Research & Art

Outré: Encounters with Non/living Things

Graphic Design by Emery L Norton
Graphic Design by Emery L Norton

The exhibition Outré: Encounters with non/living things showcases works from invited projects which were created fully or in part at the Biofilia Lab of Aalto University, where artists can cultivate inter-, cross-, trans-disciplinary research in dialogue with (citizen-) scientists and researchers from a range of fields. By welcoming, uncertainty, complexity and/or multiple realities and by  allowing  the unexpected results to happen, biological arts laboratories such as Biofilia acts as a fertile ground for research and  experiment, in-situ prototyping, and creative work where students, artists and researchers alike can explore the possibilities of biotechnology.

The projects in the exhibition engage with wetware, living bio media, and  biological matter such as bacteria, non-human species, living cells and scientific tools and techniques. While life as a raw material is being manipulated , transformed, deassembled, engineered, simulated and/or re-designed, the  conception of life  is being expanded in terms of  new knowledge (and knowledge cultures), methodologies, applications and technologies. Life in the expanded view reminds us of how radical the uncertainty of ontological status can be, along with the ambiguity of  the relationships between living and non-living, organic and inorganic, animate and inanimate, real and artificial or imaginary, and the ostensibly natural cycles of growth and decay – Where exactly does the one ends and the other begin?

The exhibition offers exciting and inspiring insights into the possibilities for growth, transformation, adaptation and becoming at the interface of ArtScience. The ethical and aesthetic commentary introduced by the artists, researchers, artscience practitioners participating in this exhibition raise new questions and  discussions on the world we live in and how we understand it, including speculations on life, in/organic and extra/terrestrial matter(s), materiality, and knowledge systems or living systems. In a similar vein,  the research projects following a rhizomatic approach in building intra-active relationships among different collaboratives, thereby revealing the different entangled relationalities in the interplay of human and nonhuman agency,  their ongoing social, material and technological re-configurations. 

Ceramic Scar Tissue by Christina Stadlbauer seeks to foster a deeper understanding of imperfection and transformative healing by way of the wabi-sabi worldview, the significance of the kintsugi (the Japanese art of mending) and their application to the microbial world. Whilst bacteria as a repairing agent is creating scar tissue over the breach, bacterial growth and natural transformation disclose the fragile line between life and death – in all their forms.

Margherita Pevere`s  Wombs _W .02 _ W .03 tells of her interest in complex visceral and bodily entanglements, deepening this exploration alongside biopolitical and bioethical interventions in the area of  gendered bodies, sexuality and reproduction. Biomatter and the concept of leaky bodies not only dissolve the borders between inside and outside, but also between the ontological openings and epistemological closures of body, desire, sexuality and identity. 

Antti Tenetz`s Perihelion critically intersects art, science and technology, connecting possible alternative futures in space. The project incorporates artificial intelligence, evolutionary computation, biotic evolution and abiotic conditions in outer space, and draws on both  biological and extraterrestrial matters. Curvianus metalduransis happens to be bacterial partners in this experiment, Perihelion reassembles life as it could be.  

Blck Vlvt: the at v2 version is part of collaborative transdisciplinary research conducted by Aamo artscience group, being composed of artist Bartaku, and scientists Janne Halme, Paulo Pinho and Merja Penttilä. The group has been coalescing around a constellation comprising  Baroa belaobara, (bio)matter/energy, light and J.M.William Turner`s Snow-Storm. The real data to be streamed during the exhibition opens a new window onto the ecosystem of the exhibition alongside a chain of energy transductions and non-human vitality, featuring the agency and efficacy of the Baroa solar cells.

Waterbreath for the beginning by Noora Sandgren is a `habitat` in the process of becoming, made of manifold presences. While responding to changes in environment conditions such as temperature, light, moisture and humidity, the installation is an assembly of the (in)visible forces forming life, viability and  microbial growth.

Slightly different than the other bioart projects involved in the exhibition, the Imitation Amber and Imitation Leopard Fur come from the Refashioning the Renaissance Team, using of organic matter and scientific methods to question the material and conceptual boundaries between original and fake, real and imitation, and to connect the past with present - or maybe vice-versa. 

Curated by Bilge Hasdemir

Particular Times and Particular Interests

`Particular Times and Particular Interests` text by Laura Beloff as part of the Outre: Encounters with Non/Living Things Exhibition

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Laura Beloff

When an art educator rhizomizes underground

`When an art educator rhizomizes underground` text by Assoc. Prof. Helena Sederholm as part of the Outre: Encounters with Non/Living Things Exhibition

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Helena Sederholm

Biofilia as a fertile ground for research and experiment

Interview with Marika Hellman and James Evans (Lab Managers, Biofilia)

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Biofilia

Participating Artists and Researchers

The exhibition Outré: Encounters with non/living things showcases works from invited projects which were created fully or in part at the Biofilia Lab of Aalto University, where artists can cultivate inter-, cross-, trans-disciplinary research in dialogue with scientists and researchers from a range of fields.

Aamo artscience group, `Blck Vlvt: the at v2 version´ - experimental installation

`Blck Vlvt: the at v2 version´ is the most recent manifestation of artistic and scientific research into the interplay between the Baroa beloabara* plant, light, electrical energy, J.M.William Turner and other humans. It is propelled by the Aronia Art Morphing (Aamo) artscience group at Aalto University.

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Blck Vlvt. Image credit: Aamo artscience group.

Antti Tenetz, Perihelion 2.0 , super_gene_gold.

In Perihelion, Antti Tenetz combines images of space, celestial bodies, technology, space science and life as we know and imagine it. With the application of machine learning, Perihelion brings out dreamlike images of the worlds and beings of possible futures in space.

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Perihelion 2.0 , super_gene_gold. Image by Antti Tenetz

Christina Stadlbauer, Ceramic Scar Tissue

The presented work is an invitation to observe existing tensions between consumption and repair, but also to contemplate on how we approach bacteria as living entities or the meaning of healing that necessarily involves the experience of being broken.

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Ceramic Scar Tissue. Image Credit: Christina Staudlbauer.

Margherita Pevere, Wombs (W .02 and W .03)

The series Wombs meditates on sexuality and hormonal contraception from a more-than-human perspective through interconnected interventions of biological art, performances, and photography.

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Wombs_study_pencil_on-paper,Margherita. Pevere, 2018.

Noora Sandgren, Water breath for the beginning.

The Water breath for the beginning is an installation in which Noora Sandgren has been working with re-creating the basic weather conditions necessary to life.

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Water breath for the beginning,2019. Image by NooraSandgren.

Refashioning the Renaissance Team, Imitation Amber & Imitation Leopard Fur.

Working in the Väre Dye Kitchen and the Biofilia Labs, Refashioning the Renaissance Team tested historic recipes to create imitation damask, add spots to furs, craft pearls from shell or clay, make amber from varnish, and dye fabrics with cheaper dyestuffs.

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Imitation Amber, image by Refashioning the Renaissance Team.
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