Bird Lake Museum

The Bird-Lake Museum is a museum of natural history, whose collections have all been created by young people with special educational needs.

The Bird-Lake Museum is a travelling museum of natural history, founded by explorer-anthropologist Kitty Lake and ornithologist William Bird. Its collections have all been created by young people with special educational needs (aged from 10 to 15 years) at Oakley School, Tunbridge Wells, Rosendale School, Dulwich, Turney School, Dulwich, and Waveney School, Tonbridge.

The students worked with artist Sally Hampson studying the natural world to make birds' eggs, nests and wings, insects and nature drawings. Visits to the tranquil and enchanting Sevenoaks Wildfowl Reserve by the students during the project included nature walks, talks and 'pond-dipping' activities.

The Museum was shown at the Sevenoaks Wildfowl Reserve in May and June 2001. The Bird Lake Museum is a touring project.

Support

We would like to thank the following organisations and individuals:

Natural History Museum
Rowena Taylor
John Tyler and members, Sevenoaks Wildfowl Reserve
Mike Harris and members, The Angling Society
The Arts Council of England
The Paul Hamlyn Foundation

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Artists Airshow

A day of art and flying in and around Europe's largest wind tunnel.

Airshow used the then deserted research facility where supersonic flight was developed and the ghosts of sixties rocket projects linger. Artists’ installations and transmissions were sited in the abandoned wind tunnels, test tanks and life-size helicopter flight simulators. There was a programme of flying events presented by artists and guided tours of the wind tunnels organised by the Farnborough Air Sciences and led by the engineers who formerly worked in the facility.

A highlight of day was Simon Faithfull’s Escape Vehicle no.6, a full-scale chair suspended beneath a weather balloon with a camera and transmitter. This apparatus was released from a launch pad - on an extremely windy day - and rapidly rose above the earth ultimately into the blackness of the stratosphere on the edge of space. With the naked eye, the audience on earth at Farnborough watched the balloon and chair recede and disappear into the sky, but they were then immediately able to follow the rest of the journey on a giant screen via a live video downlink from the escape vehicle.

Zina Kaye demonstrated the use of the Observatine UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle), a petrol-powered unmanned surveillance airplane created with onboard camera and computer, controlled via an internet browser. The airplane took off from the Farnborough airfield runway, and the audience were able to follow the airplane’s flight by sight in the skies as well as on monitors. 
Miles Chalcraft’s Tear-Rain was a two-stage, 6-foot rocket aimed to deliver a year’s worth of tears over the assembled audience (as a small burst of rain at the end of another bad summer). The momentary cloudburst was to be observed with a rocket's eye view by an onboard wireless camera and simultaneously relayed to a large TV monitor. 

Luke Jerram’s Ghost Plane was a site-specific new commission: an apparition in the wind tunnel. A ghostly spitfire summoned up by eddying air currents shimmering across a reflective bed of mercury, Ghost Plane echoed the aircraft tested at Farnborough and the engineers who once used mercury to measure the shifting air pressure in the wind tunnels. Stefan Gec’s Celestial Vault, commissioned for MIR: Art in Variable Gravity, is a video installation recorded in the giant centrifuge at Moscow’s Star City cosmonaut training centre. It was sited in the return chamber of the large wind tunnel.

Tim Knowles was commissioned to create a site-specific balloon drawing machine, which produced randomised wind drawings by wind-blown balloons. Installed in the sonic wind tunnel, Flow Motion’s Dissolve. a digital audio installation, takes as its starting point Michelangelo Antonioni's Zabriskie Point. Louise K Wilson created Loop, a site-specific video and sound installation using footage shot from the cockpit of a Slingsby Firefly of a repeated aerobatic manoeuvre performed in the skies above Northumbria in August 2004

Marko Peljhan gave a talk about his ongoing collaboration with the Aerosonde corporation, which manufactures long-distance UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) for use in environmental surveys in oceans and inhospitable terrain such as Antarctica.

