
    Taxonomy - geographies: 
    Taxonomy - themes: 
    Project
    Exhibition
    Commission

    Pages