Test Sites: Assembly

Arts Catalyst presents Test Sites: Assembly, an exhibition and co-inquiry asking how we can respond collectively to social and environmental challenges.

We invite people from art, science, academia, activism and various communities to come together to explore methodologies for developing cross-disciplinary research and building community resilience. In doing so, we introduce and open up Test Sites, Arts Catalyst’s ongoing programme of environmental co-inquiries around the UK. 
 
The major challenges facing us today intertwine environmental, social, political and psychological factors. Challenges such as flooding, species loss, and pollution, and complex health issues like diabetes, mental illness and cancer, interweave large-scale global forces with the small-scale and the personal, and are inextricable from the social and political systems in which they unfold. Realising that empirical science on its own is not enough faced with these complex systems, many scientists and thinkers are calling for transdisciplinary approaches and for fresh thinking about conducting science and research in new ways. Critically, we need to involve those whose lives are directly affected – not just make assumptions about the causes, the impact, and what might be the best paths towards resistance and resilience. 
 
The term Assembly indicates the intention of our programme, which is to gather tactics, practices and theory to create “commoning tools”, creating social and cooperative alternatives for co-producing knowledge and taking control. Through workshops, study days, field trips, reading groups, talks and discussions, we will examine, practice and discuss possible approaches to ecology and society that centre on collaboration and co-creating knowledge, highlighting radical and progressive practices from the UK and internationally. 
 
An exhibition of works-in-progress by Test Sites artists Ruth Levene and Neal White will be shown at Arts Catalyst’s Centre, drawing on their research in the Calder Valley and Poole Harbour. Ruth Levene presents Working Waters, an installation of maps and models created from her investigations into the flows and stewardship of water in the Calder Valley. Neal White meanwhile presents Brownsea: An Imaginary Island (An Island of the Imaginary), comprising a vivarium containing fauna and flora of an island in Poole Harbour alongside an archive of local knowledge, interrupted by industrial frequencies.
 
EVENTS AND INQUIRY PROGRAMME
The programme will introduce and focus on issues, concepts and methodologies in a format that blurs the divides between expert and non-expert, those who make decisions and those who are affected by them. We will explore a set of approaches that include active citizenship, planetary commoning practices, co-inquiry processes, and collective governance and policy making, as well as making tactical use of concepts such as the negative commons. These terms are defined further down.
 
Confirmed programme participants include architect Godofredo Pereira, complexity scientist Sylvia Nagl, social anthropologist Megan Clinch, public science expert Tom Wakeford, interactive theatre company Coney, artist Tom James, artist Luigi Coppola, theorist and editor Shela Sheikh, artist Åsa Sonjasdotter, sustainability expert Rokiah Yaman and artists Ruth Levene and Neal White.
 
SCROLL DOWN FOR THE FULL LIST OF PROGRAMME EVENTS
 
KEY TERMS
 
Active Citizenship - a philosophy that people have a responsibility to their society and the environment that encourages participation in local communities and democracy at all levels. We extend this to participation in research and environmental monitoring.
 
Planetary Commoning Practices - tactical actions towards asserting, enabling, connecting and networking local commoning practices relating to the use or stewardship of common-pool resources within transnational and extraterritorial spaces and natural resource domains, such as the atmosphere, biodiversity, the Arctic, the electromagnetic spectrum, outer space, the lithosphere, and the oceans (Triscott, 2017).
 
Co-inquiry Processes - Arts Catalyst has been developing a curatorial model of critical and transdisciplinary co-inquiry. The key principles of our model include focusing the inquiry on a shared “matter of concern”, the intentional co-production of knowledge - including artistic, scientific and situated - that is context-specific, and fostering an ecology practices that is sensitive to how particular practices relate to and impact on other practices.
 
Collective Governance and Policy Making - aimed at shifting the balance of power away from the regimes of commerce and strategic interests that seek to enclose the commons, and instead towards networked grassroots movements working for increased equity and environmental justice.
 
Negative Commons - the waste of capitalism’s operation, such as debt, epidemics, industrial wastes, and pollution including radiation, which becomes the burden of society once it is of no further value to commerce (Kohso, 2012).
 
TEST SITES
 
Test Sites is Arts Catalyst’s series of inquiries into matters of concern relating to environmental issues, such as flooding, pollution, and species loss, and their impact on local culture and the health of ecosystems and communities. Initially taking place in three sites around the UK, we are inviting local people and groups to be part of art-centred co-inquiries, working with artists, scientists and other experts. Test Sites represents a significant step in Arts Catalyst’s curatorial model of transdisciplinary co-inquiry
 
 
ABOUT THE ARTISTS 
 
Ruth Levene is an artist based in Sheffield, Yorkshire working in video, performance, events, digital drawings, walks, installations and participatory work. Curious and concerned by the complex systems we live by, she is currently exploring water systems, farming and market driven developments of the countryside. Recent projects have included a research residency in the Faculty of Engineering, University of Sheffield, engaging with engineers about urban water systems; and A Field of Wheat with Anne-Marie Culhane, a 42-person strong collective and a Lincolnshire farmer, growing a 22-acre field of wheat. She is currently completing a collaborative work alongside Ian Nesbitt entitled Precarious Landscapes commissioned by In Certain Places. Recent exhibitions include Everything Flows at the Millennium Gallery, Sheffield and Formations, curated by Site Gallery as part of Abandon Normal Devices Festival, Castleton. Ruth was known by her nickname Bob Levene until 2015. 
 
For over 20 years, Neal White's work has critically explored art in relation to new ideas, forms and technologies. As part of many collaborative endeavours – he has been developing projects, research and artworks, publications, archives, fieldworks, critical excursions as bus tours and exhibitions with academics, architects and activists. His current work explores situated practices and knowledge - drawing together environmental and ecological matters of concern with marine biologists, ecologists, coders, architects and volunteers in Poole Harbour and Brownsea Island, Dorset for Test Sites. Neal White is a Professor at University of Westminster, where he also directs the Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media (CREAM), a UK leader in research in art, design and media.
 
