A Brief History of Arts Catalyst, 2014

2014 marked the 20th anniversary year of Arts Catalyst and here we celebrate some of the 120 artists’ projects that we have commissioned over those two decades.


Based in London, Arts Catalyst is one of the UK’s most distinctive arts organisations, distinguished by ambitious artists’ projects that engage with the ideas and impact of science. We are acknowledged internationally as a pioneer in this field and a leader in experimental art, known for our curatorial flair, scale of ambition and critical acuity.

Our primary focus is new artists’ commissions, presented as exhibitions, events and participatory projects, that are accessible, stimulating and artistically relevant. We aim to produce provocative and risk-taking projects that spark dynamic conversations about our changing world. This is underpinned by research and dialogue between artists and world-class scientists and researchers.

We have a deep commitment to artists and artistic process. We work with artists at pivotal stages in their careers, providing opportunities for them to develop bold projects in unusual contexts. This small booklet draws together some examples of projects that have involved:

  • flying teams of artists and scientists in zero gravity in Russia
  • recreating historical bio-warfare experiments off the coast of Scotland
  • setting up live scientific experiments as art installations
  • siting futuristic art-science labs in remote landscapes
  • enabling artists’ access to restricted scientific establishments

We continue to produce projects that develop enduring themes around deep time, autonomous research, bioethics, and the global commons (oceans, poles, atmosphere and outer space), working with both established and emerging artists to create inspiring and thought-provoking new art experiences.

 

PUBLICATION DETAILS

A Brief History of Arts Catalyst
Edited by Nicola Triscott
Published by Arts Catalyst, 2014 
Designed by Abake & Margherita Huntley
Colour, 34 pages, softback and electronic


Download a copy of a new publication, showcasing some landmark projects from the first 20 years from the column on the left.

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Arctic Architecture: API Cahier No.1, 2010

The first publication in the Arctic Perspective Initiative series

This publication documents the Arctic Perspective Initiative (API)'s open architecture competition to design a mobile media-based work and habitation unit, capable of functioning in extreme cold, and explores the Arctic and its architecture.

Essays by Robert Kronenburg, Marilyn Walker, Carsten Krohn and Jeremie Michael McGowan, with contributions by John Ross and Stijn Verhoeff, Matthew Biederman and Marko Peljhan.
 

Publication details

Arctic Architecture: API Cahier No.1
ISBN 978-3-7757-2679-5
Edited by Andreas Müller
Published by Hatje Cantz and API partners: HMKV, Projekt Atol, C-TASC, Lorna, and Arts Catalyst, 2010
Colour and monochrome, 148 pages, hardcover, English
Dimensions 165 x 240mm
€19.80/£16.50

Buy online from Hatje Cantz

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POLAR: The Art and Science of Climate Change

A programme focusing on the curation and production of climate change knowledge in the polar regions

POLAR: The Art & Science of Climate Change was a multi-disciplinary project exploring cultural and scientific issues surrounding climate change.

It incorporated a 2-day international symposium, a publication Bipolar, a series of public lectures, and two new artists' commissions from Anne Brodie and Weather Permitting. POLAR was curated by Kathryn Yusoff and The Arts Catalyst, and organised with the British Library and the Open University.

Polar: Fieldwork & Archive Fever - An Interdisciplinary Symposium

Polar: Fieldwork & Archive Fever was an interdisciplinary symposium at the British Library on the 19 & 20 November 2007. It focused on the curation and production of climate change knowledge in the polar regions. Keynote speakers were Professor Denis Cosgrove, University of California, Professor Sverker Sörlin, Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden, Professor Rachel Weiss, Art Institute of Chicago, and Simon Faithfull, artist.

Full programme and abstracts can be downloaded opposite.

