Truth Serum

Neal White's Truth Serum was an off-site participatory performance, linked to a gallery installation, exploring the pharmacology of truthfulness

The Office of Experiments' experiment in consensual self-experimentation in support of freedom from artistic censorship was conducted with volunteers in a secret venue in Liverpool on Saturday 29 March 2008. The project sought to highlight the case of artists such as Steve Kurtz and Critical Art Ensemble, and their persecution in the USA, which marks an ever-increasing creep of the security state into the nervous system of culture. A small number of volunteers took part in the experiment; They were asked to attend a venue in Liverpool at a specific time on the day.

The experiment was commissioned by The Arts Catalyst from Neal White of the Office of Experiments, as part of Sk-interfaces, an exhibition at FACT (Foundation for Art & Creative Technology), Liverpool. Developed with Dr. Nicolas Langlitz from the Anthropology Research Collaboratory and Max-Planck Institute, Berlin, for the Office of Experiments.

Truth Serum was also shown in Sk-interfaces at the Casino Foundation for Contemporary Art, Luxembourg in September 2009.

The work features in  'The Body and Contemporary Art' by Sally O'Reilly for Thames and Hudson Twentieth Century Art Series.

An essay by Nicolas Langlitz 'The Office of Experiments' Truth Serum Threat: Notes on the Pharmacology of Truthfulness' accompanied the work.

Link to artist's website:

Office of Experiments

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Aleksandra Mir's vast rocket (20 metres high), a monumental ephemeral sculpture, was built in the former engine shed of the London Roundhouse in September 2006.

Aleksandra Mir's vast rocket (20 metres high), a monumental ephemeral sculpture, was built in the former engine shed of The Roundhouse in September 2006. It was constructed out of junk: steel, fibreglass, tractor tires, industrial fans and a discarded tank from a toothpaste factory.  It took two days of construction on site, stood erect for three days only and was dismantled in another two days.

The rocket that effectively went nowhere is commemorated through a mixture of production stills, drawings, space ephemera and the artist’s own pin up photos taken in scrap yards around England during the search for old and dirty things to make the work. 

Links to artists' website :

Aleksandir Mir

Supported by:

The Arts Council of England, The Henry Moore Foundation

Industrial Design & Fabrication - Cory Burr, C.Burr Design / Stratford Welding
Engineering - Price Myers
Rigging - MTec Freight Group

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Space on Earth Station (Space Soon)

Space on Earth Station is a space station on earth, shown as part of SPACE SOON

Space on Earth Station is a space station on earth. It is an experiment that is inhabitable, fully functional, using a low-tech and low-economy architecture. It is concerned with the transfer of knowledge and exploration of bottom-up aesthetics. Space on Earth Station is foremost an experiment that aims to explore conditions for living, and experiment with our removal from and reconnection with what is natural. Natural in terms of nature, rights, relationships and our social structures. It was designed, set up and inhabited by Danish radical architect group N55 with UK artist Neal White. During the week, experiments and expeditions were conducted in collaboration with artists and the public. Collaborators included artists Marcus Ahlers and Kayle Brandon.

Space on Earth Station was installed at Camden Roundhouse, London in September 2006 for Space Soon.

Links to Artists websites:


Neal White


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Interspecies, London

Interspecies uses artistic and participatory strategies to stimulate dialogue and debate, showing artists in contact with real animals and negotiating a new power relationship, questioning the way we view our interactions with animals during Darwin's anniversary year.

Interspecies asks: Can artists work with animals as equals? If not, what is the current state of the human-animal relationship? It has recently been shown that humans are closer to the higher primates than previously thought, with chimpanzee and gorilla behaviour reflecting politics, deception and even possibly creativity. What does this mean to the way we see ourselves as one species inhabiting a planet in crisis?

