Day 2, Stream 3


Ecologies and Technologies


Leah Barclay


Susan Davis: Noosa Biosphere/Central Queensland University, Australia

Leah Barclay: Griffith University, Australia

Ricardo Dal Farra: Concordia University, Canada

Guest Balance-Unbalance presenters

Ian Clothier


Jodi Newcombe

Garth Paine



Balance-Unbalance is an international conference that uses art as a catalyst to explore intersections between nature, science, technology and society as we move into an era of both unprecedented ecological threats and transdisciplinary possibilities. The previous events, held in Argentina in 2010 and Montreal in 2011, provided a powerful platform for reflection, debate and ideas leading towards Balance-Unbalance 2013, hosted in the UNESCO Noosa Biosphere Reserve on the Sunshine Coast of Australia. The 2013 conference theme, Future Nature, Future Culture[s], aims to provoke discourse around what our elusive future might hold, and how transdisciplinary thought and action could be used as tools for positive change.

Balance-Unbalance asked us to consider what we want for ourselves, our families, our friends, and for the future of humankind. This complex universe, vastly unknown, has been revealing that all is interconnected. Timothy Morton states that everything is connected into a vast, intertangling ‘mesh’ that flows through all dimensions of life. No person, no animal, no object or idea can exist independently. Our limited knowledge of life can be expanded, but to do so we need better ways to understand each other. This includes a deeper awareness of how different human societies can comprehend cultural differences and synergies. There is a dramatic need for a paradigm shift, and we need to act now if we are going to survive as a species. We need to use creative tools and transdisciplinary action to create perceptual, intellectual and pragmatic changes.

This panel reflects on key outcomes since the inception of Balance-Unbalance through its founder, Ricardo Dal Farra; introduces the core ideas from the 2013 conference with co-organizers Leah Barclay and Susan Davis; and invites some of the presenters from this year’s conference to reflect upon it.



Ricardo Ricardo Dal Farra Can the Arts Help to Save the World?
We are living in a world reaching a critical point where the equilibrium between a healthy environment, the energy society needs and the interconnected economies could pass more quickly than expected from the current complex balance to a complete new reality where unbalance would be the rule and human beings would need to be as creative as never before to survive. Have the arts a role in all this? Have artists a responsibility in this context?

Environmental problems, economic uncertainty and political complexity has been around for a very long time. Not one year, one decade or one century. What was different before was the speed and depth of transformations compared with today’s fast changes. The frequent occurrence that certain events are having around us – such as floods, twisters, etc – seems to be increasing very fast, and the effects of human beings on modifying our adjacent surroundings as well as very distance places have turn into a power capable of changing the whole planet, improving or ruining people’s life and even eliminating all human life on Earth.

In this context of global threats: how can the arts help? This apparently simple idea was the seed triggering the Balance-Unbalance project:

Ricardo Dal Farra is professor at the Music Department of Concordia University in Montreal, and director of the Electronic Arts Research Centre (CEIArtE) at the National University of Tres de Febrero in Buenos Aires. He has been director of Hexagram, Research-Creation Centre for Media Arts and Technology in Canada; national director of the Multimedia Communication program at the Ministry of Education in Argentina; coordinator of the Documentation and Conservation of the Media Arts Heritage (DOCAM) international research alliance; and UNESCO’s consultant and researcher for the Digi-Arts project.

His music and new media works have been presented in over 40 countries, and there are 20 international editions with recordings of his music. His work has been distinguished by the International Computer Music Association and the International Arts Biennial of San Pablo in Brazil, among others. Dal Farra is an active member of the Editorial Board of Leonardo (MIT Press) and Organised Sound (Cambridge University Press).

Dal Farra created the Latin American Electroacoustic Music Archive at the Daniel Langlois Foundation of Montreal, and the Balance-Unbalance project that had recently its third conference at the UNESCO’s designated biosphere in Noosa, Australia.

Susan Davis is a Senior Lecturer at CQUniversity, Noosa. Her research and creative practice interests include exploring the ways that drama and digital technologies can be used for engagement and learning, especially through the creation of co-constructed narratives shared through digital platforms. Sue has presented and published her work at state, national and international level and sits on the Queensland Studies Authority Learning Advisory Committee for The Arts. She is currently Chair of the UNESCO endorsed Noosa Biosphere Reserve and has initiated a range of practice-based research projects exploring sustainability and place-based pedagogy, the most recent being an international youth project focussed on issues relating to water collaboration.