Inter-species technologies for peripheral contexts (the Bionic Sheep project)

Artist, Fernando García-Dory, has been invited to contribute to Notes from the Field: Commoning Practices in Art and Science to present his Bionic Sheep project, part of the Arte Util Archive with a workshop and talk.  Join Fernando and guests for a discussion and workshop on his concept how art can connect with territories, native cultures and other species, and about the specific system shepherd-sheep-wolf today . In this workshop there will be the chance to draft models for a 21st century shepherds hut and learn the inner workings of the ultrasonic Flock Protection System for sheep, as well as gain insight into the behaviour of wolves.
Fernando will be joined by specialists Sue Hull (Co-Director of the UK Wolf Conservation Trust) an expert in animal behaviour and Paolo Cavagnolo, a hacker and electronic engineer who will dissect the technical details of the Bionic Sheep prototype.
The wolf has captured imaginations for as long as humans have been living in settled communities, appearing in different guises in folk tales and peasant songs as a wily predator and a fiendish seducer. Today they are seen by urban societies as a paradigm of wholeness and freedom. In recent years there has been a growing emphasis on protecting wolves and other predator species and even re-introducing them into certain rural areas. This is creating an increased conflict between what is left of the pastoralist cultures and domesticated animals and this wild species.
Since 2006, artist Fernando Garcia Dory has produced various prototypes of 'Bionic Sheep', In collaboration with shepherds and engineers. The 'Bionic Sheep' project is a portable, solar-powered, ultrasonic flock protection system for sheep. The system provides a technological and creative solution to the age-old pastoral rivalry of the shepherd and the wolf so that wildlife and farmers can co-exist in harmony.
Fernando’s work engages specifically with the relationship between culture and nature now, as manifested in multiple contexts, from landscape and the rural, to desires and expectations concerned with identity, through to (global) crisis, utopia and the potential for social change.
As the artist states; "From the frozen tundra where Sami reindeers graze, to German prairies to Portuguese remote mountains, the war between wolf and shepherd is increasing, with it, worldviews and ecosophies's clash. There is a gulf between the re-wilding ideology and deep ecology, on the one hand, and social ecology and agroecology ideas on how to solve culture-nature frictions, on the other."
Notes from the Field: Commoning Practices in Art and Science is multi-faceted project that investigates the notion of art as a tool or tactic for action with communities, with a focus on projects involving science and technology or driven by ecological concerns.
Advance tickets are £5. Booking is essential as space is limited.
Paolo Cavagnolo is a maker, freelance, based in Torino. He studied nuclear engineer and after the bachelor's degree he opened a social company with some friends. The company last three years and helped the making of TechLab, the makerspace of Chieri that he currently manages and helps developing.  Inside TechLab Paolo helps the local community understand the evolution of technology: organizing workshop, lectures, and enabling accessibility to tools, desk and machines, both analog and digitals. He also takes part of the Chieri Innovation Board, an open consultant team for the develop of the municipality.
He is current working on hacking the educational Italian system, designing a laboratory to prototype new form of teaching and learning method, with a team of educators and psychologist, in order to helps the comprehensive school renew itself. 
Sue Hull originally did a degree in Geology before finally succumbing to her passion for animals. In 1985 she set up the Wolf Society of Great Britain, only the third such organisation in Europe, dedicated to wolf conservation. Eventually this inspired a number of offshoots amongst which was the UK Wolf Conservation Trust of which she is now a Director. In addition to her interest in wolves, Sue has owned and raced Sled Dogs for over thirty years and also gained an MSc in Animal Behaviour from the University of Southampton which led to her running a Companion Animal Behaviour practice for a number of years. She currently lives with her husband, 3 Siberian Huskies and 2 Wolfdogs.
The Bionic Sheep 2nd prototype is funded by the National Park of Picos de Europa.  


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Socialising Activism: A talk with Lisa Ma

“The future of activism isn’t loud. There’s a world of innovation in the field of activism that we are wasting away.”

Lisa Ma has been invited to contribute to Notes from the Field: Commoning Practices in Art and Science, as a resident researcher, speaker and workshop leader. In this talk Lisa will introduce her practice as a design activist, using innovative solutions to think through local social problems across the globe. 

Lisa socialises activism. Combining ethnographic research and speculative design, Lisa Ma creates platforms of engagement from surprising insights and processes that deeply resonate with the global technological community.

Placing herself as a critical explorer, Lisa Ma has built, for the city of Ghent - a political culture of consuming the invasive species that the vegetarian town would otherwise pay to poison; for a joystick factory in Shenzhen - coined the scheme of Farmification to save the worker community through technology innovation; for London Heathrow Airport - gather opposing communities between planning historians, activists to construct heritage tours of the surrounding villages under threat from the airport expansion. Through sweet storytelling of unlikely events, Lisa Ma bridges organisations with communities and through everyday clashes of values between what we do and what we believe in to make us think deeper about the future.

Lisa Ma holds a MA in Design Interactions at Royal College of Art in London and BA from Central Saint Martins. She worked as a designer/strategist with Pentagram and Deutsche Telekom's Creation Centre before making collaboration projects with Ted Global in Edinburgh, Kanvas TV in Belgium and Broadway with Arts Council.

Notes from the Field: Commoning Practices in Art and Science is multi-faceted project that investigates the notion of art as a tool or tactic for action with communities, with a focus on projects involving science and technology or driven by ecological concerns.

Advance tickets are £5. Booking is essential as space is limited.

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Assembly on Useful Art, Science and Technology

As part of Notes from the Field, Arts Catalyst will present an 'Assembly on Useful Art, Science and Technology’. The assembly will host six speakers and two respondents, split across two consecutive sessions. Speakers will be made up of a trans-disciplinary group of artists, scientists, technologists, designers, curators and researchers who use science and technologies to activate social change. Together they will reflect on the possibilities of art as a tool or devise to effect radical change.

Panel 1

Veronica Ranner, Kit Jones (CAT), Dimitri Launder - Chaired by Alec Steadman, Arts Catalyst's Curator

Veronica Ranner is an artist and designer, researching the burgeoning domain of the bio­–digital — a converging knowledge space where digitality and computational thinking meets biological matter. She dissects and creates tangible and immaterial manifestations of such collisions, examining hereby the polyphonic potential of alternative technological futures as part of her practice-led PhD at the Royal College of Art

The Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT), situated in Wales, is an education and visitor centre demonstrating practical solutions for sustainability. CAT have developed and produced of a wide range of renewable energy systems.

Dimitri Launder is the founder of Artist Gardeners. With 12 years of experience designing, and building gardens, his concerns are often based on a playful humour and apocalyptic view of the sustainability of localised food production in an urban context. He believes the cultural and ecological legacy that we leave as a society is our collective responsibility.

Panel 2

Graham Harwood, Sylvia Nagl, Jonathan Rosenhead (BSSRS) - Chaired by Nicola Triscott, Arts Catalyst's CEO

Graham Harwood is one half of artistic collaboration YoHa, along with Matsuko Yokokoji. YoHa’s projects combine groups and individuals with the technologies that surround them, through a socially engaged and research based practice. YoHa produce powerful allegorical contraptions to form an understanding of complex social/technical systems.

Dr Sylvia Nagl is a trans-disciplinary complexity scientist who works on the interdependence of human and natural systems. She is interested in how the dynamic interactions of people with each other, with wider social, economic, political, and technological systems.

The British Society for Social Responsibility in Science (BSSRS) was the centre of a 'radical science' movement in the 1970s. The society was formed out of a campaign in 1968 against university research on chemical and biological weapons. Professor Jonathan Rosenhead has worked at London School of Economics since 1967 and been Professor of Operational Research since 1987. He was active in the BSSRS for 20 years, including a period as Chair.

Respondent: Gemma Medina Estupiñan (Arte Util, Archive Researcher).

Gemma Medina Estupiñan is an independent research curator and Art Historian (PhD in Contemporary Art History) based in Eindhoven. She was part of the curatorial team of The Museum of Arte Útil (Van Abbemuseum), leading the research to build the Arte Útil Archive and co-curating the public program. She conceived the project ‘Broadcasting the archive’ along with Alessandra Saviotti to emancipate the usership around the Arte Útil archive. ‘Broadcasting the archive’ is supported by  Mondriaan Fund.

Time break down
Panel 1: 17.00 - 18.30, Panel 2: 18.45 - 20.15, Respondents: 20.30 - 21.00

Advance tickets are £5, with refreshments provided. Booking details to follow.



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Yoshinori Niwa Artist Talk

Yoshinori Niwa’s artistic interventions into public space are experimental actions and propositions involving impossibility and exchange. Seemingly unproductive physical acts such as ‘Transferring a Puddle from A to B’ carried out between Tokyo and Fukushima Prefecture (2012), and between East and West Berlin (2004), perform the impossibility of social and physical boundaries.

Yoshinori puts himself in unusual situations to undermine the reality of what we see and to expose the emptiness of systems that give the illusion of public-ness. For example when he walked in the opposite direction to the people demonstrating against nuclear power generation after the Great East Japan Earthquake ‘Walk in the Opposite Direction of a Demonstration Parade’ (2011). And ‘Demonstration Proceeds from the Prime Ministers Residence to the Summit of Mount Fuji’ (2012) in which he extended a political act to a site more commonly associated with tourism.

In 2014 his project ‘Selling the right name to a pile of garbage’ (2014) aimed to name a garbage landfill in the suburbs of Manila, Philippines. The work uses documentary images of Yoshinori negotiating with workers and managers whose entrepreneurial principles inspire them to try and turn piles of rubbish into gold. Reflecting on the clashes of rights and the contradiction between the value of money and land ownership, the work addresses the Philippine law preventing garbage incineration.

In recent years Niwa Yoshinori has taken an interest in the history of communism and has developed a new series of works which will be shown at Edel Assanti Gallery, London, in a solo exhibition ‘Historically Historic Historical History of Communism’.

This public talk has been organised by the Department of Art at Goldsmiths, University of London in association with the Arts Catalyst, to take place on the occasion of Yoshinori Niwa's exhibition at Edel Assanti, London. 

This talk is part of the Nuclear Culture Project

Exhibition details
Edel Assanti, London
Fri 9 October - Sat 21 November 2015

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Laurie Anderson (Space Soon)

NASA's former artist-in-residence, returning to the UK after the success of her show End of the Moon, reflects on her NASA experience and her visit to Russia’s space programme.

When NASA appointed the musician and artist, Laurie Anderson, as their first official artist-in-residence, they probably had in mind a celebratory and hi-tec output – perhaps lasers bouncing off the moon. But Anderson, disturbed by NASA’s revived plans to revisit and exploit the moon, created the performance piece The End of the Moon. NASA swiftly decided that there would be no further artists-in-residence.

In 2005, Anderson visited Russia’s space programme – the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre and mission control – with The Arts Catalyst and saw a very different side of the human spaceflight story, where the post-Soviet cash-strapped Russian space agency sells flights into space to Japanese dotcom billionaires at $20 million a time.

Anderson paid a special flying visit to London to take part in The Arts Catalyst's Space Soon event at the Roundhouse on Tuesday 12 September to reflect on her experiences, show her photographs and videos from her visit to Star City, in conversation with the author and critic Kodwo Eshun.

Artist's website:

Laurie Anderson


Laurie Anderson's trip to Star City was supported by The Arts Catalyst and Forma.


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