CONF Jul 23, 2005

Rules of Engagement (New York, 5-7 Sep 05)

Ingeborg Reichle

Rules of Engagement
Science and art conference
5 –7 September 2005
University of York

Art and science each hold the allure of a powerful cultural ‘other’.
Artists wish to appropriate science, scientists to harness art, for the
benefit of their own practices. To what extent can this desire be
collaborative or mutually beneficial? This provocative conference – a
melting pot of talks, events, performances and debate – challenges the
serene vision of art and science as a warm, fuzzy continuum and asks
instead what really happens when different perspectives, expectations,
interests and languages converge. When artists are natural transgressors
and scientists trained to be cautious, are there risks as well as
benefits? What happens when science is taken out of the lab, away from its
safety procedures and cultural assumptions? Do artists have any
responsibility towards scientific data, how it is manipulated and
presented? In its interplay with science, is art contributing to
knowledge, creating meaning or on a quest to change the world? In this
collision of politics, ethics and imagination – spanning ecology,
bioscience and deep space – what are the Rules of Engagement?

Artist Andrew Stones engages with the untidy, everyday collisions of art,
science, nature and technology, and a concern with how knowledge, history,
authority and power become linked and politicised. As NESTA Fellow
2001–04, he visited scientifi c establishments such as Arecibo Radio
Observatory, Big Bear Solar Observatory and CERN, forming the focus of
exhibitions including Atlas (London and Copenhagen, 2004).

Dr Lloyd Anderson is Director of Science at the British Council. Earlier
this year he launched ZeroCarbonCity, a global British Council
campaign to stimulate debate around climate change and the energy
challenges facing the world’s greatest cities, emphasising mitigation,
adaptation, and practical measures that we can adopt in the face of these

Oron Catts is an artist and Artistic Director of SymbioticA, a research
laboratory in the School of Anatomy and Human Biology at The University of
Western Australia that enables artists to engage in wet biology practices
for the artistic exploration of scientifi c knowledge. He has grown pigs’
wings and semi-living worry dolls as part of the Tissue Culture and Art
project, questioning a future immersed in new biological technologies.

Nicola Triscott is Director of The Arts Catalyst, which for 12 years has
promoted cooperation between the arts and sciences and expanded new
territories for artistic practice. It aims to extend and activate a
fundamental shift in the relationship between art and science and its
perception by the public. Current concerns focus on biotechnology,
ecology, remote environments, space, astrophysics and micro- and hyper-
gravity research.

Cape Farewell, led by artist David Buckland, brings together scientists,
educationalists and artists to address and raise awareness about climate
change. Sailing to the Arctic via a previously icebound route, a series of
expeditions explore the very seas that can help us understand how the
planet is warming, to what degree changing weather patterns could affect
our urban lives, and the possibilities for positive change.

Lise Autogena and Josh Portway are probably best known for their Black
Shoals Stock Market Planetarium shown at Tate Britain (2001). With a live
feed from the world’s stock markets, stars in a planetarium representing
companies moved into constellations, clusters and galaxies, reflecting
movements on the markets and causing an artificial evolutionary process.
This has generated other works including The Most Blue Skies project.

New York artist Brandon Ballengée is as much scientist as artist. He
combines a fascination with fish and amphibians with techniques of fine
art imaging and strategies of environmental activism. His current
project will generate scientific data on amphibian decline and
deformities across the UK and develop his performative research
investigations and visual artworks, as he wades through some of
Yorkshire’s ponds.

The work of American bio-artist Adam Zaretsky includes studying how E.Coli
bacteria respond to being played Engelbert Humperdinck’s Greatest Hits.
Whilst humour remains a mainstay in Zaretsky’s artwork and scientific
practice, his endeavours are grounded in a serious and complex
understanding of biological and genetic issues that are very much a part
of contemporary society.

Having worked with scientists and rats at the University of Oxford and the
National Institute for Medical Research, artist Lucy Kimbell will give her
performance lecture One Night With Rats in the Service of Art. The lecture
raises ethical questions about the use of animals in science and art, as
well as presenting a humorous narrative as Kimbell contemplates the role
of rats in contemporary society.

Simon Gould is a freelance curator, specialising in interdisciplinary art
projects. He has been resident curator at the National Institute for
Medical Research (NIMR) in North London since 2003, organising artist
residencies, talks, exhibitions, publications and other interventions.
Other curatorial projects include State of Mind at the LSE (London, 2005),
DMZ Media Arts Festival (London, 2003) and About Belief at the South
London Gallery (2002).

Ian Hunter is Project Director and lead artist of Littoral, a nonprofit
arts trust pioneering the role of the arts in response to social,
environmental, and economic change. As part of Littoral’s New Fields, he
is developing a long-term project with the Agriculture and Rural Strategy
Group at the Central Science Laboratories in York, exploring how artists
and designers can contribute to research into non-food fibre crops and
alternative land use.

