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

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

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

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

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

Participate

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

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

Critical Excursions

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

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

Media

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

Editorial checked: 
Taxonomy - artists practice: 
Taxonomy - themes: 
Media or publication
Commission

Seaclipse: Sharing a Shadow

A video record of the experience of 38 participants who ventured into the middle of the English Channel to encounter the solar eclipse of August 11, 1999.

 

Artist Anne Bean and cosmologist and writer Marcus Chown recruited individuals from a wide range of educational and cultural backgrounds, to venture out on boats to experience the sensations of the August 1999 UK total solar eclipse directly, and to chronicle their personal experiences. Included among those invited were teenagers from Tower Hamlets Summer University and from the RNIB's New College in Worcester.

Participants/artists:

Anne Bean
Nick Booth
Martin Burton
Paul Burwell
Anastasia Calder
Karen Chilver
Marcus Chown
David Cunningham
Robert Dale
Swarup Dasgupta
Elisabeth Geake
Ella Gibbs
Judith Goddard
Karen Gunnell
Mary Hoang
Ishmael Ibrahim
Jude James
Fatima Khatun
Rob La Frenais
Roz Lowrie
Elizabeth Lynch
Steve Minett
Ben Moat
Hayley Newman
Oliver Niner
Judith Palmer
Fahima Rasheed
Janet Pettman
Ezra Rubenstein
Saqib Shaikh
Nicola Triscott

 

The exhibition Seaclipse incorporated the Seaclipse video photographs and lightbox work recording the solar eclipse.

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

Bird Lake Museum

The Bird-Lake Museum is a museum of natural history, whose collections have all been created by young people with special educational needs.

The Bird-Lake Museum is a travelling museum of natural history, founded by explorer-anthropologist Kitty Lake and ornithologist William Bird. Its collections have all been created by young people with special educational needs (aged from 10 to 15 years) at Oakley School, Tunbridge Wells, Rosendale School, Dulwich, Turney School, Dulwich, and Waveney School, Tonbridge.

The students worked with artist Sally Hampson studying the natural world to make birds' eggs, nests and wings, insects and nature drawings. Visits to the tranquil and enchanting Sevenoaks Wildfowl Reserve by the students during the project included nature walks, talks and 'pond-dipping' activities.

The Museum was shown at the Sevenoaks Wildfowl Reserve in May and June 2001. The Bird Lake Museum is a touring project.

Support

We would like to thank the following organisations and individuals:

Natural History Museum
Rowena Taylor
John Tyler and members, Sevenoaks Wildfowl Reserve
Mike Harris and members, The Angling Society
The Arts Council of England
The Paul Hamlyn Foundation

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

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

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

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:

N55

Neal White

 

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

Crash - Moonlanding workshop

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.

Filmmaker Tim Brunsden created this short documentary about the Freehander’s first session with WE COLONISED THE MOON including a short intro to Enter At Own Risk by Hagen Betzwieser as well as interviews with the Freehanders themselves.

The moment of landing is the most precarious. When we send machines into space a crash is what we fear the most. Massive investments of time and resources in technology, hope and ambition, obliterated. But in art failure can be a beautiful concept, the stimulus of new possibilities, an iconic dramatic pivot.

Taking inspiration from unplanned disasters with satellites and robots sent to observe, explore and record, We Colonised The Moon will work with teams of young people to build machines with a terminal end in mind. We will shoot high speed film of the crash impacts and award a prize for the most aesthetic.

Partnership

This three day workshop will see a group of young participants from the FACT Freehander programme, film and edit a documentary-style fim called Crash.

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

From Farm to Pharm

From Farm to Pharm: The Evolution of Artificial Selection

New York artist Brandon Ballengée was artist in residence at Gallery Oldham in November 2002 as part of the CleanRooms exhibition. Working in collaboration with a small group of unemployed young people, he developed a project which explored the origin and growth of current practices in genetic engineering. The group visited English farms, pet shops, urban parks, markets, and biotech laboratories to help trace the history of humankind’s struggle for dominance over natural evolutionary forces. According to the Ballengée, “the ‘Unconscious’ selection of our early ancestors shifted to selective breeding or artificial selection and has now evolved into the manipulation of individual genes to create entirely new species.”

