The birth of the category was motivated by the fact that people attending the festival were sometimes wondering where was the interaction of some pieces shown under the Interactive Art label, a clearer set of criteria was needed which would of course disqualify some interesting art pieces. The creation of the new category was thus the most obvious solution.
The results of a search of the word "hybrid" on google demonstrates that the biological origins of the term are increasingly used metaphorically and replaced by cultural examples of hybridity (cars, clothing, etc.) He pointed and discussed Brian Stross´ essay The Hybrid Metaphor From Biology to Culture.
Hybrid Art received 470 entries for its first year of existence. The category is dedicated specifically to today’s hybrid and transdisciplinary projects and approaches to media art, focusing on the process of fusing different media and genres into new forms of artistic expression as well as the act of transcending the boundaries between art and research, art and social/political activism, art and pop culture.
Since its foundation in 2000, SymbioticA has enabled dozens of artists to engage in and comment on "wet technologies" while complying strictly with scientific requirements. The collaborative structure produces new cultural experiments in the field of neurosciences, molecular biology, anatomy physics, anthropology and ethics.
Symbiotica offers undergraduate courses, postgrad programme, hosts individual short and long term research projects, workshops, "Friday Meetings. Symbiotica is also a founding partner of BEAP and pursues the research of Tissue Culture & Art Project.
Some of the projects developed with the help of SymbioticA include: a dress made of fungi by by Donna Franklin (image on the left); BioKino, the Living Screen; collaborations with Adam Zaretsky, the Critical Art Ensemble, etc.
Dr. Stuart Bunt, scientific director of SymbioticA, and Oron Catts explained how SymbioticA started as an artist in residence project and grew into a more stable structure as they were gaining recognition all over the world. They applied for more grants and had other artists come over to work with them.
Interestingly, Ionat Zurr explained that they applied both to the art school and to the science school. The art community didn't accept them, it was the science school which gave them support.
What makes their work appealing for the science world is that artists get more freedom to explore.
In science you have to work towards an end point, to "cure", it´s not about doing research anymore, scientists are "problem solvers". Therefore, explained Dr. Stuart Bunt, artists are stimulating fits in this ethos. The critical edge they bring help scientists justify and constantly evaluate the scientific process. Artists often come up with provoking pieces which reminds scientists of the unease to work with living beings.
SymbioticA is very far off the radar, it is located in Perth, "the most isolated big city in the world", which apparently provides the artists with more freedom.
For the ars electronica exhibition, SymbioticA brought some artists with them (more info about these works will follow). The form of display used doesn´t go very well with the rest of the usually very "please touch and have fun" ars electronica exhibition. For example, one project was hidden behind the heavy door of an incubator. Occasionally the door would be open and visitors who happen to wander around could have a peek, this aims to be a reference to the occasional opening up of the scientific world.
One of SymbioticA´s aims is to bring scientific discussions out of the laboratories and bring the debate out in public rahter than wait for tabloids to give their own take on it.
Catts also insisted on the fact that although many the works developed within their structure might seem to be subversive, all of them comply fully with the rules and requirement of science. That makes their approach more powerful and gives them more freedom to work and exhibit without the fear of being censored for some procedural reason.
Just received the latest issue of aminima::.
Focusing on contemporary art and in particular new media art, the magazine follows a methodology which resembles that of scientific magazines: the artists themselves write about their work. The website has recently been revamped and reflects better what the publication has achieved to become after just a few years of existence: a fantastic archives of texts written by inspiring people whose work reflects on aesthetic, technological and political issues.
So what's inside this issue?
- Dennis Dollens explains how he is applying techniques and methods from botany to develop a generative architecture that relies on biomimetics from both direct experience and software simulations;
- there's also a presentation of Joystick --aka Andrea Gómez and Ricardo Duque-- whose ideas revolve around notion of recycling of, apparent, waste, the adaptation of technology and the use of low cost resources;
You can order the bi-monthly magazine by contacting aminima at aminima dot net. The publication is so cheap it is offending and is both in english and spanish.
Last episode of the Biorama day in Huddersfield where Capsula and the Digital Research Unit had invited artists to present the way their work explores and blends notions of life, science and digital realities.
France Cadet, just back from an interesting-looking conference about theatre and robotics held in the framework of the 61st Festival d'Avignon, explained how she hacked robot dogs (she used I-Cybie which doesn't come with a software like the Aibo, therefore re-programming the robot is a long and complex process) and turned them into transgenic and chimerical animals inspired by the advances of (bio)technology, in particular cloning experiments. Each robot raises questions about possible accidents, animal and human behaviour, artificialisation of life, side effects of cloning, dangers of xenotransplantation, etc.
