A Treetop Odyssey

A screening and discussion event focusing attention on the one of the world’s most inaccessible and under-explored areas - tropical rainforest canopies.

Some of the rarest plants and animals on earth are found in such locations, where undiscovered species live exclusively in these tree tops and never set foot on the forest floor. Until now, the rainforest canopy has been virtually inaccessible to scientists.

The event will start with a screening of Werner Herzog’s 2004 film, The White Diamond, which eloquently illustrates the complexity of human desire and our need to further explore the planet and its resources. Set in the Kaiteur Falls in the heart of Guyana, it features the efforts of one of the world’s leading dendronautics engineers, Dr Graham Dorrington, in his attempts to test his airship designed to explore the forest canopy.

The screening will be followed by presentations and discussions by a unique group of botanists, artists and engineers, all pioneering the use of airships and dirigibles to explore the rainforest canopy. They will discuss their work and its wider implication in areas as diverse as the future of medicine and culture.


Dr Graham Dorrington (Queen Mary, University of London), Marion Laval-Jeantet and Benoît Mangin (Art Orienté Objet).


This event is a partnership between The Arts Catalyst, Queen Mary, University of London and LCACE and has been developed as part of The Inside Out Festival at ICA.

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Arctic Perspective Open Space Conference

The Arctic Perspective Open Space conference, Dortmund, Germany gathered some of the most dynamic thinkers from and on the circumpolar regions and the open source technology and tactical media communities in an intense three-day situation involving critical debate and reflection.

Collectively, the conference served as working meeting to envision future strategies of circumpolar interconnectedness, exchange, strategies and tactics of autonomy, the landscape of current circumpolar geopolitics, mobility, open-source information sharing, citizen sensing strategies, ecology, culture and the arts.

Active members of indigenous circumpolar communities, thinkers, writers, architects, artists, and technologists took part in the open space. They were working towards making an inclusive statement regarding an autonomous, indigenous driven future of the global North as it relates to access to new technologies and infrastructures and a future, technologically mediated, ecologically sound mobility.

The open space conference was held in conjunction with the Arctic Perspective exhibition at the PHOENIX Halle Dortmund (18 June – 10 October 2010) in the context of the European Capital of Culture RUHR 2010.

The 3-day gathering of some of the most dynamic thinkers from and on the circumpolar regions and the open source technology and tactical media communities included some events open to the public.

Friday, 24 September 2010
PHOENIX Halle, Dortmund, Germany

19:30 David Turnbull, Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab (VEIL), Architecture Faculty, Melbourne University (AU): Performativity: A Key to Autonomy, Mobility, and Working with Multiple Knowledges and Technologies in Distributed Systems (keynote)

Saturday, 25 September 2010
PHOENIX Halle, Dortmund, Germany

The Canadian Arctic Perspective: Inuit Culture, Technology, Autonomy

Michael Bravo, Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge (CA/UK): An Arctic Geopolitics without the Inside Out: Experiments in Autonomy (keynote)

Film screening: Inuuvunga – I Am Inuk, I Am Alive, CA 2004, 57 min 40 s


The Arctic Perspective Open Space Conference is funded by the Federal Center for Civic Education (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung). The program entitled "The Canadian Arctic Perspective: Inuit Culture, Technology, Autonomy" (25 Sept 2010) is organised in collaboration with the Embassy of Canada.

Inke Arns, Matthew Biederman, Marko Peljhan, Nicola Triscott and Open Space Facilitator: Dick Robertson


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Contemporary Nomadism: Autonomy & Technology in the North

Arctic Perspective Initiative international partners talk about the project that has lead to the exhibition

Introducing the international project behind the Arctic Perspective exhibition, a panel of artists, academics and architects explore its cultural, historical and political contexts. The Arctic Perspective Initiative  aims to support a thoroughly contemporary nomadism via open and free media, environmental monitoring and communications technologies.


Marko Peljhan, artist and instigator of Arctic Perspective Initiative (Slovenia)
David Turnbull, science sociologist (New Zealand)
Richard Carbonnier, architect (Canada)
Inke Arns, curator (HMKV Germany)
Chair: Michael Bravo, Scott Polar Research Institute (Canada)

Arctic Perspective highlights the cultural, geopolitical and ecological significance of the Arctic and its indigenous cultures. In collaboration with the people of Igloolik, Kinngait, Iqaluit, Mittimatalik and Kanngiqtugaapik in Nunavut, Canada and other Arctic communities, artists and architects are devising a mobile media and living unit and infrastructure, powered by renewable energy sources. The unit will be used by Inuit and other Arctic peoples for creative media production such as film-making, communications and monitoring the environment, while moving, living and working on the land. The exhibition includes architectural models of winning designs from the Arctic Perspective open architecture competition by Richard Carbonnier (Canada), Catherine Rannou (France) and Giuseppe Mecca (Italy), with photographs, videos and maps from the project.
The Arctic Perspective Initiative is led by artists Marko Peljhan (Slovenia) and Matthew Biederman (US/Canada). The exhibition has been curated by The Arts Catalyst. Collaborators: Miha Bratina, Ziga Testen.

Partners and funders

Arctic Perspective Initiative
Canadian High Commission, London
HMKV, Dortmund
Projekt Atol, Slovenia
Lorna, Iceland
C-TASC, Canada
Arts Council England
Cultural Programme of the European Union
City of Dortmund
Federal Centre for Civic Education
Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia


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Planetary Breakdown: autonomous infrastructures for a sustainable future

An event investigating artistic strategies for sustainablity and survivability following impending climate change. A collaboration between Arts Catalyst, Intersections, AV Festival and Baltic.

"Following Helen and Newton Harrison’s notion of the ‘Force Majeure – that we should be preparing for different forms of governance following radical blows to the existing infrastructures by inevitable climate change – Autonomous Infrastructures looks at the many models created by artists and by communities of people operating semi-autonomously in society in intentional and utopian communities. The event examines the symbolic nature of many of these initiatives and proposse the future realisation of unrealised artists infrastructures." - Rob La Frenais

Produced by Intersections (Newcastle University), Arts Catalyst and AV Festival 10.

Day 1 Tuesday 9 March 2010
Autonomous Infrastructures: sandpit (invited)

The first day was a invited group of around 30 people, mainly artists. We looked at different approaches artists are taking to the question of change and sustainability and, working as small teams, hothouse some potential strategies. 

Day 2 Wednesday 10 March 2010
Symposium: Planetary Breakdown: autonomous infrastructures for a sustainable future

Day 2 was a public symposium with three panels looking at alternative approaches to: communities, trade and energy. The symposium brought together an exceptional range of artists, academics and other industry experts to look at future approaches to living. It explored the possibility of creating new autonomous infrastructures across energy, trade and transport, offering a space for everyone to contribute to an active dialogue about our futures. Speakers: Alternative Communities: Malcolm Miles, Lise Autogena, Nicola Triscott, chair David Butler. Trade: Kate Rich, Ashok Sukumaran, chair Sally Jane Norman. Energy: HeHe, London Fieldworks, Bryony Worthington, chair Rob La Frenais

Reviews of Planetary Breakdown symposium




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Destination Moon at transmediale

Salon Talk hosted by Curator, Rob La Frenais

The recent discovery of water on the moon has refocused society's imagination on our nearest celestial neighbour. The title of the panel refers to the seminal 1958 novel Destination Moon by Robert Heinlein, which helped develop the popular mythology of the Moon, something which is also Russian filmmaker Pavel Medvedev explores, whose new work Ascension is shown in the tm.10 Film & Video programme. Also showing in that programme, is Agnes Meyer Brandis' The Moon Goose Experiment which can be read a form of bio-poetic science fiction. transmediale Award nominee, Wang Yuyang and curator Li Zhenhua will discuss the monumental sculpture Artificial Moon which draws attention to the collision between the 'natural' and the 'artificial' conceptions of the moon.