Creating images of hundreds of species/breeds, they created two enormous visual time-lines exploring the changes in plant and animal life over the last 25,000 years. The work became an integral part of the CleanRooms exhibition and toured with it to the Natural History Museum in London in 2003, where Ballengée was again artist-in-residence and further developed the work in collaboration with the public and museum scientists.

Brandon Ballengée creates multidisciplinary works from information generated by ecological field trips and laboratory research, exploring the boundaries between art, science and technology. Since 1996, Ballengée has collaborated with numerous scientists to conduct primary biological research and advanced imaging procedures. His works have been exhibited in New York, Beijing, Vienna, London and other cities. He has also conducted many workshops on the themes of ecology, field biology and genetics with children and the general public.

Exhibitions

Gallery Oldham, Oldham, Greater Manchester, UK

5 October - 30 November 2002

Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7, UK

20 June - 3 August 2003

Support

Arts Council England

Editorial checked: 
Taxonomy - artists practice: 
Taxonomy - geographies: 
Project
Experience
Exhibition
Commission

In Music and Science

From 1994 to 1997, The Arts Catalyst organised music and science projects for 6 - 9 year olds in schools in Tower Hamlets, Lewisham, Merton, Haringay, Barnet and Wandsworth.

The projects were led by teams comprising a music workshop leader and a science workshop leader - Graham Brand and Sam Mason, and Jonathan Wheeler and Rebecca Askew.

Each project culminated in a performance of a piece of music which the class itself had composed during the project. Projects linked directly to the science curriculum activities planned for that term by the class teacher and were based around 3 themes: Vibrations, Patterns, Mind & Body. The workshops explored the interaction of science and music on a number of different of levels: practical science-in-action sessions, centred on the science curriculum and based around music and discovering the science of sound, senses, instruments and musical structure; participatory creative sessions in music, drawing on information and the pupils' own ideas from the complementary science sessions and teaching composition and performance skills; compositions and performance of music created from discoveries made during the day.

A Teachers' Pack was produced to support music and science activities outside the workshops.

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

Ecology Action Research

A schools project investigating the secret life of ponds

Antony Hall worked with Heathbrook School in South London. The school has a beautiful and flourishing wild life garden that contains a pond. Antony explored the garden and pond with the pupils to develop an informed sense of wonder and respect for the animal life they find there. They pond dipped, used pooters and inspection lids. From these activities, they furnished an aquarium and installed an underwater web cam in it thereby making the secret life of the pond creatures visible on computer for the whole school to enjoy.

Using drawing and videos of insects, the children looked at modes of movement and transformation to create basic screen based animation. Worm palaces and ant houses were built and, after investigation into the best shape, colour and materials to use to attract the insects, were developed into collaborative sculpture pieces. The children worked in small groups to create a story based on their favourite animal. They recorded these stories which were played from miniature speakers placed in the wildlife garden, creating a sculptural sound installation.

Sally Hampson worked with Oakley Special School in Tunbridge Wells. Sally worked with narrative and with the school’s garden. Pupils created the artefacts of an imaginative nature expedition in the wildlife garden, using drawing, painting and sculpture. By using close observation to recreate organisms, imagination and natural science were linked.

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

Sound Forms, Antony Hall & Heathbrook School

Exploring sounds through electronics and self made instruments.

Antony Hall designed and led a 5-week workshop programme for two Year 5 classes and teachers to explore sound through electronics and self made instruments.

Working with ideas from music, science, design technology and art and design, Antony encouraged the teachers and pupils to experiment with sound, through drawing and with the sound itself, physically locating the vibrations. The groups challenged their understanding of sound using self-built circuit boards and sound wave generators, eventually recording their work using digital technology and finally producing CDs.

The project culminated in a performance for the entire school, parents and funders on the 14th of December. It also left an exhibition and a set of materials for the project to be used in future Key Stage 2 projects on music and electronics.

This project generated training both for the young people and also for the teachers through weekly evening sessions.

Artist's Website:

Antony Hall

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

Pages