To conclude the day, Anne Bean literally created a spectacular drawing for the sky, using balloons, parachute flares and small rockets, in collaboration with pyrotechnicians Mark Anderson and Nick Sales.

External links:

YouTube 1st International Artists Airshow, 2nd International Artists Airshow

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MIR - Art in Variable Gravity

Exhibition of work from experiments in the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre, Star City, Russia

"The human race will not stay on Earth for ever, but in pursuit of light and space, will first tentatively break out of the Earth's atmosphere and will then conquer the entire solar system", Konstantin Tsyolkovsky (1857-1935)

When Yuri Gagarin orbited the Earth in 1961, he became a hero of the Soviet nation. After his historic flight, he reported that weightlessness was no problem. Despite Gagarin's optimism, however, zero gravity presents an immense problem for long-term human space travel and habitation, due to its harmful effects on the body. Until now, scientists have been the primary researchers in this field, and the aesthetic and creative possibilities of zero gravity have barely been explored due to the exclusiveness of the environment.

The works in the MIR exhibition emerged from the MIR campaigns, organised by The Arts Catalyst and the MIR consortium, which have enabled artists to undertake projects in zero gravity at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Star City, heart of the Russian space programme. Also, for the first time, artist Stefan Gec was allowed access to the giant centrifuge in Star City to create a new work.

 

Events

MIR DJ Event - Fri 7 November 2003
Featuring sets by Kodwo Eshun and Ewen Chardronnet on the anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution. The day remains an official holiday in Russia.

Unknown Territories - Sat 8 November 2003
Panel discussion chaired by Marko Peljhan (Slovenia), artist and founder of the Makrolab project, Venice Biennale 2003, documenta X. Including presentations by Arts Catalyst director Nicola Triscott and curator Rob La Frenais. Also featuring: Ewen Chardronnet (France); Stefan Gec (UK) and Yuri Leiderman (Russia).

Artist In Residence: Ewen Chardronnet
8 November - 29 November 2003
Ewen Chardronnet (Fr), media artist, researcher and writer, was in residence at Cornerhouse, initiating project and research work involving gallery visitors, communities, and other artist networks.

 

Credits

MIR was commissioned by The Arts Catalyst and the MIR Consortium, a group of international organisations including Arts Catalyst, Projekt Atol (Slo), V2_Institute for the Unstable Media (NI), Transmediale (D), Leonardo/OLATS (Fr/Us), SpaceArtONe (FR), MoM (Sp) and the Multimedia Complex for Actual Art

Funded by the European Commission Culture 2000 Awards and Arts Council England

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MIR - Dreams of Space

New photographic, installation and video works by British and Russian artists reflecting the enduring legacy of the Russian quest for space.

The works were created in Star City, heart of the Russian space programme, accessng the museums and archives there, as well as zero gravity flights and the giant centrifuge used for cosmonaut training . 50 years after the launch of Sputnik, and at the start of a new millennium, with new aspirations to build the International Space Station and to reach Mars, it is timely that artists are reclaiming these territories, in a contemporary and very direct sense.

 

Using the TsF-18 centrifuge in Star City, Gec recorded the G-force exerted by the centrifuge on a celestial globe. His resulting installation Celestial Vault prompts a re-examination of our age old fascination with the celestial sky. The Otolith Group (Kodwo Eshun and Anjalika Sagar.) with Richard Couzins' film Otolith opens up forgotten histories of the Space Age, uncovering a legacy of female exploration. Carey Young's exquisite photographic series Legacy Systems illustrate the remnants of the nuclear fuelled space-race, and the lingering hero worship of Gagarin .

Vadim Fishkin's installation Kapelgraf Zero-G translates time-based data into drops of water, beautifully demonstrating the effects of Earth gravity and zero gravity on the droplets. In Yuri Leiderman's film Kefir Grains Are Going Onto The Flight records his breeding, selection and release of Kefir grains into zero gravity: a metaphor for Russian Cosmism's grandeur and disaster.

Evgeni Nesterov's photographic series documents Star City and the artists' journey there.