This exhibition centres around a durational work by Kira O'Reilly and draws together projects by Nicolas Primat and other artists who question the one-sided manipulation of non-human life-forms for art, and have tried to enter the animals' point of view as a fundamental part of their practice. It has to some extent been inspired by Donna Haraway'sWhen Species Meet but was triggered by discussions with the late Nicolas Primat.

The artists

Nicolas Primat specialised in directly working with monkeys and apes in collaboration with primatologists. In Portrait de Famille, he is playfully swarmed by a tribe of squirrel monkeys, in Demo Bonobo, he established a relationship via sexual signals with a group of Bonobo apes and in The Making of Les Petits Hommes Vers he and his colleagues make a science fiction film with a group of monkeys.

Kira O'Reilly's durational performance Falling Asleep With A Pig. The artist and pig (Deliah) cohabit a living space, partially viewable by the public for 72 hours. At some point the pig and artist fall asleep. The work addresses the ethics of human and animal interaction, acknowledging the implicit ambivalences and violence in the appropriation of animals as a resource.

Antony Hall's Enki Experiment 4 allows visitors to Interspecies to communicate with an electric fish on the same level, avoiding the use of language, instead stimulating a shared empathy through a physical connection. 

Ruth Maclennan's films Harry and Three short films on Hawks and Men explore the relationship between a bird of prey and the human being who trains it, capturing the rapt gaze of hunter and bird, recalling ancient ideas of shape-shifting and shamanic transformations. 

Rachel Mayeri's Primate Cinema: Baboons as Friends juxtaposes footage of baboons taken in the field with a re-enactment by human actors, shot film noir style in a bar in Los Angeles. A tale of lust, jealousy, sex and violence transpires simultaneously in non-human and human worlds.

Beatriz da Costa's work PigeonBlog proposes an alternative way to participate in environmental air pollution data-gathering through equipping urban homing pigeons with GPS-enabled sensing devices. PigeonBlog is intended as a social experiment between humans and animals.

Snæbjörnsdóttir/Wilson's Radio Animal involves a specially designed caravan in which the artists to travel to various locations in the UK to gather material from people about their relationship to animals. They are particularly interested in animals that are considered ‘unwelcome’ visitors but have for whatever reason found their way into what we may consider our own territories.  Animal Radio is a Story Gallery, Lancaster commission funded by the Henry Moore Foundation.


Interspecies included two symposia chaired by Rob La Frenais:

Non-Human Primates with Sarah-Jane Vick - primatologist and psychologist; Patrick Munck - artist, videographer and collaborator with Nicolas Primat; Rachel Mayeri - artist

Animals, Humans and Power with Giovanni Aloi - editor Antennae; Ruth Maclennan - artist; Helen Macdonald, author of Falcon; Bryndis Snæbjörnsdóttir; Karen Knorr - artist and photographer

Rachel Mayeri also held two Primate Cinema workshops on How to Act like an Animal as part of the exhibition

Links to artists' websites

Kira O'Reilly, Antony Hall, Ruth Maclennan, Rachel Mayeri, Beatriz da Costa, Snæbjörnsdóttir/Wilson

Supported by

Arts Council England, Darwin 200, A Foundation

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Nuclear: Art & Radioactivity

The Nuclear exhibition explores these intricacies through two new commissioned works by Chris Oakley and Simon Hollington & Kypros Kyprianou.

Nuclear power is re-emerging as a concern for our times, both as a generator of energy and as part of a defence strategy. Today it seems to stand for the failed utopian promises of modernism and a fresh hope for a carbon-free future. The contradictions that lie at its core have provided a rich source of questioning for artists, scientists, ecologists and activists for many years.

