Mutamorphosis + Enter 3 Festival :: Boo Chapple

November 2007, Prague Czech Republic

Rebreathe video work in the Unsafe Distance Exhibition, Enter 3 Festival, Prague.

Rebreathe video work in the Unsafe Distance Exhibition, Enter 3 Festival, Prague.

The Mutamorphosis: Challenging Arts and Sciences conference and accompanying Enter 3 Festival was a large event that brought together several generations of the art/science community. As such, it presented a unique opportunity to connect names to faces and meet with peers from around the world. The paper that I presented – Bodies of Water, Bodies of Waste, Continuous Bodies – was well received and provided a platform for some interesting discussions with other conference goers. Likewise, Rebreathe, the video piece I exhibited in the Unsafe Distance exhibition as part of the Enter 3 Festival, also elicited discussion and some positive feedback. The element of humour clearly evident in my work was viewed as a welcome respite from some of the more didactic works and presentations.

As is the case with many conferences, some of the most interesting discussions and meetings took place at the edges of the main events, in the cafes and bars around the centre of Prague. There were also a series of thematic discussions organised in a smaller space close to the two main lecture theatres and exhibitions to be seen during the day if you got tired of sitting and listening to presentations. Every night there was at least one exhibition opening or social event to be attended. Despite my best intentions, I ended up missing a few things either by virtue of getting impossibly lost in the windy streets of the Old Town or out of over-stimulated exhaustion. Indeed one of the down sides of there being such a large number of people attending the event and so many things on was that the energy tended to get a little splintered. On a number of occasions I began a conversation with someone, expecting to be able to finish it at a later time, only to lose them altogether. However, one of the benefits of being able to meet up with so many peers and see so much work in the field was that it paved the way for further conversations and connections at other locations in Europe during the remainder of my trip.

Re:Place Histories of New Media Art Science and Technology Conference, Berlin
From Prague I caught the train to Berlin to attend the Re:Place Conference. Unfortunately, we got stuck at the tail end of the German train strike and spent five hours sitting somewhere in a rural Czech siding going nowhere. Luckily, I was still working on my conference presentation and German trains are all equipped with power outlets so I could keep my laptop running.

The Re:Place Conference had more of an academic feel to it than Mutamorphosis and I was surprised that there was not more of an overlap in the delegates. The paper I gave was entitled Sound, Matter, Flesh: A history of crosstalk from medicine to contemporary art and biology, and it was well received, with some interesting questions posed and useful comments given at the end. Overall, the conference once again provided an opportunity to put names to faces, to reconnect with international peers and meet new ones. While there were many interesting papers, my favourite part of the Conference was the poster sessions as they provided the opportunity to get a broad overview of many different topics and international contexts where new media art has developed and is taking place.

While I was in Berlin I took the opportunity to visit a number of contemporary galleries and the Berlin Medical Historical Museum, which has a great collection of pathological specimens. I also met with Katie Hepworth, one of the founders and organisers of Transit Lounge in Berlin.

From Berlin I travelled on to The Netherlands, where I was able to visit The Arts and Genomics Centre at the University of Leiden. This was a good opportunity for me to get a sense of how the Centre runs and to discuss future opportunities with the Scientific Manager, Anne Kienhuis. While I was in The Netherlands I met and discussed work with Amsterdam based members of the FOAM lab. I then travelled on to Brussels to visit the FOAM headquarters.

Thus, in summary, both conferences served as invaluable opportunities to present work to an international audience and to make important professional connections. They also provided me with an opportunity to further my networks in Europe and to have the kind of face to face meetings that are usually difficult to achieve from the isolation of the Southern Hemisphere.

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