Visions explores current thinking and work by artists who are engaged with and inspired by science and technology.

Contributions include –

Catherine Richardson experiments with natural processes using paint, inks, pond water and metals; building a library of textures by freezing, thawing, evaporating, heating and burning. Using these textures the artist compiles mixed medium ‘paintings’ on panel or paper. Richardson then uses digital techniques to organize a collage of scanned textures, creating imagery that expresses Landforms experienced.

Daniel Ambrosi has been exploring ground-breaking methods of visual presentation since graduating from Cornell University with degrees in architecture and 3D graphics. In 2011, he devised a unique form of computational photography that generates extremely high-resolution immersive vibrant images, His latest work, ‘Dreamscapes’, builds upon his previous experiments by adding a powerful new graphics tool, a modified version of ‘DeepDream’, a computer vision program evolved from Google engineers’ desire to visualize the inner workings of Deep Learning artificial intelligence models.

Julie Light is a visual artist primarily creating sculptural objects in glass and other materials. Her current work is focused on the relationships between medical technologies and the self. She discusses her work in Visions of Science.

Anastasia Tyurina’s art practice involves an interplay between photography and scientific imaging, and is concentrated in the specific area of scientific photography made by the Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), which has expanded the boundaries of observation and representation of the micro world. In Unseen Water, she discusses her work in the field of photomicrography, which aims to expand human visual vocabulary, revealing principles of beauty which are typically difficult to otherwise access.

Jenny Walsh is a glass artist who uses glass in combination with other materials to explore the interface between art, science and technology, examining both the role of glass in scientific discoveries, as well as using glass to convey scientific concepts. She discusses her ideas and work in The Vital Spark.

Leonie Bradley is an artist working in a range of media including film, photography and print. Her work explores scale and ways of looking, from a unique tonal range. She creates large, handmade digital images that subvert the conventional viewing distance. Wavefront is a collaboration with Kit Yates, Senior Lecturer in Department of Mathematical Sciences and Tim Rogers, Reader in Department of Mathematical Sciences, University of Bath.

Costas Andrew Mikellides is a qualified Interior Designer, former Chairman of the British Institute of Interior Design, Fellow Member of the Royal Chartered Society of Designers, with experience in industry and education. He discusses his ideas and work in Elements of Line.

Tam Hunt discusses the “hard problem” of consciousness by asking the question Could consciousness all come down to the way things vibrate? and Thomas Cronin discusses visual ecology in Seeing without eyes – the unexpected world of nonvisual photoreception.

In Poetry, Sacred Art and the Book of Kells Francesca Diano reviews poet James Harpur’s latest book The White Silhouette where she discovers a maze of connections that takes her on a journey through Neoplatonism to Krishnamurti and quantum mechanics.

And Interalia Magazine editor, Richard Bright, reviews Gemma Anderson’s book Drawing as a Way of Knowing in Art and Science, which introduces tested ways in which drawing as a research practice can enhance morphological insight, specifically within the natural sciences, mathematics and art.



Interconnecting Water

We are all bodies of water! What we do to water, we do to every body, including ourselves.”

Astrida Neimanis

“The challenges we face with water are largely a consequence of how we perceive it in postmodern industrialized societies.

D.L.’West’ Marrin

“Water issues are vast and present intricately complex problems. I think that the solutions and suggestions for actions lie in a diversity of approaches. It will take all of us working together cooperatively to come to the assistance of bodies of water around the globe.”

Basia Irland

Interconnecting Water explores current thinking and work on ways that water connects us to each other and the world.

Contributions include:-

John Finney is Emeritus Professor of Physics at University College, London. In The origin of water he discusses the questions How did water originate? And How did it get to Earth?

In her pioneering inter-disciplinary practice, Basia Irland focusses on rivers and watersheds, water scarcity, climate change, ecological restoration and waterborne diseases. Her poetic, socially-engaged work endeavours to reconnect people with their local waterways in order to foster care, appreciation and responsibility. She discusses her work in Reading the River.

D.L. Marrin (nickname West) is an applied scientist specializing in biogeochemistry, water resources and aquatic ecology. In Perspectives on altering our perceptions of water he discusses the biological and behavioral factors that complicate our capacity and inclination to expand our perceptions of water.

Susan Derges has established an international reputation through her practice involving cameraless, lens-based, digital and reinvented photographic processes, encompassing subject matter informed by the physical and biological sciences as well as landscape and abstraction. She discusses her relationship with water in Interconnecting Water.

