Biotech Art Workshop: Zones Of Inhibition | Call for Applicants

December 5 to 8, 2013

Video Pool Media Arts Studio, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Video Pool Media Art Centre, INCUBATOR Lab at the University of Windsor and Plug In ICA announce a call for artist-participants for Zones of Inhibition, a four-day workshop about Biotech Arts, as part of the upcoming project TOXICITY (which includes an exhibition, symposium, workshop at Plug In ICA and Video Pool Media Arts).

The four-day practical and theoretical workshop Zones of Inhibition, led by the internationally renowned artist Niki Sperou, will provide the opportunity for artists to work with living biological media. Artists will work responsibly with readily available materials and domestic appliances in order to produce biotech projects. The aim of the workshop is to facilitate access to current scientific research and to bring this knowledge into the public domain, thereby instigating productive interchanges between different areas of specialization. Practical exercises presented during the workshop will be supplemented with theoretical tutorials and group discussion based on the ideologies of bio-ethics, bio-colonialism, ecology and broader bio-political concerns. Participants will approach the practical and theoretical implications of making media and creating environments, toxicity assays and calculation, gene transfection and the use of metaphor in biotechnological practice.

In its scientific application, toxicity is calculated in regard to populations rather than individuals. The concept is species specific, and its effects are quantifiable. There are many types of toxicity, for example, chemical, biological and physical. However, there is a paradoxical nature to the idea of toxicity as there can be positive, negative or benign outcomes to exposure. Toxicity can be a tool for the selection of desired traits, where toxic exposure can precipitate the production of resistant bodies and immunity can render toxic materials harmless.

Adelaide artist Niki Sperou investigates the nexus between art, science, culture and their role in the shaping of human identity. Sperou’s experimental intermedia works combine sculpture, textiles, photography, moving images, painting/drawing, traditional crafts, biological organisms and biotechnical laboratory processes and products. Since 2006, Sperou has been Artist in Residence at the Department of Medical Biotechnology, Flinders University, Australia, and tutors in art theory at the University of Southern Australia. She has led workshops and discussion groups on biotech arts in Australia and Macedonia and has participated in workshops by Oron Catts and Eduardo Kac at the Experimental Art Foundation in Adelaide, Australia. In 2004, she participated in Heath Buntings’s DIY DNA DAY and was a core group coordinator of the With the Body in Mind science and art event held at the Flinders Medical Centre in 2007.

The cost of the workshop is $100, including laboratory materials. Participants from out of town must organize their own travel and accommodation. Due to the nature of this workshop, we are able to accept only 12 participants in total. To ensure a broad range of people with different levels and kinds of experience and expertise, we ask each applicant to submit their CV/portfolio along with a (250 word maximum) letter of intent to no later than OCTOBER 30, 2013. [Please include ZONES OF INHIBITION in the subject heading.] Selected participants will be notified by 10 November 2013.

This exciting workshop opportunity is part of TOXICITY (2013-2014), a sequence of events beginning in Winnipeg, Manitoba and taking place as exhibitions, workshops and symposia in Canada and Europe. The exhibition, mounted by Video Pool Media Arts Centre and Plug In ICA, is co-curated by Drs. Melentie Pandilovski (Director, Video Pool) and Jennifer Willet (Director, INCUBATOR Lab, University of Windsor) and will highlight the growing Canadian biotech arts community within the international context. The TOXICITY exhibition will present artworks by emerging and established Canadian and international artists utilizing biological media to explore real and perceived toxic byproducts and outcomes affiliated with biotechnology, biosecurity, biomedicine and biopolitics.

Video Pool Media Arts Centre is grateful to the Canada Council for the Arts, the Manitoba Arts Council, the Winnipeg Arts Council, Government of Manitoba, Culture, Tourism and Heritage, the Winnipeg Foundation, the Thomas Sill Foundation, the W.H & S.E. Loewen Foundation, Plug In ICA and ArtSA (Southern Australia).