Ice Lab: New Architecture and Science in Antarctica

Ice Lab presents some of the most innovative and progressive examples of contemporary architecture in Antarctica. 

The first exhibition of its kind, it will draw together projects that not only utilise cutting-edge technology and engineering, but have equally considered aesthetics, sustainability and human needs in their ground-breaking designs for research stations.

Initiated by the British Council and curated by Arts Catalyst, Ice Lab features four international projects: Halley VI, UK (Hugh Brougton Architects) Princess Elizabeth, Belgium (International Polar Foundation), Bharati, India (bof architekten/IMS), Jang Bogo, South Korea (Space Group), and the Iceberg Living Station (MAP Architects) – a speculative design for a future research station to be entirely made from compacted snow.

The visually rich exhibition also highlights the diverse science that takes place on the frozen continent – from collecting 4.5 billion year old meteorites that illuminate how the solar system was formed to drilling ice cores whose bubbles of ancient air reveal the earth’s climate history; from cutting edge astronomy peering into the world’s clearest skies to studying its Dry Valleys, the closest thing to ‘Mars on Earth’.

Torsten Lauschmann has made two a new audio and light works, 'Whistler' and 'Ice Diamond', in response to a commission from Arts Catalyst especially for the exhibition.  The Glasgow-based artist will create this work in collaboration with ‘We Made That’, the exhibition’s designers.

Drawing on a number of archives and collections Ice Lab will include original drawings, models, photographs, films, ephemera and sources of inspiration for these highly specialised, sci-fi looking infrastructures – the closest thing to future space stations on the Moon and on Mars.

The featured projects are:

British Antarctic Survey’s Halley VI The first fully relocatable polar research station in the world became fully operational in February 2013 and signals a new dawn for 21st Century polar research. Opening 100 years after Captain Scott’s famed Antarctic expeditions, this new state of the art facility, designed by Hugh Broughton Architects and engineered by AECOM (UK) fulfils the UK’s ambition to remain at the forefront of scientific endeavour. Located 10,000 miles from the UK on a floating ice shelf, the new station is designed to be self-sufficient, able to withstand freezing winter temperatures of minus 55ºC, have minimal impact on Antarctica’s pristine environment, and be an aesthetically stimulating place to live and work.

Princess Elisabeth Antarctica
Conceived, designed, constructed and operated by the International Polar Foundation (Belgium), Princess Elisabeth is Antarctica's first zero-emission station. Perched on a nunatuk, 200km from the coast, at an altitude of 1400m, the aerodynamic stainless steel structure can withstand strong Antarctic wind, and is layered so that no form of interior heating is needed. The station seamlessly integrates renewable wind and solar energy, water treatment facilities, passive building technologies and a smart grid for maximising energy efficiency.

Bharati Research Station
India’s third Antarctic research station by bof Architekten / IMS (Germany) is a striking modernist structure made from 134 prefabricated shipping containers. Wrapped in a special aluminium case its extensive glazing offers magnificent panoramic views whilst withstanding powerful winds, below 40 degree Celsius temperatures, blizzards and unfathomable loads.

Jang Bogo
Korea is becoming a significant player in Antarctic research and Jang Bogo, by Space Group (South Korea), will be one of the largest year-round bases on the continent when it opens in 2014. The station’s aerodynamic triple-arm design will provide resistance to the elements and accommodate up to 60 personnel during the busy summer season.

Iceberg Living Station
A speculative design by David Garcia / MAP Architects (Denmark) for a future research station made entirely from ice, Iceberg Living Station negates the need to transport foreign materials to Antarctica. The station will be holed out of a large iceberg, using caterpillar excavators that are traditionally used to clear snow. It will eventually melt, resolving the issue of removing it at the end of its life course.


Accompanying the exhibition there is a publication with essays written by Dr David Walton (British Antarctic Survey and author of the recent ‘Antarctica: Global Science from a Frozen Continent’) and Sam Jacob (co-founder of FAT architects, lecturer and writer).  This is available in electronic book and print format. 

Partners and links

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

The Lighthouse

A+DS - Architecture and Design Scotland

MOSI - Museum of Science and Industry

Torsten Lauschmann

We Made That

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Jon Adams, Konfirm

Konfirm is a sound work prompted by systematic processes which will be presented in audio and visual metaphor.

Jon Adams's artwork explores sense and sensitivity through the 'hidden' and plays with perceptions of normal and the inaccessible. A geologist by training, Adams’ seeking of the concealed in his art often reveals his naturally systematic thinking: his inclination and ability to uncover systems within everyday interactions and landscapes.