SUPPORT
 
Test Sites is supported by Wellcome Trust, University of Westminster, Bournemouth University, Canal and River Trust, and Arts Council England.
 
PROGRAMME EVENTS
 
Tuesday 27 March, 6:30 – 8pm
Arts Catalyst Centre
£5, booking essential
 
Tuesday 10 April, 4 – 7pm
Arts Catalyst Centre
Free, booking essential
As part of Test Sites: Assembly, artist Kat Austen will lead a workshop on microplastics exploring both the different plastic types and the different plastic identification techniques.
Microplastics have been gaining more and more public attention over the last few years. These small plastic particles have been shown to pervade the marine environment, and have been found to affect the wellbeing – and possibly even the behaviour – of marine species, and maybe even those that consume them. Much microplastic in the environment comes from the breakdown of larger pieces of plastic pollution. In this workshop we will explore different types of plastics, where they are commonly found, and methods of identifying them. We’ll also explore what it would mean to live without plastic. 
As an artist Kat deals with themes of environment, social justice, communities and human relations to digital culture. She creates experiences, stories and playful installations, mixing fact and fiction closely, so troublesome. Kat holds a PhD in chemistry from UCL and worked as a post-doctoral research associate at the University of Cambridge. Her writing has appeared in Nature, The Ecologist and The Guardian, and she consults widely on the intersection of science, art and technology, including as a Futureshaper for Forum for the Future, for the European Commission and UK water regulator Ofwat.
 
Thursday 12 April, 4 – 6pm
Arts Catalyst Centre
Free, booking essential
 
Thursday 19 April, 4 – 8pm
Arts Catalyst Centre
Free, booking essential
 
Friday 20 April, 4 – 8pm
R-Urban, Poplar
Free, booking essential
 
Monday 23 April, time TBC
Arts Catalyst Centre
Free, booking essential
 
Wednesday 25 April, 2 – 6pm
Calthorpe Project, King’s Cross
Free, booking essential
 
Saturday 28 April, 10am – 6pm
University of Westminster, Regent Street
£5, booking essential
 
Tuesday 1 May, 6 - 8pm
Arts Catalyst Centre
Free, booking essential
 
Tuesday 8 May, 6:30 - 8:30pm
Arts Catalyst Centre
£3, booking essential
As part of Test Sites: Assembly, activist and researcher pantxo ramas (aka Francesco Salvini) is joined by researcher Nicholas Beuret for a conversation on the subject of caring ecologies and infrastructures.
Taking the radical practice of institutional destruction and reinvention realised within the Trieste psychiatric asylum (Italy) as a starting point, pantxo ramas will consider various forms of commoning infrastructures in a process of “recovery” as emancipation. 
Nicholas Beuret will give an introduction to the affects and practices of chemopolitics and toxic entanglements, a research interest that stemmed from a routine blood screening test that for Beuret, brought about a personal revelation: the quiet horror of toxicity and the saturation of everyday life within the endless loops of the uncanny and the eerie. What does it mean when our capacities to act and know, the basis of what it means to be social and to understand, are transformed by the very things we come to act on and know? What does it mean to live within the horror of late industrialism with its never-quite-confirmed allegations and conspiracies?
Francesco Salvini (pantxo ramas) is a Wellcome Trust Research Associate, at the Kent Law School where he works in a project on the modern boundaries of healthcare. Pantxo is also an activist and has been actively involved in social mobilisations around the contemporary crisis of care in Ecuador, Italy and Spain.
Nicholas Beuret is a lecturer at the University of Essex. Previously he has been a researcher on green chemistry and climate migration, and environmental campaigner and community organiser. His research explores the politics of environmental catastrophe and how our lives are shaped by both the more than human world and technoscience.
 
 
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Project
Exhibition

KOSMICA Mexico 2015

KOSMICA is an international festival for earth-bound artists, space engineers, performers, astronomers, musicians and anyone interested in space

KOSMICA Mexico 2015 addressed a central theme of war and peace in space, and ethical issues facing space exploration. The program included more than 15 international guests to reflect upon these issues through workshops, performances, cinema, music and talks.

Kosmica Mexico 2015 is presented thanks to the support of: British Council México, Año Dual UK – Mexico, Fundación Telefónica, INBA / Laboratorio Arte Alameda. Associates: Arts Catalyst, Laboratorio Arte Alameda, Agencia Espacial Mexicana, Cine Tonalá, Otoño en Hiroshima, Ovnibus, ITACCUS and Ambulante. Media associates: Vice – The Creators Project, El Fanzine, Pijamasurf.
 

Programme of events

Thu 17 September, 7pm – 11pm

Chris Welch (GB) – Talk
Enrique Jezik (AR) – Performance
Aleksandra Mir (SE) – Talk
Music by: Alias 616, Radiador (MX)
 
Fri 18 September, 7pm – 12am
Jon Bonfiglio (GB) – Talk
Agencia Espacial Mexicana (MX) – Round table
Louise K Wilson (GB) – Talk
Music by: Rob Anaya + guest, Dolphin Star Temple, Monairem
 
Sat 19 September, 7pm – 11pm
Lizzie Wade (EUA) – Talk
Arcángel Constantini (MX) and 220 (MX) – Performance
Miguel Ángel Fernández Delgado (MX) – Talk
Music by: Isaac Soto, Un rêve
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Event

Notes from the Field: Commoning Practices in Art and Science

Arts Catalyst launches its Centre for Art, Science and Technology with Notes from the Field: Commoning Practices in Art and Science

This multi-faceted project investigates the notion of art as a tool or tactic for action with communities, with a focus on projects involving science and technology or driven by ecological concerns.

Notes from the Field… presents aspects of Arts Catalyst’s ongoing art and citizen science project Wrecked! on the Intertidal Zone with lead artists YoHa, Critical Art Ensemble, Andy Freeman and Fran Gallardo, who are working with communities on the Thames estuary. Alongside this, it presents the Arte Útil archive, a project initiated by artist Tania Bruguera, which chronicles a history of art projects that create tactics to change how we act in society.

