ANAT: News #36
scientific serendipity


The first of a series of residencies which culminate ANAT's advocation of interdisciplinary discourses between art and science, are underway. This approach underscored much of last year's activity, including the research for these deep immersion residencies. The initial residencies will be undertaken by Perth based artists, Oron Catts and Yonat Zurr, and Sydney-based, David Rogers of Triclops International.

Oron and Yonat's work is centred around research into the use and representation of tissue culture and tissue engineering as a medium for artistic expression. They have exhibited representations of their research at Lawrence Wilson Gallery at the University of Western Australia, as part of Art in Science forum, the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, and at the Experimenta symposium, Viruses and Mutations. For scientific serendipity, Oron and Yonat will continue their association with the Department of Anatomy and Human Biology, University of Western Australia, conducting parts of their residency in that institution, and other components of the residency at Scitech Discovery Centre in Perth.

Yonat writes of the project: "Current and future developments in biologically derived technologies, in particular in the field of tissue engineering, may yield objects that could be designed and artistically manipulated. This possibility raises many issues that have to be addressed. Those issues concern aspects of human development and scientific progress, and the interaction of humans (whatever kind they may be) with their environment. The use of organic systems may replace and/or seamlessly interact with human-made structures to the extent that our cultural perceptions of what is alive and what is artificial will be redundant."

Yonat's collaborator Oron, comments that the Tissue Culture and Art project also addresses "the many issues that concern the emerging relationship between biotechnology and design in general, and the use of biotechnology to design and produce living surface coating in particular. Design can and should become an important part in reconciling science and culture, technology and nature, for a more ecologically sustainable future. This role, besides the considerations of the sensory qualities of new designed objects, may be to act as a mediator between the techno-scientific realm and the social and cultural realm to help direct the products of technology towards cultural and ecological needs and to help society to accept scientific and technological developments. Biotechnology can supply a platform from which this can be achieved."

The second of the science residencies will commence shortly. David Rogers will be undertaking a residency with an industry based organisation to further his research and production of seismographic instruments and machines. David has been working with the industrial art research group, Triclops International for the past three years. David has also participated in performance practice and was a founding member of The Post Arrivalists.

Triclops International strives to present innovative work by re-appropriating the techniques of industry and engineering. Their work is presently research orientated, focussed on engineering expertise incorporating automation and feedback control. They develop machines which incorporate mechanisms and devices (electronic, electric, pneumatic, hydraulic) capable of receiving, converting, transmitting and utilising energy, material or information without direct human participation. David recently participated in the international workshop series, Closing the Loop, a research initiative organised by Austrian media laboratory, Time's Up. Triclops conducted a series of experiments in the flight control theories of 1950's aeronautical engineer, Charles Zimmerman, and constructed a one-person hovercraft to illustrate these experiments.

David intends to develop an installation which can be used as a tool to link into the global network of seismographic research. The scientific potential of the installation will be his key focus, and how the processes researched and experimented with can then be applied to the wider field of seismography.

In the last newsletter, ANAT published a report written by David Rogers and Triclops International, which further elucidates the approaches David will investigate.

Linda Cooper, a former chair of ANAT and a freelance science worker, is working with Amanda on the development of this initiative. She will facilitate the relationships between host organisations and the artists, and will assist with identifying hosts for David's residency, and for other residencies, as they are announced.