This Salon Talk features presentations by artists shown in transmediale.10 whose work engages with the past, present and future of the moon. This Salon Talk is hosted by Rob La Frenais, curator of The Arts Catalyst. Their future exhibition project Republic of the Moon (2010) will investigate humanity’s relationship with the moon, both in terms of cultural meaning and the possible return by humans in spacecraft to the moon in a new global space race.

Salon talk:

Moderator: Rob La Frenais (uk)

Participants: Pavel Medvedev (ru), Agnes Meyer-Brandis (de), Wang Yuyang (cn), Li Zhenhua (cn)

The Long Conversation:

The Arts Catalyst Director, Nicola Triscott will be taking part in The Long Conversation on Friday 5 February between 13:00-22:00.  The Long Conversion is a world première especially crafted for transmediale.10 by transmediale Award nominees Sosolimited.

Transmediale Video Archive:

Stephen Kovats introduces Destination Moon

Rob La Frenais introduces Destination Moon

Pavel Medvedev, Ru, Destination Moon

Agnes Meyer Brandis, De, Destination Moon

Wang Yuyang, Cn, and Li Zhenhua, Cn, Destination Moon

Discussion Session, Destination Moon

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Less Remote: The Futures of Space Exploration - An Arts and Humanities Symposium

Less Remote was a two day symposium at the 59th International Astronautical Congress in Glasgow, where artists, thinkers and writers met to discuss the future of space exploration.

The Less Remote symposium aimed to foster a dialogue and exchange between the cultural and space communities. It was organised on the occasion of the 59th International Astronautical Congress in Glasgow, which hosted the symposium. Artists, thinkers and writers contributed to the debates about going back to the Moon and on to Mars, living in space, art in zero gravity, the future of the International Space Station, and the search for life and human origins in scientific missions.

Less Remote featured presentations by Tomas Saraceno, Agnes Meyer Brandis, Marko Peljhan, Zbigniew Oksiuta, Rachel Armstrong, Andy Miah, Sarah Jane Pell, Fraser MacDonald, Nina Czegledy and many others.

Less Remote was organised by Flis Holland and Arts Catalyst, in association with Leonardo and OLATS. The symposum was co-sponsored by the IAA Commission VI

Organisational Committee

Flis Holland, Arts Catalyst, Leonardo, Leonardo/Olats

Peer Review Committee

Flis Holland (Chair), Annick Bureaud (Leonardo / OLATS), Rob La Frenais (Arts Catalyst), Roger Malina (IAA Commission VI), Michael Punt (Leonardo), Sundar Sarukkai (Centre for Philosophy, Indian National Institute of Advanced Studies), Nicola Triscott (Arts Catalyst)

Advisory Committee

Martha Blassnigg, Lowry Burgess, Stephen Dick, Bernard Foing, Roger Malina, Takuro Osaka, Jean-Luc Soret


Arts Council England, IAA Commission VI

Individual speakers and artists at the symposium were sponsored by:
The Goethe Institute, Glasgow, CAP Research Fund, Solent University, The Australian Network for Art & Technology - Professional Development Travel Fund.

Media Coverage

"Glasgow space congress brings it all home : Intergalactic travel is still humanity’s greatest party tricK" - Allan BrownTimes Online review

Sarah Jane Pell review

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Taking Control: Space Soon Symposium

Scientists, artists, psychologists and space architects met in this 2-day international symposium to explore the future of space exploration from the human perspective

Was the Apollo programme, its origins in Cold War posturing, ultimately the most successful art project in history? What do we really gain from human space exploration, culturally and scientifically? How do we design long-term space missions, such as the mooted trip to Mars, so that astronauts are able to have a humanising experience? In an unstable world, who should be the decision makers in the quest for space?

This 2-day international symposium was convened by Judith Palmer for The Arts Catalyst as part of the SPACE SOON: Art & Human Spaceflight event at the Roundhouse, London.

Sessions include, Habitat Design, Build Your Own Space Programme, the Human Body and Mind in Space, and Adapting to Alien Environments.