David Teeple is a multidisciplinary artist using glass, water, and light to create formally simple yet perceptually complex works, which centers on the many facets of water: as a subject, a material, and an experience. He discusses his ideas and work in Modified Perceptual Conditions and the Sublime.

Astrida Neimanis writes mostly about bodies, water and weather, in an intersectional feminist mode. Her most recent monograph is Bodies of Water: Posthuman Feminist Phenomenology. She discusses her ideas and work in Bodies of Water.

Amy Sharrocks is a live artist, sculptor and film-maker who invites people to come on journeys in which their own experience, communication and expression are a vital part. She has making work about people and water for 10 years. In What’s the point of cities? she discusses the role that swimming has in connecting people with cities.

Laura Ferguson has made her own body the subject of her art, finding beauty in a curving spine and exploring the connections between pain, consciousness, and creativity. Floating on inner seas will be part of a book-in-progress about her own art and the process of making it, The Consciousness of the Body.

Siobhan McDonald is a visual artist working in the medium of paint, film and sound. She is interested in the changeable nature of landmass, historical events and their interconnection to time. She discusses her relationship with water in How the water moves.

Plus, James Sprittles discusses the importance and implications of understanding the behaviour of water droplets in We may just have solved the great mystery of why drops splash and Jonti Horner discusses the discovery of water in the universe in Water, water, everywhere in our Solar system but what does that mean for life?


It’s about Time


Our present picture of reality, particularly in relation to the nature of time, is due for a grand shake-up – even greater, perhaps, than that which has already been provided by present-day relativity and quantum mechanics.

Roger Penrose: The Emperors New Mind.

In any attempt to bridge the domains of experience belonging to the spiritual and physical sides of our nature, time occupies the key position.

A.S.Eddington: The Nature of the Physical World.


It’s about Time explores current thinking and work on ‘Time’ in the arts and sciences. Themes covered include – The Nature of Time in Physics; Biological Clocks; Deep Time; Concepts and uses of Time in the Arts; Consciousness and Time Perception; Time and Language; Subjective Time and Altered States.

Peter J. Riggs is a physicist and philosopher of science in the Department of Quantum Science at the Australian National University. In Physical Time in Perspective, he discusses the two main theories of time along with a possible non-‘dynamic’ alternative.

Alexandra Dementieva main interests focus on social psychology and perception and their application in multimedia interactive installations. Her videowork integrates different elements including behavioral psychology, developing narrative using a ‘subjective camera’. She discusses her ideas and work in The fragility of human existence.

Marc Wittmann is currently employed at the Institute for Frontier Areas of Psychology and Mental Health, Freiburg, Germany. In Felt Time he discusses his ideas and work concerning self and time consciousness.

The Drawing through Time and Image symposium, devised and organised by Jack Southern took place at the Hardwick Gallery at the University of Gloucestershire in Cheltenham during March 2018. In his article, Jack Southern discusses drawing as a vehicle for expansive thinking around our complex contemporary experience of time, coupled with our understanding of the way images communicate and inform our everyday.

Dean Buonomano is a professor in the Departments of Neurobiology and Psychology, and a member of the Brain Research Institute, and the Integrative Center for Learning and Memory at UCLA. In The Brain as a Time Machine he discusses his ideas and research on how the brain tells time.

Richelle Gribble’s exhibition, Anthropocene, took place at the Jonathan Ferrara Gallery (New Orleans, LA) between May and July 2018. With a strong interest in environmentalism, the artist examines human impact on nature and the biological consequences of human influence.

Multidisciplinary artist, Margaret Inga Urías, is interested in conditions that entangle the past, the present, and the future–re-examining how we orient ourselves, not only in the immediacy of places around us, but also in the universe that maintains us. With a specific interest in the physical laws and circumstances that brought space, time, matter and beings into existence, she creates works that often function as trace narratives over vast stretches of time.

Further explorations on current thinking about time are featured in articles by Panos Athanasopoulos: Language alters our experience of time ; Elise Crull: You thought quantum mechanics was weird: check out entangled time ; David Farrier: Deep time’s uncanny future is full of ghostly human traces ; and Thomas Kitching: What is time – and why does it move forward?

Plus, there’s a ‘visual article’ on artist and writer, Richard Bright, recent work Time Waves.




Imaginings explores current thinking and work on ‘imagining’ in the arts and sciences – imagining the embodied self; inhabiting and sensing the environment; the importance of the imagination in children’s creative learning; and imagining the future world and human evolution.

Contributions include:-

Valeriya N-Georg, an artist inspired from Neuroscience, Psychology and Consciousness studies, who works with a range of media: drawing, printmaking, mixed media and sculpture. She discusses her ideas and work in Between the human body and the inner self.

Raul Altosaar is an infradisciplinary artist, technician and researcher. He leverages his foundational skills in computer graphics and extended realities to design spatial experiences and interactive tools. He discusses his work in Experiencing human-computer interaction.

Betty Zhang is an interaction designer and interdisciplinary artist creating sensory experiences that are immersive and interactive in both digital and non-digital media. In Human bodies and the environment that they occupy she discusses the body as a multi-functioning interface and performative medium.

Burton Nitta (Michael Burton and Michiko Nitta) is an interdisciplinary art and design studio collaborating with science and technology to investigate our future world and human evolution. They discuss their ideas and work in Who are we now or what will we be in various versions of the future?

Marie Munk is an interdisciplinary artist, working with sculpture, installation, video and performance. Using silicone as a metaphor for the bodily, she creates alternative realities, which questions current tendencies in society. She discusses her work in Physical interaction and artificial simulation of intimacy.

Penny Hay is an artist, educator and researcher. In Visions of childhood, she discusses the importance of play in children’s learning, how adults can support children’s identity as artists, and the project Forest of Imagination.

Plus, there are articles by Margaret Wertheim on The art and beauty of general relativity ; Michael Strauss discussing why Our Universe is too vast for even the most imaginative sci-fi ; and Valerie van Mulukon on The secret to creativity – according to science.

Drawing as Process. Drawing as Document.

Drawing as Process. Drawing as Document continues exploring current thinking on the practice and theory of Drawing, its creative, expressive and educational value, as well as its fundamental importance to translating and analysing the world.

Contributions include:-

Lucinda Burgess has a background in painting, landscape design and oriental philosophy, which has led to a fascination with the raw elemental qualities of materials and inform a sculptural practice that accentuates the reality of constant change, undermining the idea of a fixed thing, object, entity or identity. In Material Repetition, she discusses her ideas and work.

Ian Chamberlain’s work takes its influence from man-made structures. Reinterpreting them as monuments placed within the landscape, these objects in turn become landmarks of their time. In Reminders of a past, he discusses his ideas and work.

Tania Kovats is renowned for producing sculptures, large-scale installations and temporal works which explore our experience and understanding of landscape, encompassing sculptures and drawings which explore her preoccupation with         the sea. She discusses her work in Mediating between Nature and Self.

Richard Talbot’s work includes large-scale drawings, sculpture, and more recently, video/installation. His research and studio practice is centred on contemporary drawing, but he brings to this a particular interest in the theory, history and practice of perspective. In A perspective on drawing, he discusses his ideas and work.

Kelly Chorpening is an artist, writer and educator. She has been the Course Leader for BA (Hons) Drawing at Camberwell College of Arts, UAL since 2006. Her recent experiments explore ways of materialising the form of language in order to test the fundamental processes of naming and identification that occur in both drawing and writing. She discusses her work in Between drawing and writing.

Formally a cardiac nurse, artist Sonya Rademeyer uses the vehicle of sound, movement and deep listening to explore the sensing of traces in her everyday experiences and the fragility of line to capture and translate them into form. She discusses her ideas and work in The Language of Line.

Ana Mendes is a writer and visual artist, creating projects in which she uses photography, video, drawing, text and installation to address issues of memory, language and identity. Her research project, On Drawing, aims at establishing a connection between drawing and thinking in the realms of arts and science. In Drawing, language and thinking, she discusses this project together with her ideas and work.

Jason Lane is an artist who collects predominantly reclaimed steel and is drawn to the aged qualities and personal histories of materials. Inspiration for his work is also in part derived from a fascination with mechanical objects and their animalistic qualities. He has also made a series of Drawing Machines.

Giulia Ricci’s finely detailed geometrical works use a variety of processes, hand-made and digital drawing, laser engraving, installation and video. Drawing underpins the artist’s practice across the various media. She discusses her work in A vocabulary of patterns.

Susie Howarth is a multi-disciplinary artist currently making drawings exploring errors, imperfections and erasures. She takes inspiration from organisational documents: annual reports, business plans, newsletters, brochures, charts and strategic policy frameworks.

Anna Ursyn is a professor and Computer Graphics/Digital Media Area Head at the School of Art and Design, University of Northern Colorado, USA. She combines programming with software and printmaking media, to unify computer generated and painted images, and sculptures. Her article discusses Drawing as a Way of Thinking.

Artist and writer, Richard Bright, has addressed the relationship between art, science and consciousness for over 30 years. In his recent series of drawings, Contemplations and Neural Communications, he explores the impermanent and shifting process of thinking, drawing inspiration from Buddhist philosophy and neuroscientific literature and imagery.

Deconstructing Patterns

Deconstructing Patterns explores pattern as a primary aspect of the world across the fields of molecular and micro-biology, physics, visual art, mathematics, neuroscience and zoology.

Contributors include:-

An exclusive interview with Ian Stewart, Emeritus Mathematics Professor at the University of Warwick, Fellow of the Royal Society, and author of over 120 books on mathematics. In Thinking about Patterns he discusses the mathematics behind patterns in Nature.

Werner Sun is a visual artist. A particle physicist by training, he makes folded paper constructions that investigate the role of pattern and abstraction in the everyday acts of observing and knowing. In Patterns: Not Math, Nor Science, Nor Art, he explores patterns as ‘entities unto themselves’.

Bryony Benge-Abbott is Public Engagement Manager (Exhibitions) at the Francis Crick Institute, London. She both curated and project managed ‘Deconstructing patterns’, the first exhibition at the Crick with new collaborations between scientists and artists in the field of sculpture, film and spoken word. She discusses this exhibition in On ‘Deconstructing Patterns: art and science in conversation’.

Helen Pynor is an Australian visual artist who works at the intersection between art and the life sciences, working with photography, video, sculpture and performance to explore ideas surrounding human and animal bodies, and disease. In Random precision. Countless intimate acts, she discusses her collaborative project with Dr Iris Salecker at the Francis Crick Institute, London.

Dr Iris Salecker is program leader in the Division of Molecular Neurobiology at the Medical Research Council National Institute for Medical Research in London (now part of the Francis Crick Institute). In Patterns and the visual system of the fruit fly ‘Drosophila’, she discusses her ideas and work, and her collaborative project with artist, Helen Pynor, for the ‘Deconstructing Patterns’ exhibition.

Chu-Li Shewring works as a filmmaker, sound artist and sound designer collaborating with artists and independent filmmakers. In Infinite Instructions, she discusses her work and collaboration with poet, Sarah Howe, for the ‘Deconstructing Patterns’ exhibition.

Nathan Goehring is a Junior Group Leader at the Francis Crick Institute and a Senior Research Associate in the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Cell Biology at UCL. He discusses his work in Patterns and molecular and biological development.

Working on the ‘Deconstructing Patterns’ exhibition is discussed further in interviews with Ravi Desai, Poet in the City and 1A Arts

Sarah Howe is a British poet, academic and editor. Her first book, Loop of Jade (Chatto & Windus, 2015), won the T.S. Eliot Prize and The Sunday Times / PFD Young Writer of the Year Award, and was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. Her poem, A New Music, was specially commissioned for the Deconstructing Patterns exhibition.

Roger Beaty is a postdoctoral fellow in cognitive neuroscience working with Daniel Schacter in the Schacter Memory Lab at Harvard University. In New study reveals why some people are more creative than others, he discusses mapping network patterns in the brain during creative thinking.

Priya Subramanian is a Research Fellow at the Department of Mathematics, University of Leeds. In The maths behind ‘impossible’ never-repeating patterns, she explores the formation of quasipatterns.

Thomas Woolley is a Lecturer in Applied Mathematics at Cardiff University, specializing in mathematical biology, where his doctorate focused on understanding the pattern formation behind fish spots and zebra stripes. He discusses this in How animals got their spots and stripes – according to maths.

Being Human with Artificial Intelligence

Being Human with Artificial Intelligence explores contemporary dialogues on the relationship of AI, consciousness and creativity, and the impact of AI on the future of humanity.

Contributors include –

An exclusive interview with Kevin Warwick, whose main research areas are artificial intelligence, biomedical systems, robotics and cyborgs. In Cyborgs and I he discusses his ideas and work on Artificial Intelligence, robotics and the future of humans ‘plugging’ into technology.

Yoshua Bengio is a Canadian computer scientist, most noted for his work on artificial neural networks and deep learning. His main research ambition is to understand principles of learning that yield intelligence. In this exclusive interview he discusses his ideas and work on AI and Deep Learning.

Arthur I. Miller is fascinated by the nature of creative thinking – the mind’s ability to transform information from everyday experiences into the most sublime works of art, literature, music and science. In Creativity in the Age of Machines he discusses the relationship of AI and creativity.

Mario Klingemann is an artist working with algorithms, data and artificial neural networks. He investigates the possibilities that machine learning and artificial intelligence offer in understanding how creativity, culture and their perception work. In AI and Neurography he discusses his ideas and work.

Ryota Kanai PhD is a neuroscientist working on the computational principles underlying consciousness and the brain, and the founder and CEO of an AI startup, Araya, Inc. in Tokyo. In Creating Artificial Consciousness he discusses his ideas and work in trying to understand consciousness by creating it.

Thomas Dietterich is one of the pioneers of the field of Machine Learning. His research is motivated by challenging real world problems with a special focus on ecological science, ecosystem management, and sustainable development. In AI and Machine Learning he discusses his ideas and work.

Mike Tyka studied Biochemistry and Biotechnology at the University of Bristol. He obtained his PhD in Biophysics in 2007 and went on to work as a research fellow at the University of Washington and has been studying the structure and dynamics of protein molecules. Since 2015 he has also begun working with artificial neural networks as an artistic medium and tool. His latest generative portraits series Portraits of Imaginary People are featured in this visual article.

Keith Frankish is a philosopher and writer. His interests lie mainly in philosophy of mind, and he is well known for defending an illusionist view of phenomenal consciousness and a two-level theory of the human mind. In this exclusive interview he discusses his ideas on the relationship between AI and Consciousness.

Shimon Whiteson is an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Oxford, and a tutorial fellow at St. Catherine’s College. His research focuses on artificial intelligence. In this exclusive interview he discusses the TERESA project, which aims to develop a telepresence robot of unprecedented social intelligence.

Adrian Holme is a teacher, writer and artist. His article, AI and the idea of the human: myth, metaphor and agency, examines the enduring value of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in considering the questions of AI.

Subhash Kak is an Indian American computer scientist who has made contributions to cryptography, artificial neural networks, and quantum information. He asks Will artificial intelligence become conscious?

In ‘Machine folk’ music composed by AI shows technology’s creative side, Bob Sturm and Oded Ben-Tal describe their research which examines how state-of-the art AI techniques can contribute to musical practice.

Leah Henrickson is a doctoral student whose current research focuses on discerning the social and literary implications of natural language generation. In We, robot: the computer co-authoring a story with a human writer, she explores the possibilities of creative human-computer interaction.



Concerning the Spiritual

To avoid killing its essence, rather than as a specimen to pin down and dissect, it is best to think of spirituality as related to experience – often subtle, but also usually powerful and emotionally charged experience. The spiritual dimension is therefore better considered as an adventure playground to explore, full of fun, challenge and excitement, of opportunities to test oneself, to learn and to grow. The experiences it offers are both deeply personal and universal at the same time.

Larry Culliford: On The Psychology of Spirituality (Interalia Magazine, Dec 2017)

Since the 21st century, there has been a drive toward an expanded sense of spirituality that goes beyond the quest to fulfil or orient the self to using it as the basis of policy formation in fields like social work, education, health, psychotherapy and even business.

Rina Ayra: On Contemporary Art and Spirituality (Interalia Magazine, Dec 2017)


Concerning the Spiritual explores contemporary dialogues at the intersection of Art, Philosophy, Science and Spirituality.

Bill Viola is a seminal figure in the field of video creating installations, films, sound environments, flat panel video pieces and works for concerts, opera and sacred spaces for over four decades. In this interview, An avenue to self-knowledge, he discusses his work and his encounter with Zen Buddhism.

As a physicist working in a theological environment, Mark Harris is interested in the complex ways that science and religion relate to each other. He runs the Science and Religion programme at the University of Edinburgh. In this exclusive interview, On Science and Theology, he discusses his ideas and the interaction between the physical sciences and theology.

Miya Ando is an American artist whose metal canvases and sculpture articulate themes of perception and ones relationship to time. The foundation of her practice is the transformation of surfaces. In this exclusive interview, Fleeting Light, she discusses her ideas and work.