Accompanying the exhibition in the Resource Room, the MIR programme of documentary and artists films:
Gravitation Off! The Arts Catalyst
Centrifuge Ewen Chardronnet
The Briefing Ewen Chardronnet
Neutral Buoyancy Ewen Chardronnet
Too G Andrew Kotting
Zero Genie Ansuman Biswas & Jem Finer
Daedalo Marcelli Antunez Roca
Zero Mike Stubbs
Universal Substitute, Andrei & Julia Velikanov

Everything Normal, the equipment is working perfectly

Thursday 07 April 2005

As part of the MIR - Dreams of Space season, Stills and The Arts Catalyst presented a special screening event recalling the early days of the space race. Introduced by Rob La Frenais, curator of MIR and The Arts Catalyst, the programme opens with Attention Weightlessness, a Russian educational film, and continues with films by Acoustic Space Lab, Andrei Ujica, The Priviet Mission, Louise K Wilson, Andrew Kotting and Ansuman Biswas & Jem Finer

Commissioners

MIR was commissioned by The Arts Catalyst and the MIR Consortium, a group of international organisations including Arts Catalyst, Projekt Atol (Slo), V2_Institute for the Unstable Media (NI), Transmediale (D), Leonardo/OLATS (Fr/Us), SpaceArtONe (FR), MoM (Sp) and the Multimedia Complex for Actual Art

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Investigations in Microgravity, Kitsou Dubois and Imperial College Biodynamics Group

In this interdisciplinary research collaboration, choreographer Kitsou Dubois worked with Imperial College's Biodynamics Group to investigate the control of movement in weightlessness

Kitsou Dubois has been developing a process of experimental movement performed in an environment of altered gravity conditions. With focused pre-flight training techniques and disciplined dancers, her choreography tames the adrenalin-fed wayward tendencies of bodies in weightlessness and forms them into shapes of apparently effortless beauty.

Between 1999 and 2003, The Arts Catalyst initiated and coordinated a long-term collaboration between Dr Dubois and the Biodynamics research group at Imperial College to investigate the control of the bodies in altered states of gravity, including weightlessness. The group comprised Professor Bob Schroter, Dr Nick Davey, Dr Olga Rutherford, Dr Anthony Bull, Dr Alison McGregor, Dr Steve Rawlinson, Dr Paul Strutton and Dr Alex Nowicky.

The team participated in 7 parabolic 'zero gravity' flights with the European Space Agency in Bordeaux, France, and the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre, Russia. Outputs included a series of video installations, performances and demonstrations, as well as masterclasses, and a scientific paper.

Artistic & Scientific Investigations on Zero Gravity Flights,  Russia and France, 2000 - 2003

In September 2000, Dubois and her dancers took part in a parabolic ‘zero gravity’ flight arranged by The Arts Catalyst Project Atol Flight Operations at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Star City, Russia.  In this flight, Dubois investigated the ability of her dancers to control defined movements in zero gravity.

In March 2002 and April 2003, the group participated in two ESA parabolic flight campaigns in Bordeaux. In these flights, Dr Nick Davey led a neurophysiological study aimed at understanding the corticospinal control of movement in varying gravitational conditions. Dubois was investigation collaborator as well as one of the subjects. More details of the experiment are outlined below under Scientific Investigation .

Alongside this work, Dubois trained 3 other dancers - Mathurin Bolze, Jörg Müller and Laura de Nercy - for work in parabolic flight and in 2000 the company participated in a parabolic flight organised specifically for her research by Arts Catalyst and Projekt Atol Flight Operations at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre, Star City, Russia, in which she had the freedom to use most of the entire aircraft interior as a studio/stage for pure complex movement research during 10 parabolas.

During her work with Arts Catalyst, Dubois produced a 4-screen video installation Gravity Zero and a new film Trajectoire Fluide, and then further films and installations using the footage and research from the flight, in collaboration with video artist Eric Duranteau.