In an archive room designed by Collective Works and ConstructLab, housing physical copies of selected Arte Útil case studies, and through exploratory workshops and discussion events, visitors will be able to speak with invited resident guests, undertake their own research, or propose new Arte Útil case studies. Contributing artists, scientists and experts to Notes from the Field… include Alistair Hudson, Dimitri Launder, Lisa Ma, Sylvia Nagl, Graham Harwood and Veronica Ranner.

More information about the 2016 programme can be found on the Arts Catalyst Centre launch press release.

#NotesfromtheField

Event Listings; Talks, Workshops and Seminars

 

Introducing Notes from the Field
Wed 27 January
A conversation between Alistair Hudson, Director of Middlesborough Institute of Modern Art (MIMA) / co-director of the Asociación de Arte Útil, and artist Graham Harwood, chaired by Nicola Triscott, CEO of Arts Catalyst.
MIMA hosts 'The Office of Useful Art' where visitors are invited to join the Asociacion de Arte Util (Useful Art Association) – a membership organisation that promotes and implements Arte Util.
Graham Harwood is one half of artistic collaboration YoHa, along with Matsuko Yokokoji. YoHa’s projects combine groups and individuals with the technologies that surround them, through a socially engaged and research based practice. YoHa produce powerful allegorical contraptions to form an understanding of complex social/technical systems.
 
Assembly on Useful Art, Science and Technology
Fri 29 January
The assembly will host six speakers and two respondents, split across two consecutive sessions. Speakers will be made up of a trans-disciplinary group of artists, scientists, technologists, designers, curators and researchers who use science and technologies to activate social change. Together they will reflect on the possibilities of art as a tool or devise to effect radical change.
Panel 1
Veronica Ranner, Kit Jones (CAT), Dimitri Launder - Chaired by Alec Steadman, Arts Catalyst's Curator
Panel 2
Graham Harwood, Sylvia Nagl, Jonathan Rosenhead (BSSRS) - Chaired by Nicola Triscott, Arts Catalyst's CEO
Respondent: Gemma Medina Estupiñan (Arte Util, Archive Researcher).
Gemma Medina Estupiñan is an independent research curator and Art Historian (PhD in Contemporary Art History) based in Eindhoven. She was part of the curatorial team of The Museum of Arte Útil (Van Abbemuseum), leading the research to build the Arte Útil Archive and co-curating the public program. She conceived the project ‘Broadcasting the archive’ along with Alessandra Saviotti to emancipate the usership around the Arte Útil archive. ‘Broadcasting the archive’ is supported by  Mondriaan Fund.
 
Socialising Activism - A Talk With Lisa Ma
Thu 4 February
“The future of activism isn’t loud. There’s a world of innovation in the field of activism that we are wasting away.”
Lisa Ma has been invited to contribute to Notes from the Field: Commoning Practices in Art and Science, as a resident researcher, speaker and workshop leader. In this talk Lisa will introduce her practice as a design activist, using innovative solutions to think through local social problems across the globe. 
Lisa socialises activism. Combining ethnographic research and speculative design, Lisa Ma creates platforms of engagement from surprising insights and processes that deeply resonate with the global technological community.
Placing herself as a critical explorer, Lisa Ma has built, for the city of Ghent - a political culture of consuming the invasive species that the vegetarian town would otherwise pay to poison; for a joystick factory in Shenzhen - coined the scheme of Farmification to save the worker community through technology innovation; for London Heathrow Airport - gather opposing communities between planning historians, activists to construct heritage tours of the surrounding villages under threat from the airport expansion. Through sweet storytelling of unlikely events, Lisa Ma bridges organisations with communities and through everyday clashes of values between what we do and what we believe in to make us think deeper about the future.
 
Sketch a Bioluddite - A Science and Activism Workshop with Lisa Ma
Sat 6 February
For every technological era, there are sub-cultures that resist the flow and whose critical perspective inspires the rest of society. This workshop invites the general public and scientists to a comic forensic sketch to identify an emerging subculture called Bioluddites.
What does society look like when you put historic activists with future science? Lisa Ma invites scientists, biohackers and the general public to an open forensic sketch session.
Lisa believes that designing a cultural memory of activism in technology is an essential part of public engagements with science. She provokes the scientific community by asking everyone to imagine how Luddism would affect society in the Biotechnological era. Rather than portraying these historical activists as criminals of the past, Lisa Ma argues that they are in fact the engaged citizens of the future.
This workshop will ask:
Why should scientists anticipate activism with their technology?
What might the general public celebrate in Luddism?
How could biohackers socialise activism for a result that is more productive than political engagement?
 
Inter-species Technologies for Peripheral Contexts (the Bionic Sheep project) - A Workshop with Fernando Garcia Dory
Thu 18 February
Artist, Fernando García-Dory, has been invited to contribute to Notes from the Field: Commoning Practices in Art and Science to present his Bionic Sheep project, part of the Arte Util Archive with a workshop and talk.  Join Fernando and guests for a discussion and workshop on his concept how art can connect with territories, native cultures and other species, and about the specific system shepherd-sheep-wolf today . In this workshop there will be the chance to draft models for a 21st century shepherds hut and learn the inner workings of the ultrasonic Flock Protection System for sheep, as well as gain insight into the behaviour of wolves.
Fernando will be joined by specialists Sue Hull (Co-Director of the UK Wolf Conservation Trust) an expert in animal behaviour and Paolo Cavagnolo, a hacker and electronic engineer who will dissect the technical details of the Bionic Sheep prototype.
The wolf has captured imaginations for as long as humans have been living in settled communities, appearing in different guises in folk tales and peasant songs as a wily predator and a fiendish seducer. Today they are seen by urban societies as a paradigm of wholeness and freedom. In recent years there has been a growing emphasis on protecting wolves and other predator species and even re-introducing them into certain rural areas. This is creating an increased conflict between what is left of the pastoralist cultures and domesticated animals and this wild species.
Since 2006, artist Fernando Garcia Dory has produced various prototypes of 'Bionic Sheep', In collaboration with shepherds and engineers. The 'Bionic Sheep' project is a portable, solar-powered, ultrasonic flock protection system for sheep. The system provides a technological and creative solution to the age-old pastoral rivalry of the shepherd and the wolf so that wildlife and farmers can co-exist in harmony.
Fernando’s work engages specifically with the relationship between culture and nature now, as manifested in multiple contexts, from landscape and the rural, to desires and expectations concerned with identity, through to (global) crisis, utopia and the potential for social change.
As the artist states; "From the frozen tundra where Sami reindeers graze, to German prairies to Portuguese remote mountains, the war between wolf and shepherd is increasing, with it, worldviews and ecosophies's clash. There is a gulf between the re-wilding ideology and deep ecology, on the one hand, and social ecology and agroecology ideas on how to solve culture-nature frictions, on the other."
 
