Research is Not Terrorism: Steve Kurtz

Steve Kurtz, artist, activist and researcher, arrested by the FBI

Steve Kurtz of Critical Art Ensemble spoke about his case for the first time since his arrest in the USA. He was accompanied by Claire Pentecost from the Critical Art Ensemble Defense Fund.

Steve Kurtz was wrongly arrested in 2004, the FBI on charges relating to bioterrorism, because he had sourced some harmless bacteria to use in an artistic project. The bioterrorism charges were finally dropped by a Grand Jury, after an international storm of protest, however Steve still faces FBI charges of mail fraud (a charge traditionally used by the FBI when they can't pin another charge on someone - Critical Art Ensemble are known for their political views expressed through their work). Also indicted was Robert Ferrell, head of the Department of Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh's School of Public Health. The charges concern technicalities of how Ferrell helped Kurtz to obtain $256 worth of harmless bacteria for one of Kurtz's art projects.

Artists, scientists and civil liberties groups internationally have publicly condemned both the old and new charges and the continued harrassment of Steve Kurtz and many people that he has worked with. These new charges still carried a potential jail sentence of 20 years and threaten many researchers in the sciences who source material in a similar way.

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SymbioticA BioArt Workshop & Symposium, London

Oron Catts and Gary Cass from SymbioticA lead an intensive 5 day workshop for artists in using biological technologies and examining issues of biotechnology and genomics

Workshop: Mon 28th March - Fri 1st April 2005Symposium: Saturday 2nd April 2005Contemporary developments in life sciences are having a profound effect on society, its values, belief systems and treatments of individuals, groups and the environment. The interaction of art, science, industry and society is increasingly recognised as an essential avenue for innovation and invention, and as a way to explore, envision and critique possible futures.Continuing its interest in artists' practical and political engagement with biotechnology, The Arts Catalyst organised an intensive 5 day workshop for artists, led by artist Oron Catts and Gary Cass of SymbioticA: The Art & Science Collaborative Studio, School of Anatomy & Human Biology, The University of Western Australia.The workshop was a practical exploration of biological technologies and issues stemming from their use, serving as a theoretical and practical introduction to the creation of biotech art and aimed at educating artists from the UK and Europe in issues of biotechnology and genomics. The workshop taught hands-on engagement with these technologies to enable artists to carry out and critique manipulation of living systems from an informed practical perspective. The practical components included DNA extraction and fingerprinting, genetic engineering, selective breeding, plant and animal tissue culture and basic tissue engineering techniques.The workshop presented work of contemporary artists dealing with biotechnology. Scientists were also involved, discussing ethical issues raised by artists' work in this area and enabling fieldtrips to laboratories. At the end of the week, ideas explored in the workshop were opened out in a public discussion event.Participating artists:Franko BBrandon BallengeeHeather BarnettAnne Bean Jenny Boulboulle Laura CintiWim DelvoyeTony DunneJu GoslingSimon GouldAndy GracieAntony Hall Jens Hauser Verena KaminarzJose Eugenio MarchesiSana MurraniJane ProphetPaula RoushJill ScottHege Tapio

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Bangalore Culture & Space Symposium

The Bangalore Culture & Space Symposium was a gathering of philosophers, space scientists, educators, and artists in Bangalore, India

The symposium examined current themes at the intersection of space science, technology and arts from a cultural perspective.

By taking into account many perspectives involved in space research it attempted to lay the groundwork for future collaborations between symposium attendees and hosting organisations.




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Extremophiles: Surviving in Space

An art-science conference on living in space, with performance by Antunez Roca

With the long journey to Mars and back increasingly preoccupying the space industry and space medicine, some of the debates within the art and technology world about the human body have become increasingly mirrored. For long-term space travel should we create artificial environments to cocoon the body? Or transform the body into a space faring cyborg, augmenting and converting it for weightlessness? In this compelling conference, artists, scientists and cosmonauts came together to widen the debate about long-term human spaceflight as a cultural as well as scientific issue.

Spanish electronic artist Antunez Roca gave a performance-presentation, Transpermia, of his Project Daedalus, which took place this year on zero gravity flights organised by The Arts Catalyst and Projekt Atol with the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Russia.

The outstanding line up of speakers included visionary technology artist Marko Peljhan, director of Projekt Atol, initiator of the Slovenian Space Agency and the Makrolab project (Venice Biennale 2003, Documenta X); president of the Mars Society Bo Maxwell, NASA advisor and Mars expert Dr Kevin Fong; science fiction writer Rachel Armstrong, author of ‘Gray’s Anatomy’; and Tracey Warr, author of ‘The Artist’s Body’. The event is chaired by BBC science correspondent, Pallab Ghosh.

A project of MIR Campaign 2003

Supported by:

Funded by a European Commission Culture 2000 award, Arts Council England and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

MIR (Microgravity Interdisciplinary Research) is a consortium of European based arts organisations, Arts Catalyst, V2, Projekt Atol and Leonardo-Olats, which was founded in 2001 to promote interdisciplinary and art/science research in microgravity and altered gravity conditions. Two campaigns, with a total of three parabolic flights and a centrifuge experiment were organised within the MIR framework in Zvezdny Gorodok (Star City), Russia

With thanks to the Zero G team at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre

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Apollo Astronaut Alan Bean (Space Soon)

Apollo astronaut Alan Bean, the 4th man on the moon, talks of space and art - A Secret Artist on the Moon

Legendary Apollo astronaut, Alan Bean, one of only nine men alive today who walked on the moon, visited London for the first time to discuss his experience of visiting the moon and the power of art with author Andrew Smith.

Alan Bean, moonwalker and artist, was captured perfectly in Andrew Smith's best-selling book Moondust evoking the rawness of that moment 37 years back when he grabbed hold of something solid and looked up: "This is the Moon, that's the Earth, I'm really here, I'm really here."

In Secret Artist on the Moon, Alan Bean - who now makes paintings that attempt to bring to life that elusive experience - brings a uniquely human insight to that rare moment, never repeated, when humans for a few years left the earth's orbit to voyage to our nearest neighbour. We have never returned.

A uniquely human perspective on voyaging further away from home than any other person has ever been. 

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Srishti Science-Art / Space-Art Workshop

A 5-day series of workshops on themes of science and art, and space and the arts, led by London Fieldworks and The Arts Catalyst

With Bruce Gilchrist & Jo Joelson (London Fieldworks), Nicola Triscott and Rob La Frenais (The Arts Catalyst), Geetha Narayanan (Srishti), Sarah Neville, Mukund Thattai, N S Harsha, A V Varghese and Vivek Vilasini.

19 Jan - Science & art workshop
20 Jan - Space & the arts workshop
21 & 23 Jan - 'Spacebaby' workshop for Srishti students led by London Fieldworks
23 Jan - Ham radio workshop

A collaboration between Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology and The Arts Catalyst

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Interspecies London - Symposia, Workshops, Family Day

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?

The exhibition and programme of related events centres around a durational work by Kira O'Reilly and draws together projects by Nicolas Primat and other artists who explore playful speculations on relations between species. Antony Hall Enki Experiment 4 encourages visitors to communicate with an electric fish on the same level.  Snæbjörnsdóttir/Wilson's Radio Animal* invites visitors to consider ‘unwelcome’ visitors but have for whatever reason found their way into what we may consider our own territories. Work includes: Nicolas Primat Portrait de Famille, The Making of Les Petits Hommes VersKira O'Reilly Falling Asleep With A Pig. Ruth Maclennan Harry and Three short films on Hawks and Men. Rachel Mayeri Primate Cinema: Baboons as Friends. Beatriz da Costa PigeonBlog.

Talks & Symposia

Exhibition tour with curator Rob La Frenais, 6pm Friday 2 October 2009

Non-Human Primates symposium with Sarah-Jane Vick - primatologist and psychologist; Patrick Munck - artist, videographer and collaborator with Nicolas Primat; Rachel Mayeri - artist, chaired by Rob La Frenais, 7-9pm Friday 2 October 2009

Tour of ENKI Experiment 4 with artist Antony Hall, 2pm Saturday 3 october 2009

Animals, Humans and Power symposium with Giovanni Aloi - editor Antennae; Ruth Maclennan - artist; Helen Macdonald, author of Falcon; Bryndis Snæbjörnsdóttir; Karen Knorr - artist and photographer, chaired by Rob La Frenais, 3-6pm Saturday 3 October 2009


Primate Cinema workshops on How to Act like an Animal with artist Rachel Mayeri, 1-3 and 3.30-5.30pm Saturday 3 October 2009

Family day

Becoming Bowerbirds workshop with artist Sally Hampson (based on an Arts Catalyst project at Zoological Society London), 2-5pm Sunday 4 October 2009

Interspecies Tales with poet and storyteller Shamin Azad, 2pm, 3pm and 4pm Sunday 4 October 2009

Links to artists' websites

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

Exhibition supported by

Arts Council England, Darwin 200, A Foundation

*Animal Radio is a Story Gallery, Lancaster commission funded by the Henry Moore Foundation.

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POLAR: The Art and Science of Climate Change

A programme focusing on the curation and production of climate change knowledge in the polar regions

POLAR: The Art & Science of Climate Change was a multi-disciplinary project exploring cultural and scientific issues surrounding climate change.

It incorporated a 2-day international symposium, a publication Bipolar, a series of public lectures, and two new artists' commissions from Anne Brodie and Weather Permitting. POLAR was curated by Kathryn Yusoff and The Arts Catalyst, and organised with the British Library and the Open University.

Polar: Fieldwork & Archive Fever - An Interdisciplinary Symposium

Polar: Fieldwork & Archive Fever was an interdisciplinary symposium at the British Library on the 19 & 20 November 2007. It focused on the curation and production of climate change knowledge in the polar regions. Keynote speakers were Professor Denis Cosgrove, University of California, Professor Sverker Sörlin, Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden, Professor Rachel Weiss, Art Institute of Chicago, and Simon Faithfull, artist.

Full programme and abstracts can be downloaded opposite.

Public Talks

As part of the Polar programme, a series of four public lectures addressed broader cultural and policy-related themes arising from the symposium:

Wed 17 October - Everyday Disasters
Mon 5 November - Climate Change & Human Rights
Mon 19 November - The New Iconography of Climate Change
Mon 26 November - Geopolitics of Cold 

Bipolar Book

Bipolar, a new interdisciplinary publication featuring more than 30 'archives' contributed by the symposium and talks participants, was published by Arts Catalyst in June 2008. It is distributed by Cornerhouse Publications.

Two new commissions by Anne Brodie and Weather Permitting were shown at The Society of Antiquaries, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1 on 20 July 2008, coinciding with the launch of the Bipolar book.


The project was supported by a grant from Arts Council England, the Open University and in-kind support from the British Library.


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Eye of the Storm 2

Two-day symposium debating how artists are responding to today's hot issues of belief and experiment, dissent and discord, big science, high finance, geopolitics and the legislation of uncertainty around subjects including climate change, biotechnology, genetics and astrophysics.

From esoteric arguments over the structure of the universe to highly charged public controversies around the use of stem cells, Eye of the Storm brought together an extraordinary international group of artists, scientists, and other experts to spark two days of dynamic conversations. Speakers included artist Eduardo Kac, Sheila Jasanoff, one of the major voices in science and technology studies, artist Rod Dickinson, Oron Catts, pioneer in the use of bioscience as a medium for artistic expression, Helen and Newton Mayer Harrison, pioneers of environmental art, astronomer Roger Malina, and science sociologist Harry Collins.

Podcast of the Conference

Audio files of the entire conference available on the Tate Podcast Feed

or on iTunes U podcast directory

Selection Committee

Chair: Nicola Triscott, Director, The Arts Catalyst
Michael Bravo, Senior Lecturer, Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge
Bernadette Buckley, Programme Convenor, MA Art & Politics, Goldsmiths, University of London
Sian Ede, Director of Arts, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation
Madeleine Keep, Education Department, Tate Britain
Rob La Frenais, Curator, The Arts Catalyst
Roger Malina, Chairman Emeritus, Leonardo, Director of Research, CNRS

Organisers & Support

Organised by The Arts Catalyst and Tate Britain, in association with Leonardo/OLATS. Suppported by Arts Council England and SymbioticA at the University of Western Australia.

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Art + Science Now - Science Fair

The Arts Catalyst teams up with super/collider for their monthly laidback pop science evening

The Arts Catalyst teams up with super/collider for their monthly pop science evening to welcome Professor Stephen Wilson from San Francisco State University, author of Art+Science Now, along with artist Gina Czarnecki.

Stephen Wilson will talk about Art & Resarch:  Who said that scientific research and technological innovations belong only to the technicians?  Research has become a white hot center of cultural foment.  It is affecting everything from the gizmos of everyday life to basic philosophical notions about the nature of reality and what it is to be human. He will explore the idea that the arts can assume their historical role at the edge of culture by becoming the independent zone of research, undertaking investigations ignored or discredited by commercial interests and academic science.  And will present examples from his own artworks in areas such as gps, body sensing, telepresence, and ai and from other artists around the world.  It also explores areas of emerging technolgy and scientific inquiry that call out for artist attention.  The presentation is based on material from his new book Art+Science Now and his MIT Press book, Information Arts: Intersections of Art, Science, and Technology.

Artist Gina Czarnecki will be talking about Wasted a body of inter-related artworks exploring the life-giving potential of ‘discarded’ body parts and their relationship to myths, history, cutting edge stem cell research and notions of what constitutes informed consent.

This is the latest in the series of Science Fair events presented by super/collider – bringing together scientists and stylists, chemists and creative-types, artists and astronomers. with discussions, DIY experiments and a chance to ask why it's just like being back in science class. except with a bar and music and more awesome.

Art + Science Now

A new publication by Stephen Wilson which presents a global overview of the ways in which contemporary artists draw on scientific and technological developments to explore new forms of creative expression.

In the twenty-first century, some of the most dynamic works of art are being produced not in the studio but in the laboratory, where artists probe cultural, philosophical, and social questions connected with cutting-edge scientific and technological research. Their work ranges across disciplines—microbiology, the physical sciences, information technologies, human biology and living systems, kinetics and robotics—and takes in everything from eugenics to climate change to artificial intelligence.

This comprehensive overview covers a dazzling array of work produced by some 250 artists from America, Japan, Germany, France, the Netherlands, the UK, and elsewhere. It presents a broad range of projects, from body art to bioengineering of plants and insects; from music, dance, and computer-controlled video performances to large scale visual and sound installations.

Stephen Wilson is Professor of Conceptual and Information Arts at San Francisco State University and coeditor of Leonardo, the international journal of art and science. He is the author of Information Arts and Using Computers to Create Art.

ISBN 978-0-500-23868-4 · 91/4" x 11" · 270+ color illustrations · 208 pages


Stephen Wilson

Gina Czarnecki


The Book Club


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