Programme

(T019)
Science and Technology through Critical Art Practice
Location 134
Date and Start Time 03 September, 2016 at 11:00
Sessions 3

Convenors

  • Lisa Cartwright (Univ of California at San Diego) email
  • Merete Lie (Norwegian Uni of Science and Technology) email

Mail All Convenors

Short Abstract

Science and Technology through Critical Art Practice is devoted to considering new ways of making and doing in science and technology and in STS informed by sci-artists and engagement with feminist and critical theory.

Long Abstract

Historically, artists have contributed to innovation and critique in science and technology by other means than those we are accustomed to in ST and STS fields. There is a growing canon of literature in STS history, sociology and anthropology devoted to the esthetic and cultural dimensions of visual artifacts of scientific and technological practice, and to laboratory technologies that yield visual forms of knowledge and experience. Feminist and critical theory approaches in STS have been particularly generative of new ideas and methods in this body of work. Historical visual analysis is an area of sustained activity. Innovation of research strategies to embrace visual methods informed by art practitioners is a somewhat more recent area of productivity in STS, with examples including the recent photography-, time-based media- and writing-based projects of Jackie Orr and Joanna Zylinksa, for example. This track is proposed by co-convenors who are senior scholars in this area aiming to bring together ST and STS practitioners interested in feminist and critical theory of ST and committed to advancing projects informed by art with artists working in research-based practice using laboratory/field techniques/materials. "Science and Technology Through Critical Art Practice" encourages reciprocity. We gesture to SymbioticA in Western Australia, the Bio Art Lab headed by Suzanne Anker in New York, and the UCLA Sci-Art Center and Lab headed by Victoria Vesna as examples of the collaborations that this dialog envisions.

SESSIONS: 4/4/4

This track is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Visualising the Laboratory: Choreography, Photography and (Nano)technology

Author: Kerstin Hamilton (University of Gothenburg )  email

Short Abstract

How can the practice based artistic researcher approach complex questions in territories of science and technology? Discussing my own film Zero Point Energy, I will address these issues drawing on Karen Barad, also addressing ethics of photographic representation through a quantum physics lens.

Long Abstract

At nano level, biological processes can be interpreted as technology and quantum physics provides the logical framework for the existence of the particles. The only way we can access the nano particles is through specialised technological equipment and depictions of 'nano worlds' are always representations of something which we can not see with our eyes. The level of abstraction involved in any representation is made explicit, and representations, one might argue, are not to be understood as evidences that establish truths but as unstable objects that may facilitate new modes of engagement.

My recent film, Zero Point Energy (currently exhibited at Moderna Museet, Sweden), is set in a nanofabrication laboratory and takes as its starting point the 'choreography of science'. In the film, a choreography including ballet dancing and close-to-authentic movements by the researchers themselves is performed, exploring activities of humans and apparatuses.

This paper will discuss how camera based representations can be used to expose and examine territories of science and technology. It will also address how artistic research methods might facilitate new ways of engagement with these milieus. I will position my own work in relation to relevant art practitioners and drawing on Karen Barad, terms such as 'entanglement' and 'agent realism' will frame a discussion on representation and knowledge production. How can the artist, by way of practice based artistic research and interdisciplinary collaborations, approach complex questions of ethics and existence, for instance, in other ways than the natural scientist or social scientist could?

The Art of Extended Bodies: Cells, Microbes, and Future Visions of (Post)Human Bodies

Author: Nora S. Vaage (University of Bergen)  email

Short Abstract

The proposed paper will discuss the concept of the "extended body" in relation to artworks featuring human cells and microbes propagated external to the body, particularly considering how such artworks play upon ideas of what it means to be human, and what it might mean in the future.

Long Abstract

How far can we extend our biological bodies in meaningful ways? What potential is contained in the use of human bodily components outside of the human body? And what difference does it make, conceptually, whether the part chosen for extension is human or belongs to our microbiome? In taking human cells or microbes from known human individuals and using them for new purposes, such as crossing them with other species or for food consumption, some artists today are exploring these issues in embodied form. The paper discusses two such artworks: Eduardo Kac's Natural History of the Enigma (2003/08), featuring a hybrid petunia containing the artist's DNA, and Maya Smrekar's Maya YogHurt (2012), which used genetically modified yeast containing the artist's enzyme to produce lactic acid, from which yoghurt was created. Both in process, concept and aesthetics, these artworks are very different, and as such may serve to explore the various ways in which the concept of the extended body may be perceived.

Medicine in Neoslave Geographies

Author: Cristina Visperas (University of California, San Diego)  email

Short Abstract

This project presents objects reconstructed from photographs of decaying prison walls within which dermatological experiments were performed during the postwar period. It comments on the limits of understanding the intersections between the prison space and the laboratory site.

