[ISEA2018] Panel: Meredith Drum & Margaretha Haughwout — Mediated Natures: Speculative Futures and Justice

Panel Statement

Keywords: Art and ecology, Capitalocene, Ecological justice, Electronic art, Embodiment, Empyre, Feminism, Speculative, Multispecies worlding, Queerness

The Mediated Natures – Speculative Futures and Justice panel (parts I and II) addresses the radical aesthetics of ecological arts practices, multispecies worldings, and possibilities for survival in this epoch many term the Capitalocene. Undoing modernity’s binary of culture
and nature— which masks the hierarchy of human, subhuman, and nonhuman, and which fuels the engines of capitalism and colonialism —is of critical importance. Thus aligning with nonhuman others in resistance, revolution, and recuperation [1], panelists describe how their projects attempt socio-political acts of worlding through creative arts practices that have ties to new media, feminism, environmental justice, agroecology, science fiction, and/or citizen  science. Presentations fuse the political and the aesthetic and decenter the human in the more-than-human Capitalocene. Finally, panelists consider the ways that media, technology, and the speculative further, hinder or redefine one another when encountering nonhuman others.

  • Margaretha Haughwout’s personal and collaborative artwork explores the intersections between ideas of technology and wilderness, digital networks and the urban commons, cybernetics and whole systems permaculture — in the context of ecological, technological and human survival. Her active collaborations include the Guerrilla Grafters: an art/ activist group who graft fruit bearing branches onto non-fruit bearing, ornamental fruit trees, and the Coastal Reading Group: consisting of artists from different coasts who trouble the subjects of wilderness, speciation, humanness and ways of knowing through diverse engagements with (non) humans. Haughwout and her collaborators at Hayes Valley Farm, an interim-use urban permaculture farm in downtown San Francisco, cultivated low input ecological systems and developed a unique lateral governance structure that was able to engage a range of different kinds of human input while still navigating complex politics with city agencies. Haughwout received her MFA from the University of California Santa  Cruz.
  • Meredith Drum is an experimental cinema-maker; in addition to her screen work she collaborates with other visual artists as well as dancers, musicians, architects, writers, urban planners, computer programmers and scientists on location based public projects, movement research, augmented reality apps and books. As Drum employs electronic media, she turns a critical eye on the commercial world of digital objects and experiences, and critiques these as part of a larger capitalist system that obfuscates pathways of access, connection and resistance. She sets out to re-shape icons and patterns, which typically separate us from other people, animals, plants and landscapes, in order to open more compassionate technical imaginaries. Her work has been supported by grants and  residencies from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, iLand, the Bronx Museum of the Arts, the Experimental Television Center, Wave Farm, ISSUE Project Room and other institutions. She is an assistant professor at Arizona State University.
  • Cesar & Lois ponder autonomous systems that integrate natural and technological networks. In their various bodies of work, Cesar Baio subverts the algorithms of autonomous systems, while LOIS infuses art with nature’s data. Together they create fungal systems that tweet and posit nature-based economies. LOIS co-founder Lucy HG Solomon is assistant professor of media design at Cal State University San Marcos, where she focuses on digital intermediaries of and ensuing interactions with nature. Cesar Baio is a visiting researcher at i-DAT in the U.K. and associate professor at Universidade Federal do Ceará in Brazil. His interests lie in the relationship between art, technology and society. In the construction of interactive object-based experiences, LOIS strives to elicit discordant feelings of reverence and irreverence. Disruptive systems by Cesar Baio and responsive art by LOIS exhibit globally; their @HelloFungus twitter feed was on display at Ravenna Art Museum in Italy last December.
  • Elaine Gan studies multispecies interactions, particularly in rice agriculture, and how they shape geopolitical histories. She is a Mellon Fellow in Digital Humanities, affiliated with the departments of Anthropology and Media Arts + Practice, at University of Southern California. She has also been a member and art director of Aarhus University Research on  the Anthropocene (AURA) in Denmark since 2013. Past fellowships include the New York Foundation for the Arts, Whitney Museum Independent Study Program, and Lower  Manhattan Cultural Council. Recent projects include coediting an anthology titled Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet: Ghosts and Monsters of the Anthropocene (Minnesota Press 2017); convening a seminar series on feral technologies for Haus Kulturen der Welt (HKW Berlin 2016); and cocurating an exhibition titled DUMP! Multispecies Making and Unmaking (Kunsthal Aarhus 2015).