Agroecology a New Kind of Neo Pastorialism - A Talk with Fernando Garcia Dory
Thu 18 February
Artist, Fernando García-Dory, has been invited to contribute to Notes from the Field: Commoning Practices in Art and Science, as a resident researcher, speaker and workshop leader. His work engages specifically with issues affecting the relation between culture-nature now, embodied within the contexts of landscape, the rural, desires and expectations related with aspects of identity, crisis, utopia and social change. He studied Fine Arts and Rural Sociology in Madrid, Spain and Ritveld Akademie Amsterdam.
In this talk he will discuss his work on agroecology and his current sociological and technical collaborations with engineers, communities and  other specialists.
His work stems from an interested in the harmonic complexity of biological and technical forms and processes, his work addresses connections and cooperation, from Microorganisms to social systems, and from traditional art languages such as drawing to collaborative agro ecological projects, actions, and cooperatives.
Engaging directly with issues affecting rural communities, García-Dory develop his "ethical-aesthetical" agroecological projects, such as working with shepherds who are trying to preserve their rights and way of life in the face of EU and tourist industry pressures, directing a Shepherds School there, and building huts open for newcomers; seed savers networks linked to hackers working to counteract patents on life forced by agribusiness and genetic engineering firms; and diverse interventions projects in Europe, India, Mauritius, Equator and other places.
Recent projects have been with Casco, Utrecht, Insite Casa Gallina, Mexico, Betonsalon, Paris,  Istanbul Biennale and he is working towards the upcoming intervention for Gwangju Biennale. 
 
Walking and Sensing in the City – A Citizen Science Sorkshop with Andy Freeman
Sat 27 February
Artist and technologist Andy Freeman has been invited to contribute to Notes from the Field: Commoning Practices in Art and Science, as a resident researcher, speaker and workshop leader. In this event Andy takes participants on a part walking tour – part citizen science workshop in Camden. Freeman considers that citizen science practice is a form of ‘tactical living’ drawing together different knowledge sources (scientific, governmental and localised knowledge) meaning that we can monitor the environment we live in and become informed of changes that affect our health and other forms of life in the city.
You will learn how to monitor air quality, test soil and water for toxicity and discover historical, biological, industrial, technological and hidden and situated knowledge in the borough.
Please note this workshop involves a 1.6 mile round walk.
 
A Remedy for the City – A Workshop with Dimitri Launder
Across March
Dimitri’s projects as Artist Gardener offer a gentle provocation to an apocalyptic view of urban ecological sustainability. His work often explores the liminal issues between public and private use of space, aspiring towards transformative urban propagation. Launder’s project Apothecary Arboretum is featured in Arte Util’s archive the aim was to create a garden both medicinal and edible, in a concrete neighbourhood. From this living eco-system of vertical, apothecary sculpture: prototype 1.0, he discusses his approach to his merging medicinal, historical, social knowledge in an urban context.
Over March 2016, Dimitri, along with Calthorpe Project (community garden) will investigate growing natural remedies in 'living pills' of ingredients - Kokedama. They will question the liable and liminal practices of home grown and foraged remedies and its challenges in our age of commercial medicine and whether the diseases of our city relate to medicinal plants in our locality? Together they will investigate and record stories of the traditional use of plants from members of the community whilst planting medicinal moss-balls.
Dimitri's experience in this grafted practice has developed over 15 years expertise as a garden designer and as an artist with inherent interests in ecology and socially engaged practices.
 
Planting in Concrete – A Talk with Dimitri Launder
Thu 3 March
Dimitri Launder has been invited to contribute to Notes from the Field: Commoning Practices in Art and Science, as speaker and workshop leader. In this talk Dimitri will talk about his work as Artist Gardener.
Dimitri’s projects as Artist Gardener offer a gentle provocation to an apocalyptic view of urban ecological sustainability. His work often explores the liminal issues between public and private use of space, aspiring towards transformative urban propagation. Launder’s project Apothecary Arboretum is featured in Arte Util’s archive the aim was to create a garden both medicinal and edible, in a concrete neighbourhood. From this living eco-system of vertical, apothecary sculpture: prototype 1.0, he discusses his approach to his merging medicinal, historical, social knowledge in an urban context.
His experience in this grafted practice has developed over 15 years expertise as a garden designer and as an artist with inherent interests in ecology and socially engaged practices.

Invasive Ecology – A Working Group with Fran Gallardo
Thu 17 March
As part of a weeklong residency artist researcher Fran Gallardo, invites you to join in a group led discussion on invasive species.
We will be joined by Dr Shonil Bhagwat: Senior Lecturer in Geography at the Open University and Environmental Geographer, with broad research interests at the cross-section between natural and social sciences. His research centers on the links between environment and development. In particular, it engages critically with discussions on a variety of key environmental concerns: agriculture and food security, biodiversity conservation, climate change, ecosystem services, and sustainability. It addresses these perceived grand environmental challenges within the context of growing discussion on the Anthropocene, the age of humans.
About the workshop:
Non-native plants, animals and organisms can have detrimental effects on our environment, health and ecology – they are considered to be a form of biological pollution.
The debate and discussion will explore whether we should elevate species such as the Transexual Mitten Crab and Japanese Knot weed, to fine dining ingredients when they attack and corrode the structural integrity of our concrete landscapes and affect our boats and flood defences. Shipping industries as well as oceanic currents and global warming are often held responsible for transporting species across the globe. With Dr Bhagwat we will discuss how to think differently about invasiveness, and how to apply new tactics to engage and live with ‘novel ecosystems’, whilst also leaving space for wildness in a human-dominated planet?  
 
Talking Dirty: Tongue First Research at the Mouth of the Thames Book Launch
Fri 18 March
Join us for enlivening evening with refreshments such as Earth Cola with Mycobacterium vaccae (M. Vaccae is a non-pathogenic species of Mycobacteria) and Edge Cordial made from Britain’s most valuable wild resource. Refreshments made by Fran Gallardo.  
Talking Dirty: Tongue First! was a series of public events in Leigh-on-Sea, Southend involving local foods, their source, preparation and consumption, which lead to the recipe book produced in collaboration with the situated knowledge of South Essex people. It contains instructions for cooking with estuary ingredients: from Grey Mullet Sashimi with Hair Soy Sauce and to Invasive Species Soup. The recipe book concentrates on local foods, ecology, environmental and toxicity and how interconnected webs of industry, culture, living beings and pollution form the estuaries complex ecosystem.
 
Explore the Thames Estuary with your Tongue – With Fran Gallardo
Sat 19 March
Join Fran Gallardo for a day of tasting, sensing and thinking through the Thames Estuary .
Fran will present intriguing recipes that represent and re-imagine webs of connections between gastronomy and ecology within many environments: from mud, human microbiomes, ships, landfills and human-made islands.

 

Artists

Critical Art Ensemble (CAE) is a collective of five tactical media practitioners of various specialisations including computer graphics and web design, film/video, photography, text art, book art and performance. Formed in 1987, CAE's focus has been on the exploration of the intersections between art, critical theory, technology and political activism. The group has exhibited and performed at diverse venues internationally, ranging from the street, to the museum, to the internet. Museum exhibitions include the Whitney Museum and the New Museum in NYC, Corcoran Museum in Washington D.C., ICA in London, MCA in Chicago, Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt and the Natural History Museum in London.
 
YoHa (English translation 'aftermath') is a partnership between artists Graham Harwood and Matsuko Yokokoji, formed in 1994. YoHa's graphic vision and technical tinkering, has powered several celebrated collaborations, establishing an international reputation for pioneering critical arts projects. Harwood and Yokokoji co-founded the artists group Mongrel (1996-2007) and established the MediaShed a free-media lab (2005-2008). In 2008 they joined Richard Wright to produce Tantalum Memorial shown in nine countries and 15 cities over four years. In 2010 YoHa produced Coal Fired Computers before embarking on a series of works about the lived logics of database machinery including Invisible Airs (2011) and Endless War (2012).
 
Tania Bruguera is a Cuban, politically motivated performance artist that explores the relationship between art, activism, and social change in works that examine the social effects of political and economic power. By creating proposals and aesthetic models for others to use and adapt, she defines herself as an initiator rather than an author, and often collaborates with multiple institutions as well as many individuals so that the full realization of her artwork occurs when others adopt and perpetuate it.
 
Fran Gallardo’s background is in systems engineering. He is a member of the Environmental Art Activism movement. Fran's work explores interfaces for culture in technology and ecology. In 2015, he lead the Arts Catalyst project Talking Dirty! Tongue First: Experiments at the Mouth of the Thames. This was a series of public events including citizen science workshops, involving local foods, their source, preparation and consumption.
 
Andy Freeman is an artist, educator, technologist and former oyster farmer. Andy has worked with software and community arts projects and was founder member of the Australian Network for Arts and Technology. Based on his arts practice and his teaching at Goldsmiths College, Andy has developed a practice that involves the combination of open data tactics and community engagement.
 
Dimitri Launder’s projects as Artist Gardener offer a gentle provocation to an apocalyptic view of urban ecological sustainability. His work often explores the liminal issues between public and private use of space, aspiring towards transformative urban propagation. Launder’s work has been commissioned by organisations including Tate Modern with his Apothecary Arborimum and RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show for Tales Of The NOOSPHERE recently featured in the Arte Útil archive. His ideas cross pollinate between commercial private gardens, public commissions and emergent ideas in his art practice. His experience in this grafted practice has developed over 15 years expertise as a garden designer and as an artist with inherent interests in ecology and socially engaged practices.
 
Veronica Ranner is a designer, artist and researcher living and working in London. She researches the burgeoning domain of the bio–digital — a converging knowledge space where digitality and computational thinking meet biological matter. She dissects and creates tangible and immaterial manifestations of such collisions, examining hereby the polyphonic potential of alternative technological futures. Her current doctoral work explores paradigm shifts in reality perception by coupling speculative (bio)material strategies and information experience through design research.
 
By combining fringe communities, ethnographic research and speculative design, Lisa Ma socializes activism through unusual platforms of engagement. These social events are perceived as activism but function as services and deeply resonate with the global technological community.
 
Sylvia Nagl is a transdisciplinary complexity scientist who works on the interdependence of human and natural systems. She is interested in how the dynamic interactions of people with each other, with wider social, economic, political, and technological systems – and with ecological and earth systems – form ever more complex networks of relationships. 'Health' depends on these relationships acting together in a life-enhancing way. Interconnectedness is central to the health of individuals and communities, and the well-being of the living planet Earth.
 
Ben Vickers is a curator, writer, network analyst, technologist and luddite. He makes a living and finds a vocation in understanding how systems of distribution, both human and other, come to affect our personal perception of reality. Vickers is currently Curator of Digital at the Serpentine Gallery, co-runs LIMAZULU Project Space, is an active member of EdgeRyders, leads Brighton University’s Professional 'Reality' Development Program and facilitates the development of unMonastery, a new kind of social space designed to serve the local communities of towns or small cities throughout Europe in solving key social and infrastructural problems.
 
Fernando García-Dory is an artist that engages specifically with the relationship between culture and nature now, as manifested in multiple contexts, from landscape and the rural, to desires and expectations concerned with identity, through to global crisis, utopia and the potential for social change. He studied Fine Arts and Rural Sociology, and now prepairing his PhD on Agroecology.
 
For over 20 years, Neal White has critically explored art in relation to new ideas, forms and technologies. As part of numerous collaborative endeavours – he has been developing projects, research and artworks, publications, archives, fieldworks, critical excursions as bus tours and exhibitions with academics, architects and activists. His current work explores situated practices and knowledge - drawing together environmental and ecological matters of concern with marine biologists, ecologists, coders, architects and volunteers in Poole Harbour and Brownsea Island, Dorset for Arts Catalyst's Test Sites programme.
 
The Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT), situated in Wales, is an education and visitor centre demonstrating practical solutions for sustainability. It covers all aspects of green living: environmental building, eco-sanitation, woodland management, renewable energy, energy efficiency and organic growing. CAT is concerned with the search for globally sustainable, whole and ecologically sound technologies and ways of life. Within this search the role of CAT is to explore and demonstrate a wide range of alternatives, communicating to other people the options for them to achieve positive change in their own lives.
 
The British Society for Social Responsibility in Science (BSSRS) was the centre of a 'radical science' movement in the 1970s. The society was formed out of a campaign in 1968 against university research on chemical and biological weapons. Some of those who joined in the early days had a previous record of activism against nuclear weapons, through Scientists Against the Bomb, and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, or in other left movements.
 

Support

This project is supported by The Arts Council England, with in-kind support from The Block.

 

Editorial checked: 
Taxonomy - geographies: 
Project
Exhibition

KOSMICA Mexico 2014

KOSMICA is an international festival for earth-bound artists, space engineers, performers, astronomers, musicians and anyone interested in space

 

KOSMICA returns for the third time to Mexico from 18 to 21 November 2014 at the Center for Digital Culture, Laboratorio Arte Alameda and Multimedia Center of the National Arts Centre.
 
Artists, scientists, performers, scholars, space explorers, workshop leaders and musicians from Mexico, UK, France, Canada and USA among others, to explore the cultural and artistic aspects of space exploration, and topics including the history of alcohol in space, sex in zero gravity, and nostalgia for the Earth.
 
PARTNERSHIP
 
This festival is managed by the artist Nahum Mantra in association with The Arts Catalyst (London) and with support from the National Council for Culture and Arts and the National Institute of Fine Arts.
 
PROGRAMME
 
Planet Earth/Unknown Direction, November 18, Centro de Cultura Digital.
 
A Brief History of Alcohol in Outer Space, November 19, Centro de Cultura Digital.
 
Humans Phone Home, November 20, Laboratorio Arte Alameda.
 
After Barbarella, November 21, Laboratorio Arte Alameda.
 
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Project
Event

Making a universe

Making a Universe explores artistic and scientific practices that deal with contained and extreme environments.

Alistair McClymont creates poetic machines that contain 'natural' environments, making a universe of their own.  Scientists similarly create miniature stars that imitate the birth of stars.

Alistair McClymont recently completed a three-month residency at the Central Laser Facility.  Dr Ceri Brenner is a physicist who enjoys communicating the extreme and inspiring science that she and others carry out at CLF.

The CLF produces some of the world’s most powerful light beams, providing scientists with an unparalleled range of state-of-the-art laser technology. These high powered lasers are used to recreate the extreme conditions inside stars and planets, others can reveal intricate detail on a microscopic scale enabling scientists to build up a complex picture of the exact molecular interactions that lead to disease.  The CLF also uses laser beam 'tweezers' capable of holding individual micro-droplets that make up clouds helping scientists gain an insight into climate change.

Alistair's previous work has included making night-time rainbows, suspending raindrops in mid-air and creating tornadoes with deceptively simple machines. A UK based artist working in sculpture, photography and video, McClymont describes these as ‘phenomena’ artworks, in which he tries to capture natural, often overlooked occurrences and evoke a sense of wonder.

He will be discussing his work, and time spent at the CLF, thinking about his work with scientists on experiments both as an outsider and insider, and how this has influenced his practice.

Making a Universe explores artistic and scientific practices that deal with contained and extreme environments

Book online here

Speakers

Dr Ceri Brenner is a Physicist who enjoys communicating the extreme and inspiring science that she and others carry out at the Central Laser Facility, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.

Ceri’s role at the CLF spans research, innovation and communication. In particular, she is studying a form of micro-sized particle accelerator that is formed when the most intense laser light in the world strikes matter, for applications in medicine, manufacturing and security. Ceri will discuss her work, research interests and her experience of having an artist working amongst scientists. She has been closely involved in facilitating the artists' residency and will also give an introduction to the high energy density experiment on the Gemini laser that Alistair took part in during his residency.

Alistair McClymont as artist in residence has been following a team of scientists working with the Gemini Laser at the CLF studying different aspects of laser interaction. He describes the project, "My goal with this project is to investigate the strong similarity I see between scientists and artists, I wanted to do this by taking part in their experiment. My hypothesis is that both ultimately search for truth and both see beauty in that truth.

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Nuclear Culture Project

A curatorial research project led by Ele Carpenter, associate curator at Arts Catalyst, in partnership with Goldsmiths College, University of London

The Nuclear Culture Project is a curatorial exploration of nuclear culture, which began with considering the conceptual and cultural challenges of dismantling nuclear submarines in the UK, inviting artists to consider the aesthetic, conceptual, ethical and cultural concerns of nuclear submarines in conjunction with experts in the field. The project is bringing together scientists, engineers and community activists with artists and ethicists to develop new opportunities for creative practice investigating nuclear culture. Specific areas of enquiry include: the invisibility of the nuclear economy, the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant meltdown, geological waste storage, the Anthropocene, and nuclear humanities.