Artistic Outputs & Public Presentations

Gravity Zero, Lux Gallery, 1999

In 1999, The Arts Catalyst and Lux presented a new multi-screen video installation commissioned from Dubois: ‘Gravity Zero’ at the Lux Gallery.

Altered States of Gravity, Imperial College Gallery, 2000

In 2000, in London, we commissioned and presented a video installation of Dubois and the Imperial Group’s work, Altered States of Gravity for the “Creating Sparks” festival.

Trajectoire Fluide & Fille Air – film & installation, 2002 - 3

In April 2002, Dubois premiered her new video 'Trajectoire Fluide’ made in collaboration with Eric Duranteau. It was accompanied by talks by Dubois and Professor Robert Shroter and a demonstration of TMS by Dr Nick Davey.

Trajectoire Fluide was re-made as a video installation and shown in France during in 2002. From October - December 2003, the new installation 'Fille-Air' was shown at the La Maison de la Photographie, Paris, and in 2003, Dubois made the performance 'Trajectoire Fluide' at La Villette, Paris

Scientific Investigation

The team set out to investigate how the nervous system controls the subtle process of adjusting posture. And whether people who
are very good at moving their bodies, like dancers, have a better developed control system.

In the first investigation, led by neuroscientist Dr Nick Davey, the team wished to find out how it is that the back muscles contract to counter arm movements on the opposite side. Is this controlled by the brain in a coordinated way – does the brain switch on the pathways to the left back at the same time as those to the right arm? Or is it a reflex response? The team measured how active different muscles were at different times by recording electricity or electromyography (EMG) produced by the muscles, and how active the pathway from the brain was, for which transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) was used. With TMS, magnetic pulses stimulate those nerves in the brain that project to back muscles, enabling the team to investigate how the responses in the back muscles to TMS change when the arm is extended.

Gravity’s action on the body brings into play balance organs in the ear as well as touch and stretch sensitive organs in the skin, joints and muscles, which can confuse the results, so the team wished to perform the experiment in zero gravity. The team applied to and was accepted for participation in the European Space Agency’s 32nd and 34th ESA parabolic campaigns in 2002 and 2003. They found, both on the ground and in zero gravity, that the back muscles were turned on when the arm was extended and that the pathways from the voluntary control areas of the brain were more active when this happened. This told them, overall, that the drive to the back muscles is stronger when the opposite arm is extended and that it is the brain’s voluntary control areas that control the stabilisation mechanism. The team concluded that the sense organs in the skin, joints and muscles were not heavily
involved and that the stabilisation of the body during arm extension was not simply a reflex response.

Another interesting result was the response of the body’s muscle to removing gravity. Rather than relaxing in weightlessness, as one might expect, the muscles of the back in fact became more active regardless of the position of the opposite arm. In other words the spine became more inflexible in zero gravity rather than the more flexible state it is in on the
ground. The team thinks that this process enables the body to orientate itself more easily when its gravitational point of reference is removed.

Scientific Paper

In April 2004, the scientific paper 'Human corticospinal excitability in microgravity and hypergravity during parabolic flight', written by the group, was published in Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine 2004 Apr;75(4):359-63.

Credits

The project was commissioned and organised by The Arts Catalyst, and funded by Wellcome SciArt Funds and Arts Council England, and supported by the European Space Agency.

 

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Astro Black Morphologies, Flow Motion

Immersive sound and image installation using transformed x-ray data from a black hole

Astro Black Morphologies is an immersive dub, techno, and avant garde electronic sound and image installation and sound performance, created using transformed x-ray data from the black hole Cygnus-XI

In 2002, scientist Phil Uttley at the University of Southampton announced that data readings of X-ray detritus from black hole Cygnus X-1 showed variations which were implicitly musical in structure.

Working with Uttley and astronomer Tim O’Brien from Jodrell Bank Observatory, artists and musicians Flow Motion (Anna Piva and Eddie George) used X-ray data gathered by NASA’s Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer satellite and, using technologies and techniques for subtracting, reshaping, and resounding sound sources particular to granular synthesis, Dub and electronica, Flow Motion have made audible the music of black hole Cygnus X-1. With generative design by Adrian Ward, the resulting installations transform Cygnus X-1’s data into a multi-sensory experience of colour, light and sound.

