Specimens and Superhumans

A series of events exploring contemporary issues around biomedical science, disability and ethics, and how these are explored, represented and critiqued in art.

Specimens to Superhumans was a series of four events curated by The Arts Catalyst and Shape.  The events provided creative opportunities to show the work of and to provide mentoring, development and networking opportunities for disabled artists.

Labyrinth of Living Exhibits

Labyrinth of Living Exhibits considered specimens and curiosities through infiltrating and responding to the exotic and disturbing collection of London’s Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons. With Aaron Williamson, Sinéad O'Donnell, Brian Catling and Katherine Araniello

Alternative Ways of Thinking

At a time when the media frequently feature stories about screening for or even ‘curing’ autism, presenting it as an affliction or disease, this event explored and celebrated the special qualities of the autistic mind. With Simon Baron-CohenJon Adams, Gabriel Hardistry-Miller and Ben Connors.

Benedict Phillips unleashed his dyslexic side in his performance piece 3D Thinking in a 2D World.

"All that happened to us..."

An event exploring the implications of the biomechanics of ageing for contemporary dance practice with Ann Dickie, Anna BergströmTrevor Mathison, Professor Raymond Lee, Dr Siobhan Strike and Dr Jin Luo.

Bionic People

A two-day practical workshop with award-winning filmmaker John Williams creating short films that imaginatively address themes of disability, bioethics and prosthetics. This practical and inspiring two-day workshop gave disabled artists who already work with film/video and disabled emerging filmmakers an opportunity to explore and extend their work in these media.

Event Details

Labyrinth of Living Exhibits

Hunterian Museum, London 12 May 2011

Labyrinth of Living Exhibits considered specimens and curiosities through infiltrating and responding to the exotic and disturbing collection of London’s Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons. The audience had the chance to explore the displays while encountering four simultaneous site-specific performances curated by Aaron Williamsion and commissioned by Shape and The Arts Catalyst to respond to the museum's permanent collection: Aaron Williamson, Sinéad O'Donnell, Brian Catling and Katherine Araniello. This was followed by a panel discussion. Artists Aaron Williamson and Katherine Araniello, were joined on the panel by Brian Hurwitz, D’Oyly Carte Professor of Medicine and the Arts at Kings College, and Sam Alberti, Director of the Hunterian Museum, for a discussion about the historical representation of disability and contemporary approaches taken by the medical community, chaired by the Richard Hollingham.

Full-length panel discussion could be seen in the videos below:

Alternative Ways of Thinking

Cheltenham Science Festival, 10 June 2011

Exploring the Autistic Mind 

At a time when the media frequently feature stories about screening for or even ‘curing’ autism, presenting it as an affliction or disease, this event explores the special qualities of the autistic mind. Simon Baron-Cohen, Director of the Autism Research Centre, discusses creativity and the autistic mind with artist and geologist, Jon Adams, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, Gabriel Hardistry-Miller, a non-verbal young man with autism who, with artist Ben Connors, runs a music, performance and poetry club.

Gabriel & Ben's video- How We Met can be viewed here:

Benedict Phillips, 3D Thinkers in a 2D World

In this humorous and thought-provoking performance, artist Benedict Phillips unleashes his dyslexic side as ‘The DIV’ highlighting and examining our presumptions about intelligence, communication and perception, unravelling the numerous misconceptions surrounding dyslexia and presenting the unusual advantages it brings.

"All that happened to us..."

Roehampton University Dance Faculty, London, Thursday 22 September 2011

An event exploring the implications of the biomechanics of ageing for contemporary dance practice. 

 While traditional dance science looks at how to enable an elite dancer to achieve perfection in both performance and aesthetics, this participative event will seek to explore what we can learn from the science of ageing about how a disabled or older dancer’s body works and what they need in order to perform to full capacity and to unlock their body’s full potential.For both older and disabled dancers, achieving elite standards may be neither possible nor what they are striving for, and this event explored the nuances between the social model of disability and the medical model of ageing, to see what common ground emerges.