Public Talks

As part of the Polar programme, a series of four public lectures addressed broader cultural and policy-related themes arising from the symposium:

Wed 17 October - Everyday Disasters
Mon 5 November - Climate Change & Human Rights
Mon 19 November - The New Iconography of Climate Change
Mon 26 November - Geopolitics of Cold 

Bipolar Book

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 constructes 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
 

BIPOLAR: ANNE BRODIE, WEATHER PERMITTING

Anne Brodie, Weather Permitting, Jennifer Gabrys, Kathryn Yusoff
Fri 20 June 2008
Society of Antiquaries, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BE
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. 
 

Artists

Simon Faithfull’s work often involves elements of failure and anti-heroism. Journeys and travelling are also central to his practice. In a series of experiments conducted over ten years (1995–2005), Faithfull sought to defy gravity with his ‘Escape vehicles’. On September 12 2004, Escape Vehicle No.6 started as a live event commissioned by The Arts Catalyst for its first International Artists Airshow. In December 2004, Faithfull was invited to travel to Antarctica with the British Antarctic Survey as part of The Arts Council’s International Fellowships Programme. This journey culminated in a series of exhibitions in London, New York and Edinburgh, and was published in a text entitled Ice Blink: An Antarctic Essay. In 2007, Faithfull was involved in the symposium, POLAR: The Art & Science of Climate Change. In 2008, Simon Faithfull produced an essay for the Bipolar publication alongside 30 other essays submitted by participants in the Polar programme. Bipolar encourages us to consider how our knowledge of the polar regions is constructed and can be enriched.
 
London Fieldworks aims to enable creative research and collaboration at the art, science and technology interesection. Typically, their projects deal with issues relating to complex relationships existing between social, natural and technological worlds. London Fieldworks was formed by the artists Bruce Gilchrist and Jo Joelson.
 

Support

The project was supported by a grant from Arts Council England, the Open University and in-kind support from the British Library.

 

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Arctic Perspective Initiative

Arctic Perspective highlighted the cultural, geopolitical and ecological significance of the Arctic and its indigenous cultures. In collaboration with the people of Igloolik and other communities in Nunavut, Canada, artists and architects are devising a mobile media and living unit and infrastructure, powered by renewable energy sources, which can be used for nomadic dwelling environmental monitoring and media based work 'on the land', away from the established Arctic settlements.

API was initiated artists Marko Peljhan and Matthew Biederman.

The API project website gives details of the process of the project, including the team's visits to Igloolik, Foxe Basin and other Inuit communities in Nunavut, Arctic Canada, the international open architecture competition to design the media unit, and the construction of the prototype unit.

Publications


Cahier No. 1: Arctic Architecture (ISBN 978-3-7757-2679-5) is now available - order online here
Cahier No. 2: Arctic Geopolitics & Autonomy (ISBN 978-3-7757-2681-8) - order online here
 

Exhibitions

Arctic Perspective, London
21 May - 30 September 2010
Canada House, Trafalgar Square, London, UK
The Arctic Perspective exhibition at Canada House showed film and photographic documentation of the API project, including specially commissioned architectural models of the winning entries from an international open design competition for the mobile unit, which received more than 100 entries from over 30 countries. The winning unit architectural designs are by Richard Carbonnier (Canada), Catherine Rannou (France) and Giuseppe Mecca (Italy). Presented in conjunction with the London Festival of Architecture.

Arctic Perspective, Dortmund
18 June - 10 October 2010
HMKV Phoenix Halle, Dortmund, Germany

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

Contemporary Nomadism: Autonomy & Technology in the North (Discussion event)
20 May 2010, Canada House, London
Artists, academics and architects explored the API's cultural, historical and political contexts. Panel: Marko Peljhan, artist and instigator of Arctic Perspective Initiative, director Projekt Atol (Slovenia), David Turnbull, science sociologist (Australia), Richard Carbonnier, architect (Canada), Inke Arns, curator, artistic director HMKV (Germany). Chair: Michael Bravo, Scott Polar Research Institute (UK/Canada)

Arctic Perspective Open Space Conference
24-26 September 2010, PHOENIX Halle, Dortmund, Germany
The API open space conference gathered some of the most dynamic thinkers from and on the circumpolar regions and the open source technology and tactical media communities in an intense three-day situation involving critical debate and reflection.