Long Abstract

Titled "Wall Tiles," this visual project is a commentary on the limits of reaching, representing, and preserving repressed histories, taking as its object the site of Albert Kligman's dermatological experiments conducted during the post-war period at Holmesburg Prison in Philadelphia. The project traces the skin's movement from the captive body to the structure that caged it, a structure whose present representations or memory work visualize and materialize a troubling history of medical science from which associated cultural anxieties are nonetheless contained or neutralized. Decommissioned in 1995, Holmesburg's now decaying form has been the subject of Hollywood motion pictures, televised ghost hauntings, artistic preservation projects, and amateur and professional portfolios made available on independent websites. In this project, the researcher's close-up photographs of Holmesburg's crumbling and peeling walls are reconstructed using a 3D printer. Focusing on surfaces that are highly textured and incredibly fragile, the resulting tiles evince what Laura Marks (2000) terms a "haptic visuality" or touch epistemology, which emphasize the always embodied, multisensorial nature of making and viewing images, and the always tactile, sensual quality of memory. These tiles both confound and reach for a greater understanding of the logical and spatial continuities between sites of medical science and sites of what others have termed "neoslavery," while still troubled by their own location within the affective and specular economy for which ruinscapes and ghost stories of Holmesburg are created, circulated, and emptied of structural, political critique.

Portraiture in Cell Imaging

Author: Merete Lie (Norwegian Uni of Science and Technology)  email

Short Abstract

The paper will discuss ways in which medical imaging contribute to transforming cells into individual matter attributed personality and potentiality. The approach is to study effects of cultural conventions of western art in science imaging and the paper will analyze cell images in the style of portraiture.

Long Abstract

Contemporary medical imaging on a cellular scale is both a result of and a precondition for developments within the life sciences. This is most evident within the field of assisted reproductive technologies, ARTs, where researchers as well as practitioners manipulate cellular material while watching the processes in the microscope. During my research on ARTs, I was fascinated by the aesthetics of science imaging associated to styles within art as well as digital popular culture. Scientists employ digital imaging programs used also by photographers, digital artists and the general public, resulting in a thin line between science imaging and art, popular science, and science fiction. In this paper I will discuss effects of cultural conventions of western art in science imaging and the paper will analyze cell images in the style of portraiture. "The photograph displaces rather than represents the individual. It codifies the person in relation to other frames of reference and other hierarchies of significance." (Clarke 1992). In which ways are cells codified in cell imaging - what are the frames of reference and the hierarchies of significance - and what significance and cultural meanings may the images confer on ideas of what cells are and do within the human body?

Instruments and Sensors in Critical Land Use Interpretation: The Camera, The MET Tower

Author: Lisa Cartwright (Univ of California at San Diego)  email

Short Abstract

Drawing from the project Kansas Wind and Power by Lisa Cartwright and Steven Rubin, this talk considers the range of tools and instruments, from the camera to the meteorological evaluation tower, that may be engaged for hybrid research-based art and ethnography doing land use interpretation.

Long Abstract

Critical environmental artists engaged in land use interpretation practices have actively engaged familiar tools such as cameras for observation and documentation. However engagement with more complex science-specific instruments such as the meteorological evaluation tower pose more of a challenge. This paper relates a project designed to bridge those forms of practice, and considers what art practice can yield in the way of critical research, and what role fictocritical interpretation can play in transformation of the field.

Polar Environmental Discourses: Film, Politics, and Oil in the Anthropocene

Author: Lisa Bloom (UCLA)  email

Short Abstract

How do filmmakers resist familiar forms of representation and come up with new ways of representing climate change in the Arctic that takes into account increased development by the oil industry, local knowledge, and the survival of communities?

Long Abstract

How do filmmakers resist familiar forms of representation and come up with new ways of representing climate change in the Arctic that takes into account the increased development by the oil industry, local knowledge and how it is transforming the lives and survival of communities?

Taken from a book project titled Contemporary Art and Climate Change of the Polar Regions, the presentation brings together issues in critical climate change scholarship to examine aspects of feminist and environmentalist polar art in the work of Brenda Longfellow. Focusing on oil drilling in the Alaskan Arctic, the paper invites us to think how conventional narratives about oil production and consumption, science, gender, and race, as well as attitudes towards nature, technology, and the wilderness are being reimagined through interactive documentaries in the early 21st century. This work builds on research from my early feminist science studies book, Gender on Ice (1993), and more recent writings. Springboarding from these earlier works, the more recent work rethinks earlier narratives from the 19th and early 20th century as the polar regions have shifted from the last space of heroic exploration to the first place of global decline. In the earlier era, the polar regions had been overrun by heroic bodies and narratives. Now, it has been overrun by the petroleum industry who regards the record ice loss and melting glaciers of the Arctic as an opportunity to exploit the enormous deposits of oil and gas understood to lie below the ice.

"smART cities and waste": arts-led interdisciplinary approaches to urban waste innovation and public engagement

Author: alexandra plows (Bangor University UK)  email

Short Abstract

This interdisciplinary network of European artists, academics, scientists and practitioners is exploring how arts based approaches can inform waste management innovation including better citizen participation; and how place (local context, culture, governance) makes a difference .

Long Abstract

"smART cities and waste" is an emergent, interdisciplinary, network of European artists, academics, scientists and practitioners. The aim of the network is to develop a forum for knowledge exchange, debate and capacity building across art & humanities and science disciplines and subject areas with a common focus on waste treatment, management and innovation. This will seek to develop responses to the question: how can arts based approaches inform waste management innovation techniques and processes; and secondly, how does place (local context, identity, culture, governance) make a difference to waste generation, waste innovation delivery and uptake? This paper introduces the network's objectives, core methods of engagement/delivery (workshops and "pop ups"), and reflects on progress and emerging issues. Moving beyond established social science led approaches to citizen engagement, we are exploring an arts-led, place- based approach to urban waste innovation. We are strongly informed by the need for "citizen science" (Irwin and Michael 2003) and for facilitating "cross-talk" (Bucchi 2004) between scientists, innovators, policy makers and the public, enabling citizens to be part of techno -scientific innovation and service delivery. We seek to explore how arts-led approaches can enable "local knowledge" (Wynne 1996) to feed back into the innovation process.

Social. Critical. Practical. Modeling a Post-Digital Design Lab

Author: Matthew Wizinsky (University of Cincinnati)  email

Short Abstract

Case studies, working models plus digital and post-digital techniques from a variety of student- and community-engaged collaborations are used to model a vision for the contemporary design lab.

Long Abstract

Design practices are expanding along many trajectories, shattering traditional distinctions made by domain, media, discipline and even intention. Meanwhile, design education faces an identity crisis as educators cannot possibly predict the courses their students' careers and lives might take. Digital tools of fabrication, production and distribution are undermining hierarchical models of learning and working. This produces new—more organic, yet also more unstable—interdisciplinary creative collaboratives. At the nexus of these uncertainties, one of the most traditional paradigms of design as an intellectual, cultural or educational activity stands strong: learning by making.

Through case studies, working models and techniques, I will report on experiences at the intersection of: teaching interdisciplinary digital design studios at the University level; operating a University-embedded media lab; and various hybrid models of collaborative practices, including students of graphic, industrial, and fashion design, architecture, public health, and computer science, as well as grade school students and citizen-participants from community organizations. The power of collaboration is leveraged by diverse and fluid workflows employing digital and post-digital techniques for inquiry, exploration, experimentation, visualization, prototyping and other modes of productive learning. These hybrid practices build upon the strengths of both practical and academic worlds. Self-initiated, research-driven projects demand interdisciplinary and collaborative approaches, producing projects that are socially-engaged, critical, and sometimes even practical. Undertaken in the context of design education, the rewards are not just the projects themselves but the spirit of hybrid autonomy invested in those students who share in this experience.

Hand on Heart: Performing Tender Surgery

Author: Christina Lammer (Academy of Fine Arts Vienna)  email

Short Abstract

In Hand on Heart I focus on a 16 mm short movie of an operation on the open heart. I produced the film in the frame of the arts-based research project Performing Surgery that compares gestures of surgeons in various clinical fields.

Long Abstract

Entering the heart: I will introduce an approach that goes beyond the boundaries of the human body. Inspired by the work of feminist theorists, I attend open-heart surgery as a filmmaker, exploring hand gestures and modes of expression. I am particularly interested in the silent orchestration of hands. This intimate interplay of surgeons and scrub nurses is difficult to put into words. Nevertheless the sensory and empathetic capacities of surgeons - intra-operatively - are central issues in the frame of my research. Methodologically I use digital and analogue cameras to study surgical operations. Whereas the digital footage is conceptually closer to documentary, the analogue short movies already include an artistic transformation. Grainy black and white close-up images of operating hands and bodies in sterile gloves and garments are in strong contradiction to clean and colorful high-resolution video recordings of surgeries. A specific tactility unfolds. A haptic quality touches spectators beyond the skin. With Hand on Heart I attempt to put my finger on a variety of meanings of how the heart - as emotional organ and as a pump - is perceived. Experiences and stories of heart patients are interwoven with the ones of surgeons. Approaching tales of love and grief in a machine-centered clinical environment where operators perform tender surgery. Keeping the heart away. Opening the spreader only far enough so that the hand can tenderly reach inside the body's cavity.

