[ISEA2018] Panel: Tobias Klein, Scott Hessels, Jaden J. A. Hastings, Julie Freeman, Howard Boland — Self-Willed: Flux and Reaction in Systems, Organisms and Materials

Panel Statement

Keywords: New Materials, Reactive, Bio Art, Sculpture, Eco Art, Synthetic Biology, Data

Working with a new material inverts the usual design process: the research begins by determining the possibilities inherent in the material, not a preconceived final form. In this reversed strategy function now follows form and form is determined by behavior. As such, the process becomes founded in potentialities. Foregrounding behaviors in reactive materials, systems and organisms is an innovative starting point that can articulate new processes of creative making: design emerges from interactions among force, energy and matter. How do the unique struggles of surrendering authorial control by working with self-willed materials lead to creative advantages and deeper meaning? Structured as a “Powers of Ten”, five creative practices are presented zooming out from the chemical to the cellular, followed by the animal, the human, and the ecosystem. This expanding perspective offers dimensionality in recognizing the creative struggle and transcendence of working with matter that won’t sit still. Each project focuses on the non-binary, self-determined moments of life in their chosen materials, when the spark of energies change properties in a messy but meaningful flux. Each member articulates a next scalar relationship to the previous as an example of material potentialities determining outcome within their selected strata. Collectively, they represent how new material behaviors and repercussions create unique opportunities in artistic expression.

  • Dr. Howard Boland is a multidisciplinary practitioner working across art, science and technology. With a strong technical and innovative creative skills, his experience spans from artistic and scientific research contexts to leading projects and teams in the interactive industry. He is artistic director of the art-science organisation c-lab specialising in biological art. His PhD combined synthetic biology and art to produce novel visual expressions in bacteria culminating in the UK’s first art exhibition featuring living genetically modified micro-organisms at the Royal Institute of Great Britain. He has an extensive experience in the digital creative industry leading creative and technical teams to award-winning projects.
  • Dr. Julie Freeman translates complex processes and data from natural sources into kinetic sculptures, physical objects, images, sound compositions and animations. Her work explores the relationship between science and the natural world; questioning the use of technology in how we translate nature. A mix of computer scientist and artist, her focus is the investigation of data as an art material, using it to create work which reflects the human
    condition through the analysis and representation of live animal data. She often works collaboratively and experimentally with scientists. She is co-founder of Fine Acts which bridges human rights and art to instigate social change. She co-leads the Data as Culture art program at the Open Data Institute, is a TED senior fellow and a Nesta fellow.
  • Jaden J. A. Hastings’ research hybridizes the fields of biology (tissue engineering, genomics), informatics (machine learning), and New Media arts practice. She is an alumna of New York University, Harvard University, and the University of Oxford with advanced degrees in both Biology and Bioinformatics. Presently, she is a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne in Interdisciplinary Arts Practice on an Endeavour IPRS/APA
    scholarship. She is also Chief Scientist of the x0.lab research group and Artist-in-Residence within the Biofabrication Lab of St. Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne.
  • Scott Hessels is an American filmmaker, sculptor and media artist based in Hong Kong. His artworks span different media including film, video, online, music, broadcast, print, kinetic sculpture, and performance. His films have shown internationally and his new media installations have been presented in museum exhibitions focusing on technology as well as those presenting fine arts. His recognitions include patents for developed technologies,
    references in books and periodicals on new media art, and coverage in cultural media. He is currently an associate professor at The School of Creative Media and executive producer of the Extreme Environments Program which organizes art/science expeditions to environmentally significant sites.
  • Tobias Klein works in the fields of Architecture, Art, Design and interactive Media Installation. His work generates a syncretism of contemporary CAD/CAM technologies with site and culturally specific design narratives, intuitive non-linear design processes, and historical cultural references. Before joining City University Hong Kong in the role as interdisciplinary Assistant Professor in the School of Creative Media and the architectural department, he was employed at the Architectural Association and the Royal College of Art. The resulting works of his studio are exhibited international with examples being in the permanent collection of the Antwerp Fashion Museum, the London Science Museum, the V&A, the Bellevue Arts Museum, Museum of Moscow and Vancouver.

Full text p. 421 – 425