The collaborative event, hosted by the University, was led by choreographers Ann Dickie, Director of From Here to Maturity Dance Company and Anna Bergström, Associate Artist at Candoco Dance Company, audio and digital artist, Trevor Mathison. Drawing from expertise across Roehampton UniversityProfessor Raymond Lee and his colleagues Dr Siobhan Strike and Dr Jin Luo from the Active Ageing Unit at Life Sciences Department also participated in the event. We are grateful for the support of Roehampton University’s Dance Faculty and for the input from Louise Portlock and Frank McDaniels from Gloucestershire Dance.

Bionic People

Two-day filmmaking workshop for disabled artists and filmmakers, part of DadaFest,  30-31 July 2012

John Williams, a writer/director with over 10 years experience, whose films combine live action, animation and visual effects, engagingly dealing with highly sensitive subjects, including mental health (‘Robots’), young children dealing with the death of a friend (‘Hibernation’) and a child’s complex feelings towards his robotic dialysis machine (‘Paraphernalia’), led the two day practical workshop.
Gary Thomas from Disability Arts Online attended the workshop and created this film.

Partners

Shape, Hunterian Museum, Cheltenham Science Festival, Roehampton University, DadaFest

Funders

Funded by a Wellcome Trust People Award, and Arts Council England

 

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Everything Normal

Film event with a selection of short films from the cold war era, and more modern offerings

 
'I see the earth from space: it is beautiful.' These words have gone down in history as the first official utterance made by Yuri Gagarin in space. In reality, the flight transcript from Commander Gagarin's Vostok craft reveals that the pioneer Russian cosmonaut's actual first words translate more as, 'Everything normal - the equipment is working perfectly'. Gagarin's observation shows a touching faith in his instrument panel.
 
Everything Normal presented a selection of original short films from the cold war era, together with more modern offerings which paid homage to those grainy glory days - reflecting a time when men revelled in the company of their machines, the British space effort still existed, Heroic Soviet Achievements matched American Know-How, and with just a little more tinkering with our rockets we would all be living on the moon by 1980.
 
First film off the launchpad was Attention Weightlessness! - an excellent Soviet educational film from 1962 which shows scientists, cats and dogs enjoying the newly discovered joys of weightlessness as they tumble about onboard the precarious jet flights which prepared the way for gravity-defying space travel.
 
The programme continued with La Mission Priviet, a film by Raphaël Frydman, filmed in Kazakhstan in January 2003. The state of the Russian space program is discussed after the failure of a mysterious space launch of Soyuz, the Priviet Mission. The filmmaker tries to discover the truth of this mission: information or propaganda? The film was screened in French and Kazahk, with a live simultaneous translation.
 
First half also included the story of the conversion of a Latvian Radio Telescope for artistic purposes by the Acoustic Space Lab, Andrei Ujica's Out of the Present, and Louise K Wilson's film about an air-traffic controllers' cycling club who ride in formation down the runway.
 
Mission controller of the second half of the programme was British Lunatic Genius Andrew Kotting (maker of Gallivant and This Filthy Earth). Kotting showed his film Too G, made during an Arts Catalyst zero gravity flight; then presented a selection of shorts which included Steve Sullivan's A Whole Heap of Trouble, Guy Maddin's The Heart of the World, Phil Hall's Geoff World Destroyer and many other films which had absolutely nothing to do with the evening's otherwise admirable educational aims and purposes.
 
The evening included a screening of Otolith 1 by the Otolith Group.
 

