Sonic Acts XIII

Sonic Acts XIII. Thirteenth Sonic Acts Festival, The Poetics of Space, 25-28 February 2010.  Roger Malina: Session 9 Gardeners of the Future, Sunday, 13:00 – 15:00

In order to survive the near future, humans need to rapidly adapt to the challenges ahead. Artists will play an important role in ‘gardening’ the future, not only by shifting from computer technology to biology and genetic engineering, but also by starting to understand the universe as a single, large natural algorithm that needs gardening in order to function in a sustainable way.

Abstract: Roger Malina
Intimate Science; Or Artists in the Dark Universe

Humans were designed very badly to understand the universe they live in. Our senses filter out almost all the kinds of energy that reach our body. We develop ideas and intuitions based on our sensory experience of phenomena at our own physical and temporal scales. Scientists today obtain almost all their knowledge of the world via scientific instruments, not through their senses. Yet our intuitions, languages, metaphors and myths develop from our daily experience. Over 97% of the universe is in a form that emits no kind of light; it is dark. Because our body does not detect CO2 directly, it took over a hundred years before the increase in atmosphere CO2 reached our individual or collective consciousness. One of the tasks of art-science collaboration is to short circuit this process, making current scientific knowledge intimate. This is no decorative activity, it is part of the toolkit to allow us to survive the decades ahead.

The session also includes:

Paul Prudence
Generative Spaces: The Spatiotemporal Subroutines of Runtime Planet Earth

From the global to the microscopic, the Earth runs subroutines that generate a multiplicity of complex patterns & emergent spaces – their runtime(s) lasting from anywhere between a few milliseconds to millions of years. Paul Prudence discusses the metamorphic algorithms, hydrodynamic computations, aeolian protocols and sonic mechanisms, sometimes acting in collaboration with living organisms that define the dynamic generative forms and spaces around us.

Philip Beesley: Responsive Environments
Beesley presents a detailed tour through his recent interactive immersive environments. Discussion of implications of interactive architecture will be offered, commenting on behaviours and interactive qualities of these installations. Illustrated projects will include the Hylozoic Soil series, an immersive interactive reef construction  composed of overlapping flexible meshworks populated with kinetic ‘pores’, installed in a series of European spaces and the 2010 Venice Biennale. Also included will be the 2008-9 Epithelium series, which integrates air-muscle powered suspended meshworks, densely massed whiskers, and delicate ground-works of skeletal tripod-fields powered by organic power units organized as unit-clusters with faint signal-lure lights, microprocessor-controlled burrowing agents and space-filling filter packs. A cultural tradition is be explored in the talk, placing these new works within a context of work that questions the long history of humanism. The argument attempts a stance in an intertwined world moving beyond closed systems, pursuing mutually dependent relationships. An ambivalent argument will question expansion of human domain, considering the continuing ‘progress’ of the Enlightenment while also pursuing opposing qualities of sentiment and empathy commonly associated with nineteenth and twentieth-century anti-Modern aesthetics.

Gardeners of the Future closing session
The Panel Gardeners of the Future is followed by the closing session of the festival comprising a panel discussion moderated by Lucas van der Velden, with Roger Malina, Paul Prudence, Philip Beesley and others.