Discussion Archive

The Synapse elist was a moderated discussion bringing together international experts and practitioners around topics including bioart, robotics, AI and cognition, impairment & augmentation, mapping, urban & outer spaces, climate change and ethical issues arising from art/science practices.

This list was developed by the Australian Network for Art and Technology (ANAT) and moderated by Vicki Sowry, who can be contacted directly: ars [at] anat.org.au

Each month between March-December 2008 the list focused on a specific area of collaboration between the arts and sciences. The discussions formed the basis of a print publication released to celebrate ANAT's 21st anniversary in 2009.

 

PLEASE NOTE: Due to the inability to organise the archive by specific dates (rather than by month name) some discussion posts will be found in the following month's archive due to the discussions not wrapping until the 2nd or 3rd of the month following the month they began.

  

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November 2008: Nanoart - Making the Invisible Visible

Moderated by: Vicki Sowry

Guests: Ælab, Kristin Alford, Stefano Raimondi, Tami Spector and Paul Thomas

This month’s discussion explores artists’ engagement with nanotechnologies. As well as an exploration of various projects, the list will investigate some of the pressing issues arising from the proliferation of nanoscale technologies - for example, implications of the inability to control affect at the nano level and the peculiar challenges facing artists working with these technologies - not least the 'invisibility' of their practice both literally and figuratively.

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October 2008: Lost (and Found) in Space

Moderated by: Vicki Sowry

Guests: Nicky Forster, Roger Malina, Zbigniew Oksiuta, Irene Schlacht and Arthur Woods

This month’s discussion explores artists’ engagement with the contemporary space sciences. Of particular interest is the way that space demands a shift in consciousness from an earth-centred frame of reference, as well as the emerging view of space as the single most important resource for supporting humanity now and into the future.

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September 2008: Sustaining Ecologies

Moderated by: Vicki Sowry

Guests: Amy Balkin, Alan Boldon, Georg Dietzler, Andrea Polli and Janine Randerson

This month's discussion focuses on the role of artists in bringing to popular consciousness arguably the biggest issue facing this and future
generations: how do we halt the negative impact of humans on their complex and (increasingly) fragile ecosystems? Throughout the month
we'll also be pointing to work we think is particularly compelling in its approach to contemporary and imagined interactions between humans
and their environments..

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August 2008

Discussion break

 

 

July 2008: Mapping

Moderated by: Vicki Sowry

Guests: Allard van Hoorn, Simeon Nelson, Esther Polak, Urbanistan (Asta Olga & Annamaria Bogadottir) and Jeremy Wood

In the closing years of last century, the assumed objectivity of cartographic representation came under serious challenge, driven by increasingly accessible mapping tools and grounded upon revisionist approaches to history, geography and culture. Artists - as is often the case - have become the ‘research and development’ arm of these new approaches to mapping, charged with capturing and representing the exponentially increasing banks of spatial, cultural and social data held about and throughout our world.

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June 2008: Cognition and Artificial Intelligence

Moderated by: Vicki Sowry

Guests: Daniel Bisig, Gordana Dodig-Crnovic, Philippe Pasquier, Reva Stone & Tatsuo Unemi

As well as surveying contemporary projects, this month's discussion concerns itself with some of the underpinning issues raised by the research and practice of these fields; one such issue would have to be the apparent irony in bringing these two meta-disciplines together - with one, artificial intelligence (AI), on a head-long endeavour to replicate human intelligence, and the other, cognitive science, still strides
away from understanding how we think and when and why.

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May 2008: Impairment & Augmentation

Moderated by: Vicki Sowry

Guests: Lizbeth Goodman, Ju Gosling, Brad Nunn & Stelarc

The use of augmenting technologies for different types of bodies results in very different things. Issues related to functional impairment and the use of prostheses to extend ability are not the same as those raised by the use of prostheses to achieve a type of 'super-functionality' on the one hand, or to question what bodies are and could be on the other. Throughout May, the discussion will look at different types of augmentation practices and tease out the impacts of each on how we think about, inhabit and use our bodies.

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April 2008: Robotics

Moderated by: Vicki Sowry

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

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

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March 2008: Bioart

Moderated by: Vicki Sowry

Guests: Oron Catts, Monika Bakke, Jens Hauser, Kathy High & George Gessert

For the first part of March, the discussion focused on the materiality of bioart and, in particular, the effect of using living materials in the production of art works. As pioneering bioartist, Oron Catts, has noted, "there is a growing discrepancy between our cultural perceptions of life and what we know about life scientifically and what we can do with life technologically". Where does such a discrepancy lead? And what are the ontological, political and ethical ramifications of this divergence between what we perceive, what we know and what we are able to do with living matter? Mid-month, the discussion expanded to include the challenges and issues relating to the exhibition and distribution of bioart works.

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