Last year, high court judge Jeremy Sullivan caused an apparent setback to the government's nuclear energy ambitions by ruling that public consultation into the creation of a new fleet of nuclear power stations was "misleading" and "seriously flawed". Soon after these events, Simon Hollington & Kypros Kyprianou started a residency at The British Atomic Nuclear Group as part of a public perceptions programme. Hollington & Kyprianou's work in Nuclear is the outcome from this residency, particularly their work within B.A.N.G's wide-ranging public consultation into the possibility of siting a nuclear power facility in the heart of London. Their new installation, 'The Nightwatchman' traces changing perceptions of the nuclear power industry over its 50 year history through a single immersive narrative environment, blending fact and fiction into a darkly humorous journey through hard-nosed PR and spin to a logical hysteria.

Chris Oakley's new film Half-life looks at the histories of Harwell, birthplace of the UK nuclear industry, and the new development of fusion energy technology at the Culham facility in Oxfordshire. Oakley gained the cooperation of both these organisations in his research and filming. The film examines nuclear science research through a historical and cultural filter. 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.


Nuclear Talkaoke, 3-7 pm, Friday 14 November 2008, Nicholls and Clarke Building, 3-10 Shoreditch High Street, Spitalfields, London E1
Hosted by The People Speak, the Talkaoke is a mobile chat-show  which will allow visitors to comment on the work and the issues around it in an informal and entertaining way.

Nuclear Forum 10am-6pm, Friday 28 November 2008, at The Royal Society of Arts (RSA), 8 John Adam Street, WC2N 6EZ


In partnership with RSA Arts & Ecology, Arts Catalyst and SCAN present a forum exploring the impact of nuclear power in art and culture. Prominent artists, writers and experts discuss their work and engagement with the issues around nuclear energy, from Hiroshima through the 50s' white heat of technology and the Cold War nuclear tensions to present day energy debates.


James Acord, artist and 'nuclear sculptor'
Keith Barnham (Imperial College)
Paul Dorfman (Warwick University), expert on nuclear consultation and radioactivity risks,
Kate Hudson (LSBU), chair of CND and editor of the journal Contemporary Politics
Kyp Kyprianou & Simon Hollington,artists
Steve Kurtz, artist and activist, Critical Art Ensemble (by video link)
Gustav Metzger, artist and activist, founder of Auto-Destructive Art
Chris Oakley, artist
Pam Skelton, artist (Central St Martins College of Art)
John Wills (Kent University), historian, author of Conservation Fallout, a look at nuclear protest in California


The Telegraph
Critial Art Network

Links to artsts' websites

Chris Oakley, Simon Hollington & Kypros Kyprianou

Video and photo archive of The Nightwatchman

Supported by

Nuclear: art & radioactivity is commissioned and produced by Arts Catalyst with SCAN media arts agency, and in association with RSA (Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, Manufacturing and Commerce) Arts & Ecology. Arts Catalyst and SCAN are funded by Arts Council England.

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The Case of the Deviant Toad

Ballengee's artistic practice is immersed in the study and exchange of ideas around biodiversity and ecological change, and particulary focuses on global species decline.

New York artist, activist and ecological researcher, Brandon Ballengee brings his startling high-resolution scanner photographs, video and preserved specimens of deformed toads to the Royal Institution for his first London solo exhibition: The Case of the Deviant Toad. The show, exploring issues of biodiversity and ecological change, presented the outcome of the artist's 'Ecoactions' and study of UK amphibians commissioned by The Arts Catalyst and Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

Ballengée's artistic practice warns of high incidences of amphibian deformity in response to environmental degradation through his creation of aesthetically rich images and intriguing installations. 

In the exhibition, Ballengée presents variations of his sculptural series Styx which display cleared and stained specimens of deformed toads, each tiny animal presented in a precisely illuminated glass dish. In a gallery context, the specimens resemble translucent gems; enchanting, terrible and other-worldly. Framed watercolour prints of detailed vibrant specimens scans are reminiscent of x-rays, presenting large-scale images of fragile delicacy to invoke viewers' empathy.

The free exhibition at the Royal Institution, The Case of the Deviant Toad, coincides with the launch of a new publication of Malamp: The Occurrence of Deformities in Amphibians by Brandon Ballengée.


