Nano Grand Canyon by Monika Lelonek, Nano4Women Nano & Art Awards

Inner Worlds
Art in the Age of Nanotechnology
A talk by Honor Harger, ArtScience Museum, Singapore

For the INL Summit, Nanotechnology: The New Economy
Organised by the International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory
Braga, Portugal
19th – 20th Oct. 2017


Artists, designers, filmmakers and musicians can be extremely skilled at illuminating scientific process and ideas, and giving audiences powerful metaphors to be able to understand and appreciate science.
This talk will show how curators, working with artists, can give us us lenses that enable us to see the inner worlds of art in the age of nanotechnology. It will begin by introducing ArtScience Museum, an institution in Singapore that explores the interconnection between art, science, culture and technology. The museum illustrates that collaboration between the arts and sciences has the potential to create new knowledge, ideas and processes that enrich both fields. The talk will continue by showing examples of practice by artists working with the microscopic scales of cells, atoms, and even the sub-atomic world.


Works cited in Introduction:

Nano Grand Canyon by Monika Lelonek, Nano4Women Nano & Art Awards:
Die Wueste erwacht (The Wake Up) by Jenna Wies, Nano4Women Nano & Art Awards:
– IBM in atoms (Blue Nickel) by Donald Eigler and Erhard Schweizer, IBM, 1989
Scale Travels: ad/ab Atom by Ryoichi Kurokawa, made with INL, exhibited at gnration, 2017:

Works cited in Art and Science section:

– ArtScience Museum, Singapore:
Da Vinci: Shaping the Future – original artwork by Leonardo Da Vinci in South East Asia for the first time, ArtScience Museum, 2014-2015
Journey to Infinity: Escher’s World of Wonder, original masterpieces by M.C. Escher in Singapore for the first time, ArtScience Museum, Sep 2017-Feb 2017
Collider – a major show from Science Museum London on particle physics, shown at ArtScience Museum, Nov 2015 – Feb 2016
Gift of Mass by Italian Institute for Nuclear Physics, and Paolo Scoppola, shown at ArtScience Museum 2015-2016
The Deep, deep sea exhibition which started at the French National Museum of Natural History, shown at at ArtScience Museum, May – Oct 2015
NASA – A Human Adventure, ArtScience Museum, 19 November 2016 – 19 March 2017
Universe of Water Particles by teamLab,. Part of Future World at ArtScience Museum:
Glass Microbiology by Luke Jerram shown at ArtScience Museum 2014-2015
Projections of a Perfect Third by Conrad Shawcross at ArtScience Museum 2014-2015
The Universe and Art, ArtScience Museum, 1 April – 30 July 2017:
HUMAN+ – The Future of Our Species, ArtScience Museum, 20 May – 15 October, 2017 –

Works cited in Art in the Age of Nanotechnology

Nachthimmel (The Night Sky) by Aike Meier zu Greffen, Nano4Women Nano & Art Awards:
Mystique Grotto by Kathrin Schwirn, Nano4Women Nano & Art Awards:
Le soleil a rendezvous avec la lune (The sun has a rendezvous with the moon) by Valerie Panneels, Nano4Women Nano & Art Awards:
– Scale Travels: ad/ab Atom, by Ryoichi Kurokawa, made with INL, 2017
Breaking the Symmetry! by Aleks Labuda, Asylum Research, Materials Research Society Science as Art Competition:
Die Welt der Nano Pfannkuchen (The World of Nano Pancakes) by Nadine Geyer, Nano4Women Nano & Art Awards:
– Scanning tunneling microscope (STM) invented Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer at IBM Zürich.
Nanobama by John Hart of University of Michigan – portraits composed of 150 million carbon nanotubes, 2008
Art in the Age of Nanotechnology, held at John Curtin Gallery in Perth, Australia, 2010, featuring Paul Thomas and Kevin Raxworthy, Mike Phillips, Victoria Vesna and James Gimzewski, Christa Sommerer & Laurent Mignonneau and Boo Chapple:
Intimate Cosmologies: The Aesthetics of Scale in an Age of Nanotechnology – Biennial focused on nanotechnology and art, Cornell University, Ithaca, USA, 2014:
NanoArt website developed by Cris Orfescu:
– Paul Thomas’ book on NanoArt in 2013:,id=4971/

Case Studies cited:

NANO by Victoria Vesna and James Gimzewski, Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, 2004:
Nanoessence by Paul Thomas and Kevin Raxworthy (2009):
Hostage pt.1 – nano engineered blacker-than-black artwork- by Frederik De Wilde, 2010:

Works cited in conclusion:

– Tan Peng Kian, from the Centre for Quantum Technologies at National University of Singapore, in 2015
Some Days by Wang Ningde, Flux Realities: Chinese Photography, ArtScienceMuseum, 2014
Crystal Universe by teamLab, Future World: Where Art Meets Science, ArtScience Museum:

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 (, 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?” (

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:

I referenced:

– The Rosetta mission: (pictured above)
– Rosetta’s trajectory into space:
– Philae:
– Philae’s nail-biting landing monitored by Stephan Ulamec, Fred Jansen, Andrea Accomazzo, Elsa Montagnon and Paolo Ferri:
– The “singing comet” – the science behind the signal:
– Soundcloud audio clip of the comet “sound” – sonification by Manuel Senfft:
– Karl-Heinz Glaßmeier quote:
– 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:
– Radio and Plasma Wave Group at The University of Iowa:
– Cassini-Huygens passing through Saturn’s rings:
– Huygens microphone (ESA Huygens):
– The Sound of Space, BBC Radio 4, broadcast 30 January 2015:
– Riding Light by Alphonse Swinehart (2015). Soundtrack: Music for 18 Musicians by Steve Reich:
– Ancient Darkness TV (2009) by Katie Paterson:
– Quotation by Katie Paterson from “Interview with Katie Paterson on Rhizome” (2010):
– Images of simulations of the Higgs boson, ATLAS group, CERN:
– Images of the Large Hadron Collider, from CERN:
– The LHC Sound Project:
– Quotation by Lily Asquith from “Particle Pings: Sounds Of The Large Hadron Collider” by Andrew Prince, NPR (2011):
– LHC Sound Project interpretation of how an emerging and decaying Higgs Boson may sound:
– Broken Symmetries and the Masses of Gauge Bosons (1964) by Peter Higgs:
– Photographs of the 4 July 2012 seminar at CERN where the discovery of the Higgs boson was announced:
– Images of Titan, Jupiter, Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and Voyager 1
– Pale Blue Dot:
– Voyager 1’s vintage technology:
– NASA’s planned Orion spacecraft:
– Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS-02):
– MAVEN Mars Orbiter:
– Alan Kay quote (1971):

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 ( 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)
Anna Dumitriu
Kira O’Reilly
Isabelle Desjeux
Chey Chankethya
Lin Xiaofang
Eisa Jocson
Angie Seah
Angela Chong
Genevieve Chua
Melissa Kwee
Adeline Keuh

ArtScience Museum, 21 May 2016
Marking the launch of Big Bang Data 

To launch the exhibition, Big Bang Data (, at ArtScience Museum in May 2016, we held a conference called, The Data Route.

I began our journey along The Data Route by retracing some of the steps that we took, as a group of curators and organisations, to arrive at the exhibition. I briefly introduced some of the ideas, people and projects which inspired us to bring this exhibition to ArtScience Museum.

The teams at CCCB and ArtScience Museum, and the curators involved in Big Bang Data have been thinking about the way that technology and data is changing the environment for some time. And we have collectively come to understand that the contemporary landscape that we’re situated within, is now information-rich, data-driven and technologised, sometimes to the point that we find it hard to locate ourselves within it.

Big Bang Data introduced us to some of the most important guides we have, for a landscape which is becoming increasingly difficult to navigate using the maps and compasses we’ve grown up with. These guides give us ways of both perceiving this changing landscape, and acting within it. I introduced a few of those guide, who feature in Big Bang Data, before handing over to the other speakers.

