Space ship hosts planning meeting for MA Art and Science Degree Show

For 4 days in early February MA Art and Science set up house in an a 1960s space ship to collectively explore the curation and design of the up coming degree show (25-29 May 2016). Key questions centred around how to build a coherent show that celebrates the diversity of individual approach while also revealing the shared creative and intellectual threads that are emerging within the group. Stephanie Wong records the events that took place between 8 – 11 February in the Futuro House.


Last week the second years of MA Art and Science spent four days in Futuro House, a retro space ship located on the terrace of the CSM King’s Cross building. Having just finished the intense experience of dissertation writing this was the first opportunity for everyone to come together and plan for the degree show. On the agenda was curation, design, research and the sharing of ideas.

Like the previous two years the degree show will be taking place in the Crossing at King’s Cross. This is the entrance to the main Central Saint Martins building and is technically a public walkway. With a height of four floors and an imposing breadth this huge space poses unique opportunities, as well as serious challenges, one of the biggest being we are not allowed to hang anything from the walls and the ceilings. What does this mean? In order to display any work we have to build a structure to do so.



Fortunately for us, due to the eclectic nature of the course there are two students with architectural backgrounds, both of whom had been working hard to come up with a design for a structure that would display our work. Facilitated by course leader Nathan Cohen and artist Susan Aldworth the first day was spent discussing the design and sharing concepts for each of our work and how this would best be displayed.

The second day kicked off with a lego building workshop run by Graham Barton. This is not normal lego but architectural lego and the completely white building blocks are used conceptually, constructing whilst holding questions in mind. Tailor made for us these were: What is my practice? What do I aspire to present as part of the degree show? What are my aspirations for the curation of the degree show? The appeal of lego seems to transcend age with the hands on building being quite meditative. Lead tutor Heather Barnett led us through the day which allowed each individual to really question what we want and think much more freely and thoughtfully about our work.

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The final day involved another visit from Susan Aldworth and tutor Adrian Holme. This was spent discussing how to incorporate research and process into the curation of the show. What became apparent in the conversations was that the cross-disciplinary collaborations that make this course unusual need to be presented. Furthermore, art and science as a notion requires more than exhibiting finished pieces, in which the methodologies have equal if not crucial importance to the final meaning.


Being locked in a spaceship for a week turned out to be an incredibly fruitful experience. Some of the developments included: final design for the structure, a film that will be made documenting the degree show process, symposium plans, ‘brain dump’ for the title and fundraising ideas. The most exciting outcome was the enthusiasm and motivation of the group as a whole.

So watch this space…

(no pun intended)

Review of London LASER 09: Art, Science and Cultural Understanding

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The ninth instalment of London LASER took place last month, guest organised by Brett Wilson and chaired by Barbara Hawkins. They are both founding members of ‘Project Dialogue’, a research group bringing together artists and scientists to explore commonalities across research in the arts and sciences. With the recent launch of their co-edited publication ‘Art, Science and Cultural Understanding’ the event presented a group of Art/Science practitioners talking about their work, how they became interested in transdisciplinary research and how they go about working in collaborative ventures.

The range of speakers was diverse and engaging, and included Iain Biggs, Visiting Research Fellow at Bath Spa University and UWE, Shelley James, Artists and teacher at the Institute of Making UCL, Helen Pynor, Artist-in-Residence at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, Simon Read, Artists and member of the Art and Environment Network of the Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management and Brett Wilson, founding member of Project Dialogue and ‘artist in residence’ at UWE.

With the range of topics covering ecology, organ transplants, life, death, plasticity and more, the event was a showcase of Art and Science at its best. Highlights of the evening included Shelley James on her work using glass as a medium to create metaphors in form. Her practice transforms 2D into 3D, such as printing images of the human retina within a glass sphere, allowing the scientists she collaborates with to become “specific about the edges of their metaphors”.

On a similar theme Brett Wilson focused on specific metaphors used in scientific language, touching on the link between motion and human understanding of time. Suggesting this relationship is due to the specific brain region responsible for processing motion and no known region existing for time.

A presentation with a morbid fascination saw Helen Pynor describe her interests in organ transplantation through previous project ‘Pig Heart Performance’ and her current residency exploring death as a process and not purely a moment in time. Pynor demonstrates the longevity of dying by culturing ‘living’ cells found in supermarket bought chicken allowing them to grow and multiply.

The evening ended with a discussion panel between all the speakers, in which Simon Read more closely described the challenges associated with artists working on the ground, as well as the ecological pioneer plant, samphire, and its tasty properties.

The next London LASER will be taking place Tuesday 16 June 2015.  As the 10th in the series and the last one for this academic year rather than presentations from guest speakers, we have invited our eclectic audience to suggest short presentations, provocations, activities and discussions….

London LASER (Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous) is a series of evening gatherings hosted by University of the Arts London (Central Saint Martins MA Art and Science and the Lens) and University of Westminster (Broad Vision research and learning), in association with Leonardo/ISAST (the International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology).

For more information and tickets visit London LASER

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Review: Supersymmetry by Ryoji Ikeda


Ryoji Ikeda’s installation, Supersymmetry. Photo: Jana Chiellino

Ryoji Ikeda’s installation, Supersymmetry. Photo: Jana Chiellino

Ryoji Ikeda’s exhibition ‘Supersymmetry’ is an inspired response to his 2014 residency at Centre For Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva, home to the Large Hadron Collider. Japan’s leading electronic composer and visual artist has succeeded in creating a unique, disorientating and immersive installation, which elegantly captures scientists endeavour to understand the complex systems of the quantum world.

Showing until 31 May 2015 in collaboration with The Vinyl Factory, ‘Supersymmetry’ can be found on the top floor of the pitch-black vast space of Brewer Street Car Park in Soho. Utilising forty projectors and computers with continuous mutating sounds of colliding particles, visual data, text, high-speed light displays and kinetic sculpture, the experience is overwhelming for all the right reasons.

The title and installation is based on experiments being carried out at CERN to prove the existence of supersymmetry particles. Their discovery would explain many mysterious features of particle physics and would account for much of the ‘missing’ mass of the universe.

However, if you’re expecting the exhibition to provide an understanding of particle physics you’d be missing the point (Jonathan Jones in the guardian). In this work Ikeda is not trying to communicate or explain supersymmetry, instead he is commenting on the human attempt to reduce and capture meaning from an infinitely changing and staggeringly complex universe, in the most excellent way. It’s definitely a must see.

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