Category Archives: Art

Adjusting to the COVID-19 reality

Today starts the 3rd week of staggered isolation & social distancing measures imposed for addressing COVID-19, which also affected Universities and research teams. As other PIs around the world, I had to think how the ART/DATA/HEALTH project could adjust to the new reality of the COVID-19 crisis. The ART/DATA/HEALTH project aims to work with communities and citizens to build their digital and data science skills in order to understand large amounts of data – and the way we do this is through creativity and the arts. But plans to run workshops with the project’s key partners and stakeholders were cancelled, while the Brighton Fringe Festival has been postponed until October 2020.

Inevitably we have moved to an extended period of working remotely, in order to realise the vision of the project, which is to benefit communities digest health and wellbeing data through arts and creativity. I have commissioned three artists for the ART/DATA/HEALTH project and they have all now shifted their practice and focus in order to adjust and respond to the issues emerging from the COVID-19 everyday practices and materialities:

  1. The bio-artist, Anna Dumitriu, was initially commissioned to explore domestic violence issues in consultation with the local charity RISE. She has now shifted her focus to also take into account data on the effect of quarantine and self-isolation due to COVID-19 on women (RISE is a Sussex-based charity that supports people affected by domestic abuse and violence. RISE stands for Refuge, Information, Support and Education). Beyond the impact of COVID-19 related measures on women in general and the reported rise in cases of domestic abuse, my collaboration with RISE has aimed to give voice to the experiences of staff. The impact of isolation due to COVID-19 on the wellbeing of charity workers who support survivors of domestic abuse is hence a key research interest for my work in the ART/DATA/HEALTH project. To explore these experiences, feelings and emotions around social distancing and staying at home during this challenging time, Anna and I will be sending art kits to RISE staff, which they can use remotely.
  2. The local community artist Ian Leaver was initially commission to co-facilitate the workshop Staying Healthy in Whitehawk earlier this month, and to co-produce, with local residents, an mural at Wellsbourne Healthcare CIC in Whitehawk. My collaboration with the Wellsbourne is aimed at understanding barriers to access the health services for citizens who live in an area of multiple deprivation. The workshops at the Whitehawk Library planned for earlier this month got cancelled, so Ian and I have been thinking of ways to continue the work, to connect with the community, and offer an opportunity to East Brighton residents to take part in an art project, while they record a daily diary. We are inviting people who live in East Brighton and belong in a sensitive group, or are in isolation  to engage in a creative project.

    The idea is simple: For 14 days or more, participants will track their symptoms, or other activity in relation to your health (for example medication, sleep, anxiety etc). You can use drawing, photo, audio, or write a brief blog to record your daily diary. Ian will then use these diary data to create an artwork that will be permanently exhibited at Wellsbourne Healthcare CIC in Whitehawk. To explain how people can take part in the project we are offering the free online workshop, ART IN ISOLATION which will take place on Wednesday 8th April, 2-3pm. Ian Leaver-Blaxstone and I (Aristea Fotopoulou) will take you through the 14-day art challenge, and will discuss your ideas.

  3. Oddly enough, I originally commissioned VR artist Kate Genevieve to explore the emotional and embodied aspects of connection and isolation, before the COVID-19 crisis. Now her work is even more relevant. Although Kate was lucky enough to connect with workshop participants (staff from various local charity organisations) in real life, and in a physical space (at the Phoenix Art Space in February), she will also be sending out instructions for an arts and crafts activity to participants, as we are working with the loneliness and befriending charity Together Co.

 

For more updates about how the project is adjusting and responding to the new situation read the ART/DATA/HEALTH blog.

The-Ecology-of-Disease-Olaf-Hajek-Illustration

SUSNET website launch

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SusNet. Sustaining networked knowledge: expertise, feminist media production, art and activism

The SusNet network brings together feminist cultural production, art and activist practices and enables exchanges between different researchers, activists, artists and aims to contribute to knowledge exchanges across these areas and beyond.

