On may 12th the “subtle technologies” international symposium concluded its fifth edition: three entire days of presentations of projects, research and reflections at the edge between science, technology and the arts. Every speaker artist, scientist, choreographer or academic in some way addressed issues which tended to overcome the default borders of her own discipline, opening in this way for a prolific and constructing forum, and allowing a non specialized public to intervene and participate in the critical discussion.
The speakers shared an element in common: On one hand, as one of the moderators suggested, the search for remapping and restructuring a reality often constrained by laws and given postulates; On the other hand the will to unveil its complexity by means of examining it from a different perspective. Several projects analysed new views reached by displacing tools from their common use and relocating them in a different context, while other projects showed a search for new languages of representation.
The guests came from the most diverse fields of knowledge: Artists who joined scientists groups and embraced scientific tools to analyse and represent perception (like Lisa Walker who worked with biologists and ecologists to study marine mammals perception of sound), researchers who, on the contrary, decided to use their knowledge for artistic purposes (Ivar Hagendoorn’s choreographies also try to map the brain processes in the perception of dance, while Mark Rudolph is using genetic algorithms and practices taken from biology to create a new way for 3D modelling).
The audience reflected the nature and the variety of presentations: one could find students from all faculties, designers and architects looking for new idea, multidisciplinary artists willing to share their projects. Given the fairly intimate and lively environment, the relation speaker- audience lost soon any traditional and formal unidirectional tone: the symposium was soon transformed in a very stimulating exchange.
Here are some examples of the topics proposed by the guests: Andrea Wollensack examined the relationship of “gesture, memory and notational traces of space within the context of GPS technology. Her most recent site projects (in Banff and Bellagio) showed how the use of GPS technology can be rethought as an aesthetical tool, if it is redirected to reveal the expressive visuality of place instead of limit its use for navigational and targeting purposes. The architect- artist Raphael Ozano explained how the use of technologies for site-specific installations applied to building facades and public spaces are able to involve and gather together a community (as in his 2000 project in Mexico City, Zocalo) and to unveil what is “behind” the buildings themselves. The Physicist Stephen Morris performed a practical demonstration to describe many laboratory examples of non-linear patterns formation in nature.
The intense symposium was accompanied by a few off-site events: an interactive exhibition at Interaccess Media Arts Centre featured works by the researcher and artist Richard Brown (Mimetic Starfish, whose tentacles extends to the viewers hands), who is investigating “art as a mode of enquiry” and the duo Alan Dunning and Paul Woodrow, who are involved in the examination of the world as a construct sustained through neurological processes contained within the brain (the Mnemonic Body, part of the Einstein Project, University of Calgary). The night presentation took a multicultural approach: non-western and western different views were examined in videos, web sites and documentaries to explain intercultural origins of the idea of zero and the binary and the relationship between immanent and transcendent virtuality.
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