Mario Beauregard, PhD., is a neuroscientist currently affiliated with the Department of Psychology, University of Arizona. His groundbreaking research on the neurobiology of spiritual experiences has received international media coverage, and a documentary film has been produced about his work (The Mystical Brain, 2007). The Emerging Post-Materialist Paradigm: Toward the Next Great Scientific Revolution explores his ideas on the transition from materialist science to post-materialist science.

Michael Falzoni is an artist whose work is inspired by the possibilities of infinite combinations, reflecting his interest in relationships and the interplay between internal and external realities. In this exclusive interview, The possibilities of infinite combinations, he discusses his ideas and work.

Rina Arya is a Reader at the University of Wolverhampton who is interested in the visual and material culture of religion. In this exclusive interview, On Contemporary Art and Spirituality, she discusses nature of the dialogue between art and spirituality, how they come together and what form they take.

Larry Culliford was a hospital doctor and GP before becoming a psychiatrist. In 1998, he helped found the ‘spirituality and psychiatry’ special interest group of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. In this exclusive interview he discusses his experience and ideas into understanding the psychology of spirituality.

Lewis deSoto is an American artist of Cahuilla Native American ancestry. His multimedia installations combine sound, light, video, space, and sculpture elements and are site-specific or oriented toward making a complete environment. His conceptual artwork utilizes automobiles, inflatables, electronics, photography, wood and metal construction. In this exclusive interview, Consciousness in context, he discusses his ideas and work.

Artist and writer, Richard Bright, has addressed the relationship between art, science and consciousness for over 30 years. In Contemplations, he shows some work from his series of drawings that explore the temporal nature of reality and stillness of the mind.


between Art and Science

between Art and Science is co-edited with Eleanor Armstrong (currently a PhD candidate at University College London). This issue explores how participants in interdisciplinary works between the arts and sciences collaborate together, what helps these collaborations take place, and the possibility of creating a space in between that encourages new thinking.

Contributors to the issue include:-

In How can we understand collaborations between Artists and Scientists? researcher and PhD candidate, Eleanor Armstrong, explores some of the tools that exist for understanding interdisciplinary research and how they can be applied to collaborations between artists and scientists.

Art/Science collaborations are further explore by science communicator, Judit Agui, in Reflecting on successful collaborations: Spit Crystal.

The Tissue Culture & Art Project (TC&A), (an on-going research and development project initiated in 1996 by Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr) was set to explore the use of tissue technologies as a medium for artistic expression. This article shows some of the works involved.

The collaboration between Dr Daniel Crow, physicist and Dr Charles Ogilvie, artist, began at the Royal College of Art in 2010. In Account of a Collision they discuss their projects working together.

Melanie King is an artist and curator with a specific focus on astronomy. In Parallax: Perspectives in Astronomy and Photography, she shares a number of collaborations with a number of scientific institutions that have led to developments in her own research, and further afield.

In Nine-tenths of the iceberg: research as the unseen component of artists’ work, artist Sarah Craske and scholar Charlotte Sleigh discuss the importance and recognition of artist’s research and critical practice involved art/science collaborations.

Aesthetics get Synthetic: Knowledge Link through Art and Science (KLAS) is an Artist in Residence program of the Max Planck Society. The innovative artist residency program brought professional artists into high-quality research groups and, by doing so, established a bridge between art, science and society. The results of this collaborative program is discussed in a series of exclusive interviews  with Otavio Schipper and Sergio Krakowski, Dr Alex de Vries, Agnes Meyer-BrandisDr. Charles Cotton, and Dr. Tom Robinson.

Pinar Yoldas is a Turkish-born designer-artist-researcher. She was involved in a collaborative project, Future and Emerging Art and Technologies (FEAT), between leading international artists and European scientists. In an exclusive interview, On my FEAT, she discusses her work and her involvement in the project.

The Critical Connections symposium was held at Queensland University of Technology’s (QUT) Creative Industries Precinct in March 2017. The symposium provided a platform for thinkers working across art, design and STEM to articulate key issues and share interdisciplinary strategies. In CRITICAL CONNECTIONS: Connecting Art, Design and STEM, Svenja Kratz and Jacina Leong provide an overview of each panellist’s key arguments and insight into current viewpoints.

Plus, Charissa Terranova contributes a review essay, Wunderkammer in a Book, about ‘Harmonious Complexity, An Exhibition Celebrating 100 Years of On Growth and Form’, that explores the work and legacy of Scottish zoologist D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson.

The Subjective Lives of Others

In this issue of Interalia we explore the subjective lives of others, the nonhuman entities with which (or whom) we share our lives – whether we know it or not. Through artworks and essays, poems and sound works, we embrace the complex structures and functions of other living systems as diverse as bee hives, gorilla troops and ant colonies. We engage with the collective intelligence of micro-organisms such as bacteria and slime mould and find connections between these living systems and the techno/social networks within which our own subjectivities play out.

Shifting between species and across scale, and connecting theory and practice, a range of disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives address the notion of nonhuman subjectivity from biology, mathematics, computation and sound, to art, curation, philosophy and pedagogy. Speculations on the ontology of the nonhuman – for we can never truly know the subjective experience of an other – take the form of cultural critique and interspecies relationships. Dominant themes presented include; social and collective behaviour of humans and nonhumans; interspecies ‘collaboration’ and co-creation; mechanisms for distributed intelligence; and emergent and adaptive systems in art and science. The contributions collectively explore the motivations and methods used by researchers and practitioners from diverse disciplines across the arts and sciences, who engage critically and creatively with nonhuman systems as material, model and metaphor. Some, who are working directly with biological material and living systems, tease out the negotiated territory of interspecies authorship, where human creativity is questionable and cooperation is key. Artists become caretakers for living ‘collaborators’, whose behaviour may be possible to predict but cannot be controlled.

Modelling is discussed from diverse perspectives, exploring the underlying mechanisms and mathematical basis of biological and behavioural expression, identifying patterns between systems in order to gain greater insights and understanding of fundamental laws. Whether conceptual or physical, models allow for comparative cross/inter-species speculation and simulation, rules tested, applied and imagined. Questions are raised in philosophical discussion around how we relate to and co-habit with nonhuman life and how we make meaning of biosemiotic forms, through analogy and metaphor.

To set the scene curators, Christian de Lutz and Regine Rapp reflect on their exhibition series exploring nonhuman subjectivity, a two year programme at Art Laboratory Berlin which comes to fruition in Autumn 2017. In Reflecting Nonhuman Subjectivities they contextualise their curatorial stance through the critical lens of ‘posthumanities’, examining recent developments in science/art and bioart practices. Much of the work focuses on the process of decentering, of engaging with ‘other-centric’ positions and connection is made between human creativity and nonhuman processes, whether mechanistic or intentional. The role of the artist operating between fields of knowledge production is discussed, as species and materials are combined to reveal and embody sensory perceptual worlds of the nonhuman, whether that be revealing the hidden microbial world within our bodies, hooking up to fungal mycelium communication networks, or engaging with the olfactory world of the dog. Lula Criado and Meritxell Rosell, co-editors of CLOT magazine, extend the discussion further On Interspecies Creativity through a revisiting and recontextualising of interviews conducted in recent years with practitioners co-creating with living organisms. Through the juxtaposition of practices, and through the words of the human agents orchestrating the creative production, many ethical considerations are drawn out in this negotiated space, exploring issues of control, authorship and agency.

Presenting the works of artists, scholars and biologists as an interwoven trio of texts, Charissa Terranova, Meredith Tromble and Rachel Mayeri, present complementary works in written, visual and haptic form. Entangling Art & Biology: Three Serpentine Knots Of Indisciplined Practice playfully intersects notions of polymathy and in-betweenness: between science fiction and academic form, between human and nonhuman endeavour, between self and other. ‘Knitting together stories and images from the history of biology, the study of complex systems, new visualization and sensing technologies, and the integration of all of the above in works of contemporary art’ they explore interconnected territories with ‘metadisciplinary excitement’.

In Becoming Non-human/Designing Non-human Oliver Kellhammer questions our definitions of intelligence through the perceptual world of the slime mould, Physarum polycephalum. Defined as the ‘poster organism’ for investigations into decentralised intelligence and ideas of extended body cognition we are lead through a series of biological entanglements and subjective realities as we are invited to inhabit the world of another form of consciousness. As an artist and teacher, Kellhammer mediates this territory though practical experiments allowing the slime mould to make decisions on his behalf, and through thought experiments, inviting his students to redesign urban spaces from a nonhuman perspective. As absurd oracle or speculative design tool, the slime mould offers the liberating opportunity to try to see the world from a different position.