Support

API is supported by the European Commission Culture 2007 Programme, City of Dortmund, Federal Centre for Civic Education, Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia, City of Ljubljana and Arts Council England.

Partners include the Arctic Perspective Initiative, HMKV in Germany, Projekt Atol in Slovenia, C-TASC in Canada, Lorna in Iceland and Arts Catalyst in the UK.

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Arctic Geopolitics & Autonomy, 2010

The second publication in the Arctic Perspective Initiative series

Arctic Geopolitics and Autonomy is edited by Dr Michael Bravo, senior lecturer at the Scott Polar Research Institute, and Nicola Triscott, director of Arts Catalyst.  The book explores the interplay of visual culture, technology and indigenous activism in the North, and highlights the cultural, environmental and geopolitical significance of the Arctic and its indigenous people.

The book features essays by Michael Bravo, Nicola Triscott, Katarina Soukup, Lassi Heininen and David Turnbull, and is richly illustrated with colour and black and white images and photographs.

Arctic Geopolitics & Autonomy is the second publication of the Arctic Perspective Initiative (API), a project led by artists Marko Peljhan and Matthew Biederman, that aims to empower local citizens of the North via open and free technologies.
 

Publication details

Arctic Geopolitics and Autonomy
Edited by Dr Michael Bravo and Nicola Triscott
Published by Hatje Cantz, 2010
Full colour, 128 pages, soft back, English
Dimensions 16.5 x 24cm
€19.80 (approx £17.00)

Buy from Hatje Cantz or download pdf version

 

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Arctic Perspective Open Space Conference

The Arctic Perspective Open Space conference, Dortmund, Germany gathered some of the most dynamic thinkers from and on the circumpolar regions and the open source technology and tactical media communities in an intense three-day situation involving critical debate and reflection.

Collectively, the conference served as working meeting to envision future strategies of circumpolar interconnectedness, exchange, strategies and tactics of autonomy, the landscape of current circumpolar geopolitics, mobility, open-source information sharing, citizen sensing strategies, ecology, culture and the arts.

Active members of indigenous circumpolar communities, thinkers, writers, architects, artists, and technologists took part in the open space. They were working towards making an inclusive statement regarding an autonomous, indigenous driven future of the global North as it relates to access to new technologies and infrastructures and a future, technologically mediated, ecologically sound mobility.

The open space conference was held in conjunction with the Arctic Perspective exhibition at the PHOENIX Halle Dortmund (18 June – 10 October 2010) in the context of the European Capital of Culture RUHR 2010.

The 3-day gathering of some of the most dynamic thinkers from and on the circumpolar regions and the open source technology and tactical media communities included some events open to the public.

Friday, 24 September 2010
PHOENIX Halle, Dortmund, Germany

19:30 David Turnbull, Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab (VEIL), Architecture Faculty, Melbourne University (AU): Performativity: A Key to Autonomy, Mobility, and Working with Multiple Knowledges and Technologies in Distributed Systems (keynote)

Saturday, 25 September 2010
PHOENIX Halle, Dortmund, Germany

The Canadian Arctic Perspective: Inuit Culture, Technology, Autonomy

Michael Bravo, Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge (CA/UK): An Arctic Geopolitics without the Inside Out: Experiments in Autonomy (keynote)

Film screening: Inuuvunga – I Am Inuk, I Am Alive, CA 2004, 57 min 40 s

Partners

The Arctic Perspective Open Space Conference is funded by the Federal Center for Civic Education (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung). The program entitled "The Canadian Arctic Perspective: Inuit Culture, Technology, Autonomy" (25 Sept 2010) is organised in collaboration with the Embassy of Canada.

Inke Arns, Matthew Biederman, Marko Peljhan, Nicola Triscott and Open Space Facilitator: Dick Robertson

 

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