THE SILKWORM PROJECT Workshop gives insight into the artistic research and practice by Vivian Xu and offers a hands-on part, based on artist Vivian Xu's solo exhibition at Art Laboratory Berlin of the same name.
The Introduction___ The artist presented her research and work for the past six years designing computational and machine environments for the silkworm in pursuit of better understanding the insect's spinning behaviour and spatial perception. The talk detailed three perspectives taken during the research process of The Silkworm Project. The first perspective takes a historical and cultural look at the entangled history of weaving and computation history, of sericulture and machine logic. The second attempts to understand the three-dimensional world through the lens for the silkworm. The third attempts to hypothesize a new machine logic combining learned knowledge of the two, that speculates on a new breed of slow technologies or labour machines that reveal a new relationship between the artificial and the natural. The artist also spoke about her current work at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, in which she is creating an artist book that explores the nature of the sericulture treatise, and the relationships between technical treatises and industry production.
The Hands-on part___ Participants were each given silkworms, hand-reared by the artist in Berlin. Following in the footsteps of other researchers such as the Mediated Matter Group at MIT Media Lab, individuals were able to conduct their own spinning observations, posing spatial questions to the animals by constructing three-dimensional environments for their silkworms to live and work within. Art Laboratory Berlin provided basic materials and tools, such as glue, scissors, paper, rulers, etc. to build these environments. Participants were also welcome to bring their own materials. Participants will be able to take their silkworms home, and some silkworm feed provided by Art Laboratory Berlin, along with online resources and manuals. Participants were asked to document their observations and findings.
Vivian Xu (b.1985) is a media artist and researcher from Beijing, currently based in Shanghai. Her work explores the boundaries between bio and electronic media in creating new forms of machine logic, life and sensory systems, and often take the form of object, installation and/or wearable. She has shown, lectured, and preformed at various institutions in China, the US, Germany, and Australia. Vivian co-founded Dogma Lab, a trans-disciplinary design lab in Shanghai that is dedicated to creating experimental research at the intersection of design, technology, art and science. Between 2013-2015, she was Research Fellow at New York University Shanghai. Since then, she has lectured at various universities and programs, including Shanghai Tech University, Chinese University of Hong Kong Shenzhen Campus, Roy Ascott Technoetic Arts program (Shanghai), etc. Her work has been featured in media and press, including VICE China, Elle US, and the China Global TV English Channel, etc. Xu received her MFA in Design and Technology at Parsons the New School for Design in 2013.
This event is based on the ongoing exhibition The Silkworm Project.
The Results___ Each of the participants were able to take a silkworm home to grow them and observe their life cycle. Here are some of the results.
Sean's silkworm Carlos from worm to pupa in a cocoon, to eventually a moth. Courtesy of Sean Coughlin.
Flo and Elena's silkworm from worm to pupa in a cocoon. Courtesy of Florence Razoux.
In close cooperation with: