From 14th September to 13th October
Maria Francisca de Abreu-Afonso
Marta de Menezes e Luís Graça
Pedro Miguel Cruz
Ken Rinaldo | Borderless Bacteria, colonialist cash
Scientists have identified up to 3000 types of bacteria on dollar bills from just one Manhattan bank. Most of the bacteria found were skin, mouth and vagina microbes according to a study conducted by New York University Center for Genomics & Systems Biology. Bacterial cultures, fungi, and viruses finding transport on monetary exchange systems do not respect or understand borders. There are no visas or passports for microbes that hitch rides from hands, noses, and genitalia. Money travels freely nationally and internationally. Cash is a vector of biological cultures traded globally. It possesses formal symbolic memories of a colonialist past as well as emerging colonialist presence, driven by both microbes and now psychometrics with data analytics. As money is a potent signifier of identity, nationalism and a symbolic medium of exchange, it also possesses constitutional beliefs in iconic invocations of wealth and national trust. Money implies all the attendant deities and symbols of nationalist power oversight. Microbes are indeed the original colonizers on so many levels that we can even trace their influences back to the origins of eukaryotic cells: us. The ideas of symbiogenesis and endosymbiotic theory as an evolutionary explanation of the theory of the origins of eukaryotic cells were first researched and proposed by Russian Konstantin Mereschkowski. Later advanced and scientifically substantiated by Lynn Margulis, lines of evidence have mounted in support of symbiogenesis, Prokaryotic organisms formed over time into organelles (i.e., mitochondria) of the eukaryotic cell. Bacterial cultures, fungi, and viruses have no borders, there are no visas, passports or walls to stop them.
Bio: Ken Rinaldo is internationally recognized for interactive art installations that develop hybrid ecologies with human, plant, and animal. These serve as model and experiment for thinking about complex social, biological and machine symbionts that are arising. Exploring critical interface designs allows interrogation of technology as an emergent form with evolutionary survival instincts and self-aware software agents.Biological and algorithmic species offer unique intermixing of intelligence in unexpected ways. Hybrids create complex intertwined ecologies by design and accident. Digital visualization / fabrication, algorithmic / behavior based approaches, bacterial cultures all offer spaces where a semi-living species are arising.
Rinaldo is focused on theories of life, symbiogenesis, trans-species communication and research methods to understand and explore animal, insect and bacterial cultures as we model emergent intelligence as they interact, self-organize and co-inhabit the earth. Rinaldo’s works have been commissioned by museums, festivals and galleries internationally such as: ALIFE; Mexico, Centro National Arts Mexico, Nuit Blanche, Canada, Museum of Contemporary Art; Chicago, Kiasma Museum; Finland, World Ocean Museum; Russia, Ars Electronica; Austria, National Center for Contemporary Art; Russia, Lille International Arts Festival; France, la Maison d’Ailleurs; Switzerland, Vancouver Olympics; Canada, Platform 21; Holland, Transmediale; Berlin, AV Festival; England, Caldas Museum of Art; Colombia, Arco Arts Festival; Spain, Te Papa Museum; New Zealand, Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo; Spain, Pan Palazzo Delle Arti; Italy, V2 DEAF; Holland, Siggraph; Los Angeles, Exploratorium; San Francisco, Itau Cultural Museum; Brazil, Biennial for Electronic Art; Australia and the Rinaldo was the recipient of an Award of Distinction in 2004 at Ars Electronica Austria for Augmented Fish Reality and first prize for Vida 3.0 Madrid for his work Autopoiesis, which also won an honorable mention in Ars Electronica in 2001.
Amy Youngs | Stomatal
HD video with audio. Duration 1 ́19 ́ ́
Seeing where the oxygen comes from is an intimate experience. Holding still – but still trying to breathe – I catch light traveling between lenses after it has bent through the stomatal aperture of an imprinted Jacaranda tree lead. The microscopic mouths of the plant are revealed. Jacaranda ́s lips catch my breath. Special thanks to Cultivamos Cultura and the Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Lisbon.
Bio: Amy M. Youngs creates biological art, interactive sculptures and digital media works that explore interdependencies between technology, plants and animals. Her practice-based research involves entanglements with the non-human, constructing ecosystems, and seeing through the eyes of machines. She has created installations that amplify the sounds and movements of living worms, indoor ecosystems that grow edible plants, a multi-channel interactive video sculpture for a science museum, and community-based, participatory video, social media and public web cam projects.
Youngs has exhibited her works nationally and internationally at venues such as the Te Papa Museum in New Zealand, the Trondheim Electronic Arts Centre in Norway, the Biennale of Electronic Arts in Australia, Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo in Spain and the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA. She has earned an Individual Artist Grant from the Ohio Arts Council, contributed writing to interdisciplinary publications such as Leonardo and the recent book, Robots and Art, and her work has been profiled in books such as, Art in Action, Nature, Creativity & our Collective Future. She has lectured widely, at venues such as the Australian Centre For the Moving Image in Melbourne, Australia and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, MN. Born in Chico, California, she moved to San Francisco, where she received a BA in Art from San Francisco State University. On fellowship, she attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and earned an MFA in 1999. In 2001 she joined the faculty at the Ohio State University where she is currently working as an Associate Professor of Art, leading interdisciplinary grant projects and teaching courses in moving image, eco art, and art/science.
Paul Vanouse | Labour
What does exploitation smell like? “Labor” is an art installation that fills a gallery with visual manifestation of the scent of people exerting themselves in stressful conditions. This project poetically reflects and interrogates industrial society’s shift from human and machine labor to increasingly pervasive forms of microbial manufacturing, and in this process contemplates the changing borders defining what is to be human. The smell of sweat is literally the smell of two species of bacteria that feed upon the excretions of the human body to produce the familiar acrid and sour scents. In this sense, the smell of labor is not actually a human scent, unless we are willing to redefine what constitutes a human.
This may come as a shock, since most people think that the way they smell is part of their own natural condition – put simply, your smell is your smell. But in fact it is far more complex: a cocktail of microorganisms that live on and in us are the culprits who determine that rather distinctive “human” feature. But it is arguably more than just whether we stink that is at stake: one recent study posits that “on average people have 182 species of bacteria living at any one time on their forearms, and about 8 per cent of these have never been formally described by scientists.” (The Independent, 2007). Such findings about the vast numbers of creatures that live upon and in our bodies complicate any reductive sense of human-ness, since these cells vastly outnumber human cells and differ between persons far more than human cells do. In this context, the idea what exactly makes up a person is again under the microscope, not just for scientists, but for culture at large. For centuries we have been debating who gets to be considered a person and when: it is a question that dominates political discourse of the last few centuries because of the connection to labor and liberation in the post-renaissance world.
My project is a continuation of a process that interrogates those issues and in particular looks at how they are tied to labor. Since industrialization, the factory model has shifted from human labor, to machine labor, and increasingly in the Twenty-first century to microbial manufacturing.
Today, non-human life produces of a wide range of products, including enzymes, foods, beverages, feedstocks, fuels and pharmaceuticals. In many cases, genetically modified new species have been invented for the specific product they produce. In some cases the microorganisms themselves are the end products, in other cases their respiration produces products, and sometimes they are harvested for components, such as genetic sequences, antibodies, or proteins. They literally live to work. These new industrial processes point to a deepening of the exploitation of life and living processes: the design, engineering, management and commoditization of life itself.
I associate “factories” with both Dickensian, nineteenth-century workhouses, and neo- colonial sweatshops in which humans toil to the limits of their physical and emotional strength to produce material goods. The intent of my project is to paradoxically produce the scent of such human labor as an end product, rather than as bi-product or superfluous waste. The premise is that, ironically, we mourn the loss of factory jobs due to outsourcing and modernization and the scent of this labor is both ominous and sentimental.
Bio: Paul Vanouse is an artist working in Emerging Media forms. Radical inter-disciplinarity and impassioned amateurism guide his practice. Since the early 1990s his artwork has addressed complex issues raised by varied new techno-sciences using these very techno-sciences as a medium. His artworks have included data collection devices that examine the ramifications of polling and categorization, genetic experiments that undermine scientific constructions of race and identity, and temporary organizations that playfully critique institutionalization and corporatization. These “Operational Fictions” are hybrid entities–simultaneously real things and fanciful representations–intended to resonate in the equally hyper-real context of the contemporary electronic landscape.
Andrew Carnie | Soul trace
Hybrid Bodies is a multidisciplinary research and artistic creation project, that brings together the domains of Arts, Ethics, Medicine and Social Sciences to investigate the complexities of heart transplantation. Beyond its anatomical function, the heart represents immense personal significance and speaks to the age-old question at the core of human selfhood: “Who am I?” Advances in medical transplantation technologies raise urgent questions about bodily integrity, personal identity, and the relationship between recipients and their donors.
Currently the research teams focus around the experience of donor families throughout the transplant process, examining the relationships (or, at times, lack thereof) between donor families and recipients of organ transplants. The project creates work which unpacks the notions of giving, obligation, reciprocation, benevolence, and especially the complex issues surrounding the enforced anonymity of organ transplant donors. The work Soul Trace is a prospective piece being developed in response to listening to and seeing video tapes of donor family members talking about their experiences. The work is to be seen as a piece in three parts shown simultaneously across different cities, counties, or countries. Principally each work is the same, but the imagery changes.
Bio: Andrew Carnie is an artist and academic at Southampton University. His artistic practice often involves a meaningful interaction with scientists in different fields, regarding themes and ideas, which are often based around the brain and neurology. The notion that one can access and interpret scientific data as an early stage in the development of work is important to him. The work is often time-based in nature, involving slide projection using dissolve systems or video projection onto complex screen configurations. In a darkened space layered images appear and disappear on suspended screens, the developing display absorbing the viewer into an expanded sense of space and time through the slowly unfolding narratives that evolve before and around them.
Pedro Cruz | Still-moving life
A single computational agent is seeded in one of a series of illustrated cacti by botanist Charles Lemaire (1841). This agent absorbs energy from the image’s pixels and advances towards the most similar color in its surrounding. As the agent progresses, it unveils the image that it feeds on. After a certain energy level, the agent generates offspring with the same behavior. The agent dies after a certain time and cannot reproduce in overcrowded areas. These conditions make possible for a single agent to generate a colony that maintains itself with population growths and declines. The emerging behavior of the colony as a whole creates an evolving rendering of the cactus’ image, one that is always moving, and that is always different.
Bio: Pedro Miguel Cruz has a degree in Engineering Physics at the Technical University and a PhD in Computer Science at the University of Coimbra. He is a specialized designer in data visualization. He went through Cambridge in the United States and the MIT SENSEable City Lab, and stayed for a period of time in Brazil. Master in “Viewing Information and Aesthetics” in Coimbra, where he is also an Assistant Professor and researcher of the Computational Design and Visualization Lab at the University Computer and Systems Centre.
Among his best-known projects are: “Visualizing Empires Decline” (an information visualization project that chronicles the decline of the four main maritime empires of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries – Portugal, Spain, France and Britain), the “Visualization of the Lisbon Traffic” and” Signature of Humanity “. The first one was selected by Los Angeles’ SIGGRAPH Computer Animation Festival in 2010, while the latter earned him an honorable mention from the MiniMax Mapping Contest of the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and a display at the MoMA exhibition, “Talk to Me”, in 2011. The third one was shown at Ericsson’s keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, in 2012. In 2013 he was appointed by the Corriere della Sera as one of the 10 most influential visualization designers in the world and in 2014 he won an award in the Ibero-American Design Biennial in the category “Social Movements”. His most recent projects focus on studying links between politicians and economy in the post-April 25th, “A Political and Business Ecosystem”.
Marta de Menezes e Luís Graça | Evolution on a plate
Evolution has been defined, ever since Darwin, as descent with modification. Organisms with very short life-spans, such as bacteria, can provide an opportunity to view evolution taking place in front of our eyes. This installation reveals over time the colonies of Escherichia coli that show resistance to the antibiotics.