COPYCAT is half dog, half cat. It is independent and clean like a cat while being affectionate and playful like a dog. The robot was inspired by "Cc" the first kitten cloned in December 2001 at Texas A&M university. The breakthrough has made it possible to clone your favourite dying or dead pet and to produce a pet "à la carte".
DOLLY has a more complex origin, half of it is a dog, then it is 30% ewe, 15% cow and a tiny portion of sheep. The dog is named after Dolly the sheep, the first mammal cloned in 1996. Both sheep and bovines specimens have encountered difficulties for their cloning: BSE: Mad Cow Disease, Progeria, premature ageing (because her donor sibling was six years old when the genetic material was taken from her, Dolly may have been genetically six years old at birth), abnormal size and various pathologies. This species aims to cure all the side effects of cloning and deterioration of DNA. However, not everything went according to plans and the dog-cow is suffering from BSE and eventually dies on its little pad of artificial grass.
GFP PUPPY had just 1% of Green Fluorescent Protein gene transferred into its genome. GPF is present at the natural state in jellyfish, and commonly used to mark the cells. In this case, the gene gave the dog a phosphorescent coat. After the fluorescent mouse and Eduardo Kac's Alba rabbit. "GFP Puppy" marks the beginning of a new age of animal cloning, that of more evolved and complex species.
XENODOG is half dog, 45% pig and has also 5% Nude gene.
JELLYDOGGY. This genetic mutant is 90% dog with 5% jellyfish and 5% chameleon. Its genome has been enhanced with the gene of a hydrozoan (jellyfish family) as well as the gene of the chameleon, well known for blending in with his environment. This peculiarly enables him to adapt to an aquatic life.
SCHIZODOG has worryingly been "enhanced" with 25% Dr. Jekyll genes and 25% of Mr. Hyde.
Along with the dog genes, the FLYING PIG is 40% pig, and has 5% nude and 5% human genes.
Inspired by Stelarc's extra ear, Symbiotica's Pig Wings and the nude mouse with a human ear attached onto its back. Initialy designed to serve as a model for tissue and cartilage engineering and to replace a missing or malfunctioning part of the body, those ear-wings prosthesis, made out of muscles, soft tissue and flexible cartilage, can actually enhance the body's fonctions. From now on reconstructive surgery belongs to the past, time has come for augmented surgery.
The last presentation of the day was from etoy agent Marcos who briefly recalled TOYWAR the most successful performance of the group. Toy retailer eToys.com sued etoy for having a similar domain name to their own (etoy.com.) They first offered incresingly big sums of money to get the domain and when they realized it wasn't to sell, they decided to launch a rather dirty legal battle. After several weeks, a market capitalization loss of $4.5 billion dollars, eToys dropped the lawsuit and the etoy website returned to operation.
But Marcos was mostly there to talk about MISSION ETERNITY, an ultra long term project started by etoy.CORPORATION in 2005. Its theme is the cult of the dead in the digital age, its chore idea is to create a digital portrait and make it eternal it through a p2p system and its main pilar is the arcanum capsule.
The ARCANUM CAPSULE is reserved for charismatic pioneers of the information age: the M∞ PILOTS (the process can not be offered to the broad public yet as it is too artistically intense, expensive, and requires the participation of a whole range of trained etoy.AGENTS). So far only 2 TEST PILOTS are in the pipeline (microfilm pioneer Sepp Keiser and writer Timothy Leary).
The M∞ ARCANUM CAPSULES contain digital fragments of the life and "soul�? of the USERS and enable them to maintain a presence post mortem as data particles hosted in the shared memory of hundreds of networked computers and mobile devices such as cell phones of the so-called M∞ ANGELS, people who contribute a part of their digital storage space to the project. As long as humanity exists and people are connected, the memory will be preserved.
Now how can you make the remains eternal in a more tangible way? By having them enter some art institution through physical artefacts. They would get from the family ash once the pilot has died and incorporate it into sculptures called M∞ BRIDGES that link physical and memory spaces as well as life and death. Innovative technology and artistic quality might appeal to art collections, libraries and museums. Conservation would thus be outsourced to protected environments and experts financed by governments, foundations and private collectors. The ash of the deceased would be mixed with cement and then used as dead pixel on the big screen inside the sarcophagus.