Analytical montage and the 'absent presence' of race

Author: Ildikó Plájás (University of Amsterdam)  email

Short Abstract

In my research I use analytical montage to evoke the (in)visibility of race in a European context. Evocative montage is used not only as a scholarly-artistic intervention but also as ‘haptic creativity’ to bring about the ‘absent presence’ of race.

Long Abstract

The term montage, initially borrowed from film theory, has become a trope in STS and material semiotics to talk about the relationality of objects, bodies, entities, etc. (e.g. M'charek 2014). In my research focusing on the production of 'phenotypic Other' in Europe by different technologies of seeing, I suggest that montage can be used not only as a trope but as an artistic-scholarly intervention to bring about the 'absent presence' of race. Evocative film-montage thus becomes a method of 'haptic creativity' (Myers-Dumit 2011) challenging classical ways of doing ethnographic research. My research deals with the surveillance and monitoring of Roma people and the technologies of vision these practices entail. Sensory cinema as a method attends to the creation of knowledge of security intelligence and police, as well as the anthropologist/filmmaker. Collaboration is not envisioned between scientist and artist but rather between multiple methods which try to do and undo race according to different - and perhaps contradictory - normativities. The sensory-film project aimed at focusing on technologies of seeing thus adds an extra technology of vision (Haraway 1991) which paradoxically attends to the 'absent presence' of race.

Making a mess of dance through Feminist STS

Author: Margaret Westby (Metropolitan College of New York)  email

Short Abstract

Dance plays a significant part in the imaginings and manifestations in STS theories; how could a focus on the moving body in art practices provide alternative methods into STS interventions? To unpack this question, I make a mess of dance through feminist STS in an analysis of three artistic works.

Long Abstract

In STS theory, dance and the term "performativity" operate as liberating concepts to destabilize hierarchies and to create more openness in entangled systems between human and non-human phenomena. From my position as a female dance practitioner, digital artist, and scholar, I explore affective and material processes of mess-making, trust-building and negotiation of space within transdisciplinary research and performance creation practices through three previous artistic works, Two Mirrors (2015), hold (2015), and Orbital Resonance (2014). These works speak to the different ways creativity, improvisation, and the processes of developing collaborations come into play in the act of performing works involving the moving body and technical apparatuses.

Additionally, the techniques developed through the process and performance of these works offer up different strategies and modes of working that can contribute to STS scholars growing interest in embodiment (Myers 2015; Myers and Dumit 2011; Munster 2006), sensorial knowledge (Puig de la Bellacasa 2009; Haraway 2008), and material agency and performativity (Barad 2007; Pickering 1995). In adapting the term of performativity so widely used in STS, Historian Rebecca Herzig offers a provocative critic, "must all intra-actions be generative?" (Herzig 2004, 138). Dance practice and performances offer alternative methods to disrupt problematic notions of productivity, innovation, and notions of value. To provide a practical component to embody such methods, I also offer up a performative gesture of trust building through engagement with a brief movement exercise to be conducted by all.

Improvising Technology and Power: Long live use-value and Cyborgs

Author: Felicity Heathcote-Márcz (Alliance Manchester Business School)  email

Short Abstract

This paper will explore ontologies & lived experiences of power & use-value that exist in one unique UK technology-arts organisation. Improvised makings, cyborg tech, open source bricoleur & ‘making-other’ are discussed via ethnographic fieldnotes and the concept of ‘exterior concentric’ relation.

Long Abstract

This paper will explore the ontologies and lived experiences of power and use-value that exist in one unique UK technology-arts organisation. Improvised makings and cyborg technologies characterise the organisation of this site, and its circumvention of structures, particularly those of 'value' and capitalist economy, will be translated via ethnography. The non-privatised, non-hierarchical nature of how this organisation operates and is, along with a history of functions and 'reach' into diverse (and several traditionally power-less) audiences via technologies and values of 'altruism' and 'openness', (their lexicon) make it an especially unique and historically contingent place for ethnography. Differently constructed use-values and "education by other means" are explored by the repurposing of digital trash the organisation engages in, and a co-constructed learning of the organisation and its - often radically different - sets of audiences. Yet the ways in which 'other' spaces such as this one are still bound into traditional means of structuration will also be articulated via the introduction and delineation of the concept of an 'exterior concentric' relation. Ethnographic fieldnotes are called upon to demonstrate the escape mechanisms making-other (especially 'open source bricoleur') does allow via technology and via art. Making-other is brought together in this analysis via ethnographic-making in the figure of the Cyborg. Reconsellating (in Spivak's terms) computers, art, and those things in-between is shown to be a very cyborgian activity, and one that may have an interesting contribution for debates in STS.

This track is closed to new paper proposals.