Programme:

Otolith 1, Otolith Group, 22 minutes
Attention Weightlessness ETV. 6 minute extract
Out of the Present Andrei Ujica. 5 minute extract
RT-32 Acoustic Space Lab. 6 minute extract
The Priviet Mission Raphaël Frydma. 26 minutes
Born in 82 Juneau Projects. 2 minute extract
Runway Louise K Wilson. 8 minutes
Zero Genies 10 minutes
Surprise! Veit Helmer. 6 minutes
Heart of the World Guy Maddin. 5 minutes
Too G Andrew Kotting. 3 minutes
One Small Leap Edward Boase & James Walker. 4 minutes
Donkeyhead. Andrew Kotting & Andrew Lindsay 3 minutes
Busby Berkleys Tribute to Mae West. Paul Bush. 2 minutes
A Heap of trouble Steve Sullivan. 5 minutes
Geoff World Destroyer Phil Hall. 3 minutes All is Love Chris Cunningham. 3 minutes
 

Intervals (& after):

Archive film footage, including Russian Dogs in Space
Vengeance by Stefan Gec
Music DJ'd by Kodwo Eshun & Ewen Chardronnet
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Artists and Cosmonauts

Four evenings of artists' film and performance, talks and presentations, featuring legendary Russian cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev

Scientists, philosophers and artists from Britain and Russia presented reflections on the Russian space programme and the nature of living in space. With the legendary Russian cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev, member of the first mission to the International Space Station.

Friday 1 & Saturday 2 March 2002 - Lilian Baylis Theatre
MIR Flight 001

New works from The Arts Catalyst's MIR Flight 001, a multidisciplinary microgravity research laboratory for artists, scientists and philosophers at Star City, Russia.

Premieres of:

Gravity: A Love Story -  Morag Wightman & Craos Mor
Zero Genie - Jem Finer and Ansuman Biswas
Wave Particle - Jem Finer and Ansuman Biswas
Kosmos in Blue - Flow Motion
Too G - Andrew Kotting
Universal Substitute - Andrey & Julia Velkanov

Plus talks/presentations by Anthony Bull, Marko Peljhan, Kevin Fong, Louise K Wilson, Mikhail Ryklin, Anna Alchuk, Alexei Blinov

Friday 15 March 2002 - Institute of Physics
Cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev

In one of the most beautiful sequences of the film 'Out of the Present' by Berlin film-maker Andrei Ujica, the cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev, alone in space on the Mir Space Station, contemplates the rivers, the continents, the perfect sphere or a real world in the setting sun: meanwhile way down below the tanks rumble and humanity, though invisible, stirs restlessly during the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

One of the most experienced cosmonauts and arguably the human who has lived longest in space, Sergei Krikaleve made a rare personal appearance between missions to debate on issues of culture and space with the artists and cosmonauts team.

Friday 19 April 2002 - Lilian Baylis Theatre
A Dancer in Weightlessness

Kitsou Dubois presented the premiere of her film (with Eric Duranteau), 'Trajectoire Fluide' (Fluid Trajectory), emerging from her 4-year research project with the Biodynamics Group at Imperial College. Professor Robert Schroter, Head of the Biodynamics Group, contextualised the project, and Dr Nick Davey, lead scientific investigator, gave a talk and demonstration of the scientific research aspects of the programme.

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Parallel Universe

Experiments and reflections on science from non-Western cultures, with a major new commission, CAT by Ansuman Biswas, and performance-lecture by Paul Wong

CAT - Ansuman Biswas

In CAT, Ansuman Biswas performed an experiment / demonstration drawing on the image of Schrödinger's Cat, the famous paradox in quantum physics. The work arises from a comparative study of modern scientific methodology and the 2,500 year old Indian science of vipassana. It lasted for ten days, during which time the artist remained sealed and meditating within a light and soundproof chamber. He attempted to maintain continuous, detailed observation of all sensory phenomena.
 

Dead Man Talking - Paul Wong

A multi-media presentation by Paul Wong (Canada/China) on Western science and Chinese medical practices, with reference to cultural attitudes towards death.
 