Download the programme, abstracts and participant biographies opposite.

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Monster Myths

Are writers demonising the new genetics? A debate with writers and scientists at the Wellcome Trust

Debate organised by The Arts Catalyst with the Wellcome Trust.

Panellists were Stephen Gallagher, author of Chimera, Maureen Duffy, author of Gorsaga, Paul Nurse, Director of Research at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, and Peter Goodfellow, Professor of Genetics at Cambridge University, Sheila McLean, Professor of Law and Ethics in Medicine at Glasgow University, and Jon Turney, Wellcome Fellow in Science Communication at University College London.

The panel chaired by Mark Lawson.


The Wellcome Trust. Media sponsor: The Independent

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Interspecies, Manchester - Symposia, Talks, Workshops

Can artists work with animals as equals? The Interspecies exhibition questions the sovereignty of the human species over the all other animal species. 

Kira O'Reilly presented an action/installed performance featuring herself and a sleeping female pig. Nicolas Primat's video installation explores how the animals' ‘natural’ communication skills can be extended into the realm of human/ape creative collaboration. Antony Hall encouraged the public to directly communicate with live electric fish in the gallery space, through mild electrical impulses. The Department of Eagles (Ruth Maclennan)'s work examined communications between falconers and falcons. Rachel Mayeri's Primate Cinema casts human actors in the roles of mating non-human primates, while Beatriz Da Costa's PigeonBlog investigated the military use of homing pigeons.

A series of talks and debates between the artists, writers, scientists and animal welfare experts accompanied the exhibition.

ESOL Exhibition Tour: This gallery tour of Interspecies provides an introduction to the artists and works on show with a discussion on the issues involved in the exhibition.

Artists' Open Forum: Antony Hall, Ruth Maclennan, Rachel Mayeri and Beatriz Da Costa: A two hour drop-in opportunity to meet the artists and discover more about the ideas behind Interspecies.

Artist's Talk: Kira O'Reilly in Conversation: Artist Kira O'Reilly and curator Rob La Frenais discuss Kira's exhibition piece in relation to her work on sleep and dream research with humans and pigs.

Workshop: Primate Cinema - How to Act Like an Animal Performance workshops led by Interspecies artist Rachel Mayeri, exploring how primates communicate, primatology and discussing animal behaviour in the wild and in cinema.

BSL Interpreted Exhibition Tour led by artist Andrew Bracey, BSL interpreted by Siobhan Rocks.

Open Forum: Animals in Art As Animal Studies continues to grow as a focal point of academic enquiry, this forum opens up discussion around the question of animals in art and delve deeper into the underlying concepts of Interspecies.

Interspecies Exhibition Tour: An informal tour of our current exhibition Interspecies.

Artist's Talk: Antony Hall An opportunity to hear artist Antony Hall discuss his Interspecies project in which he experiments with cross-species communication; allowing exhibition visitors and electric fish to communicate on the same level but avoiding the use of language.

Viva: and Interspecies present: How to Kill a Lobster: Capitalising on Non-Human Animal Slaughter  As artists continue to consider ethics in relation to the role of animals within their work, this talk explored the increasing presence of animals in theatre and performance art, addressing issues such as activism, reality and animal representation.

Exhibition supported by:

Arts Council England, Darwin 200

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Space Art Forum

The Arts Catalyst organised three UK Space Art Forums between 1999 and 2001.

3rd UK Space Art Forum 2001

Hull Time-Based Arts, Ferens Gallery, Hull, November 2001, Part of HTBA's ROOT Festival. 225 people attended.

2nd UK Space Art Forum 2000
Theme : Altered Gravity, Toynbee Hall, London, UK.

Guest speakers: Dragan Zivadinov (Slo) and Marko Peljhan (Slo). 64 people took part.

1st UK Space Art Forum 1999

Lux Centre, London. Speakers included Cornelia Parker (UK), Jean-Marc Phillippe (FR). 34 people took part.

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