A sound performance by Flow Motion took place at the Dana Centre on 8 June 2005

The discussion event Deep Space Poetics was held at the Dana Centre on 16 June 2005 with Eddie George and Anna Piva (Flow Motion), astronomer Tim O'Brien and Doug Vakosh from SETI (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), chaired by Nicola Triscott.

Astro Black Morphologies was funded by Arts Council England and organised by The Arts Catalyst in association with John Hansard Gallery - with thanks to SCAN.

Links

The Arts Catalyst

Arts Council England

SCAN

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2nd International Artists Airshow

Three years after the first Artists Airshow, a day of art and flying in and around Europe's largest wind tunnel at Farnborough, the 2nd International Artists Airshow took place at Gunpowder Park.

The 2nd International Artists Airshow reflected both the explosive and ephemeral nature of Gunpowder Park and investigated the artists' almost impossible dream of flight.
Two performance works started the day: Ben Blakeborough's
Winged Self was a flying platform designed and flown by the artist, then, in Eagle, Ruth Maclennan encouraged a trained eagle to document the moving public on the ground. In Gunpowder Park's dense woodland, Sonia Khurana's video installation Bird explored the possibility of flight through the constraints of the human body, and Hehe's Smoking Lamp responded to the direct pollution caused by cigarette smoke, whilst on a nearby hill their Air De Londres was an observation point from which people viewed and listened to the polluted skies over London. In the field station, Rachel Chapman, in her project Mapping the Air, collected spores from visitors clothing throughout the day. By examining airborne spores, the trajectory of a person's journey and their activities were be traced.
The day's finale was Anne Bean, Mark Anderson, Nick Sales (UK)'s Black Mass, in which they made a large scale pyrotechnic work which launched a sky bourne sculptural mass of dense black smoke which aimed to block out the sun.
Late in the evening, following the 'Aesthetics of Impossibility' symposium, visitors went on a night field trip to view the insects attracted by Brandon Ballengee's ultra-violet Love Motels for Insects.
The 2nd International Artists Airshow was a collaboration between The Arts Catalyst and Gunpowder Park.

Artists' Projects

Winged Self, Ben Blakeborough (Australia)
Blakeborough has been training himself to fly 'winged self' for several years, a real flying platform that hovered according to the artist's body movements.
"The theory of the Winged Self has developed from concepts elucidated by Charles Zimmerman in the 1950s. His chief concept was simple; every human possesses the necessary built in balance and reflex control within the middle ear, nerves and muscular system - if man could create a controlled, powerful downward column of thrust below his feet, he could easily balance and hover in one place. By leaning in the direction one wanted to travel, one could tilt the thrust vector and hence move in that direction. Many novel and ingenious concepts from this period were funded by defence budgets but the findings and aircraft eventually fell by the wayside. Thankfully Zimmerman’s ideas of the free flying self have survived due to the documentation of his ideas and flying apparatus." Ben Blakeborough


Eagle, Ruth Maclennan (UK)
Mclennan encouraged a trained eagle to document the moving public on the ground, with the results transmitted live on screen. Eagle looks at the communication between hunter and eagle, while the audience is in a strange position as both witness of the flight, and object viewed by the ‘eagle-camera’. The eagle plays the role of a machine (a flying camera), while still retaining the autonomous will of a wild bird of prey.
"Eagle is an ongoing art project that explores the symbolism and experience of the co-operation between birds of prey and humans, in particular the relationship of eagle hunter to trained eagle which originated in Central Asian nomadic cultures. Falconry is a dance of death: a ritual that represents the complex interdependence of humans and animals. In eagle hunting, the eagle stands in for the human hunter, the human killer. This surrogate role is the sign of culture, of the ritualisation of death.”


