Exhibition – ‘Critical Zones. Observatories for Earthly Politics’, ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe

May 9–October 4, 2020

Curated by: Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel with Martin Guinard and Bettina Korintenberg

By now everybody knows that there is an existential threat to our collective conditions of existence, but very few people have any idea of how to cope with this new Critical situation. It is very strange, but citizens of many developed countries are disoriented; it is as if they were asked to land on a new territory, an Earth that they have long ignored having reacted to their action. The hypothesis we want to propose is that the best way to map this new Earth is to see it as a network of Critical Zones, which constitute a thin skin a few kilometers thick that has been generated over eons of time by life forms. Those life forms had completely transformed the original geology of the Earth, before humanity transformed it yet again over the last centuries.

Over the years, scientists have installed multiple Observatories to study these Critical Zones and have made us aware of the complex composition and extreme fragility of this thin layer inside which all life forms, humans included, have to cohabit. They have renewed Earth science in a thousand ways and very much in a way that Alexander von Humboldt would have approved. Increasingly, scientists, artists, activists, politicians, and citizens are realizing that society is not centered solely on humanity, but it has to become Earthly again if it wishes to land without crashing. The modern project has been in flight, unconcerned by planetary limits. Suddenly, there is a general movement toward the soil and new attention to the ways people might inhabit it. Politics is no longer about humans making decisions on their own and for themselves only, but has become an immensely more complex undertaking. New forms of citizenship and new types of attention and care for life forms are required to generate a common ground.

The ZKM thus continues the comprehensive engagement and collaboration with local communities and institutions that was explored during the Open Codes exhibition (2017–2019), opening up a space for common action and discussion to recompose the world we live in: Over a period of five months ZKM will host an exhibition conceived as a scale model to simulate the spatial novelty of this new land as well as the diversity of relations between the life forms inhabiting it. It will serve as an Observatory of Critical Zones allowing visitors to familiarize themselves with the new situation. This special combination of thought experiment and exhibition was developed by Peter Weibel and Bruno Latour in their previous collaborations at ZKM. Iconoclash in 2002, Making Things Public in 2005, and Reset Modernity! in 2016 constitute the three former “thought exhibitions” (Gedankenausstellungen) that resulted from their intensive working relationship which now spans 20 years.

The ZKM website will soon publish the intense program accompanying the exhibition.

More info here

 

Summer Academy – “Science and Art – Art and Research Today.” Switzerland, August 22-29, 2020

Organised by Hans-Jörg Rheinberger and Staffan Müller-Wille

The theme of the Summer Academy for the Schweizerische Studienstiftung in Magliaso/Ticino from August 22-29, 2020 is “Science and Art – Art and Research Today.” The Studienstiftung supports talented students in all disciplines with bursaries, and the Academy is meant to bring bursary holders together for discussion and socializing at Lake Lugano.

The Summer Academy aims at giving an insight into the actual discursive landscape around the relation between the sciences and the arts. Besides art historians and historians of science, artists and art & science mediators will present their views and projects. The academy will also include a look back onto the development of the relation between the sciences and the arts from the Early Modern period to the first half of the twentieth century (see attachment in German).

I will contribute to the Summer School as an artistic researcher and art mediator giving a lecture on my approach to connecting the sciences and the arts and engaging the participants in practical exercises.

 

BSDB/Genetics Society meeting 2020

15-18th March, Warwick University

We will present work from our AHRC project ‘Representing Biology as Process’ at the BSDB/Genetics Society meeting 2020

Themes of the conference include: Human Genetics and Development, Evolution of Development, Models of Disease, Regeneration, Gene Regulatory Networks, Signalling and Development, the Genetics of Morphogenesis and Plasticity in Developmental Genetics.

‘Drawing life’

Free Drawing Workshop

Friday, September 13 • 18:00 – 19:30

With pen, pencil and paper, how can we represent the dynamic and constantly moving nature of life?

Led by award-winning artist and research fellow from the University of Exeter, Gemma Anderson, take part in this ‘life’ drawing workshop which offers a novel, creative and collaborative approach to depicting evolution on the page.

When the drawing is constantly evolving, who knows what kind of life will find a way…?