Bio: Marta de Menezes is a Portuguese artist (b. Lisbon, 1975) with a degree in Fine Arts by the University in Lisbon, a MSt in History of Art and Visual Culture by the University of Oxford, and a PhD candidate at the University of Leiden. She has been exploring the intersection between Art and Biology, working in research laboratories demonstrating that new biological technologies can be used as new art medium. In 1999 de Menezes created her first biological artwork (Nature?) by modifying the wing patterns of live butterflies. Since then, she has used diverse biological techniques including functional MRI of the brain to create portraits where the mind can be visualised (Functional Portraits, 2002); fluorescent DNA probes to create micro-sculptures in human cell nuclei (nucleArt, 2002); sculptures made of proteins (Proteic Portrait, 2002-2007), DNA (Innercloud, 2003; The Family, 2004) or incorporating live neurons (Tree of Knowledge, 2005) or bacteria (Decon, 2007). Her work has been presented internationally in exhibitions, articles and lectures. She is currently the artistic director of Ectopia, an experimental art laboratory in Lisbon, and Director of Cultivamos Cultura in the South of Portugal.
Bio: Luis Graca has an MD from the University of Lisbon, Portugal; and a PhD in transplant immunology from the University of Oxford, UK. He developed his post-doctoral research first in Oxford and later at the Institute for Child Health Research, in Perth, Australia. He is currently Associate Professor at the Lisbon Medical School, directing a research group in cellular immunology at Instituto de Medicina Molecular. His most significant scientific contributions have been related with the development of strategies to teach the immune system not to reject transplanted organs, also known as immune tolerance. Currently he is extending his findings to the fields of allergy and autoimmunity (where the immune system attacks its own body). Luis Graca is author of more than 60 peer-reviewed publications, cited over 2500 times, three patents, and co-founder of Acellera Therapeutics. Besides his scientific research he has been interested in the intersection between art and science. In this field Luis Graca has collaborated with several artists, including a long-term relationship with Marta de Menezes (www.martademenezes.com) and he is now scientific advisor for Ectopia and Cultivamos Cultura (www.cultivamoscultura.org) – two Portuguese institutions involved in fostering art-science collaborations. He has three publications in this field, describing the scientist’s view of art-science interactions.
Maria Francisca Abreu | Cabeças Falantes
I am never alone. I am never alone, even when I am unaccompanied. I am never silent. I am never silent, even when I am quiet.
I do not know what loneliness is.
My face speaks for myself, but my face is not mine. Or rather, my face is not only mine. And, because of that, I do not know what loneliness is.
With me, within me, a thousand beings live. Me: too big to be recognisable.
They: too small to be recognisable. We live together in a game of visibility and invisibility. Like ghosts.
They are ghosts that live in my house — always present and, at the same time, always absent. In my house. In my face.
Cabeças Falantes (Talking Heads) appears precisely from the game between, and about, ghosts. This is a portrait series, in sculptures of agar-agar and microorganisms collected from the faces of each individual portrayed. The face is a communication tool: it sees, it nods, it smiles, it talks — it talks. What could be a face, when it’s static in a sculpture? It: doesn’t look, doesn’t nod, doesn’t smile, doesn’t talk — doesn’t talk. It’s a silent face, lifeless. In Cabeças Falantes (Talking Heads) we also find a portrait of a lifeless person, but not entirely. The person is taken out, her skin’s flora is kept. And that flora, those thousand beings, gain space to show themselves. As such, we witness an inversion of the phantasmagoria. The person, usually the subject, turns into the ghost. The thousand beings, usually the ghosts, turn into the subject. It’s a given fact: a sculpture doesn’t see, doesn’t nod, doesn’t smile, doesn’t talk. In a sculpture the person doesn’t exist anymore. However, Cabeças Falantes (Talking Heads) is the person. Or, at least, part of her. Or, at least, the beings that live with her.
