The artists invited by curator Katerina Gregos investigate change. In particular, how change, because of its relentless speed and much proclaimed inevitability, seems to escape robust critical scrutiny
I talked with artist and designer Xandra van der Eijk about space mining without the need to leave the Earth and about controlling or being controlled by microorganisms
Gracie’s experimental breeding programme aims to gradually recreate, in an enclosed habitat, the atmospheric conditions found on Titan and make sure that the common fly would slowly acclimate to it
Artists Andrea Roe and Cath Keay collaborated with animal behaviour experts to create toys and playful experiences for farmed pigs
With this installation, critical and speculative scenario designer Tina Gorjanc is asking whether producing ‘fake’ copies of an extinct animal is an attempt to understand the past, or just an excuse to constantly create the desire for rarity
Maja Smrekar has spent the past few years investigating human/dog/wolf co-evolution, co-habitation as well as the possibility to create a hybrid of the human and the dog species
Artist Maria McKinney uses ‘semen straws’ to explore genetics in cattle breeding as well as the hidden systems beneath beef and milk production
A resolutely nonanthropocentric take on the materiality of one of the most controversial mediums in art, this approach relentlessly questions past and present ideas of human separation from the animal kingdom. It situates taxidermy as a powerful interface between humans and animals, rooted in a shared ontological and physical vulnerability
Beat to the Balance introduces participants to a ritualistic sauna practice which consists of whisking bodies with branch bundle of different tree species. The goal is to open energy flow and make more perceptible the interdependence between tree communities and humans
The Socle du Monde biennale in Herning is currently showing Koen Vanmechelen’s Planetary Community Chicken, a cross between his now iconic Cosmopolitan roosters and commercial hens
How do you taste to the small organisms that consume parts of you everyday, and every last bit of you when you die? How can humans manipulate our bodies, diet & emotions to change our own flavour?
Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, Bat Opera, 2013 Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, Bat Opera, 2005 Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, who used to […]
Should bird populations decline drastically in the near future, could fake birds replace them and contribute to keeping the natural balance of a forest intact? The question might sound a bit fanciful but it is inspired by scientific papers about insect-eating plants, the extinction of birds species and the impact their disappearance would have on our forests
Image courtesy of the artist While visiting an ex soldier training area in Maastricht turned into workshops for […]
In spite of the loss of a large part of its collection, the museum remains a wonderful place to visit. For the historical specimens of course but also for a number of artefacts that are interesting from an artistic point of view
Machine Wilderness explores what our technologies could look like if they are native to our landscapes, part of material flows, foodchains and layers of communication. In particular it looks at environmental robotics, designing ‘pseudo-organisms’ that relate to specific habitats
Maja devises equipment enabling biological survival in apocalyptic situations, built an installation ‘infused’ with the serotonin of the both herself and her dog Byron and explored the problem of invasive species with the help of native and tropical crayfish.
Media artist and beekeeper Annemarie Maes has been monitoring and working with urban bee colonies since 2009, not only to develop novel art works but also to better understand the connections between city honeybees and urban ecosystems, to raise awareness among citizens about the plight of the pollinating bees and to call for ecological activism
In an era of fast-paced technological progress and with the impact of humans on the environment increasing, the concept of “nature” itself seems called into question. Bio Art explores the work of “bio artists,” those who work with living organisms and life processes to address the possibilities and dangers posed by biotechnological advancement
With ‘A simple line’, Essaïdi attempts to merge the abstract idea of a line with its most tangible reality by having a zebra finch look at its own brain cells in the form of a line
On the interplay between a snail (a messy biological entity under scientific observation and the subject of experimentation) and an algorithm (dating back to 1887 and the development of tabulating machines) that sorts and orders data sets
A Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the World is a catalogue of 55 curious creatures and life-forms that have evolved in often unexpected ways to cope with the stresses and pressures of a changed world. Other organisms documented iare the results of human intervention, mutations engineered to serve various interests and purposes ranging from scientific research to the desire for ornamentation
These fables show potential of putative simple organisms in the past, present and future. What if invasive species become a weapon? What if the next danger is an engineered physical insect, not a digital one?
“A common idiosyncratic habit in all birds is their inevitable punk nature to shit over our most precious belongings.”
A group of male zebra finches underwent this experiment with rigorous commitment
The event brought together two men who share a passion for whales. One is environmental scientist and marine biologist Mark Peter Simmonds who investigates and raises awareness about an issue that is far away from our sights: the threats to the life of marine mammals caused by the increasing emissions of loud noise under water. The other is artist and inventor Ariel Guzik who has spent the last ten years looking for a way of communicating with cetaceans
As we develop the tools to manipulate and engineer new forms and systems of life, the exhibition considers our historical and contemporary entanglements with nature, technology and the economy, and how these relationships influence emergent forms in biological and synthetic matter, through new sculpture, installation and moving image works
This week i’m talking with Ollie Palmer is a designer, artist, a tutor at Bartlett but he is also the guy who’s so interested in dancing insects that he’s embarked on a 6 year project to choreograph and stage an Ant Ballet.