More info here

Representing Protein Dynamics: An interdisciplinary approach

Conference Presentation

The International Society for the History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology (ISHPSSB) Conference 2019: July 7-12, University of Oslo, Norway

Participants

Gemma Anderson, University of Exeter, UK

John Dupre, University of Exeter, UK

Jonathan J. Phillips, University of Exeter, UK

This interdisciplinary conference presentation addresses protein dynamics, beginning with a treatment of the energy landscape associated with protein folding. Here, Anderson is collaborating with protein biophysicist Jonathan Phillips. The conventional image for representing protein dynamics in biology is the “folding funnel”, an irregular, roughly conical shape that corresponds to an energy landscape down which the nascent protein is imagined to transition as its structure achieves lower energy formations. While this image represents some features well, others are obscured. In particular, important aspects of the intrinsic behaviour of molecular species are absent, or poorly represented, such as stochastic change and parallel pathways. Thus, a gap exists in our ability to represent and interact with fundamental dynamic processes in a visual manner that is intuitive and instructive. The proposed presentation at ISHPSSB, Oslo will describe the methods of interdisciplinary collaboration and the objectives of the project, and then present the images developed for protein folding and some discussion of their significance. As with the mitosis project, a number of novel modes of representation are being explored. We will present a series of new images that function as visual metaphors for the protein energy landscape. These draw on the structure of a maze, and we also experiment with the maze as a metaphor for processes beyond proteins, such as mitosis and speciation. Anderson, Phillips and Dupré will jointly present this work, providing philosophical, art-theoretic, and scientific, perspectives on the project and its results.

 

eLIFE Podcast

May 2019

Listen to eLIFE podcast discussing our project ‘Representing Biology as Process’ (at 19 mins in) here

Exhibition Talk at the Exchange Gallery

16-02-19

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lively exhibition talk at the Exchange Gallery ranging from music of the spheres and wisdom traditions to to cell division and pluralism- with artist Serena Korda, cell biologist James Wakefield and Camden Arts Centre curator Gina Buenfeld -‘GÄA: Holistic Science and Wisdom Tradition’ is now open!

Lecture and Workshop at Falmouth School of Art

04/04/19

Lecture about the relationship between process philosophy of biology and artistic processes, based on current AHRC project ‘Representing Biology as Process’

and

Drawing Workshop – ‘Isomorphogenesis, drawing algorithms and symbiosis’: a full day collaborative drawing workshop with FSA BA Drawing students

 

Lecture at Plymouth College of Art (PCA)

29/03/19

10am-11am, PCA Lecture Theatre, Plymouth

Gemma Anderson talks about the AHRC project ‘Representing Biology as Process’ – Lecture open to BA and MA students and staff at PCA.


Society for Philosophy of Science in Practice (SPSP): Representing Biology as Process

Conference Presentation at the Society for Philosophy of Science in Practice: ‘Representing Biology as Process (+Re-presenting Process)’ Alternative format session.

29 June – 2 July 2018
University of Ghent, Ghent, Belgium

Abstract:/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/

This session developed out of our interdisciplinary project involving an artist (Gemma Anderson), a cell biologist (James Wakefield) and a philosopher (John Dupré). The overall goal of the project is to develop better ways of representing biological processes. It also continues earlier work by Anderson (2017) on drawing as a way of knowing. As Wakefield will argue, the decline of drawing as a practice in biological research has had deleterious consequences for some aspects of biological research.

In the first stages of the project, Anderson and Wakefield have worked together to produce images of mitosis, the process that is the central research topic of the Wakefield lab. The aim was to produce a two-dimensional image that somehow represented the full sequence of transitions involved in mitosis. A method was developed that translated Wakefield’s understanding of mitosis into an image in which the vertical dimension represented time, and a number of features (colour, thickness of line, distance from the centre, etc.) represented crucial aspects of the mitotic process. A number of different images have been generated, representing different organisms with differences in their processes of mitosis. The process of producing these images and its rationale will be presented in fuller detail during the session.

The outcome of this activity has been a series of images, which we refer to—for reasons that will be obvious on seeing them—as mitosis pots. These are, perhaps needless to say, very different from familiar textbook depictions of mitosis. The causal connection between features of mitosis and features of the mitosis pots gives us confidence that the images could be used to represent common features and specific differences in mitosis, though it is also clear that such use would require a degree of training. We shall discuss the costs and benefits of introducing such images into the practice and teaching of biology. Preliminary exploration of this question has involved soliciting reactions from other scientists.

We feel that a standard format of three 30 minute presentation representing distinct disciplinary perspectives would not do justice to the interdisciplinary nature of the project. Instead, we propose three brief introductions to aspects of the project by each of the participants, followed by more detailed presentations of the first completed sub-project, which is collaborative work by Anderson and Wakefield. We will allow some time for discussion at the conclusion of each part of the session. Dupréewill also chair a concluding 15 minute discussion session.