In this residency and research project, Jon Adams set out on a personal, artistic and scientific investigation of his own Asperger's Syndrome, through a series of conversations, observations and experiments, working in collaboration with Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, Director of the Autism Research Centre at the University of Cambridge.

Jon presented his sound work as a performance with accompanying talk at the Arts Catalyst's event space in Clerkenwell.

This collaborative research project has emerged from an initial meeting between Jon Adams and Simon Baron-Cohen at an Arts Catalyst/Shape project Alternative Ways of Thinking: Exploring the Autistic Mind at the Cheltenham Science Festival in 2011 and supported by Wellcome Trust Arts Award

Read Jon's research blog

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A series of workshops for young people run by Something & Son to explore heat through creative problem solving about how and what are the best methods and materials to reduce energy loss in our homes and buildings.

Heat is essential to life. It is continuously gained and lost by buildings, industry and people.  Our understanding of it lies at the heart of tackling climate change, conserving energy, personal comfort and machines, yet it is unseen and uncelebrated.

The heating of buildings is responsible for close to 60% of UK carbon emissions with most waste coming from existing buildings. Radical and rapid approaches are needed to transform buildings so that they conserve heat yet there is an absence of creative practitioners, designers and free thinkers proposing solutions. The response is slow and risk averse. Innovation is required to develop new solutions. Can we reduce heat loss to zero in a single day? Can we engineer behaviour instead of engineering buildings? Which new materials need to be developed to change this?

This series of workshops explore through creative problem solving how and what are the best methods and materials to reduce our homes and buildings releasing heat and so wasting energy.


Firstly looking at London using a thermal heat camera – a device that forms an image using infrared radiation. Using this technology will reveal how different buildings are losing heat in varying degrees. The camera reveals a hidden world of flowing heat passing through the city like ghosts of wasted energy, something unseen but essential. This simple idea of visualising how London loses heat will pose lots of complex problems from building to building for the workshop participants to consider. This will result in a series of intriguing photographs and video.

The second workshop will see young participants build on the knowledge from exploring the waste of energy of London, testing thermal properties of various materials from clay to aerogel, sheeps wool to celutex and discussing how different materials and applications enable a building to retain more heat.  In the third workshop they will 'build' their own house insulating it in the best methods they see fit. 

Students will work in teams and compete to make the most energy efficient building. Each team will be given a flat pack of a specially designed miniature London townhouse, a selection of insulation material, along with some dud materials to catch them out, and a 100W bulb to hang in the middle of the house. The bulb will produce the heat that the teams need to keep locked into their homes.

The final homes will be tested for the best approach. We expect unusual designs and approaches to be explored and participants to gain a greater understanding about the role of heat around them.


If you would like to arrange a series of HEAT workshops for your school or young people's group, please contact Claudia Lastra

Partners and Funders

Something & Son

HEAT is part of the KiiCs project which is supported by the European Commission Seventh Framework Programme

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Beam Time - artist's research residency

Alistair McClymont was selected from a field of over 60 high quality applications for a three-month artist's residency based at Oxfordshire’s Central Laser Facility, funded by Artquest and The Arts Catalyst.

The Beam Time residency will give McClymont a unique opportunity to develop his practice (and potentially a new body of work), through a period of intense research and engagement with leading scientists and the frontier science that they conduct at the Central Laser Facility.

McClymont's previous work such as The Limitations of Logic and the Absence of Absolute Certainty, a 10ft high man-made tornado, impressed the selection panel. He describes his investigations into various phenomena and ambitions to expand this practice.

“It has become clear to me that my practice is closely entangled with the methodology of scientists. I see a close link with the way artists and scientists view the world, the process of engagement and discovery that drives their work. It is important to me to continue to seek out and talk to scientific institutions and scientists themselves to drive my own personal investigation into phenomena that has become a key part of my practice.”

McClymont often creates artworks through collaboration with scientists, for example he worked with a meteorologist at Manchester University to develop Raindrop, with a nuclear physicist at Kings College Hospital using their MRI scanners, and worked at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Washington using their ocean weather data and sunlight data.

Residency blog

Alistair McClymont blogs about his visits to Oxfordshire’s Central Laser Facility for his three-month research residency

Alistair McClymont's blog

Central Laser Facility

The Central Laser Facility 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 McClymont

      Partners and Funders

      Artquest is an organisation dedicated to supporting artists at all stages in their careers. It does this by connecting them to the resources, networks and opportunities they need to develop their practices and creating projects and events for the benefit of artists and their work.

      Beam Time is a part of KiiCS (Knowledge Incubation in Innovation and Creation for Science) - a 3-year European Commission-funded project which is supported by the European Commission Seventh Framework Programme.

      Central Laser Facility STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Harwell Oxford, Didcot, Oxfordshire

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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.

