Day 2, Stream 2


Paul Thomas: College of Fine Arts, University of NSW, Australia


Patricia Adams: School of Art, RMIT University, Australia

Andrew Newman: College of Fine Arts, University of NSW, Australia

Matthias Tarasiewicz: University of Applied Arts Vienna/Coded Cultures and, Austria

Chris Henschke: Australian Synchrotron / RMIT University, Australia

Morten Søndergaard: Aalborg University Copenhagen, Denmark

Jamie Allen: Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design, Denmark

Elizabeth Eastland: Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney/University of Wollongong, Australia

Deborah Lawler-Dormer: Independent curator, New Zealand

Leah Heiss: RMIT University, Australia



Patricia Adams “Shivering domains: technologically mediated embodiment and ecologies”

Contemporary developments in the biomedical and ecological sciences and their impact on hybrid art practices are discussed here in the wider context of media art histories. Adams introduces some of her research projects in order to demonstrate practical models of new paradigms and alternative discourses for media art. Evolving media technologies and biomedical theories such as autopoiesis are reviewed and located within the framework of an exploration of the permeable membrane of cellular consciousness and constructs of corporeality and the “self” in a socio-cultural context.
The various ways bodily electronic impulses have been measured and collected are examined through the prism of increasingly sophisticated electrical machines, scientific processes and equipment that underpinned the early nineteenth century field of galvanics. Here,scientists hoped that by measuring and quantifying the different impulses and nervous responses of the human body they would get to the root of the human ‘essence’ or ‘vital force’. In these early modernist efforts to locate, map and master the internal; reactivity of the body – its ‘drive’ or ‘vital force’ – one may perceive early understandings of information itself. The informational coding of the human body is seen in the wider comparative context of contemporary information transmission.
Moving from the biomedical sciences to neuroscientific research into the behaviours of the European honey bee Adams discusses her use of open-ended, interdisciplinary methodologies that fully explore the creative potentials of hybrid media art. These are examined here in conjunction with the role played by the artist’s observations of honey bee behaviours. From the measurement of ‘oscillations’ and ‘temporal intervals’ captured by the kymograph up to the contemporary Human Genome sequencing of DNA, this paper discusses the embodiment of data and information itself in the context of our understanding of what it means to be human in the digital age.


Andrew Newman & Matthias Tarasiewicz Play as Method

Critical Media Arts not only reflect on new technologies and how they transform society, they also offer a crucial laboratory for the development of new techniques and forms of presenting, structuring and conveying knowledge.
These critical media practices can be described as “art with media” as well as “art that reflects on media” (Reck, 2002). The ability to rapidly change and adapt to fast evolving media landscapes allows these practices to provide an appropriate and alternative epistemological approach to understanding media technologies.
As the speed of media usage and consumption rises, concepts such as “art” and “science” (Wissenschaften) change “their essential nature” in terms of “movement and circulation” (Virilio, 1976). Despite continuing questions over the validity of artistic research (Geczy, 2009), it is now evident that media art practices can transcend traditional boundaries between the arts and sciences by establishing a culture that is both artistic and scientific.
The convergence of these two cultures, however, is proving problematic. The embryonic state of artistic research in comparison to scientific research could lead to art subjugating itself to science. The key problem is the absence of an established survey of artistic methods that can counter the orthodoxy of the scientific method. It may have been established that the creative process of the artist in the studio is essential to artistic research (Borgdorff 2011), yet very little attention has been paid to the activities that constitute this creative process.
In this panel we hope to begin the long process of documenting artistic research methods by unpicking the strategy of ‘play as method’ in media art practices. We will be investigating both the practices of artists that have participated in the Coded Cultures festivals, and those that are currently practising within our respective institutions.


Chris Henschke Art vs Science

In this presentation, supplemented by images, video and sound, I will discuss my experiences at the Australian Synchrotron and CERN, and show artworks I have created during this time that engage with and explore scientific techniques and concepts from an artist’s perspective. Through these examples I will also discuss the way shared technologies and methodologies can allow for critical interaction with science, and create common ground between the disciplines of art and experimental physics; and through collaboration, how we can bridge the seemingly incommensurable gap between these two worlds.


Morten Søndergaard, Jamie Allen & Stine Ejsing-Dunn Design for another future: Reformatting the relation of art and science practices.

In a world in which growth is driven by creativity, art and technology are domains that should inspire and provoke in terms of methods and ways of thinking – in fact our digital media may in fact be the very concretisations of thought (F.Kittler). We explore how these similar yet different domains relate to each other. The relation of art and science has been central to many long standing debates within contexts of art education, university teaching, and human- and lab-based research. The relation also plays an important role in artistic practices influencing both conceptual and aesthetic positions of work production.

Thought as a theoretical problem, or a discourse of purely ideas and cultures, the arts and sciences have often seemed juxtaposed. However in restructuring the forms and formats of the practice of art and science in particular contexts and events of their composition. We are interested in how artists and scientists think and operate on a processual level, and in innovating the forms and formats chosen and design for the engagement of these processes. If “thinking is practice” (J.L.Nancy), then where, when and how this thinking is done is as important as the ideas themselves. Kathrine Hayles puts this down as a failing of the humanities’ literary discretions and directions, but with a discussion of the ‘action research’ modes that are available.