Programme of events:

Fri 20 March:
Lecture/performance by Luis Eduardo Luna (Brazil) on the link between sound and shamanic practices in the Amazon.
Sat 21 March:
Dead Man Talking, multi-media presentation by Paul Wong.
Sun 22 March:
Presentation about Islamic science by Professor Ziauddin Sardar of Middlesex University followed by a discussion of CAT between theoretical physicist David Peat and Jungian analyst Chris Hawke
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We're All Going To Die (Space Soon)

SPACE SOON A special concert curated by Resonance FM

Is it possible to have a clean death in a vacuum? We're All Going To Die was an operatic, radiophonic concatentation of space ephemera and near-Earth collision paranoia, hosted by Resonance104.4fm. It featured The Bohman Brothers, Ken Hollings, Tom McCarthy, DJ Original Bear, the Resonance Radio Orchestra, DJ Rocket 88, Jonny Trunk and Lembit Opik MP. Resonance FM broadcast live from the Roundhouse throughout Space Soon.

 

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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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Corporate Personae

A seminar exploring the role of artists in examining the activities of big business

Corporate Personae was a seminar on corporate social responsibility and the role artists and activists, such as Platform, The Yes Men and With, play in “identity correction” and interrogating the activities of big business. The event featured a performance by artist Lucy Panesar and launched Arts Catalyst/SCAN's Dark Places programme.


Speakers

Dan Gretton (Platform), David Leitner (Cambridge University), Lucy Panesar (Artist), Felicity Mukherjee (NFHC International Inc), Alasdair Hopwood (WITH).

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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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Interspecies, London

Interspecies uses artistic and participatory strategies to stimulate dialogue and debate, showing artists in contact with real animals and negotiating a new power relationship, questioning the way we view our interactions with animals during Darwin's anniversary year.

Interspecies asks: Can artists work with animals as equals? If not, what is the current state of the human-animal relationship? It has recently been shown that humans are closer to the higher primates than previously thought, with chimpanzee and gorilla behaviour reflecting politics, deception and even possibly creativity. What does this mean to the way we see ourselves as one species inhabiting a planet in crisis?

This exhibition centres around a durational work by Kira O'Reilly and draws together projects by Nicolas Primat and other artists who question the one-sided manipulation of non-human life-forms for art, and have tried to enter the animals' point of view as a fundamental part of their practice. It has to some extent been inspired by Donna Haraway'sWhen Species Meet but was triggered by discussions with the late Nicolas Primat.

The artists

Nicolas Primat specialised in directly working with monkeys and apes in collaboration with primatologists. In Portrait de Famille, he is playfully swarmed by a tribe of squirrel monkeys, in Demo Bonobo, he established a relationship via sexual signals with a group of Bonobo apes and in The Making of Les Petits Hommes Vers he and his colleagues make a science fiction film with a group of monkeys.

Kira O'Reilly's durational performance Falling Asleep With A Pig. The artist and pig (Deliah) cohabit a living space, partially viewable by the public for 72 hours. At some point the pig and artist fall asleep. The work addresses the ethics of human and animal interaction, acknowledging the implicit ambivalences and violence in the appropriation of animals as a resource.

Antony Hall's Enki Experiment 4 allows visitors to Interspecies to communicate with an electric fish on the same level, avoiding the use of language, instead stimulating a shared empathy through a physical connection. 

Ruth Maclennan's films Harry and Three short films on Hawks and Men explore the relationship between a bird of prey and the human being who trains it, capturing the rapt gaze of hunter and bird, recalling ancient ideas of shape-shifting and shamanic transformations. 

Rachel Mayeri's Primate Cinema: Baboons as Friends juxtaposes footage of baboons taken in the field with a re-enactment by human actors, shot film noir style in a bar in Los Angeles. A tale of lust, jealousy, sex and violence transpires simultaneously in non-human and human worlds.

Beatriz da Costa's work PigeonBlog proposes an alternative way to participate in environmental air pollution data-gathering through equipping urban homing pigeons with GPS-enabled sensing devices. PigeonBlog is intended as a social experiment between humans and animals.

