In July 2017, a team of researchers and practitioners came together to embark upon a month-long situated research residency based at Arebyte Gallery in Hackney Wick, East London. Connecting visual, digital and performance art practices with contemporary scientific research, law and urban design, the project – Crowd Control – explored the mechanisms of collective behaviour through observation, simulation and experimentation.
For more than 10 years, Simon Park, an internationally recognised molecular microbiologist, has worked at the fertile intersection between art and science. As well as collaborating with artists, he also produces his own work, his practice being inspired by the aesthetics and processes of the usually invisible microbiological world. In 2015 he won the Peter Wildy Prize for his outstanding outreach work in microbiology.
“For me, the swarming process is a metaphor for the journey towards achieving a collective identity. A ritual for social cohesion. The swarm must unite as a colony if they want to survive.”
Heloise Tunstall-Behrens, together with co-director and movement designer Roswitha Gerlitz and composer Auclair, presented her musical project ‘The Swarm’ at the Vault Festival, London in February 2017. ‘The Swarm’ uses an all-female choir to reproduce the noise of a beehive, along with an urban soundscape as a backdrop. Choral music, voice and movement merge in this avant-garde piece, which hopes to raise awareness of the endangered condition of honeybees and their importance in a city environment.
Astrid Alben is a poet, editor and translator. Her most recent collection Ai! Ai! Pianissimo was published by Arc Publications. Her poems, essays, translations and reviews are widely published, including in the Times Literary Supplement, Best of British Poetry Anthology 2015, Oxford Poetry and Granta. She is also the artistic director of PARS, which invites artists and scientists to share their most revealing, beautiful and mind-boggling thoughts and research around particular topics.
Reflecting Nonhuman Subjectivities by Christian de Lutz and Regine Rapp
The project ‘Nonhuman Subjectivities’ at Art Laboratory Berlin (from January 2016 through November 2017) seeks to explore the theme of the ‘nonhuman’ within the work of emerging positions in the fields of Science-Art and Bioart. Of particular interest, in both practice and theory, has been the emphasis on nonhuman (animal, plant, microbial) agency and subjectivity, and even the cooperative involvement of the ‘nonhuman agent’ in the production of new artwork.
“By considering the subjective lives of non-human organisms to be as valid as our own, we open ourselves up to a richer, more engaged relationship with the biosphere with the potential to undo some of the damage our pervasive anthropocentrism has inflicted. Such opportunities for reaching out have always been there for us, but now our very survival might depend on them. It’s time we make the most of them!”
Oliver Kellhammer is an artist, teacher, activist and writer who focuses primarily on living systems. He divides his time between rural British Columbia where he enjoys communing with slime molds, and New York City where he lectures in Sustainable Systems at Parsons The New School for Design.
“By combining biological mimicry with a phenomenological discourse about games, I will connect ants’ behavior with emergent manifestations in games and to the metaphor of wearing masks in humans.”
Kuai Shen is a naturalist and ant lover. His hybrid installations explore the interspecies relationships in the natural/artificial continuum inspired by ants and by the subjective intertwining of parasites, microorganisms and viruses.
Artists have long used animals for their artistic practices, from using cadavers for anatomy studies or animal body parts like bones, feathers and tusks to arranging dead butterflies in patterns and pictorially represent them in all sorts and forms.
In this article, Lula Criado and Meritxell Rosell (editors of CLOT Magazine) discuss the rise in the number of artists exploring a deeper interest in human-animal relationships.
Eduardo R. Miranda is a composer working at the crossroads of music and science. He is most notable in the United Kingdom for his scientific research into computer music, particularly in the field of human-machine interfaces where brain waves will replace keyboards and voice commands to permit the disabled to express themselves musically. He has composed music for symphonic orchestras, chamber groups, solo instruments – with and without live electronics – and electroacoustic music – and also for theatre and contemporary dance.
How can we know the world in a way that encourages the widespread flourishing of human and nonhuman systems? The three essays in this section take lively, messy, visual/philosophical approaches to this question that begin in the art world, with our experiences as artists and scholars of art. We twist our experiences together with those […]
Charissa N. Terranova is a writer and educator. She is author of ‘Art as Organism: Biology and the Evolution of the Digital Image’ (2016) and ‘Automotive Prosthetic: Technological Mediation and the Car in Conceptual Art’ (2014), and co-editor with Meredith Tromble of ‘The Routledge Companion to Biology in Art and Architecture’ (2016). As Associate Professor of Aesthetic Studies, she lectures and teaches seminars at the University of Texas at Dallas on modern and contemporary art and architectural history and theory, the history of biology in art and architecture, and media and new media art and theory.
Meredith Tromble is an intermedia artist whose curiosity about the links between imagination and knowledge has led to her form collaborations with scientists in addition to her work in installation and performance. Her artworks have been presented internationally and she is also the author of hundreds of short form art writings and editor of two books, including ‘The Routledge Companion to Biology in Art and Architecture’, co-edited with Charissa Terranova.
Rachel Mayeri is an LA-based artist working at the intersection of art and science. Her videos, installations, and writing projects explore topics ranging from the history of special effects to the human animal. Her multi-year project Primate Cinema explores the scientific and popular representations of the boundary between human and non-human primates in a series of video experiments. Currently she is producing an opera about gut flora, Orpheus in the Alimentary Canal. As professor of media studies at Harvey Mudd College, she teach courses in Animal Media Studies, Art & Science, Animated Documentary, and Stories from the Anthropocene.
David Sumpter is Professor of Applied Mathematics at Uppsala University, Sweden, who researches into the mathematics of collective animal behaviour, social dynamics and mathematical biology. His is author of ‘Collective Animal Behaviour ( Princeton University Press, 2010) and ‘Soccermatics: Mathematical Adventures in the Beautiful Game’ (Bloomsbury Sigma, 2016).
Will Holloway is a London-based poet who writes about science and other public themes. His collection Better Than Paradise is due to be published by Smokestack Books in 2018.
Kit Yates is a Lecturer in Mathematics at the University of Bath, UK, where his research focuses on the mathematical modelling and analysis of biological systems. Throughout his career to date, he has worked on a variety of intriguing problems, modelling the random motion of single molecules at one extreme, to the large-scale migration of swarming insects at the other.
Jasper Sharp is a writer, curator and filmmaker. He is the co-director of The Creeping Garden (2014) and the author of The Creeping Garden: Irrational Encounters with Plasmodial Slime Moulds (Alchimia, 2015).