In this paper, we would like to take this discussion about ‘action research’ further, and investigate the art/science relation in practice. For this purpose, we will build upon the experiences and observations from various ‘re-mix’ situations in which artists and scientists meet in publishing, exhibition, conference and festival settings.


Elizabeth Eastland Quiet terror: studio, lab and experiment at the edge of the known

This paper will explore scientific endeavour in direct relation to creative practice and consider each as a site of the contemporary sublime. Central to this investigation is a series of video works that I have been producing over the last 18 months that are primarily intended as discursive spaces through which scientists reflect upon the nature of their practice.

At the heart of this investigation is the idea of the laboratory and studio as the theatre for the exploration of the unknown and the creation of new knowledge. A central question I am exploring is how artists and scientists relate in their abandonment of a priori forms as they search for the not yet discovered. I am interested in how our approach to the unknown, the languages, codes and technologies we use, the materials and ways we negotiate the liminality of certainty, define the experience of the unknown and shape our creation of knowledge, thus create both ‘converging and diverging realities’. I am interested in contemporary manifestations of the sublime, particularly the existential terror of the sublime when contemplating the unknown as it relates to fields of knowledge. The presentation will explore how scientists engaged in the creation of knowledge negotiate this terror.

Using video as both documentary record and art form I am filming four female scientists as they perform their research. The experience/experiment of filming in the laboratory is of primary importance to this project. Rather than intruding on the experiment, the act of filming pays witness to and in part facilitates the establishment a quiet and contemplative space. The relationship between camera and instrument transforms the experiment into something more concentrated yet circumspect.
I will use brief segments of my film as part of my presentation to illustrate the key points of my presentation.


Deborah Lawler-Dormer Artistic experimental testing using computational modeling of the human brain.

How are integrated cognitive responses triggered in multisensate environments?

As a new media curator, I work with artistic practices that engage particular perceptual dynamics to create unique environments. Given the increase in mutlisensate environments, and the resultant complex demands made of audiences, the need to better understand these practices is required by artists, their viewers, critics and gallery professionals. I have consequently embarked on a creative practice PhD at both University of Auckland and University of New South Wales examining cognitive perceptual integration in multisensate environments.

In the Laboratory for Animate Technologies at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute, Dr Mark Sagar and his team are building a computational model of the brain and face. Working with research teams at the Centre for Brain Research, these computational models contain current neuroscientific understandings. Dr Mark Sagar is a double academy award winner for his animation in Avatar and King Kong. Sagar states: “We are building a collaborative modular model of the face and brain, a brain and face Lego with swappable and re-shapable parts. Both scientists and artists who want an interactive context to test and visualise their work can design, combine, integrate, inspect, react, be reacted to, and redesign.” This collaborative research initiative involves staff and students from computer science, architecture, neuroscience, engineering and the arts.

This paper looks at this computational brain model and the transdisciplinary collaborative processes that have helped develop it. How is this model useful to transdisciplinary practitioners who want to understand the neural responses to specific types of sensory input? My own personal PhD research will be briefly described and the methodology for testing. In addition, the paper will begin to look at the problematic of using a computational virtual model for artistic testing.


Leah Heiss Innovative Forms of Healing: New media art as a catalyst for lasting change in therapeutic settings

This paper questions how new media art may become a catalyst for real and lasting change in therapeutic environments. The paper proposes that new media art practice is intrinsically focused on human experience and user engagement. It is this focus that positively predisposes artists working in this realm to the development of works promoting health and wellbeing. By virtue of the trans-disciplinary nature of new media art practice, artists are well versed in managing the indeterminate boundary between art and other disciplines. Thus, within the therapeutic context this may facilitate real innovation as artists effectively collaborate with doctors, specialists, patients, scientists and the public to generate powerful and engaging artworks.
This paper will examine a number of new media art projects that aim to improve physiological and psychological health and wellbeing outcomes in therapeutic environments. These projects include George Poonkin Khut’s BrightHearts research which developed biofeedback enabled ‘relaxation-training games’ to help young children manage pain and anxiety experienced during painful procedures; and George Samartzis’ collaboration with the St. Vincent’s Hospital Emergency Medicine Department in which he developed original sound compositions to reduce the anxiety levels of emergency department patients.
These leading trans-disciplinary projects provide the backdrop for exploring issues and key strategies within the author’s practice which seeks to de-stigmatise therapeutic technologies. The precedent projects provide a landscape in which emotional engagement with users and their families is critical to the success of works as is the ability to effectively navigate the ethical landscape of therapeutic environments. The current projects to be discussed in this paper include an ECG sensing jewellery device to replace traditional cardiac holter monitors for people experiencing on-going cardiac arrhythmia; non-threatening sensing tools to help diagnose pneumonia in young children; and the creation of a jewellery ‘exo-skeleton’ to support muscle loss in the ageing population.