Research & Art

Interview with Aamo artscience group

This interview is conducted with Bartaku from Aamo artscience group by Bilge Hasdemir as part of the Outre: Encounters with Non/living Things exhibition.

What are the potentials and difficulties of art and science collaborations, and working across and beyond disciplines?

Bartaku: Science contributes to interweave various elements from various disciplines into an ever-evolving artistic lattice. Unexpected works might evolve through the collaboration. The kind that - whatever the constellation is - can seep uncontrollably into society at large, regardless the intentions, actions, constraints, biotopes. The kind that touches and transforms consciously or subconsciously, at an instance or with delay some beings visible and invisible. Where all entities involved can expand freely, ask silly serious questions, fiddle with protocols of play and radical ideas. Stumble whilst watching in the rear-mirror and above, into the horizon.

The collaboration might generate unseen paths of inquiry, influencing the practice and inquiry of the collaborating entities involved. At its best sooner or later in a ripply way touching upon other entities and realms. Knowledge can be generated in particular involved disciplines and of a particular artscience kind. If only it would contribute to increased wisdom.

In the field of artscience it is rare to find collaborations that evolve bottom up and able to thrive in their inquiries over a longer period of time. It is challenging for an art-science collective -in and beyond an academic context- carrying on according to its own pulse, allowing it to persist as long as it is vibrant, dormant, loud, whispering, disturbing, tender. 

And this within a biotope that supports it, institutionally encapsulated within science nor art, like in a “Liminal  Department”,  in the words of Nora Bateson. Supported by administrative and funding/support models that are tailored to the particularities of these entities. Facilitating and optimizing flow of matter, partners across institutional borders. Envisioning and experimenting with paradigms that foster wild imagination and grounded intimate encounters between matter, light and bodies.

It takes time to evolve, to establish trust and commitment from bottom up. It requires a biotope that allows for these constellations to emerge.

Have you ever experienced any conflict with the scientific laboratory protocols and/or health and safety policies of the institutions you have collaborated with?  Has it required any change in the direction of the research or  at the  initial plan? How do you usually negotiate with the possible restraints or limitations which might apply in such circumstances?

Bartaku: In the evolving long term work on light, bodies and energy, one strand called temporary PhotoElectric Digestopians, features digestible solar cells. Part of the making and testing involves the intake of the leaky matter. At Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design this required health and safety paperwork; at Aalto´s Biofilia Lab the intake of any substance is forbidden. So, part of the work happened in the hallway then. One has to observe, sense alternatives that resonate whenever hindrances appear. I see them as resistors in an electrical circuit that at a certain value contribute to the power output..

One research strand involves the interrelating of human skin cells (pigments), plant cells (dyes) and light. It remains dormant until a constellation manifests that allows this pathway to evolve.

In an art practice, and in life, like a membrane pulsating, one can attempt to sense what the constellation is on either side, and based on that perception allow stuff to move through, or not. Again, for optimizing energy flow and amount.

What kind of challenges and limitations could  migrating to the digital realm in these pandemic bring to the  field of art & science, the bioart works which are heavily dependent on materiality and the biological  matter,  living organisms...etc? 

Bartaku:The answer lies after the comma in the question.

Following the previous question, what could have been lost and/or gained during this migration?

Bartaku: Knowledge (not to mention wisdom)... as the result of skill x attitude x info x experience relies heavily on the felt sense. And this is required for intimacy with matter including our-selves.

What kind of changes or challenges (conceptual, ethical, and practical) could be expected in the field of biological arts and art & science in relation to the paradigm shift coronavirus pandemic have brought to (life) sciences?

Bartaku:The representation of the virus as the enemy that we have to “fight” against, by politicians as well as actors in the medico-pharma-realm -all with virus DNA/RNA in their DNA- will generate works that challenge, comment upon this view ranging from activist to more poetico-anarcho.

What alliances can be found within the context of life, death, care, non/living actants, pandemic crisis and justice?

This very big question requires an alliance with time, space, matter and self through the old -always perfectly imperfect and seriously playful- practice of “presence-ing”: aligning life (breath), death, self and matter and everything in between and beyond.

Have there been any particular influences of Covid-19 restrictions & reactions to your artistic research and your collaboration with other practitioners / institutions ?

Bartaku:Due to the focus on the SARS-CoVid-2 virus by medical companies and DNA-sequencing labs, the sequencing  is delayed of DNA that is extracted from a part of the root of one of the berryapple plants of the OtaBaroa Distributed Plantation at Otaniemi (Aalto University) campus. With the DNA-method of identification of the plant, we might augment the already enigmatic status of the plant in terms of human efforts to name and categorize it.

How has the Covid-19 changed the form and format of art & science collaborations and  research networking activities?

Bartaku: Until now, -other than new CoVid-safety measures in the University premises, there is not yet a clear experience. Undoubtedly this will manifest more clearly in the near future.

What would creativity mean to you, could you please describe in three words?

Bartaku: Inquire, Sense, Play

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