Snæbjörnsdóttir/Wilson's Radio Animal involves a specially designed caravan in which the artists to travel to various locations in the UK to gather material from people about their relationship to animals. They are particularly interested in animals that are considered ‘unwelcome’ visitors but have for whatever reason found their way into what we may consider our own territories.  Animal Radio is a Story Gallery, Lancaster commission funded by the Henry Moore Foundation.

Events

Interspecies included two symposia chaired by Rob La Frenais:

Non-Human Primates with Sarah-Jane Vick - primatologist and psychologist; Patrick Munck - artist, videographer and collaborator with Nicolas Primat; Rachel Mayeri - artist

Animals, Humans and Power with Giovanni Aloi - editor Antennae; Ruth Maclennan - artist; Helen Macdonald, author of Falcon; Bryndis Snæbjörnsdóttir; Karen Knorr - artist and photographer

Rachel Mayeri also held two Primate Cinema workshops on How to Act like an Animal as part of the exhibition

Links to artists' websites

Kira O'Reilly, Antony Hall, Ruth Maclennan, Rachel Mayeri, Beatriz da Costa, Snæbjörnsdóttir/Wilson

Supported by

Arts Council England, Darwin 200, A Foundation

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Eclipses, Life and Other Cosmic Chances

An art and science conference exploring cosmology and the nature of probability

It is said that we are living in a golden age of cosmology. Slowly the way the universe is put together is unfolding before our eyes. In 1999, Northern Europe was a direct witness to the way spinning bodies inexorably move in predictable paths when the sun went dark over Cornwall, the English Channel and in a line all the way to India. Artists are playing a part in these realisations: James Turrell remodelled a massive crater to capture the sun's light, Janet Saad-Cook worked with the Very Large Array in New Mexico to harness directly the sun's movements to create art, and Cornelia Parker attempted to send a meteorite into space. 

'Cosmic Chances' brought the scientists who battle with the fundamental mysteries of the universe - from NASA, the French Space Agency, Jodrell Bank and SETI - into a series of unique exchanges with artists at London's historic Royal Institution in this Arts Catalyst's conference. 

Speakers

Conference Chair Roger Malina, Director of NASA's Extreme Ultra-Violet Explorer Observatory and Founder/Editor of Leonardo, the art science journal, presented the hottest astronomical discoveries from space telescopes

Artist James Turrell unveiled the final stages of his extraordinary life-long project at the Roden Carter - an extinct volcano transformed by earthmovers into a massive artwork.

Cosmologist Marcus Chown author of 'The Afterglow of Creation and the forthcoming 'The Magic Furnace', explored the chance correspondences that keep the nuclear reactor in the sky running.

Janet Saad Cook, artist, described her project for the Very Large Array - an enormous field of radio-telescopes in New Mexico - as part of her Global Sun Drawing, a single globe-encircling work of art using the sun.

David Wark, particle physicist, described the search for the - as yet undetected - solar neutrino underway in deep chambers around the world. Life Spreading Through the Universe

Chandra Wickramasinghe, collaborator with Sir Fred Hoyle on 'Life in the Cosmos' and other books, introduced the provocative notions of panspermia, biological determinism and cosmological constraints.

Historian Frank James of the Royal Institution examined the significance of chronicles and records of eclipses through the centuries.

Cornelia Parker, sculptor, described the progress in her extraordinary project to return a meteorite back into space.

Ian Morison, Jodrell Bank scientist and co-ordinator of Britain's role on the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence with the SETI Institute, updated the latest search with the big dish.

Sandra Chapman, astrophysicist from the University of Warwick, unveiled our precarious connection with the sun - the solar wind, a hurricane or particles which blows from the sun at incredible velocities, buffeting and battering the earth and extending far beyond the furthest planet of the solar system.

Ansuman Biswas, artist, described his proposal to place an array of dishes thousands of miles apart in uninhabited places to collect whatever falls from the sky.

Amanda Baker, regional co-ordinator of the SETI League, explained how the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence is significant for the whole community.

Andrew Steele is an astrobiologist working on a project for NASA. He hopes to investigate the first sample coming back from Mars.

 

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