      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.

      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.

      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.,

      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...



      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:



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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


        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:

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        KOSMICA x Astroculture

        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 x Astroculture - A night of performance and conversations with Kapwani Kiwanga and Dr Nick Campion

        Alexander CT Geppert describes Astroculture as a cultural history of outer space and extra-terrestrial life in the twentieth-century imagination. KOSMICA x Astroculture takes this as a point of departure, focusing on artistic practice centred on the cultural understanding of outer space. This research area brings together space enthusiasts who have wide-ranging interests that include performance, cosmology, Afrofuturism, science fiction literature, mythology and philosophy.

        Afrofuturism is a phrase coined in 1995 by cultural critic Mark Dery in his essay Black to the Future, where he links the African American use of science and technology to an examination of space, time, race and culture. He defines Afrofuturism as: "Speculative fiction that treats African-American themes and addresses African-American concerns in the context of 20th century technoculture - and, more generally, African American signification that appropriates images of technology and a prosthetically enhanced future…".  As a movement, Afrofuturism began in earnest in the mid-1950s with musician Sun-Ra, whose music blended science fiction, mysticism, African culture (with a particular focus on Egypt) and jazz fusion, all of which coalesced in his 1972 film, Space is the Place.

        On Wednesday 15 May, KOSMICA x Astroculture's performance based lecture, short film screening followed by a conversation with artist Kapwani Kiwangs and Dr Nick Campion will further contextualise practice and cultural cosmology theories around Astroculture.

        Kapwani Kiwanga’s films and performance lectures speaks of “transcendent powers, beings and realms,” which she conceive in a scientific way. Her performance will be accompanied by a talk placing her artistic practice within wider debates around Astroculture, Afrofuturism, Magic and Space cultural theory.  Kapwani Kiwanga, a Canadian-born artist based in Paris, works primarily with video, sound and performance. Kiwanga studied Anthropology and Comparative Religions at McGill University, Canada. Her work has won a number of awards, and has been shown widely at film festivals, art institutions, and on international television. She has been an artist in residence at L’école nationale supérieure des Beaux-arts, Le Fresnoy: Studio national des arts contemporains and most recently at MU Foundation in the Netherlands.

        Dr Nick Campion is the director of the Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David.  His research interests include the nature of belief, the history and contemporary culture of astrology and astronomy, magic, pagan and New Age beliefs and practices, millenarian and apocalyptic ideas, and the sociology of new religious movements. Before joining Lampeter University in 2007, he was Senior Lecturer in the Study of Religions and Senior Lecturer in History at Bath Spa University. He is on the editorial boards of Correlation, the Journal of Research in Astrology and Archaeoastronomy, and the Journal of Astronomy in Culture. He speaks widely on the nature of belief, magic and cosmology and describes a recent space flight as an externalisation of the internal, imaginal journey to the stars undertaken in esoteric traditions.


        6.30 Doors

        7pm Kapwani Kiwanga’s performance commences without introduction

        8pm Screening of Sun Ra Repatriation film (excerpt 15 mins)

        8.15pm A conversation between Kapwani Kiwanga and Nick Campion


        This KOSMICA event is guest curated by Jareh Das.

        The KOSMICA series was conceived by Nahum Mantra and Arts Catalyst, and is endorsed by ITACCUS, the International Astronautical Federation's Committee on the Cultural Utilisation of Space.

        Speakers' websites

        Kapwani Kiwanga
        Dr Nick Campion and Trinity St David





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        Nuclear Culture on Film

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

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


        11am Introduction by Ele Carpenter

        11.25-12.30 The Otolith Group, The Radiant, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

        4pm Tea & Coffee

        4.30pm Chris Oakley, Half Life, 2009.

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

        5pm Closing remarks Susan Kelly and Ele Carpenter

        5.30pm End

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

        Screening Notes

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

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

        Mark Aerial Waller, Glow Boys, 1999, 14mins

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

        Sandra Lahire, Uranium Hex, 1987, 11mins

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

        Your Greenham (2007) Selected short films, 25mins

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

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

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

        Chris Oakley, Half Life, 2009, 15mins.

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

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

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

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

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

        Roundtable discussants

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

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

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

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

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

        Links to online resources

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

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

        Sandra Lahire, Uranium Hex, 1987, 11mins

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

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

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

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

        Supported by

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

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        Deptford Market DNA FoodLab

        Why amateur biology matters

        Ellen Jorgensen’s biotech TED talk gives a great introduction to DIY Biology and why it matters

        DIY Biology is a rapidly growing global movement whose aim is to democratise, demystify and widen participation in low-cost, hands-on biology - bringing it out of the laboratory and onto the kitchen table.