  • Grisha Coleman works as a choreographer and composer in performance and experiential media. Her work explores relationships between our physiological, technological and ecological systems. She currently holds the position of Associate Professor of Movement, Computation and Digital Media in the School of Arts, Media and Engineering, and the School of Dance at Arizona State University. Her recent art and scholarly work, echo::system, is a springboard for re-imagining the environment, environmental change, and environmental justice. Coleman is a New York City native with an M.F.A. in Composition and Integrated Media from the California Institute of the Arts. Her work has been recognized nationally and internationally; including a 2012 National Endowment Arts in Media Grant [NEA], the 2014  Mohr Visiting Artist at Stanford University, a fellowship at the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon University, and grants from the Rockefeller M.A.P Fund, The Surdna Foundation, and The Creative Capital Foundation.
  • Heidi Boisvert creates groundbreaking games, web interactive, augmented reality and transmedia storytelling experiences for social change, as well as large-scale networked performances in dance and theatre using biocreative technology. She co-founded XTH, a company creating novel modes of expression through technology and the human body. She has been a Harvestworks Fellow with support by the Rockefeller Foundation whose works  have been featured in Kotaku, TIME, Wired, Salon, Fast Company, Washington Post, and the Atlantic, and showcased at EMPAC, Banff New Media Institute, Queens Museum, Kunsthalle and the Waag Society. Heidi received her Ph.D. in Electronic Arts from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She is currently the Director of Emerging Media Technology at New York City College of Technology (CUNY) and a research affiliate at MIT OpenDoc Lab.
  • Rachel Stevens is an interdisciplinary artist and researcher based in NYC. Her work engages socio-material systems, ecologies, moving images and archives. She was recently invited to participate in the NEH Summer Research Institute on Space, Place and the Humanities at Northeastern University. Other recent projects include a year-long residency with iLAND and, as the collaboration Oyster City, a public project commissioned for Paths to Pier 42 in Lower Manhattan. Stevens has presented work at Socrates Sculpture Park, ISEA, i-Docs and Visible Evidence among others. She writes about art and visual culture, is an Associate Editor at Millennium Film Journal and belongs to the curatorial collective Two Chairs. She teaches in the Hunter College IMA MFA program in NYC.
  • Simone Paterson is an artist who works at the crossroads of creative technologies and craft. Her current work examines notions of hygiene, and infection via the lens of “women’s  labor”, namely embroidery. As an immigrant living in the “new” Trump America she is concerned with the aesthetic possibilities of technology and also the impact of technology  on lived experience. Her installations with diverse applications of technology have been exhibited worldwide, including Artspace, Richmond V.A., and a residency at Art Space, Sydney, Australia. Paterson is a National Member of A.I.R Gallery, Brooklyn, New York. She received her MFA from Sydney College of the Arts, Sydney University, and a Ph.D. from The University of Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia. She is Associate Professor and Chair of Undergraduate Studies in Creative Technologies, the School of Visual Arts, and a member of the Executive Committee of Human Centered Design graduate program at Virginia Tech, USA.
  • Tyler Fox is an artist, researcher, technologist, and educator. His work focuses on the ways in which nonhuman relations shape our experience of, and relationship to, the surrounding  world. He leverages technology to create affectively-rich experiences featuring living, non-human organisms. His writing mobilizes philosophy and contemporary theory to consider the aesthetic potential of technology and non-human experience. Fox received his MFA from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, and his PhD from the School of Interactive Arts & Technology, at Simon Fraser University, Canada. He is a lecturer in Human Centered Design and Engineering at the University of Washington, USA.

Full text p. 430 – 435