The first series of M∞ BRIDGES are dominated by visual output (SARCOPHAGUS and MISSION CTRL) and close to traditional art forms. The second series will be based on antenna principles: broadcasting radio signals (voices of M∞ PILOTS), WLAN, Bluetooth and cell phone content. They will introduce a new generation of public interactive art.
Back to my notes from Biorama, a one day event organized by Capsula and the Digital Research Unit on July 13 in Huddersfield. The event brought together an exciting bunch of artists whose work explores notions of life, science and digital realities.
Laura Cinti (who is currently doing some research on the way plants can be modified in order to be visually responsible to touch) and Howard Boland from c-lab (interviewed then a few months ago) focused mainly on their fascinating Martian Rose project.
How would the aesthetics of the flower start to break down if exposed to the Mars environment? Would it still have petals? The project started as a very romantic idea: offering a rose to Mars. They worked with scientists from the Mars Simulation Laboratory, at the University of Aarhus in Denmark.
The artists and the scientists put roses inside a vacuum chamber built to simulate parameters such as temperature, gas and distribution, pressure and radiation.
After Laura and Howard, it was the turn of Agnes Meyer-Brandis to present her work. I had her talk about her projects a few months ago, so i decided to drop the pen and paper and just enjoy her witty talk full of iceberg drifting along the Brazilian coast, elves and other mysterious phenomena. Agnes is currently working on her latest project the Cloud Core Scanner, an artistic experiment in weighlessness within the scope of the German Aerospace Center's parabolic flight campaign.
Brandon Ballengée discussed his transdisciplinary approach towards increasing environmental awareness, how he sees his work as an interface between biological research and a much more experimental programme.
Brandon has spent the past decade studying amphibians which he defined as the "environmental canaries in the coalmine." They act as bio-sensors. Studies have demonstrated that amphibians are declining even in protected environments. Reports of discovery of frogs which are born with more or sometimes less than 4 legs. With such deformities, the animals have very little chance of survival and the phenomenon might partially explain the decline in amphibian population. Such reports emerged mainly from the US. But declines and deformities of amphibians probably exists on 6 continents. The New York-based artist is currently spending several months in the UK to have a closer look into declining amphibian species, through participatory lab and field-based research investigations. The project is organised by The Arts Catalyst and enabled by residencies at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Gunpowder Park, and SPACE. He not only works together with scientists but also organizes "eco-actions�? fieldtrips that involve members of the public in his research projects.
One hypothesis that might explain amphibian deformities is that some parasite inside the body of the frog might hamper its normal development. When amphibians are mutating, they are very sensible to the environment. Brandon made experiments where he would cut one limb of the frog at different stage of its transformation and see it regrow until a rather late stage. If a parasite gobbles its way into the transforming tissues of the mutating frog, it would form a cyst and impede the normal growth of the limbs. The organism of the frog would try to compensate and grow an extra tow or an extra leg coming from the same tissue. This phenomenon of extra limbs is increasing and it compromises the immune system of the amphibian.
Brandon has discovered in North Yorkshire many amphibians with just one leg or no leg at all, this phenomenon is not described yet in England. The artist documents the deformities by creating hi-res images using a flat-based scanner (he built an aquarium on top of it).
Another of Ballengée's project, the outdoor installation 'Love Motels for Insects', enables the public to study arthropod diversity in urban and natural areas. A blank canvas and ultra-violet (black) light enable the study and photography of arthropods (spiders, moths, beetles, etc.) and other nocturnal creatures. Attracted to the light, the creatures mate and feed on the sculpture. It is a "place for bugs to make more bugs." Moths release chemical pheromones to attract mates and consequently "paint" the piece, while spiders spin webs adding their own contribution to the work.
Brandon uses eco-projects to raise awareness of ecological issues and have people feel part of it. C-lab has a couple of very good images of Brandon Ballangee's work.
On Friday 13 i spent an extra day in Huddersfield to attend the Biorama organized by Capsula and the Digital Research Unit. The objective was to illustrate new directions in art, science and technology by bringing together artists who explore notions of life, science and digital realities.
Biorama also puts the research carried out by Andy Gracie (whom i interviewed a while ago) during his 3-month residency at DRU into a broader context. His project weaves together the microbiology of the Pennines around Marsden Moor, traditional and digital networking systems, satellite communications, perceptions of landscape and the history and possible future of interstellar communication.