Activities

The project involves artists’ field trips, commissioning new work and curating exhibitions, film screenings and interdisciplinary symposia, and public events and talks. Three groups of artists are developing new work in response to the culture of submarines, decay rates, and the architectures of decision-making: Jon Thomson & Alison Craighead; Nick Crowe & Ian Rawlinson; and Lise Autogena.

Key areas of the research are discussed in a report on the Nuclear Culture Symposium co-authored by Ele Carpenter & Jantine Schroeder, Antwerp Uni. 2013, available here

Nuclear Culture website

The Nuclear Culture website publishes research articles, reviews, interviews and information about creative research, field trips and art practice.

Public Exhibitions & Events

Actinium, exhibition & forum, S-AIR, OYOYO Sapporo, Japan, July 2014. Supported by the Daiwa Foundation
Panning for Atomic Gold, symposium, Arts Catalyst, 17 May 2014
Nuclear Culture, workshop and film screenings, Arts Catalyst, April 2013

Artists Field Trips

  • Tomari Nuclear Power Plant & Horonobe Underground Research Lab, Hokkaido, Japan, 2014
  • S-AIR Sapporo, Aichi Triennale, Japan, Ele Carpenter, 2013
  • LLW Ltd, Cumbria, UK, Jon Thomson, Alison Craighead, Ele Carpenter, 2013
  • Cove Park Residency, Rosneath Peninsula, Scotland, Ele Carpenter, 2013
  • HMS Courageous, Devonport Plymouth, UK. Nick Crowe, Ian Rawlinson, Susan Schuppli, Lucia Garavaglia, Ele Carpenter, 2013
  • MoDeRN Conference, EU Commission, Luxembourg, Nick Crowe, Ele Carpenter, 2013
  • Aldermaston Womens’ Peace Camp, UK, Lise Autogena, Ele Carpenter, 2012

Nuclear Culture Research Group

The Nuclear Culture Research Group is a an interdisciplinary group of artists, curators and scholars in the nuclear arts and humanities convened by Goldsmiths College, University of London, in partnership with Arts Catalyst.

Artists

Dr Ele Carpenter is a curator, writer and researcher in politicised art and social networks of making. She is curatorial researcher in Nuclear Culture with Arts Catalyst, Senior Lecturer in MFA Curating and convenor of the Nuclear Culture Research Group at Goldsmiths, University of London. The research and development stage of the Nuclear Culture project was supported by an AHRC Early Career Research Fellowship 2012-13, and Arts Council England.
 
Jon Thomson & Alison Craighead (Thomson & Craighead) make artworks that examine the changing socio-political structures of the Information Age. In particular they have been looking at how the digital world is ever more closely connected to the physical world becoming a geographical layer in our collective sensorium.  Time is often treated with a sculptor’s mentality, as a pliable quantity that can be moulded and remodelled.  Jon is Professor of Fine Art at The Slade School of Fine Art, University College London and Alison is Reader in Contemporary Art at University of Westminster and Lecturer in Fine Art at Goldsmiths University of London. They live and work between London and Ross-shire.  
 
Lise Autogena and Joshua Portway have worked together since the early 90’s, developing large-scale multimedia installations, site-specific works and performances. Using custom-built technologies, data visualisations and video, their recent projects have explored the global politics of uranium mining and landrights in Greenland (Bildmuseet, 2016), the regulatory systems of plant growth applied to city planning (Cambridge University, 2016), live data visualisation of the global financial markets: financial belief systems and the naturalisation of finance (Somerset House, ArtScience Museum Singapore, 2016; Nikolaj Kunsthal, 2004; Tate Britain, 2000) and finding the bluest sky in the world:  the changing perceptions of the sky space in the context of climate change (Domaine de Chamarande, 2012; Arts Catalyst, 2011; Tensta Kunsthal, 2010; Nikolaj Kunsthal/COP15, 2009; Gwangju Biennial, 2006). In 2013 Autogena and Portway developed Foghorn Requiem, a requiem for a disappearing sound, performed by Souter Lighthouse foghorn, 3 brass bands and 50 ships on the North Sea.
 
Nick Crowe and Ian Rawlinson have worked together since 1994 and are drawn to the ways in which power and authority articulate themselves through the grammar and rhetoric that surrounds them. Their works often combine densely layered visual and acoustic allusions to faith, politics, national identity and the environment. They live and work in Manchester and Berlin.
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'Breaking Down Barriers: Law, Technoscience and Society'

The AHRC Network ‘Technoscience, Law and Society: Interrogating the Nexus’ in partnership with Arts Catalyst

The AHRC Network on ‘Technoscience, Law and Society’ held its inaugural event on the 6 June 2013, organised jointly with Arts Catalyst, providing an opportunity to explore some of the key aspects of the relationships between law, science and society that the Network seeks to interrogate. This discursive event was organised around displays of and introductions to the work of critical artists Carey Young and the Critical Art Ensemble, and academic presentations pertaining to debates in law and science.

Programme:

• Introduction to the AHRC Network by Dr. Emilie Cloatre and Dr. Martyn Pickersgill

• Presentations by Prof. Alain Pottage and Prof. Robert Dingwall

• Presentation by Graham Harwood, YoHa

• Presentation of the work of critical artists Carey Young and Critical Art Ensemble by Nicola Triscott (Arts Catalyst)

• Interactive explorations of the key theoretical, methodological and practical issues that arise when exploring the relationships between science, technology and legal processes

 

 

 

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KOSMICA: Full Moon Party

KOSMICA: Full Moon Party celebration as part of the Republic of the Moon exhibition programme.