Bird, Sonia Khurana (India)
Khurana’s video installation was constructed in Gunpowder Park’s dense woodland, in a small shed, similar to those used for bird hides, as a site specific work that explored the possibility of flight through the constraints of the human body.
“Bird is about being a body. It is about an encounter with failed flight. It is an investigation of two kinds of limitations: the body confronting its own flesh and the forces of gravity, and a discrete questioning of accounts of the body which overlook sexual difference.”


Air De Londres and Smoking Lamp, Hehe (Helen Evans and Heiko Hansen, France)
Hehe take one step beyond the notion of flight by looking at the air itself and its quality. Continuing with a project started in Paris using public air-monitoring equipment, they utilised an automated monitoring station not far from Gunpowder Park, in Ponder's End in Enfield, that measures ozone (O3) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). At Gunpowder Park they made an observation point where people viewed and listened to the 'coloured skies' over London. Smoking Lamp was an interactive installation which responded to the direct pollution caused by cigarette smoke, which also marked the end of smoking in public in England on 1 July 2007.


Black Mass, Anne Bean, Mark Anderson, Nick Sales (UK)
Following on from a massive 'sky drawing' created for Artists Airshow 1 with adapted parachute rockets, a co-ordinated detonation device and 100m ribbons, Bean, Anderson and Sales were commissioned to make a large scale pyrotechnic work which reflected the history of munitions manufacture at Gunpowder Park and launched a sky bourne sculptural mass of dense black smoke which aimed to block out the sun.


Mapping the Air, Rachel Chapman (UK)
Chapman set up a mobile "spore extraction laboratory" where spores were collected from visitors clothing throughout the day. By examining airborne spores that collect on skin, hair, clothing the trajectory of a person's journey and their activities can be traced, revealing the ecology of the environment that person has passed through – sometimes quite specifically. Collating what is collected from a set of people on a given day generates a kind of ecological 'map' of the air for that particular day, interrelated to the topography of land below.

Rachel Chapman's Mapping the Air

Links to artists' websites:

HeHe
Anne Bean
Rachel Chapman
Ruth Maclennan

Support

Grant for the Arts from Arts Council England, the Henry Moore Foundation, and ANAT

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SPACE SOON: Art and Human Spaceflight

"We are all already in Space... "

Major new commissions by Aleksandra Mir, N55/Neal White, and London Fieldworks
Projects by Michelle Griffiths, Jerry Dammers, Kodwo Eshun, Resonance FM and Laurie Anderson and a special appearance by Apollo astronaut Alan Bean.

This was Buckminster Fuller's reported response to the first flight into space by Yuri Gagarin. Artists - caught between fascination and repulsion by the new millennial push to Mars and return to the Moon - are still trying to decode the manual to Spaceship Earth.

For a short, intense period the Roundhouse was transformed into a rocket factory for a rocket going nowhere - Gravity by Aleksandra Mir. Outside, N55 and Neal White’s Space on Earth Station reversed into the future, while in the labyrinth of Roundhouse Studios, London Fieldworks investigated long-term space travel in SpaceBaby, while on the upper floors Michelle Griffiths constructed her Lunar Capsule. In the lead up to, and over the five days of its duration, Space Soon unfolded a spectacular succession of art and space events.

Major new commissions:

Gravity - Aleksandra Mir

Gravity was a monumental, ephemeral scuplture, a 22-metre rocket of giant junk, reaching to the top of the Roundhouse main space, built and dismantled in just 5 days. Click on the link opposite to see a film of the making of Gravity.

Space on Earth Station - N55 / Neal White

Radical Danish architects N55 and UK artist Neal White constructed and inhabited a Mars base-type series of microdwellings, taking over the entirety of the Roundhouse car park, in order to explore our terrestrial neighbourhood.

SpaceBaby - London Fieldworks

A durational sleep experiment and installation by artists London Fieldworks, investating long-term sleep and hibernation, with the University of Leicester Department of Genetics.

Lunar Capsule - Michelle Griffiths

Lunar Capsule was a whimsical Victorian butterfly-powered spaceship reminiscent of that in Jules Verne’s Earth to the Moon.

