[ISEA2016] Artist Talk: Cat Jones — Somatic Drifts

Artist Statement

A presentation of findings from Jones’ artworks, Somatic Drifts and Plantarum: Empathic Limb Clinic, that contemplate the non-human by altering the perception of the participant to
reflect on transitory states and trigger new experiences of empathy. [1] [2]

Somatic Drifts
Somatic Drifts is a live artwork and accumulative audiovisual installation by Cat Jones. The artwork explores trans-human, species and material empathy. Jones enables the participant to experience the body of another entity through body illusion and touch. These mediatised shamanic transgressions challenge internal and external difference and communicate across
consciousness, culture, time and geography. The project accumulates a recorded bank of bodies and unique audio narratives that accompany them. The artwork raises personal and political questions: What realm does the sense of self exist within? How far can it drift? What can this drift enable us to change?

Plantarum: Empathic Limb Clinic
Plantarum: Empathic Limb Clinic precedes Somatic Drifts, offering an immersive sensory experience in a mobile field laboratory. The experience blends horticulture and neuroscience and offers participation in Jones’ experimental proposal for a new treatise on the art of grafting. The live exchange references certain histories of botany and recent developments in the
science of plant signalling and adaptive behaviour. The methodology used in the experiences, visualtactile feedback, has previously shown interesting results in neuroscience applications and research. [3] Mirror therapy is used to alleviate some chronic pain conditions; and Mel Slater’s research in (human) virtual embodiment has shown evident reduction in implicit racial bias. [4] These novel artistic experiments begin to dissolve the physical and conscious boundaries of the participant and provide a space for reconsiderations of empathy and the post-human.
Sound design by Melissa Hunt.


  1. Cat Jones, Somatic Drifts, accessed 14 December 2015, http://catjones.net/2015/06/29/somatic-drifts/
  2. Cat Jones, Plantarum: Empathic Limb Clinic, accessed 14 December 2015, http://catjones.net/2013/11/01/the-plantarumempathic-limb-clinic/
  3. Moseley & Flor; Neurorehabilitation and Repair; 2012.
  4. Peck, Seinfeld, Aglioti & Slater; Consciousness & Cognition; 2013.
  • Cat Jones (AU) is an award winning artist, writer, research and all round creatrix with over 23 years experience. She investigates subjugated knowledge and experiments with transformation through the subversion of social constructs, history, science, language and the senses. Known for her immersive, art-science experiences and social engagement, she creates performance, illusion, site-specific, olfactory and edible art in collaboration with neuroscientists, physiotherapists, biologists, botanists, entomologists and gastronomists. She has worked with experimental groups including pvi collective, Blast Theory, Chicks on Speed, The League of Imaginary Scientists and Experimenta. [source: catjones.net]

The projects have been supported by the Australian government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body; ANAT Synapse Residency with UWA School of Medicine and Pharmacology and UNISA, Sansom Institute, Body in Mind; SymbioticA; Bundanon Trust AIR; School of Arts and Media, UNSW; Adhocracy, Vitalstatistix; Waverley Studio AIR; Proximity Festival.