During the morning we went for a long but extremely fun hike under the rain. We followed Andy and Brandon Ballangee, looking for frogs, getting the lowdown on the nematodes, collecting samples, and watching organisms under the lens of our pocket microscopes. Searching for things we can't see and that crawl under our feet and trying somehow to connect them with what we cannot see either because it is way too high above our head.
In the afternoon, we headed to the DRU and the artists' talks kicked off with Andy's presention of his work, this time it was dry, we sat on chairs and there were plenty of snacks on hand. Part of his research investigates communication with living forms we might yet not have encountered. Previous attempts to communicate with them include:
- the Pioneer Plaque, on board of the unmanned spacecraft Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11, displays a pictorial message from mankind. The figures and symbols are designed to provide information about the origin of the spacecraft. It serves as a kind of interstellar "message in a bottle".
There is also the hypothesis to discover microbial life somewhere in our solar system and thus the desire to communicate with them. Some serious issues are at stake, such as nuclear waste dumps. How do you warn people not to dig it up for another 10,000 years? There is a high probability that our current form of civilization won't be around in 12000AD so a simple 'Danger, Keep Out!' may not work. Think about Stonehenge, it is relatively not that far away back in time, yet we still haven't got much clue on what the construction means.
The U.S. Department of Energy has been recently looking at this issue and wondering what to do about the warning markers at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) at Yucca Mountain. Various plans have been proposed such as making it a big spikey forboding landscape.
After Andy, artists were invited to take the floor. Starting with London Fieldworks. Bruce Gilchrist & Jo Joelson are interested in human relationship with the natural environment, their work tends to bring elements of the landscape (mostly from rather extreme environments) into an urban context.
For Polaria they collected data about light and physiology during the transition from 24 hour daylight to the twilight onset of winter in North East Greenland and brought the data back into a studio and translated it into a virtual daylight installation. They left the data open for the public to interpret it.
The Little Earth installation consisted of synchronised video shot on Haldde Mountain in the Norwegian Arctic, Ben Nevis in Scotland, and on the island of Svalbard, with computer animations of the Earth's magnetosphere modeled by the Leicester Radio & Space Plasma Physics Group, the science partner in this arts/science collaboration. The video, shot from 4 perspectives is projected onto a suspended cube-like structure, with a surround sound score and narration.
London Fieldworks is currently working on Prince of the Petrified Forest. Working with the personal myth of Walt Disney, cryogenically frozen at the point of death, the artists proposed to reincarnate him into an animatronic Hexer alter-ego (image) which would star in their film Prince Of The Petrified Forest - part inspired by the seminal eco novel, Bambi by Felix Salten and Prospect of Immortality by Robert Ettinger, "the father of cryonics" but also by stories read in the press such as the one of the mouse put in 'suspended animation'. The themes of the movie are hibernation and suspension.
The animatronic is a monstrous hybrid of Disney and his iconic characters, Bambi and Thumper.
SpaceBaby, supported by art science agency The Arts Catalyst, explored inverted sleep pattern and its possible effect on human genes, referencing research interest of space agencies into human hibernation. The artists slept through the day in specially constructed "hibernaculum" and scientists from the University of Leicester Dept. of Genetics were taking blood samples to monitor the effect the reverse sleep pattern had on their genes. The project will be turned into a film.
SpaceBaby, just like the Disney chimera project, made reference to recent scientific experiment into the induction of suspended states of animation in non-hibernatory animals. The project imagines space agencies transferring these applications to humans to facilitate long distance space flight. C-lab has some more images of the installation.
Bit slow with the blogging cuz i do not always have access to internet but service should resume as normal from tomorrow on.
Late notice but i hope some of you can come and enjoy a Biorama afternoon in Huddersfield. The event is bringing together artists who explore notions of life, science and digital realities.
This morning Andy Gracie (hostprods), currently in residency at DRU, and Brandon Ballangee will take us for a hike around Marsden Moor, traditional and digital networking systems, satellite communications, perceptions of landscape and the history and possible future of interstellar communication. The walking talk will cover the parallel conceptual territories including the topography of local transmission masts, the history of interstellar communications, the landscape painting tradition and the micro ecology of the moors. Simple scientific field experiments and samplings will be carried out at various points on the way which will provide a window on the methodologies and concepts which Andy has been attempting to weave together throughout the residency.
The Biorama Sessions are free and open to the public. They will start at 3.30 p.m. at the Media Centre.
In each session, two artists will present their work and explore common territories before brief open discussion.
Participants: Agnes Meyer-Brandis, Andy Gracie, Brandon Ballengee, C-Lab, etoy, France Cadet and London Fieldworks.