Another example of the extended body comes in the tentacled neuronally distributed form of the octopus, whose anatomy possesses a nervous system networked across its entire body. Here, film writer and film maker, Jasper Sharp, reviews Peter Godfrey-Smith’s book, Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness, contextualising the text in relation to film history, highlighting some cinematic star appearances from clever molluscs from documentary, drama and science fiction. Analogies compare the octopus’ mind to the construction of musical ensembles, comparing the control centres of a conductor-lead orchestra to a jazz improvisation group.

Decentralised decision-making and distributed intelligence are further explored musically by composer and bee keeper Heloise Tunstall-Behrens in The Swarm: a choral exploration of honeybees. Her choral work, an all-female opera, interprets the complexities of the waggle dance ritual performed as honey bees establish new nest sites. Here the voices form the collective body – a superorganism of sound – which reveals complex behaviours of spatial organisation, cohesion and consensus through polyphonic singing. Kuai Shen examines socialisation, self-organisation and technological networks in Playing with ants & other insectstaking us on a tour of ant algorithms and avatars through the eclectic cultures of evolutionary biology, art history and video games. The techo/social rules of ‘ant mimicry’ are defined in terms of interrelatedness, the ant colony seen as an ‘empirical system’ of social interactions and communication networks – similar patterns emerge between the information traffic of harvester ants and that of Facebook users. Whether disguising pheromone scents in order to escape, mimicking sounds in order to get fed, or creating a distraction to affect a raid, mimicry becomes a sneaky tool utilised to secure evolutionary advantage. These masks are effective in both natural phenomena and ubiquitous in game-play systems.

In Harnessing Slime Mould Communication for Musical Computing Eduardo R. Miranda describes his innovative work bringing new electronic components into musical composition. Biocomputer Rhythms is a performance between human composer and organic ‘memristor’, the slime mould Physarum polycephalum, mediated via a grand piano and a complex micro-electronic system. Performed in real time, oscillations are translated into waveforms through ‘a network of protoplasmic filaments that rhythmically contract and expand, producing shuttle streaming of intracellular contents’, a network that is resilient, efficient and self-healing. Simon Park exposes the complex social world of microscopic forms in Creative collaborations with invisible life, sharing key examples from an extensive repertoire of working with micro-organisms, developed over 30 years professional practice. Through his hybrid experimentation communities of bacteria, cryptozoa and infusoria are exposed to transformative environments, where varied conditions and elements reveal the hidden wonders of bacterial structure and behaviour. In vitro or in vivo, we are reminded of the importance of our own bacterial selves and the influence of bacterial balance on our moods and wellbeing.

Zooming between the micro-scale of slime mould decentralisation and the human scale of the networked city, collective behaviour is explored through the varied processes and practices of the interdisciplinary team orchestrating Crowd Control, a situated participatory project which took place in Hackney Wick, East London in July 2017. Intentions, approaches and observations are shared through the accounts of participatory research and public experiments designed to creatively and critically explore how individuals operate within groups in response to environmental conditions.

David Sumpter takes a philosophical position on mathematical modeling in The unreasonable effectiveness of soccermatics? Elegant solutions and behavioural rules are inferred and applied to the modeling of complex biological systems, most notably the multiple interactions played out in the beautiful game. Whether observing animal systems in the wild or those on the football pitch, the beauty of mathematics is given credence – ‘Maths simplifies, maths clarifies and maths captures complexity.’

Further research into the mathematical modelling and analysis of biological systems is explored by Kit Yates in How many locusts does it take to start a biblical plague? Just three.

Two contributions follow poetic formulae. The Other Country by Astrid Alben conjures up imagery of the coming together of elemental phenomena and tells tales of the interrelationships of relational habits, whilst Will Holloway’s False Consciousness forms a loose but tangible network between all manner of human and nonhuman systems, from machine learning, music and language to traffic, market forces and the question of free will in the crowd. As an interwoven poem of interconnected parts, it alludes to the conclusion that ‘the whole isn’t just the sum of (first order)… but is actively wiggling some of its parts’.

This image may well hold true for this issue, as we invite the reader to piece together the individual parts to form their own collective whole. This issue is by no means meant as a definitive collection – there are a great many other artists, scientists, designers and thinkers exploring the territory of nonhuman subjectivity and collectivity. What we aim to provide is an associative and interconnected collection of thoughts, histories, ideas and practices, which allow the reader to build a perspective from multiple positions, one that challenges the dominant cultural definitions of intelligence hierarchies.

– Heather Barnett (September 2017)