Malamp, The Occurrence of Deformities in Amphibians by Brandon Ballengée. A monograph, jointly published by The Arts Catalyst and Yorkshire Sculpture Park, brings together Ballengée’s UK research with findings from his global amphibian studies. It includes texts on his practice from arts, science and ecological perspectives, including a keynote essay by the renowned art critic and curator Lucy R Lippard. Additional contributors include Clare Lilley, Head Curator at Yorkshire Sculpture Park; Nicola Triscott, Director of The Arts Catalyst; Dr Stanley K Sessions, Professor of Biology, Hartwick College and Dr Kerry Kriger, Director of Save the Frogs. The publication is richly illustrated with extraordinary photographs, Ballengée’s drawings and other artworks.

Malamp: The Occurrence of Deformities in Amphibians, Brandon Ballengée. Edited by Nicola Triscott/Miranda Pope. 72 page, softback. £15.95. ISBN 978-0-9534546-7-9

Full picture credits

Scanner photographs of cleared and stained multi-limbed Pacific Tree frogs from Aptos, California in created in scientific collaboration with Dr Stanley K Sessions. MALAMP titles in collaboration with the poet KuyDelair; Unique Digital chromogenic prints on watercolor paper, 2001-07. Courtesy the artist, New York City and Nowhere Gallery, Milan.

Detail: Cleared and stained deformed Pacific treefrog from Styx sculpture installed at the Biotechnique Exhibition, Yerba Beuna Center for the Arts, San Francisco 2007. Malamp drawings, 1997-2000 of deformed Pacific Treefrogs from California. Polluted pond water, ash, and leftover coffee on artist-reconstituted paper. Photographs Foto22 courtesy of the artist and private collection, New York City.

Malamp drawings, 1997-2000 of deformed Pacific Treefrogs from California. Polluted pond water, ash, and leftover coffee on artist-reconstituted paper. Photographs Foto22 courtesy of the artist and private collection, New York City.

External links

The International Year of BiodiversityMalamp UK Youtube Video, Antennae Issue 10, Green Museum, Eco Art Space, Archibald Arts, Wave Hill, Malamp

Partner websites

Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Royal Institute of Great Britain

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Ice Blink

Artworks by Simon Faithfull from his journey to Antarctica

Ice Blink is a term referring to a white glare that appears on the underside of low clouds in sub-zero sea conditions, indicating the presence of ice beyond the range of vision, and warning ships to be on guard.

Artist Simon Faithfull was invited to travel to Antarctica with the British Antarctic Survey as part of The Arts Council’s International Fellowships Programme. Departing from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire he travelled on to the Falklands via Ascension Island, where he joined scientists on board the ice-strengthened ship RSS Ernest Shackleton. On its way south to Antarctica, the ship broke its way through expanses of sea-ice, passing icebergs, ice cliffs and uninhabited islands heading for the science-fiction-like Halley Research Station perched on stilts above the empty, white wilderness.

Surrounded by inhospitable conditions outside of the vessel the crew within lived their own set conventions and references that had developed over years of exploration, independent of the changing society in the external world.

Ice Blink was an exhibition of work from this incredible journey; daily drawings made on a palm pilot etched onto glass; a poetic film of a whaling station populated with seals, photographs that defy perceptions of scale; films of the view through the porthole redolent with a Sokurov-like quality of light; experiments with weather balloons; and a performative lecture highlighting the myths of Antarctica and the realities of how the climate change has shifted this archetypal remote location.

Antarctica is a mythical location that has captured the imagination of many, and whose reality defies known perceptions of scale and experience. It is the location where the effects of global warming can be physically experienced and where the remote becomes an identifiable place.

Antarctica is a site tied up with a sense of British identity: a territory far from these shores that conjures legends of great explorers and journeys.

The Antarctica series is an incredible body of work that is filled with a poetics and politics of space, place, and perceptions.

