Saturday, September 30, 2017

Vernissage of 'Nonhuman Network'

Heather Barnett | Saša Spačal, Mirjan Švagelj & Anil Podgornik

Nonhuman Networks presents an aesthetics of new forms of communication between human and nonhuman actors. How does the world's largest single celled creature function as a computer? Can we tap into the so-called 'Internet of trees'? Performative works act as enablers for the audience to engage in non-linguistic forms of awareness and contact with several deceptively simple life forms.
Photo by Saša Spačal

Photo by Saša Spačal


Saša Spačal, Mirjan Švagelj and Anil Podgornik combine art, biology and cybernetics to create a platform for inter species communication. In Myconnect the nervous system of a person and fungal mycelium are plugged into a biofeedback loop. By entering the capsule a person is equipped with a heartbeat sensor, headphones and vibrational motors that are placed on various parts of the body. The heartbeat of a person sets the system in motion. The signal travels through the mycelium where it is modulated in real-time. The modulated signal is transferred back to the human body via sound, light and tactile sensory impulses. The overwhelming stimuli that affect the nervous system cause an alteration of the heartbeat. A new loop begins and the circle is closed. A symbiosis of signals begins.




Heather Barnett is an artist, researcher and educator working with natural phenomena and biological design, often in collaboration with scientists, artists, participants and organisms. Utilising living materials and imaging technologies, her practice explores how we observe, represent and understand the world around us. Projects include microbial portraiture, systems modelling, and an ongoing 'collaboration' with an intelligent slime mould, Physarum polycephalum. As one of the world's largest single-celled organisms, the slime mould possesses the ability to solve spatial problems and learn from interactions with its environment. The exhibition builds upon Barnett's unique combination of interdisciplinary research and participatory practice.








 Photos by Tim Deussen and Regine Rapp unless otherwise noted.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Swarm | Cell | City

 A two-day workshop by Heather Barnett + plan b (Sophia New & Daniel Belasco Rogers)The workshop was a participatory experiment on art, performance and biology that preceded the exhibition Nonhuman Networks. The project invited the participants to view the city of Berlin by the nonhuman perspectives of the intelligent single-cell organism, the slime mould, Physarum polycephalum and GPS tracking.



The slime mould is a bright yellow amoeba that possesses primitive intelligence, problem solving skills and memory. It is highly efficient at forming networks between given points and has been used to map the worlds' transport networks, migration routes and desire paths, most notably in 2010 it accurately replicated the Tokyo rail network. It is also quite beautiful, the branching patterns reminiscent of forms seen at varying scales within nature, from blood vessels to tree branches, from river deltas to lightening flashes. It can learn about its environment, remember where it's been and navigate through complex territories - all without any sensory organs and no brain.





Using the historical and contemporary topography of Berlin as inspiration, we propose a series of experiments and activities, which explore collective communication, cooperation and navigation at different scales - in slime mould and in humans!

These organisms offer intriguing models to examine collective behaviours: how ideas spread, how group decisions are made, and how communities cooperate. We want to use the slime mould as a model to look at human systems - urban, social and cultural - exploring how people interact and respond to their environment, how they gather and distribute information. We want to create a platform for exploring alternative ways of seeing and behaving, individually and collectively.






Process
The aim of Swarm | Cell | City was to create the conditions for critical and creative learning to take place, without trying to control the outcomes. By using participatory arts and performance practices to explore the creative potential for bio/social models, we hope to create a collective 'system of enquiry' with everyone as co-creators. Through the workshops participants learned about slime mould intelligence, create annotated maps capturing observations of city exploration, constructed experiments for slime mould growth, devised their own city explorations, and engaged in collective performance experimentation.

The origins of the creative exploration derive from self-organising principles in natural phenomena, for example using stigmergic processes. Stigmergy is a mechanism of indirect coordination, through the environment, between agents or actions. The principle is that a trace left in the environment by one action stimulates the performance of a subsequent action. In this way, actions reinforce and build on each other, leading to the spontaneous emergence of coherent, apparently systematic activity. Ants leave pheromone signals, slime mould leave membranous trails, termites leave mud balls - all communicating to others important information about environmental conditions. These processes formed a basis for creative improvisation and communication between humans in an urban environment.





Heather Barnett is an artist, researcher and educator working with natural phenomena and biological design, often in collaboration with scientists, artists, participants and organisms. Utilising living materials and imaging technologies, her practice explores how we observe, represent and understand the world around us. Projects include microbial portraiture, systems modelling, and an ongoing 'collaboration' with an intelligent slime mould, Physarum polycephalum. As one of the world's largest single-celled organisms, the slime mould possesses a skilful ability to solve spatial problems and learn from interactions with its environment.
www.heatherbarnett.co.uk
Heather Barnett: What humans can learn from semi-intelligent slime (TED Talk, Berlin 2014)

plan b is the artist duo Sophia New and Daniel Belasco Rogers. Since 2003 (Daniel) and 2007 (Sophia), plan b have recorded and stored every daily movement using GPS technology. Results of this are presented in festivals, galleries and at http://planbperformance.net. In their performance work, they explore topics such as the dynamics of conversation, singing, confessions and cycling. They also work in the fields of installation, new media, fine art and give workshops. Since the establishment of plan b in 2002, they have developed more than 25 projects, which have been and are to be seen in over 27 cities worldwide.

All photos/video stills by Tim Deussen/ Studio Deussen

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Theresa Schubert | The forestal psyche

For this project, Theresa Schubert dedicated herself to the potential of slime moulds, mosses and lichens from the forests around Berlin. Slime moulds are the largest known single-celled organisms and live from decaying matter on the forest floor. Certain mosses and lichens are natural remedies as well as indicators of good air quality. Apart from a scientific approach, forests have always been places of myths, legends and fantasies.

Theresa Schubert gave a lecture on the first evening  of the workshop (25 August), which introduced her work and the subject in particular. On the following day (26 August) she led an excursion to the area surrounding Berlin, with the goal of finding organisms in the natural forest habitat, that Schubert has used in her art. Particularly interesting specimens were collected, examined and classified using biotechnological methods.
The use of field microscopes enabled an initial analysis directly on site, making a later artistic evaluation and implementation possible visually and audibly. (More information)






















All photos (c) Tim Deussen/ Studio Deussen


With the generous support of:

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Lecture & Performative Workshop Margherita Pevere | Anatomy of an inter-connected system

15 July, 2017, 2-6PM Starting point of this seminar is the artist’s research at the junction of visual arts, theoretical inquiry and investigation of biological processes. The seminarfocussed on the discourses regarding human-nature relationship in the frame of today’s environmental crisis and how artistic practices involving living organisms and technology can innovatively contribute to the debate. How can artists problematise the complex interconnection between humans and the biosphere in a hyper-technological era? With what kind of aesthetic and ethical implications? The project aimed at engaging the audience in a performative discussion with a visual outcome.












The seminar was structured in two parts: a presentation and a participative performance. In the presentation, Pevere will introduced key concepts in the history of human relationship towards nature and how these have influenced society, religion and knowledge production. How did humans perceive nature in the Middle Ages? And in the Renaissance? How did this affect society and the arts? What are Anthropocentrism and the Anthropocene? Moving from this theoretical overview, Pevere critically presented her own artistic practice along with a selection of other artist’s works involving organic matter and technology. In the participative performance, the artist  engaged with the audience on the themes of anthropocentrism and relationships between human and non-human living beings. (More information)












All photos (c) Tim Deussen/ Studio Deussen

With the generous support of: