Curating Bits Rather Than Atoms
A talk for MuseumNext Europe
Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 26-28 June 2017
MuseumNext is a major global conference series on the future of museums. The European conference in Rotterdam was their biggest event to date, with museum professionals from around the world joining for three days of inspiring presentations, innovative workshops and fantastic networking.
I delivered the opening keynote of the conference, titled, Curating Bits Rather Than Atoms.
The abstract was:
At ArtScience Museum in Singapore they explore the intersection between art, science, culture and technology. They like to say it is in the place where these areas meet, that the future is made. Positioning themselves as a place to reflect on how the future might be shaping up. As a museum occupying that role, they go beyond objects. This is most keenly felt in their permanent exhibition, Future World: Where Art Meets Science. This is something of a paradox, in that it is a permanent, yet changing exhibition; one not made with objects, but rather with digital technology. It’s an exhibition of bits, rather than atoms. When bits are your material, rather than atoms, the challenge is to find creators, artists and makers who are masters of this domain. This lecture will examine how they have worked with digital artists, and technologists to create the permanent developments in ArtScience Museum.
As well as focusing on Future World, the talk will additionally outline Into the Wild: An Immersive Virtual Adventure, an AR/VR exhibition made by ArtScience Museum, Google, Lenovo, and WWF.
Exploring the Future
A talk for NZ Women Leaders in Asia
New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Singapore, 23 March 2017
To celebrate March being the month of International Women’s Day, the New Zealand Chamber of Commerce hosted an event featuring perspectives from two kiwi female leaders working in Singapore.
I gave a talk called Exploring the Future Through Art, Science and Empathy. I spoke about my background working in Dunedin, London, Berlin and many other places. I talked a bit about my artistic practice with ra d i o q u a l i a. The talk happened just after the launch of Into the Wild: An Immersive Virtual Adventure so I focused on showing how artists can create empathy and empower social and environmental change.
Bits Not Atoms
A talk for The Digital in Cultural Spaces, a conference by The Culture Academy
National Museum of Singapore, 7 – 8 December 2016
The Digital in Cultural Spaces was the inaugural conference of Singapore’s Culture Academy. The conference attempted to take stock of the current stakes and applications of digital media in cultural institutions, focusing on how cultural institutions have used technology in their work and how they innovate, democratise and cultivate existing and new inclusive communities of users and producers. It addressed the cultural shifts that digital technology has catalysed and provided a broad and in-depth survey of how the digital has redefined the fields of arts and heritage.
I gave a presentation in a session that examined how digital tools are revolutionizing research methodologies in archaeology, art, art history and material culture studies as well as education. My paper was a an examination of ArtScience Museum’s new permanent, yet changing exhibition, Future World: Where Art Meets Science (pictured above). It explored how we have worked with digital artists and technologists to create the permanent developments in ArtScience Museum.
Unexpected Partners: Science & Art
A talk for the World Summit on Arts & Culture
Malta, 18-21 October 2016
I was privileged to be amongst the speakers at the he 7th World Summit on Arts & Culture (http://www.artsummit.org/en/), where participants explored the theme: At the Crossroads – Cultural Leadership in the 21st Century. The summit addressed a number of critical issues from the impact of multilateral trade negotiations on cultural policies, to how we can advocate for freedom of expression and cultural rights. I was speaking at a session called “Unexpected partnerships: where are the new spaces for creation and creativity and how do we support them?” (http://www.artsummit.org/programme/full-programme/).
My talk was about unexpected partnerships between science and the arts. One of the reference points for the talk was this quote:
“Making art can be very helpful for scientists when they are failing to make progress. Sometimes you have to dive in deeply, but sometimes you’re stuck have to get unstuck.”
– Robbert Dijkgraaf Theoretical physicist and director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton (quoted in Nature
As well as being a scientist of world-renown, Dijkgraaf often practices art. In a fascinating piece of evidence that partnerships between art and science extend more deeply than we realise, Dijkgraaf credits his attendance at art school as the reason he is a scientist today. This was a key reference for a talk, where I spoke about artists, technologist and scientists who have shown their work at ArtScience Museum.
I referenced the work of:
Luke Jerram (pictured above)
Jeremy Sharma (pictured below)
Tan Peng Kian
The Centre for Quantum Computing’s arts programme
A Museum of the Future? What would that look like?
A talk for the East of West, West of East conference
17 – 19 October 2016
Nobel laureate Sydney Brenner once remarked: “We cannot change the present, but we can change the future, through the young people”.
East of West West of East was a conference convened by Para-Limes at NTU that explored barriers and resonances between East and West. Talks explored the limits of Eastern and Western ways of thinking and different concepts of change. The Western scientific way of thinking, which is expressed and conceptualized in high precision words often ignores the context in which it is framed and has hit a wall in explaining the real world. So does the Eastern way of thinking that is expressed in words that carry ambiguity and have meaning only within a context, carrying richness in interpretation but being subject to lack of precision. Both ways of thinking can co-exist in a world with a low population and large resources. But in a crowded and interconnected world, where east and west increasingly move into each other’s resource spaces, a synthesis must be found between both modes of thinking, to make sure that problems facing the whole of humanity can be effectively addressed, and that misunderstandings will not escalate into major conflicts.
I took part in a plenary session of East of West West of East that examined what aspects of “East”, “West” will stand the test of time? Which will prove transient against the tide of history and end up in museums by the time 2050 rolls around?
My talk addressed what museums, which are focused on the future, might be like, using ArtScience Museum, as a case study.
The talk is online here:
The Power of Long-Term Thinking
A talk for TEDxKL
20 August 2016
TEDxKL 2016 was organised around the theme, Resonance. Resonance creates a morphic field that strengthens when more energy is added to it. When we resonate with something or someone, we relate to it in a certain, almost harmonious way. It strikes a chord with us. TEDxKL unfolded in front of an audience of over 3500 people. I spoke about the power of long term thinking, and how it helps us not only imagine the future but bring it into being.
This is a quick vox-pop of me after the talk was done:
– The Rosetta mission: http://sci.esa.int/rosetta/ (pictured above)
– Rosetta’s trajectory into space: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Rosetta/The_long_trek
– Philae: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philae_%28spacecraft%29
– Philae’s nail-biting landing monitored by Stephan Ulamec, Fred Jansen, Andrea Accomazzo, Elsa Montagnon and Paolo Ferri: http://www.airspacemag.com/space/nail-biting-first-landing-comet-180953935/?no-ist
– The “singing comet” – the science behind the signal: http://blogs.esa.int/rosetta/2014/11/11/the-singing-comet/
– Soundcloud audio clip of the comet “sound” – sonification by Manuel Senfft: https://soundcloud.com/esaops/a-singing-comet
– Karl-Heinz Glaßmeier quote: http://rosetta.jpl.nasa.gov/news/singing-comet
– Jupiter’s moon, Ganymede, recorded by the Plasma Wave Receiver on board the NASA spacecraft, Galileo, and turned into sound by the University of Iowa: https://soundcloud.com/radioqualia/ganymede-callisto-europa
– Radio and Plasma Wave Group at The University of Iowa: http://www-pw.physics.uiowa.edu/
– Cassini-Huygens passing through Saturn’s rings: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Sounds_from_space
– Huygens microphone (ESA Huygens): http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Cassini-Huygens/Sounds_of_an_alien_world
– The Sound of Space, BBC Radio 4, broadcast 30 January 2015: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b050bwpp
– Riding Light by Alphonse Swinehart (2015). Soundtrack: Music for 18 Musicians by Steve Reich: https://vimeo.com/117815404
– Ancient Darkness TV (2009) by Katie Paterson: http://www.katiepaterson.org/
– Quotation by Katie Paterson from “Interview with Katie Paterson on Rhizome” (2010): http://rhizome.org/editorial/2010/jun/16/interview-with-katie-paterson/
– Images of simulations of the Higgs boson, ATLAS group, CERN: https://twiki.cern.ch/twiki/bin/view/AtlasPublic/HiggsPublicResults
– Images of the Large Hadron Collider, from CERN: http://home.web.cern.ch/about/accelerators/large-hadron-collider
– The LHC Sound Project: http://lhcsound.hep.ucl.ac.uk/
– Quotation by Lily Asquith from “Particle Pings: Sounds Of The Large Hadron Collider” by Andrew Prince, NPR (2011): http://is.gd/asquith
– LHC Sound Project interpretation of how an emerging and decaying Higgs Boson may sound: http://is.gd/lhcsound
– Broken Symmetries and the Masses of Gauge Bosons (1964) by Peter Higgs: https://journals.aps.org/prl/pdf/10.1103/PhysRevLett.13.508
– Photographs of the 4 July 2012 seminar at CERN where the discovery of the Higgs boson was announced: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Tnd8bxDYOs
– Images of Titan, Jupiter, Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and Voyager 1
– Pale Blue Dot: http://is.gd/OsBy2J
– Voyager 1’s vintage technology: http://www.wired.com/2013/09/vintage-voyager-probes/
– NASA’s planned Orion spacecraft: http://www.nasa.gov/exploration/systems/orion/
– Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS-02): http://www.ams02.org/
– MAVEN Mars Orbiter: http://mars.nasa.gov/maven/
– Alan Kay quote (1971): http://www.smalltalk.org/alankay.html
Science and its Cultures
A talk for Society for the History of Technology 2016 Annual Meeting in Singapore.
22-26 June 2016
The Society for the History of Technology held their annual conference in Singapore in June 2016 (http://shot2016.org/). SHOT is dedicated to the historical study of technology and its relations with politics, economics, labor, business, the environment, public policy, science, and the arts. Founded in 1958, the society now numbers around 1500 members and meets annually.
My talk for SHOT discussed science and its cultures, by giving examples of artists and scientists I have worked with – mostly women. I began by referencing Bruno Latour keynote, for SHOT, wherein he argued for dialogue between the arts and the sciences. He noted, “the only way to build a sensitivity to [contemporary geopolitics] is to multiply tools from science, with tools from art.” ”I have no disciplinary borders, I can quite calmly say”.
I used this as a starting point, and gave case studies of work we have featured in ArtScience Museum by Semiconductor, Donna Ong (pictured above), Lynette Wallworth and Nguyen Trinh Thi (pictured below).
I also referenced the work of:
Jane Lee & Kumari Nahappan (pictured below)
Nguyen Trinh Thi, excerpt of film shown at ArtScience Museum, 2016
Jane Lee & Kumari Nahappan at ArtScience Museum, 2015