Travelling to Antarctica on RSS Ernest Shackleton from RAF Brize Norton via Ascension Island and the Falklands, Simon Faithfull recorded the displaced and disorienting world he encountered by filming the view out of his cabin porthole and with daily Palm Pilot drawings, transmitted each day to email inboxes around the world. Combined with diary entries and notes, these drawing and films have been incorporated into a series of lectures presented in Edinburgh, Helsinki, Norwich, Berlin and London.

Reproduced in book form, Ice Blink: An Antarctic Essay was published as part of Book Works Opus Projects (Opus 6) by Book Works and The Arts Catalyst and edited by Lisa Le Feuvre.

ISBN 978 1 870699 92

Printed offset in an edition of 1,500 copies, full colour, 128 pages, with a soft cover.

Designed by Practise/James Goggin.

164 x 215mm. 1

Price £14.50

Simon Faithfull


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Poetic Cosmos of the Breath, Tomas Saraceno

An experimental solar dome, launched at dawn

Tomas Saraceno is an artist and architect whose utopian vision for cities that float in the air - changing form and joining together like clouds - has led him to create a series of experimental structures such as balloons or inflatable modular platforms that can be inhabited and exploit natural energies. For the 2nd International Artist Airshow Tomas Saraceno was commissioned to create one of these experimental structures at dawn. Despite being postponed due to heavy rain, Saraceno successfully launched his large new experimental solar dome at dawn on Saturday 22 September 2008, with an audience of 40 people.

The project was inspired by the dome created by Dominic Michaelis in 1975, for the film Hu-Man.

External links:

A report on the morning appeared on Michaela Crimmin's RSA's Art & Ecology blog: "On a recent Saturday morning I experienced one of the great rewards for working with artists. I got up before dawn to go to Gunpowder Park to see the latest work by Argentinian artist Tomas Saraceno. ... Trained as an architect, Saraceno’s work poses the idea of floating cities. At the invitation of Arts Catalyst he brought a giant inflatable to the early morning autumn mists of Essex. It lay there, a huge circle of sheeting on the ground, held down by sandbags. A small group of lucky, lucky people were there in the dew. Slowly we helped the giant fill with air and grow as the sun came up and saw it brought to life, the colours of the foil which forms part of the material spectacularly colourful as the sun reflected off it.

"This is why I work with artists – this is a serious, magical, unique, positive experience. This is invigoration for the Green movement, for the Climate Change lobby, for the scientists pouring over statistics and charts. Thanks to Saraceno and to Arts Catalyst we who were there will remember this morning for the rest of our lives.

YouTube Poetic Cosmos of the Breath

Poetic Cosmos of the Breath was a collaboration between The Arts Catalyst and Gunpowder Park.

Supported by:

Arts Council England, East and the Henry Moore Foundation and Landscape+Arts Network Services

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Interspecies, Manchester

Can artists work with animals as equals? It has recently been discovered that humans are closer to the higher primates than was previously thought.

This exhibition, marking the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth brings together a group of artists who actively question the sovereignty of the human species over the all other animal species.

Four artists were commissioned to develop projects with non-human animals.

Kira O'Reilly, one of the most experimental and controversial performance artists in the UK, presented an action/installed performance featuring herself and a sleeping female pig. The work addresses the ethics of human and non-human animal interaction, acknowledging the implicit ambivalences and violence in the appropriation of animals as a resource.

Nicolas Primat worked with primatologists and zoos to make a new work in which higher apes are taught video skills. The apes make the creative decisions, with humans simply providing guidance and training. Primat's work explores how the animals' ‘natural’ communication skills can be extended into the realm of human/ape creative collaboration.

Antony Hall encouraged the public to directly communicate with live electric fish in the gallery space, through mild electrical impulses (both tactile and visual). The artist's motivation for this project relates to his long term interest in aquariums. Typically installed as calming objects, on closer inspection they are revealed as contained environments of both aggressive conflict and submissive tolerance.