 

Its primary nodes are the CCN+ Expertise Workshop in 2012, the 2013 Lesbian Lives Conference in Brighton, the May 2013 Queer, Feminist Social Media Praxis workshop (Sussex Centre for Cultural studies), the special edition of ADA Issue 5: Queer, Feminist Media Praxis, and the FemTechNet panel and SusNet launch after the event Postdigital: Critical Responses.

Bioengineering and Meat Cultures event on Friday

On Friday I will be presenting collaborative research on the in-vitro meat case of the EPINET project. The paper is an analysis of the live television launch of the first in-vitro meat burger in August 2013, which frames the launch as a “media event” (Couldry & Hepp); and an examination of the main discourses circulating in digital culture round this time, which together work towards a critical discussion about the publics of synthetic meat.

The panel is with bioartist Oron Catts (synthetica) and philosopher Jake Metcalf. The event is part of Justice in a More than Human World – Collaboration or exploitation? Working with living systems across the arts and sciences, by Science and Justice workgroup  Human / Non-Human Collaboration Across the Arts & Sciences.

Friday February 28, 2014, 4:00-6:00PM, Engineering 2 Room 599, UCSC

“Bioengineering and Meat Cultures”

Meat grown in a laboratory is being promoted as a response to the harmful effects of “conventional” factory-farmed meat production. Artists and scholars have identified how meat cultures are a new class of being, with their own unique characteristics. Some of these characteristics are precisely what makes lab-grown meat appealing as a food source, and some provoke what is frequently deemed “the yuck factor.” Viewing this new class of beings, along with other bioengineered critters, as custom-built collaborators, we explore the ways humans relate to and intervene in the more-than-human world to feed, clothe, house, and entertain themselves–and the way we respond when these interventions, collaborations, and cultures turn sour.

Hosts: Andy Murray and Sophia Magnone
Visiting Scholar and Artist: Oron Catts (http://www.symbiotica.uwa.edu.au/)

Oron Catts is an artist, researcher and curator whose pioneering work with the Tissue Culture and Art Project which he established in 1996 in collaboration with Ionat Zurr, is considered a leading biological art project.  He is the founding director of SymbioticA, (which he co-founded in 2000) an artistic research centre housed within the School of Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology, The University of Western Australia.

Under Catts’ leadership SymbioticA has gone on to win the Prix Ars Electronica Golden Nica in Hybrid Art (2007) the WA Premier Science Award (2008) and became a Centre for Excellence in 2008. In 2009 Catts was recognized by Thames & Hudson’s “60 Innovators Shaping our Creative Future” book in the category “Beyond Design”, and by Icon Magazine (UK) as one of the top 20 Designers, “making the future and transforming the way we work”. His work has been widely exhibited internationally in venues such as NY MoMA, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo and National Art Museum of China.

Catts was a Research Fellow in Harvard Medical School, a visiting Scholar at the Department of Art and Art History, Stanford University, a Visiting Professor of Design Interaction, Royal College of Arts, London, and a Visiting Professor at the School of Art, Design and Architecture, Aalto University, Helsinki where he was commissioned to set up Biofilia – Base for Biological Art and Design. Catts’ ideas and projects reach beyond the confines of art; his work is often cited as inspiration to diverse areas such as new materials, textiles, design, architecture, ethics, fiction, and food.

Digital ways of knowing: an art science interface? Workshop 19 June 2012

On Tuesday I will be doing a short paper at the workshop ‘Digital ways of knowing: an art science interface?’. This will take place between 1pm-6pm, at the ACCA Creativity Zone (Pevensey III, Room C7), University of Sussex. The main question which this workshop will address is:

How do digital systems, technologies or languages shape your discipline or research area? What are the advantages and opportunities offered by this and what are the difficulties, in relation to your research or disciplinary area? These shapings, opportunities and problems might be conceptual and/or practical.

I am really excited about the event, not only because it will give me an opportunity to discuss my research by addressing these key questions, but also because it will bring together so many great scholars from different disciplinary fields. I’ll update this post soon with an abstract and reflections on the day.