‘Molecules of life: Exploring Proteins through drawing, movement and origami’ – Art/Science/Philosophy Workshop at the Eden Project, Cornwall

28th May 2018

Artist Gemma Anderson, Philosopher John Dupré and Scientist Johnathan Phillips from the University of Exeter, bring an experimental and multi-modal art/science/philosophy workshop ‘Molecules of Life: Exploring Proteins through drawing, movement and origami’ as part of  the Eden Project’s Invisible Worlds Launch Week. Please note that you must pre-book a place for the workshop on the afternoon of Monday 28 May. This workshop is part of a packed timetable of science-themed talks and workshop in the Eden Projects brand-new ‘Lab’.

Details of how to book will be added to this page soon.

Gemma Anderson delivers ‘Biology and Art: Investigations through Drawing’ course at Grinnell Liberal Arts College, Iowa, US

‘Biology and Art: Investigations through Drawing’ course at Grinnell Liberal Arts College, Iowa, US

02/04/18-20/04/18

From anatomical studies to the biomorphism of surrealism and the abstractions of Klee and Kandinsky, the biological realm historically provided a significant resource for numerous artists while many scientists like Haeckel and Hooke produced works of artistic merit. This course focuses on the twin themes of morphology and drawing through an exploration of intuitive and experimental drawing methods. The aim is to develop and share new ways in which drawing practice can enhance morphological insight, specifically within the contexts of art and the natural sciences. Central to this is Goethe’s concept of morphology, which he defined in 1792 as ‘the study of form and formative process’ (Goethe and Naydler 1996) combined with a narrative of the development of ‘drawing as a way of knowing’ in my own artistic practice.
The path of the course arcs from observation to abstraction as a range of morphological drawing methods will be tested through a series of practice-based workshops using drawing as a method to investigate in diverse contexts; from fieldwork and microscopy to classification and simulation. We explore the relationship between art and biology through artists, scientists and thinkers such as Goethe, Klee, Waddington, Thistlewood and Mundy. As part of a wider cultural movement in Art/Science and STEAM, this course will highlight historical and contemporary of practices towards the development of independent investigations in Biology and Art.

Student Reflection:
‘I have left this class with a reinvigorated perspective on Biology and Nature in general. I find myself more attentive to forms and similarities among plants, especially.I also plan to exercise a lot more care and precision with my drawings. Our discussions on bias and our practical exercises on drawing from observation, made me realize just how extremely DIFFICULT it is to accurately capture an organism on paper, and how much skill it takes to be keen at observational drawing, being able to distinguish and incorporate details, patterns, textures, and lines in an unbiased and informative way’.

Gallery Talk at Faulconer Gallery: ‘Representing Biology as Process’

Gallery Talk: Gemma Anderson, ‘Representing Biology as Process’

Faulconer Gallery, Grinnell College, Iowa, US

April 12, 4 p.m.

‘Artist in residence Gemma Anderson will introduce her work at Grinnell in the context of the current collaboration with biologist James Wakefield and philosopher of biology John Dupré on the Arts and Humanities Research Council project Representing Biology as Process  (2017-2020). Dr. Anderson has collaborated on a number of innovative art/science projects including Hidden Geometries with the Mathematics Department at Imperial College London; Isomorphology with the Natural History Museum, London; and Portraits: Patients and Psychiatrists (Wellcome Trust Arts Award 2009) in collaboration with psychiatrists and patients at Bethlem Royal Hospital. Co-sponsored by the Institute for Global Engagement and the Biology Department’.

Artist talk: Ordering Nature: Fabulous Alternatives

Invited Artist talk for the event Ordering Nature: Fabulous Alternatives, part of “Making Nature: How we see animals”, jointly organised by Wellcome Collection and Grant Museum of Zoology, London.
Event webpage here, exhibition webpage here

Northern Ireland Science Festival

Artist talk by first artist-in-residence of the Northern Ireland Science Festival, Gemma Anderson. Gemma talks with Niccolò Tempini, at Naughton Gallery from the exhibition ‘Drawn Investigations from Art and Science’.

 

Society for Experimental Biology Keynote: Drawing as a way of knowing in biology

Dr Gemma Anderson presents drawing as a way of knowing for art and science to extend the understanding of, and engagement with, the diversity of natural form. Dr Anderson focuses on how she developed this practice and explores some current research projects.

This lecture was filmed at the Society for Experimental Biology on the 13th December 2016.

http://creativityinscienceteaching.co.uk/lectures/play/1144