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?
If you want to see a penguin, you go to the zoo. If you’re curious about dinosaurs, any natural history museum will enlighten you. But what if you want to learn about spider silk-producing goats, anti-malarial mosquitoes, fluorescent zebrafish or the terminator gene? Right now, we can only rely on good old internet. But in June, the Center for PostNatural History will finally open its doors to anyone interested in genetically engineered life forms. This public outreach organization is dedicated to collecting, documenting and exhibiting life forms that have been intentionally altered by people through processes such as selective breeding or genetic engineering
Over the last two years Karen Guthrie & Nina Pope of the London art collective Somewhere have been working on a research and documentary project focusing on pedigree cat breeding. They followed pedigree cat owners at cat shows, worked with breeders, and interviewed Dr Leslie Lyons, an internationally-respected authority on feline genetics who ratified the world’s first cloned kitten and the first GFP (“glow-in-the-dark”) transgenic kitten
The exhibition looks at the sub-aspect of fauna and flora in nature. Through the works of some twenty international artists we explore how humankind manipulates nature and how the concept of ‘nature’ constantly changes as a result of this