        Manchester’s very own MadLab will be resident at Arts Catalyst getting their hands dirty with DIY biology. Pioneers of the DIY-bio movement, even the FBI is keeping an eye on them! If you're keen to find out what's in your food - and who wouldn't be after the horse meat burger news - come along and find us in Deptford Market and get testing food DNA.

        All welcome – curious amateurs with no biology knowledge encouraged!

        Deptford Market DNA FoodLab

        “Get your extracted food DNA here, three for a pound and I can’t say fairer than that”. As the Lab Easy rolls to a close, we’ll be taking the show on the road with a visit to Deptford Market. Armed with a battery of ad-hoc biological tests, travel-ready DIY lab equipment and some tasty produce we’ll be bringing some wholesome Lab Easy flavours to the streets of South East London.

        Partners and Funders


        Funded with support from The Wellcome Trust

        Lab Easy is part of the KiiCs project which is supported by the European Commission Seventh Framework Programme

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        Cybersalon series (guest events)

        Cybersalon a series of guest events to discuss the impact of new media in London

        Digital London Then & Now January 2013. These events launched the New Media Memory project which is dedicated to archiving and analysing the development of Net culture in the city over the past two decades. Due to the constant improvements in hardware and software, many of the digital artefacts which have shaped today's new media scene have not just been forgotten, but are no longer even accessible. Cybersalon's 2013 events revisit the recent past to inspire contemporary designers, entrepreneurs, techies, academics and activists to build a better and smarter future.

        Cybersalon's goal is to create an active network of people interested in the project and to develop a process for crowd-sourcing of the assets for a New Media Memory archive.

        The Digital London Then & Now events aimed to raise awareness of the New Media Memory project, develop a taxonomy for collating material and form alliances with academic institutions for the long-term maintenance of the completed archive.

        26 June - 20 Years of 'On The Mobile' (1993–2013).  From Yuppies, Chalk Marks, Emotional Maps and Geo-Location media to Smartphones and Urban Protests, Wednesday 26 June from 7pm

        The introduction of mobile phones in London in the late 80′s as the ultimate Yuppie icon has initiated our long journey to today’s ubiquitous mobile computing. The ‘mobile’ was initially a tool of currency traders, stockbrokers and merchant bankers, who were all exponents of Thatcher’s politics. Over the last two decades the mobile phone has made an incredible journey to a leading tool in our everyday lives. It has also successfully been used to facilitate street protests against authoritarian governments.

        Looking at some elements of that journey and explore how this unexpected and unpredicted transformation happened and which critical components on the journey powered such a radical political shift.

        William Gibson in his novel has discussed the birth of locative media in London (“Zero History”, 2010). We also acknowledge the head-start that London had in the mobile phone movement and the pioneering role of the early art collectives in the UK such as Blast Theory and Node London.
        Christian Nold, Pete Gomes (Chalk Marks project) and Sophia Drakopoulou will look at the difference between Checking-in to a nightclub and Checking-in at a #blockupy protest event. They will examine what happens when this kind of collective data means the participants realise they are in a majority or at least a significant political power (Paolo Gerbaudo ‘The Tweets and the Streets‘, 2012).  Some murky aspects of the mobile phone will be examined, including the ‘hacking’ of mobile phones of celebrities and crime victims and the impact of the public outrage on the new Press legislation curbing the power of the old media empires.

        The Cybersalon Series – Then and Now – is supported by Middlesex University and Cyberia Foundation.


        Christian Nold is an artist, designer and researcher working to develop new participatory technologies for communcal representation. He has written the books “Mobile Vulgus” (2001) and “Internet of People for a Post-Oil World” (2011) with Rob van Kranenburg and edited “Emotional Cartographies – Technologies of the Self” (2009). He has led large scale participatory mapping projects, in particular “Bio-Mapping" which has been staged across the globe with thousands of participants. He has developed experimental currencies, the Biijlmer Euro (2010) and Suomenlinna Kuula (2012). Christian is releasing the book “The Participation Problem – Autopsy of an Island Currency” later this year. His is currently working on a PhD in the Extreme Citizen Science Group at UCL.,

        Sophia Drakopoulou is a Senior Lecturer in Media, Culture and Communication at Middlesex University and runs the BA in Media and Cultural Studies. Her PhD title:  ’How Long Is Now? A study into the spatiotemporal qualities of mobile media in location-specific interaction 2001 to 2008′. Sophia publishes on locative media technologies, location-based games and mobile media in several international peer-reviewed journals. Sophia is a co-founder of Cybersalon.  Sophia's Writing: A Moment of Experimentation.
        Pete Gomes

        Read up before the event on



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