Join us for a Round Table Discussion inspired by SPLICE

Dorothy Foster Chubb, Head (Detail), carbon dust, 1942-1945

Join us on Friday October 26, 2012, Bissel Building, room 538  (University of Toronto) from 5 to 7 pm  for a round table discussion  moderated by curator Nina Czegledy,  with Allison Crawford,  Assistant Professor  Psychiatry UofT, Prof David A Steinman, Biomedical Simulation UofT and exhibiting artists Jack Butler and Danielle Drew Belsky. In collaboration with Subtle Technologies, ArtSci Salon and KMDI, University of Toronto.

The round table entitled “The Mediated Body” is inspired by SPLICE : At the Intersection of Arts and Medicine. This show presents a scientific gaze at the human body by showcasing traditional anatomical art, complemented and challenged by contemporary artworks.   Over recent decades the human body has become a key site of scientific, social political and cultural interpretations. The paradigm shifts revealed important questions about alienation, the potential loss of agency and context while at the same time allowing us new opportunities for expressions of identity on a borderless scale. The increased uses of technologies have changed how we see ourselves and the world around us. The panel discussion is intended to investigate and comment on these issues.  The exhibition SPLICE : At the Intersection of Arts and Medicine is curated by Nina Czegledy and is co-presented by Blackwood Gallery and the University of Toronto Art Centre. For more information on the show and other accompying events please visit the Blackwood Gallery  website.

Join us Thursday Night for an Opening Reception with Elaine Whittaker’s Cc:me

We are looking forward to our kickoff event Thursday evening from 7:30 to 10 pm at the Red Head Gallery.

Elaine Whittaker is a Toronto based  bioartist. Elaine has been busy this week installing her show Cc:me.  Elaine’s transdisciplinary work perfectly mirrors Subtle Technologies mandate of bringing together art and science. When you see her work you will agree that she combines art and science in elegant ways.

For this show she combines live halobacteria  with archival fax material collected over a ten year period.

The opening reception will include ambient sound works by Tom Auger and poetry readings by Jim Johnstone, Julie Roorda, Ruth Roach Pierson, and Larry Sulky. For more information on the show and reception please check out this page on our site. See you at the Red Head Gallery!

A Dancing Physicist

We are excited that Krister Shalm will be joining us at our symposium Friday . That day we will look at a number of ideas across the spectrum of art and science, from quantum physics to an artist’s interpretation of motion patterns in bird flight. Krister joined us a number of years ago to speak on some other research he was doing at the time. He was entertaining then and I’m looking forward to his presentation again this year. Not only is he an award winning physicist, Krister is an amazing dancer

Krister Heel Click 606x403 Krister Shalm

His passion for communicating science has led him to team up with a magician, musicians and other dancers.  Krister’s Project Q brought together almost 500 Lindy Hop dancers to demonstrate the power of quantum computing. Hopefully Krister will have a chance to tell and show us more about that project on Friday but he will also speak about some interesting work he recently did with University of Toronto physicist Aephraim Steinberg . Their research was recently awarded Top Physics Beakthrough of the Year by Physics World. This research involved using “weak measurements” to trace the average trajectories of single photons in the classical double slit experiment.

I’m looking forward to hearing more about this work from Krister since I have always been led to believe this was an impossible measurement to make.  This will be a very inspiring presentation not to be missed!

Ecology + dance = ?

We’re really lucky this year to have LINK Dance company coming out to our Festival for a two-night Toronto premiere of EXPERIMENTS: Where Logic and Emotion Collide.

What I’m particularly looking forward to seeing is how the choreographer Gail Lotenberg has synthesised the scientific and the artistic in this piece.

I particularly remember something Gail said when she was visiting the Festival last year to give a talk about this piece. People often talk about how both science and art are similar because they’re both creative, but Gail said something much more interesting: she was struck by the similarity between how scientists and artists observe the world intensely, and by their shared desire to understand the tiniest details.

Based on my last couple of years of working with artists (having a scientific background myself), I think she’s definitely captured something there. I’m certainly looking forward to seeing how this idea of deep observation emerges in EXPERIMENTS.

And of course the images from the production are striking: Here’s a couple of my favorites:

Subtle Technologies Festival Coming Soon!!

It’s that time of year when we look forward to international artists and scientists coming together at our festival to share their work with each other and our audience. Keep your eye on our blog as we present the latest news and tell you more about upcoming events and festival participants.

We have had a great year of doing workshops in science labs throughout the year. At our festival we will be hosting a workshop on (get ready for it) SLIME MOULD. This unique organism has found it’s way into many areas of research including city planning, adaptation and robotics. The workshop is being hosted by visual artist, researcher and educator,  Heather Barnett from the University of Westminster in the UK.

Photo by Heather Barnett

Heather has been conducting a number of experiments with slime mold as part of her art practice. She started an amazing blog entitled The Slime Mould Collective, which invites scientists artists and others who are investigating the properties of slime mold to post their images and comments. The images on the site are visually stunning. Check out the blog and  I think you’ll agree.

Here is an interesting article about Japanese scientist Toshiyuki Nakagaki who is attempting to understand slime molds ability to solve mazes.

There are a limited number of spaces in the workshop so sign up early to guarantee a place. You will get to bring home your own pet slime mold. You can find more information on the workshop here.

Announcing ArtScienceCamp2

ArtScienceCamp2 is happening again in just a few weeks: February 3-4, 2012. In case you haven’t been before, ArtScienceCamp is an unconference that starts with a party on the Friday evening where we plan the events for Saturday. Anything goes: discussions, demos, games, lightning talks….. anything that fits into art, science or technology!

Registration is now open. We’re also looking for sponsors, volunteers and people to help get the word out. Contact us if you can help.

Thanks to Hart House for once again providing their fabulous space for the event.

Adaptive Design: Creating opportunities for social engagement for children with disabilities

By Megan

I felt incredibly inspired after hearing the talk on adaptive design. This talk addressed the social model of disability research and the development of technologies for children with disabilities. I love hearing about people who take an innovative, open and accessible approach to solving problems, and this example completely fit the bill. Inspired by a project in Manhattan, the adaptive design lab (part of EDGE lab) is creating opportunities for ordinary people to create adaptive technologies using cardboard, in order to satisfy the unique needs of children with disabilities.

Some exciting things about this specific project:

– It’s accessible – just about anyone can develop a new adaptive technology without requiring advanced knowledge or skill of mechanics or design, nor are there advanced tools required. The objects are, after all, made from cardboard.

– Each new project is tailored to individual children’s needs, but they create opportunities for others, too. Participants in the lab can build furniture (chairs, cradles, rockers) or other objects (keyboards, keyboard stands) based on any observed need from working with, or caring for, children with special needs. But of course, each new development provides inspiration for creating more the same objects, or creating new and different kinds of objects. The objects can also be replicated for other children who do not have special needs, in order to create a level playing field in social settings.

– Adaptive technologies not only empower children with special-needs to participate in the same activities as other children, they actually create opportunities for social engagement during those activities, which is perhaps the most powerful thing they could possibly do. The terrific example gave in the talk was about Zoe, a child who, when was able to play in the sandbox without the support of an adult (through the way of a cardboard chair), other children began to make eye contact and play with her. The progression of this led to the other children learning sign language, building friendships with Zoe, and provided her a way of developing her own autonomy and opportunity for social interaction. Powerful!

Here is a video of more examples of how adaptive design is used to create important opportunities for children with special needs to reach their full potential as fully-engaged social participants.

Among The Giants from Adaptive Design Association on Vimeo.

One of the things I loved about this talk was that it:

– Reminded me of how incredibly ableist our society is, and how truly exclusionary so many environments are.

– Inspired me to see how something as simple as a lab filled with cardboard could change someone’s universe; all that is necessary are ideas and the space and support set aside for creation.

– Made me think about other questions – like, how are other individuals excluded from social participation and how can we take a similar innovative, accessible and participative approach to address these problems?


Stephen Morris – more photos & videos

By Megan DePutter

Loved the dynamic presentation by Stephen Morris this afternoon! At the end of the presentation, he alluded to his Flickr account, which I highly recommend you check out. Lots of other fascinating images and videos can be found there.  Specifically, you can see more of the patterns he referred to today, in washboard roads, iciclesviscous fluid in motion and the famous dried egg with radial cracks – the image used by Subtle Technologies for this year’s festival.

Dr. Michael Page & New developments in digital holography

By Megan

Michael Page is Professor, faculty of Art OCAD U and Visiting Professor, Institute for Optical Sciences, U of T.  Funnily enough, the first thing that I thought of when I learned that Dr. Page would be presenting on digital holography, is the holodeck. Apparently, I’m not the only one.  Dr. Page says that the public is so anxious to get to the holodeck that scientists are actually borrowing the term holography to meet that demand.  So, there are cool 3D constructs on the ipad, and some other interesting ideas masquerading as holographic technologies – but they’re not truly holograms.  Dr. Page did, however, share some actual holograms with us, including holograms with Margaret Atwood, and one where the hologram’s eyes follow you wherever you go. In addition, haptic holography is all about creating holograms you can actually touch. For example, an augmented work station that allows the user to feel some degree of friction and texture of objects, and actually move objects through interactive hologrpahic displays. Dr. Page also showed a fantastic example of an animated hologram – for example a sundial hologram on an iphone to tell the time by interacting with other technologies on the iphone that can identify the direction of the sun.  I’d love to see that show up on the app store!