During the interview, Ollie talks ants and more precisely Argentine ants, a particularly invasive species that the UK wants nowhere near its shores. We also learn about the best way to collect ants, to synthesize pheromones and end the show with a few words about the Godot Machine, a device built for the sole purpose of preventing a single ant to move around
Koen Vanmechelen who has spent the past 20 years crossbreeding national species of chicken in order to create the ultimate ‘Cosmopolitan Chicken Project.’ You might or might not know it but each country has created its own peculiar type of chicken: the French, for example, have the Poulet the Brest. It’s white and red with blue feet, the same colours as their flag. Americans like their chicken to be big and powerful. The Chinese have a chicken covered in silky feathers
One of the most curious, amusing and thought-provoking projects of the Design Interactions graduation show this year asks questions that range from ‘What is more important in making us who we are: our genes or the experiences we go through in life?’ to ‘Can a mouse be Elvis?’ and ‘Does buying a pre-owned item gives one the legal right to another individual’s genetic data?’
The project is called ‘All That I Am’ and with it, Koby Barhad suggests that we could create an Elvis mouse using a specially-designed set of training cages and 3 online services
Ollie Palmer’s Ant Ballet is a three-year research project into control systems, paranoia and dancing insects, and has culminated in the world’s first ballet to exclusively feature ants. The projected insects is part of the FutureEverybody Art Exhibition at the 1830 Warehouse in Manchester
One of the works on show at the AV Festival this month is the extremely long-term project that sees Agnes Meyer-Brandis training a flock of young geese to fly to the moon. The whole training started last Spring and according to her schedule, the birds will go on their first unmanned flight to the satellite in 2024
70% of chicken, the UK’s favourite meat, is currently produced in an unethical and unsustainable manner. The welfare provided in intensive farming systems is insufficient and always will be. At the Centre for Unconscious Farming, welfare is eliminated. Chickens have their brain stem separated from their neocortex and are unconscious throughout the growing period. Their homeostatic functions continue but they are oblivious.
“People who are comfortable with eating meat, should be equally comfortable with killing animals.”
Because he is interested in the ethics and dilemmas of eating meat, John O’Shea is looking into schemes to achieve a more compassionate meat consumption. Since 2008, the artist has been working on Meat Licence Proposal. Under this law proposal, citizens willing to buy or consume a certain type of meat would need to obtain a licence to do so first. The only way to acquire the licence is to slaughter the animal yourself
Some researchers have observed that apes held in captivity watch tv programmes. Some of them are fond of the Teletubbies, others favour emergency room dramas or Disney cartoons. But is it possible to script, shoot and screen cinema just for primates? That’s what Rachel Mayeri set out to discover with her work Primate Cinema: Apes as Family
Summer is back in London and dozens of bees have now settled in the middle of Spitalfields. Real bees passersby don’t try to wave away. They are dead and hang on fishing lines as if they were caught in mid-flight inside a giant glass case, surrounded on all sides by office blocks
To understand how mysterious jumping fish can survive in a puddle with trucks driving through it, Mateusz Herczka recreated a South American puddle in an unheated Belgian space. The huge cube of glass and metal contains a reconstruction of a puddle found in the middle of a road in Guyana, with a truck wheel rolling through it. His work is documented in an exhibition which recently opened in Antwerp
To enter garden installation EXOTE, part of Kris Verdonck – EXHIBITION #1, visitors have to wear protecting clothes. They can then walks on the bark soil between plants and parrots, just like a nature explorer. The terrestrial plants, crustraceans, insects, fish, amphibians, birds and other organisms they encounter are all “Invasive Alien Species”, they thrive outside their natural distribution area and threaten biological diversity
A few weeks ago, i was in The Netherlands to see the result of the first competition. You might remember that i had interviewed the 3 winning artists/designers just as they were about to start developing their projects (The Miscroscopic Opera, 2.6g 329m/s, aka the ‘bulletproof skin’ and System Synthetics) so i was curious to see whether the final pieces lived up to their (and my!) expectations
In a bold self-experiment aimed at blurring the boundaries between species, Marion Laval-Jeantet was injected with horse blood plasma. Over the course of several months, the artist prepared her body by gradually introducing into her bloodstream horse immunoglobulins, the glycoproteins that circulate in the blood serum, and which, for example, can function as antibodies in immune response. The artist called the process “mithridatization”, after Mithridates VI of Pontus who cultivated an immunity to poisons by regularly ingesting sub-lethal doses of the same
Ready-to-use Models, a work-in-progress project developed for Alter Nature: The Unnatural Animal, attempts to question the current definitions used to indicate living creatures. Does one denominate a manipulated organism as an object, product, animal or pet? What consequences does this choice of definition entail for our perceptions, feelings and behaviours regarding living creatures?