Posts for March 2008

**Us & them & them: Robots, Artists and Scientists**

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The Australian Network for Art & Technology (ANAT) is pleased to announce the next discussion on the Synapse elist which, throughout 2008, is investigating the leading-edge of art and science research collaboration.

The April discussion will concern robotics and artists' engagement with the field. As well as surveying contemporary projects, the conversation will focus on the ramifications of artists working alongside scientists on robotics, now and into the future.

Discussion Guests include: Kirsty Boyle, Paul Brown, Shuhei Miyashita, Leonel Moura, Douglas Repetto, Mari Velonaki

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Originally posted on Autonomous Mutations by marynowsky


Life Transformations

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There's a very nepotistic event happening tonight at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies (the new venue with a whopper of a name presenting great science-related art), and it looks good! Chris, Birgitta, and Geoff Bjornsson happen to be siblings with some shared interests--go figure, maybe they had similar childhoods--but they are each making distinct "artworks that represent living biological systems." The common thread in the work they'll present at tonight's panel, "Essence: Transfigure," is an interest in "transformation from one state to another," whether that shift happens in a single cell, an entire organism, or a larger ecosystem. The Bjornssons use a variety of media to address and imagine these transfigurations. Birgitta Bjornsson's project, The Space of Disgust employs photography, film, sculpture, installation, and drawing to explore the terrain between the idealized no-place of utopian environments and the reality of the disorder and decay wrought by the very nature of our own biological existence, if not our culture's compulsion to pollute. Real-life scientist Chris Bjornsson's The Illuminated Veil, uses "immunohistochemistry and spectral confocal microscopy to highlight specific cells within the brain." The end result is a series of large-scale microscopic images that seek to map and pinpoint the identifying characteristics and relationships between every cell of our brain. If Chris's creative impetus seems to entail an almost impossible feat, his brother Geoff Bjornsson's work is more fantastical. Inspired by a constellation of interests in minimal Japanese animation, science fiction, and the tradition of hand-crafting, his sculpture, Sleeping golem II, is a vessel made with the potential to "enshrine a spirit." The container sleeps until aroused by a spirit, though that spirit will suffer karmic damage by choosing the vessel as its home. Obvious mechanical challenges ensue... Each ...

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The Last Hurrah!

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Convening for its fifteenth and final year, the New York Underground Film Festival (NYUFF) kicks off on April 2nd and will run through April 8th. Throughout its history, the NYUFF has maintained an important role in New York City as a forum for the exhibition of new and independent documentary, narrative feature and short film/ video work. An annual community gathering and a vital launching pad, the festival has long-supported filmmakers and artists, who operate between the film industry proper and the contemporary art world. Significantly, its programmatic focus has evolved over the years, in tandem with the trajectory of avant-garde moving image work, from viably underground cinema to more experimental fare. This year's program kicks off with a documentary entitled Heavy Metal Baghdad, focused on "Iraq's only heavy metal band," Tube-time, the festival's annual Youtube competition, a screening by the internet-surfing club Nasty Nets and a presentation by the microcinema Robert Beck Memorial Cinema. Through the programming strand "NYUFF is Enough," the staff will look back at various stages in the NYUFF's history, from its beginnings as "the most dangerous festival in America" to its tenure as a platform for experimental film and media art, and will include the festival's signature combination of the outrageous, bizarre, poetic, and subversive. Directors and artists such as Jeff Krulik, Jon Moritsugu, Martha Colburn, and Seth Price are included in this segment of the festival. Attendees should also be sure to check out the experimental short film programs slated for this year, which are especially strong. Where's the Love? explores human relationships as they are filtered through new technologies through a collection of diverse works. Cao Fei's documentary on Second Life, i.Mirror (2007), poignantly reveals the romantic yearnings expressed through this virtual world. Every (Text ...

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Triple Play

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Danish site Netfilmmakers.dk provides what it terms "a non-commercial projectionspace for netfilm, net art video and net art," structured around a series of online curated mini-exhibits of just three works each. The latest and 13th edition is "To Kill at Dusk With Foam," featuring videos by Jana Eske, Andreas Kurtsson and Abhishek Hazra. In Eske's Apfelschnappen, a camera poised at the bottom of a tank of water records various individuals bobbing for a green apple, Kurtsson's Debris narrates the witnessing of a crime within a dream over images of depopulated exurban architecture, and Hazra's nicely inscrutable Nasal Sceptre portrays a pixelated rotating teapot covered with inscriptions of what may be bizarre online lingo ("RLAIAADKTEATCOR: rotate left arm in an anticlockwise direction keeping the elbow as the centre of rotation" -- one left out of Marisa Olson's recent Netacronyms?) The accompanying essay's attempt to tie these three works together under the themes from the Mahabharata and the anthropological concept of liminality constitute theoretical lily-gilding, but the site's micro-curated format nevertheless bears the satisfying succinctness of a video haiku. - Ed Halter

Image: Andreas Kurtsson, Debris, 2008

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