Stelarc, Gustav Metzger, Lucy McRae, Oron Catts, Tony Prescott, Andrew Pickering, London Fieldworks, chaired by Theodore Spyropoulos

Constructing Frameworks: On Mind, Matter, and Machines - POSTPONED

Series: Symposium
Date: Friday 18 March 2016
Time: 10:00
Venue: Lecture Hall
Running time: 0 mins

Please note: due to unforeseen circumstances the symposium today had to be cut short. We apologise for any inconvenience caused and it will be rescheduled for a later date. Please check the website for the new date.

We live in an age where science fiction has become fact. Our everyday is as radical as ever with change, latency and uncertainty being the new norm. The once comfortable and understood historical models of the past have proven limited in their capacity to engage and address the complexities of the contemporary condition. As we live in ever evolving information-rich environments, the question is how architecture and design in an expanded field of understanding can actively participate. From biotech, artificial intelligence, machine learning, autonomous infrastructures, material agency the symposium brings together leading figures from the arts / sciences / philosophy / cybernetics / design and architecture to engage in a playpen of conversation. The discussions moderated by AADRL Director Theodore Spyropoulos will examine the Future of Future in an ever present today.

Stelarc explores alternate anatomical architectures. He is an artist whose projects incorporate prosthetics, robotics, biotechnology, medical imaging and the internet. He has performed with a Third Hand, a Stomach Sculpture, Exoskeleton and a Prosthetic Head. He is surgically constructing and stem-cell growing an ear on his arm that will be internet enabled. In 1996 he was made an Honorary Professor of Art and Robotics at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh and in 2002 was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Laws by Monash University, Melbourne. In 2010 he was awarded the Ars Electronica Hybrid Arts Prize. In 2014 he initated the Alternate Anatomies Lab and was Director for 2 years. In 2015 he received the Australia Council’s Emerging and Experimental Arts Award. Stelarc is currently a Distinguished Research Fellow, School of Design and Art (SODA) at Curtin University. His artwork is represented by the Scott Livesey Galleries, Melbourne.

Gustav Metzger, born in 1926, developed the concept of auto-destructive art where destruction was part of the process of creating the work. Themes of political activism and engagement are heavily rooted in his work. He arrived in Britain as a refugee after losing several members of his family in the Holocaust and was associated with protests against American rocket bases in the UK as well as campaigns for nuclear disarmament. He also went to prison for encouraging mass non-violent civil disobedience.

Tony Prescott is Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Sheffield, Director of Sheffield Robotics, a cross-disciplinary research institute with over one hundred researchers, and the co-creator of the animal-like robots Scratchbot, Shrewbot and MiRo.  His background mixes psychology and brain theory with robotics and AI, and his research aims at answering questions about human nature by creating synthetic entities with human-like capacities such as perception, memory, emotion and sense of self.  He co-founded the International Living Machines conference series and recently launched Consequential Robotics a UK startup developing assistive and companion robots. In 2015 he presented at the Royal College of Art’s ‘Fear of Missing Out’, and at Tencent’s ‘Way to Evolve’ conference on human relationships with robots and the possibility of robotic selves.  He recently published the Scholarpedia of Touch and is currently editing Living Machines: A Handbook of Research in Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems for Oxford University Press.  With recent funding from the AHRC and the EU Framework 7 programme he is also exploring the societal and cultural impacts of future robotic, AI, virtual reality and telepresence technologies.

Lucy McRae is a science fiction artist, director and world proclaimed body architect probing the frontiers of the body, health and human adaptability. Trained in classical ballet and interior design Lucy’s artistic study of technology began during her formative years at Philips Design, where she led the technology company’s far–future research lab. A broad portfolio that focused on emotional sensing, she developed stretchable electronics, an electronic tattoo and a range of emotional sensing dresses awarded TIME’s Best Inventions of 2007. Lucy McRae is a TED Fellow, inventor of the Swallowable Parfum and has spoken at Tribeca Film Festival, London’s Royal College of Physicians, Royal Albert Hall and BBC World Radio Service. Connecting science with the imagination, she is listed by Fast Company as one of the leading women shaping the future.

Oron Catts is the Director of SymbioticA, The Centre of Excellence in Biological Arts, School of Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology, The University of Western Australia. He is also a Professor of Contestable Design at The Royal College of Arts, London, and a Visiting Professor at the School of Art, Design and Architecture, Aalto University, Helsinki. He is an artist, designer, researcher and curator whose pioneering work with the Tissue Culture and Art Project (established in 1996) is considered a leading biological art project. In 2000 he co-founded SymbioticA. Under Catts’ leadership SymbioticA has gone on to win the Prix Ars Electronica Golden Nica in Hybrid Art (2007) the WA Premier Science Award (2008) and became a Centre for Excellence in 2008. In 2009 Catts was recognised by Thames & Hudson’s “60 Innovators Shaping our Creative Future” book in the category “Beyond Design”, and by Icon Magazine (UK) as one of the top 20 Designers, “making the future and transforming the way we work”. Catts interest is Life; more specifically the shifting relations and perceptions of life in the light of new knowledge and it applications. Often working in collaboration with other artists (mainly Dr. Ionat Zurr) and scientists, Catts have developed a body of work that speaks volumes about the need for new cultural articulation of evolving concepts of life. Catts was a Research Fellow in Harvard Medical School, a visiting Scholar at the Department of Art and Art History, Stanford University. Catts’ ideas and projects reach beyond the confines of art; his work is often cited as inspiration to diverse areas such as new materials, textiles, design, architecture, ethics, fiction, and food.

Andrew Pickering is professor emeritus in sociology and philosophy at the University of Exeter. His field is science and technology studies. His books include Constructing Quarks: A Sociological History of Particle Physics, The Mangle of Practice: Time, Agency and Science and The Cybernetic Brain: Sketches of Another Future, and he is the editor of Science as Practice and Culture, The Mangle in Practice: Science, Society and Becoming (with Keith Guzik) and Science as It Could Have Been: Discussing the Contingency/Inevitability Problem (with Léna Soler and Emiliano Trizio). His current research focuses on questions of ontology, the arts and the environment.




Theodore Spyropoulos is an architect, educator, and the Director of the Architectural Association’s world renowned Design Research Lab (AADRL) in London. He has been a visiting Research Fellow at M.I.T.’s Center for Advanced Visual Studies working with the Interrogative Design Group and co-founded the New Media and Information Research initiative at the Architectural Association. He has taught in the graduate school of the University of Pennsylvania and the Royal College of Art, Innovation Design Engineering Department. Theodore directs the experimental architecture and design studio Minimaforms with his brother Stephen Spyropoulos. The work of Minimaforms is in the permanent collections of the FRAC Centre (France), the Signum Foundation (Poland) and the Archigram Archive (UK). In 2008 their project Memory Cloud was named one of the top ten international art installations by the Telegraph. Recent exhibitions have included work shown at the Barbican Centre London, Museum of Modern Art (New York), Detroit Institute of Arts, ICA (London), FRAC Centre (France), Futura Gallery (Prague), Slovak National Gallery (Bratislava), and the Architecture Foundation (UK). Previously Theodore has worked as a project architect for the offices of Peter Eisenman and Zaha Hadid Architects.

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