Events:

Taking Control

Symposium exploring the future of space exploration from the human perspective.

Cosmic Engineers: Jerry Dammers Spatial AKA Orchestra - Tribute to Sun Ra + Special Screening of Out of the Present

The premiere of Jerry Dammers' new Spatial AKA Orchestra, presenting a tribute to the legendary jazz composer Sun Ra, and special screening of Andrei Ujica’s cult Russian space film Out of the Present.

Secret Artist on the Moon: Apollo astronaut Alan Bean

Legendary Apollo astronaut, Alan Bean, discussed his experience of being on the moon, the impact of spaceflight on the human mind, and the power of art.

Brilliant Noise - Glorious Soviet Cosmos

Film night with Alexei Federchenko's First on the Moon, Jane & Louise Wilson's Dream Time, and Semiconductor's Brilliant Noise.

Laurie Anderson in conversation

Laurie Anderson, NASA's former artist-in-residence returned to the UK, after the success of her show End of the Moon, to reflect on her NASA experience and her visit with The Arts Catalyst to Russia’s space programme with the writer and theorist Kodwo Eshun.

We're All Going to Die

Resonance FM's operatic, radiophonic concatenation of space ephemera and near-Earth collision paranoia. Featuring the divergent talents of Ken Hollings, DJ Original Bear, Tom McCarthy, Johny Trunk, DJ Rocket 88, Resonance Radio Orchestra and Lembit Opik MP.
Resonance FM
broadcasted live from the Roundhouse throughout Space Soon.

Near Earth: a week of space creation

In the lead up to Space Soon, The Arts Catalyst and Roundhouse Studios organised a week-long workshop for young people aged 14-19 years, taking them on a journey exploring space through digital photography, animation, sound and music, drama and the performing arts.

Links to artists' websites:

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Marching Plague

A film that presents a strong critique of UK-US bioweapons research

Filmed on location on the Isle of Lewis, Scotland, Critical Art Ensemble’s film Marching Plague presents a powerful critique of UK-US bioweapons research and addresses the paranoia surrounding bioterrorism. It centres on the recreation of secret sea trials conducted by the UK government in the 1950s.

In May 2004, FBI agents and the Joint Terrorism Task Force raided Critical Art Ensemble founder Steve Kurtz’s home, seizing art works and research materials for the Marching Plague project. The US government has yet to produce evidence that Kurtz is a bioterrorist, but they refuse to return the seized materials. Despite this, Kurtz was able to reconstruct the research and produce Marching Plague, commissioned by Arts Catalyst, and an accompanying publication, published by Autonomedia (2006).

 

Marching Plague

In the early 1950s, plague research trials took place off the Isle of Lewis at Stornoway Bay when, having already decided that germ warfare was of no use on land, the British military began to explore whether germs could be used as a naval weapon for ship-to-ship combat. Their tests found that germs were unreliable and unmanageable on the sea as they were on the land.

The film's ultimate aim is to address and dispel some of the public's fear of "bioterrorism", which has been greatly exaggerated since 9/11 (even though that attack had nothing to do with the use of biological agents). This exaggerated fear is based on incomplete awareness of the facts. Moreover, this type of fear has been exploited by governments over the past eight decades to initiate biological warfare programmes at enormous cost.

As the United States returned to an astronomically expensive policy of offensive and expanded germ warfare research, the film revisited the lessons already experienced in regard to the development and use of this technology. It tries to convey a more reasoned perspective about the level of risk to the public as well as the desirability of germ warfare weapons (even within the logic of the military) than is usually presented in more "sensational" fiction or even in television docu-dramas. Finally, the film aims to show how such programmes compete for the limited resources necessary for research in global public health, and emergent infectious disease.

Bioweapons experts and artists, including Heath Bunting and Kayle Brandon, join Steve Kurtz, Steve Barnes and Lucia Sommer of Critical Art Ensemble to discuss bioterrorism, the culture of fear and artistic censorship.

