International Festival of New Technologies, Art + Communication :: Guy Ben-Ary

April 2004 :: Bilabo, Spain

I was invited to present -“MEART – The Semi Living Artist” in [email protected] Bilbao 2004: International Festival of New Technologies, Art + Communication that took place in Bilbao (Spain) from the 23rd to the 30th of April, 2004 [1].

The presentation was given at the international conference, part of [email protected] festival, that was held between April 26th – April 29th . The conference addressed the theme “Challenges for a Ubiquitous Identity”. I participated in the – “Body & Nets” panel that incorporated issues such as technological extensions of the individual and of global society, the extension, distribution and interaction of the mind on the net, body intensification, “news from the cyborg”, gender and the net and extension, distribution and interaction of the mind on the net. The theme of the panel fitted extremely well with my presentation, which generated a lot of interest in MEART and its implications.

This international conference was held for 4 days including dozens of scholars and artists from all over the world. The feedback I received was very positive and many people expressed interested in the work. Listeners were fascinated by nature of the art science collaboration within SymbioticA Research Group and with The Potter lab and the details of the project. The opportunity to be part of such an extensive conference of new media art was of immense significance for me. I used this opportunity for my own professional development as well as a way to pitch my own practice to the rest of the conference participant.

By participating in the festival and conferences, I was able to network with some of the leading new media artists and theorists in the world and establish a potential for future collaborations. I got a number of preliminary invitations for future exhibitions and presentations of MERAT and other projects that I’m currently involved with (see summery of contacts and opportunities at the end).

I felt that I strengthen the potential relationships with some of the Spanish art players who attended the conference and informed the public that attended the conference about my practice of cybernetics and Bio-art.

Furthermore it exposed me to new techniques and discourses from other participants. It exposed and promoted my artwork, produced in Australia, to the public, academia and the media, representing Australia, ANAT and SymbioticA as leading country/organizations in the field of Art & Technology.

Networking with the artists/scientists enabled further collaborations and information exchange. I was able to learn about the recent developments in the field of art, robotics, as well as making contacts with people/organizations in Spain. It was an “eye opener” that contributed to my personal and professional development and brought new ideas/inspiration to my practice.

Within Australia, my collaborators and I are engaging with the emerging artistic fields of robotics, biological art and the interface between machine and biological systems. My attendance at the conference helped to position Australia as a leading place for artists that are dealing with biology, drawing on the resources available in Australia such as ANAT and SymbioticA. The experience of participating in [email protected] and the opportunity to network with other practitioners in the field generated further cross continent collaborations and interest. So too the opportunity to engage in debate regarding the implications of MEART is valuable for further developments in my engagement in art and technology.

After my talk the Technical Director of ART Futura -Joaquim Anguas [2]. One of the largest new media art festivals in Europe approached me and invited me to present & Exhibit MEART in the 2005 festival. I’m also looking at the possibilities of hooking up with the ART Futura 2004 conference and broadcasting a live SymbioticA panel discussion to Spain (four hours of talks by resident artists).

The key note speaker on the Body & Nets panel – Dr. Susan Kozel (from the smart Lab in Essex) was very interested in the discourse that is generated in SymbioticA and decided to come for a visit in Perth in July. She will be a formal guest of SymbioticA and will probably present her work in a few forums in Perth.

Renowned artists like Bill Vorn, Christiane Paul, Kathy Marmor, Raquel Kogan were impressed by the MERAT project and I had a lot of stimulating discussion about art & science and the discourses around it. Some of them send their catalogues to the SymbioticA library and a few (like Bill Vorn) indicated that they might approach SymbioticA in the future to look into the possibility of coming to Perth for a residency.

Annick Bureau, a French art critique, who is following work that comes out of SymbioticA, expressed her continuing interest in the project and is interested in writing an article about it in a French art magazine, as well as exploring the possibility of her coming for a writing residency at SymbioticA .

Antonio Carvalho, a curator from Portugal and Director of QUADRUM GALERIA DE ARTE [3], invited the SymbioticA Research Group to exhibit and present MEART in a group exhibition focusing on Bio-Art next year.

Yael Eylat ven-Assen, the director of digital Media studies in “Camera Obscura” in Israel expressed her interest in incorporating a paper about MEART in a new book that she is editing “Digital Art” and expressed interest in inviting us for a biennale that she is the director of in Israel – Ein Harod Biennale.

Jose Ramon Alcala, director of the “Museo International de Electrografia” [4] gave me an open invitation for a residency in his lab.

And finally it was a pleasure to meet Australian colleagues (Kate Richards, Kathy Cleland, and Paul Thomas) and Interact & hear their talk.

Guy Ben-Ary
SymbioticA Research Group
SymbioticA – The Art & Science Collaborative Research Lab
School of Anatomy & Human Biology
University of Western Australia





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