Each KOSMICA session is unique: bringing together the cosmically curious and culturally quirky space community for a social mix of art–space programmes - a film screening, performance or live concert with a short presentation, talk and debate about alternative and cultural uses of space.

KOSMICA: Full Moon Party celebration as part of the Republic of the Moon exhibition programme. 

The evening will offer visitors a chance to see the exhibition and enjoy talks by:

Lucie Green (space scientist)

Lucie is based at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory, UCL's Department of Space and Climate Physics. She sits on the board of the European Solar Physics Division (ESPD) of the European Physical Society and is a member of the Royal Society's Education Committee.  www.mssl.ucl.ac.uk/~lmg/Welcome.html

Tomas Saraceno (artist)

Trained as an architect, since 2002 Tomas Saraceno has been developing his ideas for cities built in the air. His ongoing project Air-Port-City imagines a network of biospheres (or habitable cells) in the sky, like clouds, constantly moving, changing shape, and merging with one another. www.tomassaraceno.com/

WE COLONISED THE MOON (artists)


This duo formed by Sue Corke and Hagen Betzwieser returns to KOSMICA to present the largest Moon smelling session ever done on our planet. Together they seek to demonstrate that the future may indeed be frightening, but also highly entertaining. Previous projects have included creating solutions for space waste elimination by disguising satellites as asteroids; building a solar powered solarium because ‘the sun dies anyway’ and synthesising the smell of the moon. As well as projects and exhibitions the duo also give regular performance lectures and workshops.  www.wecolonisedthemoon.com/

Kevin Fong (space medicine expert)


Kevin is the co-director of the Centre for Aviation Space and Extreme Environment Medicine (CASE Medicine), at University College London. Also he has been the presenter of the BBC2 science programme, Horizon and of Extreme A&E at Channel 4. Walking on the Moon (article)

Jill Stuart (space politics specialist)
Dr Jill Stuart is Fellow in Global Politics at the London School of Economics, and reviews editor for the journal Global Policy. She researches law, politics and theory of outer space exploration and exploitation. Her interests extend to the way terrestrial politics and conceptualisations such as sovereignty are projected into outer space, and how outer space potentially plays a role in reconstituting how those politics and conceptualisations are understood in terrestrial politics.  www.lse.ac.uk/researchAndExpertise/Experts/profile, www.globalpolicyjournal.com/videos/dr-jill-stuart-outer-space-politics

Orchestra Elastique (music)
London based improvisation band will live score the film A trip to the Moon by Georges Méliès. Orchestra Elastique’s music takes influences from Minimalist Music, Free Jazz, Middle Eastern, South American, Krautrock, and various folkloric and tribal traditions. Ranging from subtle dreams to explosive psychedelia, Orchestra Elastique’s performances elasticate mind, senses and spacetime... www.orchestraelastique.com/

 

Support

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

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

 

 

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    Global Lunar Day

    An afternoon symposium investigating international cultural approaches to the Moon

    Video of the talks is available on The Arts Catalyst YouTube channel

    Global Lunar Day, symposium

    The launch of India's Chandraayan-1 and the (projected) first soft landing on the moon since 1976 by the Chinese Space agency's Chang 'E-3 has shifted the global perspective on lunar exploration. What are the implications of the new wave of lunar missions by former developing countries? How does this affect the cultural perspective worldwide on the Moon and what does this mean to people who live in non-western countries? A panel of commentators from the science, engineering and art worlds give their opinions during the final weekend of The Arts Catalyst's Republic of the Moon exhibition.

    Saturday 1 February, 2-5pm

    Moderator: Dr Jill Stuart (Executive Editor of Space Policy)

    • Prof Bernard Foing (Executive Director, International Lunar Exploration Working Group)
    • Bijal (Bee) Thakore (engineer and member of Board of Directors, Planetary Society)
    • Dr Marek Kukula (Public Astronomer, Royal Observatory Greenwich)
    • Joanna Griffin (Artist, Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology, Bangalore, India and Transtechnology Research Group, Plymouth University, UK).
    • Q&As moderated by Jill Stuart

    Support

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

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

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    KOSMICA Mexico 2013

    The second 3-day galactic gathering in Mexico - an off-the-planet mix of art, science, debate, music and film, exploring alternative and cultural uses of space.

    KOSMICA Mexico brings together earth-bound artists, astronomers, performers, space explorers and musicians from across the glob - UK, France, Lithuania, Slovenia, Australia and the US.  It is programmed by the artist Nahum and The Arts Catalyst (UK) in partnership with the Laboratorio Arte Alameda, INBA (Mexico).

    For its second edition in Mexico City KOSMICA saw international participants actively working in cultural and artistic aspects of space exploration.  This year’s programme is divided in four sessions:

    Thursday 8 August - Artists in the cosmos

    • Andy Gracie (UK)
    • Marko Peljhan (Slovenia)
    • Ariel Waldman (USA)
    • Daniela de Paulis (Italy)
    • Ale de la Puente (Mexico)

    Friday 9 August -  Space programmes and left-behind communities

    • Rob La Frenais (UK)
    • Jareh Das (UK)
    • Kerry Doyle (USA)
    • Willoh S. Weiland (Australia)
    • Mexican Space Collective (Mexico)

    Saturday 10 August - first session: Peaceful and open space

    • Nicola Triscott (UK)
    • Jill Stuart (USA)
    • Roger Malina (USA)

    Saturday 10 August - second session: Fantasy and magic in space

    Julijonas Urbonas (Lithuania)

    • Nick Campion (UK)
    • Miguel Alcubierre Moya (Mexico)
    • Nahum Mantra (Mexico)
    • Anais Tondeur (France)

    Support

    KOSMICA in Mexico has been made possible thanks to the support of the National Institute of Fine Arts (INBA), Mexico through Laboratorio Arte Alameda.

    Partners

    KOSMICA is endorsed by ITACCUS, the International Astronautical Federation's Committee on the Cultural Utilisation of Space.

    For more details see http://kosmicamx.com/2013/

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