There’s an overview of the exhibition here: Big Bang Data

Something Invisible in the Landscape is Just Landscape
A talk for NUS
24 March 2015

Credits and References

Sincere thanks to: Timo Arnall, Julian Oliver, Adam Rutherford, Trevor Paglen, José Luis de Vicente, Luke Jerram and all the other artists, scientists and technologists cited.

Title Image: Tohoku Japanese Earthquake Sculpture by Luke Jerram:

Artworks/projects referenced in Introduction:

– ArtScience Museum, Singapore:
From One to Many by Yvette Mattern (2010), shown at transmediale.10, Berlin
data.tron by Ryoji Ikeda (2010) exhibited at transmediale.10, Berlin
Swell by Anthony McCall (2006), exhibited at the Reg Vardy Gallery in Sunderland, as part of AV Festival 2006
Projections of a Perfect Third by Conrad Shawcross, ArtScience Museum, Singapore, 2015: Mesopotamian Dramatugies (Su & Mayhem) by Kutlug Ataman (2011), exhibited at Brighton Festival 2011:
– Nat Buckley photographed during her Happenstance residency for creative technologists (2012):
Frequency & Volume by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, as seen at Invisible Fields (2011):
levelHead by Julian Oliver (2008) shown at Suspending Disbelief, Lighthouse, 2010:
Laboratory Life produced at Lighthouse, 2011:
– r a d i o q u a l i a:
– Particle Decelerator:
data.tron [8K enhanced version] by Ryoji Ikeda (2008-09):
Genesis by Eduardo Kac (1999):
– Media art prequels website by Golan Levin:

Artworks/projects referenced in Part 1:

– The Boston Shuffler- stock-trading algorithm, courtesy of Kevin Slavin:
– Cloud computing survey commissioned by Citrix, August 2012:
– The proposed Center for Innovation, Testing and Evaluation, New Mexico:
– China Miéville quoted from “Alien Evasion” by China Miéville, published in Arc 1.1, February 2012: The Future Always Wins:

Artworks/projects referenced in Part 2:

Invisible Fields (2011), co-curated by José Luis de Vicente and Honor Harger and at Arts Santa Monica, Barcelona:
20Hz by Semiconductor (2011):
Immaterials by Timo Arnall, Einar Sneve Martinussen, Jørn Knutsen, Jack Schulze and Matt Jones, Lighthouse, 2013:
Immaterials: Light Painting WiFi by Timo Arnall, Einar Sneve Martinussen, and Jørn Knutsen (2011):
– Timo Arnall quoted in No to NoUI by Timo Arnall, March 2013:
Geographies of Seeing (2012) by Trevor Paglen, co-curated by Honor Harger and Celia Davies, at Lighthouse:
Paglen works shown:
They Watch the Moon (2010)
– Artifacts (Spacecraft in Perpetual Geosynchronous Orbit, 35,786 km Above Equator) (2010)
KEYHOLE 12-3 (IMPROVED CRYSTAL) Optical Reconnaissance Satellite Near
Scorpio (USA 129) (2007)
PAN (Unknown; USA-207) (2010)
KEYHOLE IMPROVED CRYSTAL from Glacier Point (Optical Reconnaissance
Satellite; USA 1860) (2008)
After Galileo (Jupiter and Moons)
– Trevor Paglen quoted in “Secret Moons and Black Worlds”, An Interview with Trevor Paglen by Timothy Moore, Volume #25:
– Trevor Paglen quoted in, “Limit Telephotography”, Under Fire research forum, 2006:

Artworks/projects referenced in Part 3:

– “Multi-Input RNAi-Based Logic Circuit for Identification of Specific Cancer Cells” by Xie, Wroblewska, Prochazka, Weiss & Benenson, Science, 2 September 2011, Vol. 333:
– Adam Rutherford, speaking at Lighthouse 7 February 2013: & (discusses RNAi-Based Logic Circuit 50:00 minutes in)
SolarSinter by Markus Kayser (2012):
Hostage pt.1 by Frederik de Wilde (2010):
Bacterial Radio by Joe Davis:
Protei by Cesar Harada (2012):
Environmental Health Clinic by Natalie Jeremijenko:
City CPU by Gordan Savicic (2011):
New Mumbai by Tobias Revell (2012):