Bio: Maria Francisca de Abreu-Afonso was born in August in 1994 in Lisbon. She lived in Lisbon and while studying she dedicated herself to music, dance, theatre and illustration. She graduated from the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon, with a degree in Biology (2012-2015). From 2014-2015, she lived in Brussels and, as part of the study program, she went to Guyana between November and December of 2014. This expedition made her question the way she wanted to do with Biology. After graduation, she did a gap year. She worked with a scientific team of Marine Ecology and Climate Change (MARE Institute), and was involved in several projects, such as Reich der Möglichkeiten: intermitências da percepção (with Clemens Schöll). She’s currently doing her masters in Multimedia Art, with a specialization in Photography, in the Faculty of Fine-Arts of Lisbon. Her pieces come from scientific questions, ecological issues and scientific-philosophical dilemmas that are developed plastically.
Manuel Furtado | Olhar e Ver
In Olhar e Ver, a photo-montage mostly based on scanning electronic microscopy, Furtado intends to make us think about our perception of the world through technology. This implies the human understanding of reality is deeply influenced by a somewhat Cyborg strategy. In this kind of microscopy textures and the sculptural (3D) characteristics of the objects being observed are intensified to such an extent they inevitably make us think about sculpture and also the chiaroscuro (light and dark) technique which has been essential for three dimensional representation since the Renaissance period. In this respect the absence of frame around this image is not a random choice and neither is the fact that it lies on the ground like any sculpture would. The above description concerns the word Ver (seeing- connected to understanding and introspection) one can find in the title. However there is another word in this work’s title: Olhar (look). This is more concerned with an expressive process and the emotional or subjective experience which is crucial for complementing human perception. This is represented by the gaze of Furtado’s great-grand-mother which is present in this work.
Bio: Manuel Furtado (Lisbon, 1980) lives and works in Lisbon. Founded project MUTE – Platform for Contemporary Art (muteart.org) in 2014, which he manages, directs and curates until the present time. MA Fine Art – Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design (2007). BA (Hons) Fine Arts – Sculpture at Coventry University (2005). Studied Medicine at Lisbon Faculty of Medicine (1998-2000) and Biological Engineering at the IST Engineering School (2000-2003). Since 2003 Furtado researches, teaches and exhibits Sculpture, Installation, Photography and Painting. He was also represented as an artist by Edge-Arts Gallery and by Sopro Gallery, in Lisbon, between 2008 and 2014. Participated in several group shows, produced many individual exhibition and undertook the production of public work and commissions for institutions and private collectors. He also taught theoretical and practical Art courses in Arte Ilimitada School from 2008 until 2016. Recently, collaborating with the FACTT (Festival of Art and Science) team, created the themes and curated that same festival for three different cities. He is currently teaching theory based courses in Mute and Massachusetts University Summer School in Cultivamos Cultura (Portugal).
Joana Ricou | The Bellybutton Portrait Series
The Bellybutton Portrait Series is an installation and participatory performance that invites viewers to consider their other selves, the parts of their body which are not human, and reflect upon the connection they form between ourselves, the world around us and our parents.
Each portrait is a living painting, created with the other selves of the portrait’s subject. The living painting is a culture of the bacteria and other living things collected from the subject’s bellybutton. It is thought that the microbiome of each person is as unique as our fingerprint, and that it comes from our environment and from our mothers. The bellybutton, biologically and symbolically, signifies the uniqueness of the individual and a connection to birth and our mothers. Each bellybutton portrait was striking and unique – but who is it of? Perhaps, the individual, their mother and their world?
Bio: Joana Ricou works in the intersection of art and science as an artist and creative consultant. She has worked with galleries, schools and museums internationally, including the Andy Warhol Museum, Harvard University, the Carnegie Science Center, Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and Ponce Museo de Arte (Puerto Rico). In 2012, Joana received a fellowship from the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon University and a Spark award from the Sprout Fund. In 2015, Joana received a commission from the Eden Project and the Welcome Trust and, in 2016, from the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Joana is an associated member of the Center for Philosophy of Sciences of the University of Lisbon.
FACTT – Lisbon
Video by Arte Institute, September 2017
FACTT – NY
Video by Arte Institute, September 2017