The Department of Eagles (Ruth Maclennan) is produced a participatory project, examining the communications between falconers and falcons. For centuries, these birds have served to naturalise human surveillance.  Arguably, their existence only continues today through human intervention such as tagging, breeding programmes, and the construction of artificial nesting environments.

Two other works were shown: Rachel Mayeri's Primate Cinema, which casts human actors in the roles of mating non-human primates, Beatriz Da Costa's PigeonBlog which investigates the military use of homing pigeons.

All the artists in Interspecies question the one-sided manipulation of non-human life forms for art. They instead try to absorb the animal's point of view as a fundamental part of their work and practice.

Interspecies is part of the Darwin 200 celebrations in 2009. 12 February 2009 marks the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth. A series of talks and debates between the artists, writers, scientists and animal welfare experts accompanied the exhibition.

Related websites

Kira O'Reilly, Antony Hall, Ruth Maclennan, Rachel Mayeri, Beatriz da Costa, Snæbjörnsdóttir/Wilson, Cornerhouse

The Guardian
Human Features
Open Dialogues Blog

Exhibition supported by

Arts Council England, Darwin 200

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Bipolar: Anne Brodie, Weather Permitting

New works by Anne Brodie and Weather Permitting shown at the Society of Antiquaries, London, alongside the launch of a new book, Bipolar

Two new commissioned works were shown at the Society of Antiquaries to coincide with the launch of the new book Bipolar, as the culmination of the Polar programme.

Artist Anne Brodie took one of the lumps of ice that she had brought back from Antarctica out of its lodgings inside the British Antarctic Surveys freezer in Cambridge and let it not so gently melt over the course of the evening. It was acoustically wired up by sound engineers Lee Patterson and Mark Hornsby, and produced uncomfortably loud interruptions as the ancient air kept locked under pressure by the ice belched into the London air. The cabinet was recycled from an exhibition held in the British museum

Weather Permitting (Kathryn Yusoff and Jennifer Gabrys) presented a series of large snow globes containing contemporary or near-future polar landscapes. Forecast Factory: Snow Globes and Climate Change are part of a project that investigates the phenomena of weather, from tornadoes in trailer parks to drifting ice shelves in the Antarctic. 


Bipolar is a interdisciplinary polar archive created for International Polar Year 2007-08. It is published to mark the 'Polar Archives' symposium and series of talks, held at the British Library in Autumn 2007, which brought together leading artists, scholars, scientists and thinkers to explore how our knowledge of the Polar regions is constructed and how it can be enriched.

The book features essays from the renowned geographer Denis Cosgrove and cultural critic Kathryn Yusoff, and over 30 'archives' contributed by the symposium participants that investigate various records — visual, personal, historical, chemical, biological — that can enrich and extend our engagement with the Polar regions and their effect on global environments. The collection investigates how archives place demands on us to think about what is vital in that knowledge—vital to our present work and to the work to come—the basis on which we remake worlds. With the Polar regions under increasing pressure due to climate change, both environmentally and geopolitically, these archives assume their most potent role as the basis on which we imagine and shape the futures of both polar and global spaces.

Authors include Denis Cosgrove, Kathryn Yusoff, Nicola Triscott, Eric Wolff, Heather Frazar, Rachel Weiss, London Fieldworks, Stephan Harrison, Marko Peljhan, Katrina Dean, Anne Brodie, Sverker Sörlin, Simon Faithfull, Aqqaluk Lynge.

Price £12.95
ISBN 9780953454662
Edited by Kathryn Yusoff
Published by The Arts Catalyst, 2008
Designed by PKMB/Paul Khera
Full colour, 128 pages, softback.
Dimensions 220 x 170mm.

Buy online from Cornerhouse

Links to artists' websites:

Anne Brodie and Weather Permitting


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