Artist Jo Joelson of London Fieldworks was Arts Council England/AHRC Art
and Science Fellow in 2004 with the Radio and Space Plasma Physics Group
at the University of Leicester. Darren Wright is a physicist in this
group, which is at the forefront of research into the interaction of
planetary environments with the solar wind. London Fieldworks’ Little
Earth inquires how the data of natural phenomena is interpreted and made
manifest in both art and science.

Comma Press is an independent publishing collective established in 2002 by
editor Ra Page, which holds short stories and literary writing informed by
scientifi c thought close to its heart. In an attempt to turn the sci-fi
relationship between literature and science on its head, for its newest
book Interpunct, Comma has invited leading scientists and science writers
to interpret and manifest their theories in fi ction.

Professor Dianna Bowles is Director of CNAP, the Centre for Novel
Agricultural Products, in the Department of Biology at the University of
York. CNAP specialises in plant and microbial gene research, using biology
to benefit society and to provide a sustainable future. Professor Bowles
initiated the partnership with Arts Council England, Yorkshire to
establish the 2004 Sense of Science artist residencies at CNAP.

Composer and musician Andrew Cleaton, dancer and choreographer Lucy
Cullingford, photographer Lizzie Coombes and Ruth Ben-Tovim, site-specific
artist, spent six months at CNAP for the Sense of Science residencies.
Working in collaboration with each other and with research scientists in
the laboratories, their series of performative events explored the use and
understanding of science, and perceptions about science and scientists.

Lizz Tuckerman uses her scientifi c background as Research Associate at
the Centre for Stem Cell Biology at the University of Sheffi eld, to
inform the concepts and processes in her artistic practice. Commissioned
by Arts Council England, Yorkshire, her new work for the conference venue
Fourth Most Common will refer to C (carbon) cycling, the system that
sustains life on earth.

Additional entertainment courtesy of Simon Thackray, The Shed In 1992,
Simon Thackray created the cultural phenomenon that is The Shed. From the
tiny village of Brawby on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors, Thackray
has created extraordinary events such as the world famous Yorkshire
Pudding Boat Race and the North Yorkshire Elvis Bus Tour. The Fish and
Chip Van Tour and Mrs Boyes’ Bingo featuring Mark Sanders will feed and
entertain on Tuesday evening.



1.30 Welcome and introductionsRachel Chapman, Science and Art
Coordinator, Arts Council England, YorkshireAndy Carver, Executive
Director, Arts Council England, YorkshireProfessor Dianna Bowles,
Director, CNAP, Chair Professor Dianna Bowles

2.00 Lloyd Anderson

2.35 David Buckland, Cape Farewell

3.10 Discussion


3.50 Lise Autogena and Josh Portway

4.25 Simon Gould

5.00 Lucy Kimbell, performance lecture ‘One night with rats in the
service of art’

5.35 Discussion and comments from the Chair

6.00 CocktailsComma Press book launch 'Interpunct: Thought
Experiments in Real Space' Opening of work by Lizz Tuckerman commissioned
for the conference venue, introduced by Alison Andrews, Performing Arts
Officer, Arts Council England, Yorkshire+ other events tbc

8.00 onwards DINNER


9.45 Introduction from the Chair Professor Andrew Webster, Director,
Science and Technology Studies Unit, University of York

10.00 Brandon Ballengee

10.35 Ian Hunter, Littoral

11.10 Discussion


11.40 Oron Catts

12.15 Adam Zaretsky

12.50 Discussion


2.00 Andrew Stones

2.35 Nicola Triscott

3.10 Jo Joelson and Darren Wright

3.45 Discussion


4.30-5.45 Break-out discussionsQuestions from panelists and from
the floor (panelists tbc) Art, Landscape and the Environment Art,
Biotechnology and Ethics or What Would Jesus Do? Interdisciplinary
Collaborations: Who are they good for?

5.50-6.25 Ruth Ben-Tovim and Lizzie Coombes, performance lecture

6.25-6.35 Discussion and comments from the Chair

Approx 6.45 Coach into York city centre

7.00 onwards Drinks, dinner and events in York courtesy of Simon
Thackray, The ShedThe Fish & Chip Van TourMrs Boyes’ Bingo featuring Mark


Oron Catts & Adam Zaretsky Biotechworkshop Brandon Ballengee Fieldtrip
exploring local ecology Andy Gracie (hostprods) BEAM robotworkshop Tbc


12.45 Brief round-up from workshopsClosing comments


2.30 – 4.30 Optional tour of CNAP labs and the Technology Facility

The conference will be of interest to artists, scientists, curators,
organisations, educators and science communicators, whether already
engaged in science and art practice, or wishing to pursue an active

Registration fee: £165 full, £75 concessions (to include refreshments,
meals, accommodation and events) Programme may be subject to change.

CONF: Rules of Engagement (New York, 5-7 Sep 05). In:, Jul 23, 2005 (accessed Apr 14, 2024), <>.