Screenings & Installations

4 Mar 2006 AV Festival, Newcastle, UK

Mar - May 2006 Whitney Biennial, New York, USA

28 Apr 2006 Taigh Chearsabhagh Arts Centre, Lochmaddy, Isle of North Uist,

Outer Hebrides, Scotland

28 Apr – 1 Oct 2006 The Culture of Fear, Halle 14, Leipzig, Germany

24 May 2006 Eyebeam, New York, USA

30 May 2006 Lewis Film Society, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, Scotland, UK

29 July 2006 ICA, The Mall, London, UK (event, film screening, talk)

29 Jul - 5 Aug 2006 ICA, The Mall, London, UK (installation)

Sep 2006 AFI, Seoul, South Korea

Lens Political. Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, Finland

The Royal Danish Art Academy, Copenhagen, Denmark

The Israeli Center for Digital Art, Holon, Israel

Days of Bioart 07. Espacio de Consulta_Centre d'Art, Santa Mònica, Bacelona, Spain

NEGATEC. Espacio Fundación Telefónica, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Stavanger Biennial, Norway

Free Party. Moscow Art Center, Moscow.

Public Moment. Art Forum International, Seoul, South Korea.

On the Edge. Aarhus Kunstbygning.

Biennial of Electronic Art, Perth, Australia

Link to artists' website

Critical Art Ensemble

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SpaceBaby, London Fieldworks

SpaceBaby was a performance-installation and lab in action performed during Space Soon at the Roundhouse.

SpaceBaby - performance installation and lab in action. A new video work Spacebaby: Guinea Pigs Don't Dream incorporated images from the experiment.

SpaceBaby was performed at SPACE SOON at the Roundhouse in London, September 8-13, 2006, in collaboration with the Department of Genetics, University of Leicester.

SpaceBaby was the first in a trilogy of works by London Fieldworks exploring the theme of hibernation and suspended animation in the form of a performance installation and lab in action. The project referenced the vested interest of space agencies into the possibility of human hibernation and acknowledged fictional representations of human hibernation within science fiction writing and film. The artists inverted their sleeping patterns and slept within the installation during exhibition opening hours. In the context of SpaceBaby, a parallel was drawn between shiftworkers and astronauts on long haul space missions. The lab-in-action was manned by a team of geneticists who examinined the effects of disrupted sleep upon whole genome, gene expression, with a particular interest in individuals undertaking shiftwork. Blood samples were periodically extracted from the sleep inverted artists and processed within the installation using Affymetrix gene chip Technology. The processing of the samples resulted in a series of images depicting the gene expression of disrupted sleep and were incorporated into the video work, SPACEBABY: Guinea Pigs Don’t Dream.

SpaceBaby: Guinea Pigs Don't Dream - video work

SpaceBaby is a 20-minute semi-fictional video journey into genetic space. It is the latest addition to London Fieldworks’ Hibernator, a trilogy of installation and video works connecting myth and science, environmental cues and technological control, the virtual worlds we imagine and the real world we cannot escape. It mixes laboratory procedure with physical performance, CGI, narrative and sound. Human guinea pigs, fruit flies and lab rats are seen inhabiting a hallucinatory 24-hour world where night and day are interchangeable.

Working with writer Ken Hollings and composer Dugal McKinnon, London Fieldworks artists Jo Joelson and Bruce Gilchrist have used documentary footage of the live SpaceBaby experiment, along with resulting data and footage shot around the capital. The narrative is played out in a world where everyone on earth appears to have fallen into a sleep-like trance. Has the whole planet stopped moving or merely its inhabitants?

The film was premiered at Whitechapel Art Gallery, 4 June 2008

Funders & Sponsors

The SpaceBaby experiment and installation at Space Soon was funded by Arts Council England and supported by AHRC, University of Leicester, Affymetrix and Ambion

The SpaceBaby video work was Funded by Arts & Business (New Partners Award), AHRC and Arts Council England and sponsored by Affymextrix, Ambion, with collaborative support from Department of Genetics at University of Leicester.

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