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Manchester

RIP Gustav Metzger

RIP Gustav Metzger

 

I have always loved the way that photography opens up the world to me and the passing of pioneering artist Gustav Metzger has brought me closer to his work. I saw him in 2009 as part of an audience with Marina Abramovich and, since his death, I have enjoyed reading all of the articles about his work, which include the image I took back then, which was added to his Wikipedia Age. Here is a selection of them:

Art News

"Gustav Metzger, the German-born British artist whose work exposes modern society’s will to destroy people and things, has died, according to Andrew Wilson, a Tate curator, who announced the news on Twitter. He was 90."
“Self-destructive painting, sculpture, and construction is a total unity of idea, site, form, colour, method, and timing of the disintegrative process,”

Art Information Network 

"When I saw the Nazis march, I saw machine-like people and the power of the Nazi state. Auto-destructive art is to do with rejecting power.”

Jewish Press

“artists have a special part to play in opposing extinction, if only on a theoretical, intellectual basis."

 

Amorance

Amorance

As part of the Manchester Science Festival closing weekend, I developed and co-produced an event called Amorance, exploring the science of falling in love. We had some of the most amazing science communicators around the UK involved, including Dr Marieke Navin, Dr Erinma Ochu, Dr Sam Illingworth, Dr Gary Kerr, Dr Jo Meredith, Dr Linda Dubrow-Marshall and Dr Rod Dubrow-Marshall, and fantastic performers. 

It was the most amazing event I have ever worked on and I really feel like we might have generated some life-long memories for people. In a world where we often focus more on the numbers, the depth of an experience is often a harder goal to achieve. Yet, the most significant memories in our lives - and possibly the most informative or educative - are those that have a deep impact on us and whose influence can stretch further. I will always remember a production of 'A Brief History of Time' at the Tramway theatre in Glasgow, which is one of the most memorable theatre experiences of my life. Their audience for that show was deliberately 12 people and it was amazing. 

That's what we tried to do with this event, time will tell whether we managed it! Here's some coverage...

Salford Science Jam

Salford Science Jam

Our most spectacular event in Manchester Science Festival is the Salford Science Jam, in which we had an amazing array of events for all the families. This year's production included a plethora of virtual reality systems, co-creation of the amazing Sensory Sound Pit, by European City of Science Artist in Residence, Di Mainstone, a co-commission with the Foundation of Art and Creative Technology, and even Dr Helen Sharman's space suit. More documentation to follow!

The Great Science Share

The Great Science Share

This week, I took part in the Great Science Share, an event that formed part of the European City of Science in Greater Manchester this year. It was essentially a scientific conference for and by kids. Schools came from all over the region and showed what they had been doing in science.

I took along Ethan who helped me give a short talk to children about my journey through science. It was a wonderful day and such an amazing experience for all involved, a real highlight of my year.

My life in #scicomm

My life in #scicomm

This week, I gave a talk within the British Science Association Masterclass on Science Communication, which took place in Manchester. I decided to present something that was autobiographical, as I wanted to talk about the diverse ways into #scicomm. 

In essence, I started #scicomm work as a PhD student, first designing websites to get ideas out, but also quickly starting to write about my ideas for the media. Most of those ideas were very closely connected to my PhD research, but not always. From here, I moved into a School of Media, which led me from science into an arts context, in which I could spend time bringing the two together. I did this by teaching at a range of art schools, while also trying to work with artists who were interested in exploring scientific ideas.

During that time, art works became a part of the means of science communication for me, but not necessarily within its service and I have always advocated a form of disruptive science communication, which does not focus simply on the scientific accuracy or information.

Over this period, I became closer to producers, curators, and art directors, which then brought me into their world and, since around 2009, I have been involved with some such activity.  As a producer of creative work - film, media art, bioart, and more, - science communication has become more of a place to stimulate the involvement of others and I now sit on various steering committees where I can do that most effectively.  

The key message for me is that, wherever you start in science communication may be very different from where you will be in 10 years, so don't get too hung up on being a particular kind of communicator. Also, find ways to bring together the original research and the communication activity, as much as possible. This means starting to think about collaboration very early and pushing out ideas when they are not fully formed. This feels risky, but it's crucial to make things happen and to keep innovating.

I also talked about how science communication can happen in all kinds of spaces, from industry conferences to going into schools and doing workshops. The opportunities are incredibly diverse, but we don't all have to do everything.

 

 

 

Beacons for Science #ESOF16

Beacons for Science #ESOF16

Over the last few months, I've been building the momentum around our flagship activity for the European City of Science in Manchester. Essentially, I want to create a digital encounters experience for visitors and residents, through which they can encounter the city differently and see its historical and contemporary science scene. 

We've just put out an invitation to curators to assist in making this, so that it's not a top down history and a much more democratised version of what science entails. We are targeting individuals who we think would like to take part, but if you are interested, please drop me a line. 

Here's a link to the Eventbrite for further info on project dimensions. Each core strand needs more team members, so if you see an entry point or would like to get involved, email me.

It's not just for Manchester based folk, so if you are keen and are from elsewhere, feel welcome to take part!

 

 

 

Leadership in Science

Leadership in Science

It's not every day that you have a meeting with the good and the great in Manchester within a ball pool, but this was that day. Organized by Siemens and the Museum of Science and Industry, a select number of Manchester leaders were brought together to consider how to address the low levels of productivity within the North West. 

It was a first step in re-thinking how we collaborate, inspire, and stimuate the economy of the region, at a crucial time in Manchester's history. Ahead of the European City of Science and the Northern Powerhouse debates, this was a fantastic and inspiring conversation which was made all the more remarkable by it taking place in an adult ball pool!

 

Drone Expo

Drone Expo

Another big delivery for me within the Manchester Science Festival was the Drone Expo at the Museum of Science and Industry, which took place over the opening weekend of the festival. It was produced in association with my Josh Award for Science Communication and we created a large flying space at MOSI with professional pilots and STEM volunteers to show the public what's happening with this amazing techology.

Science Jam

Science Jam

Well, this is the night when it all comes together, the preview of our Science Jam, our main delivery weekend within Manchester Science Festival. Over the last year, I have been curating a programme of work in the festival as Salford University's contribution. For many of the activities, I've also had some creative oversight and provided direction to some of the amazing people around the projects. 

It has been an amazing and exhausting journey to get to this point, but the evening was a great success, with previews of the Royal Photographic Society science prize, the Chernobyl installation, Alienated Life?, and our co-commission exporing electricity and art, Kinetic Flux, produced with artists Paul Miller and Griet Beyaert, along with some science busking and a premiere of a new documentary science film called Traces.

There was so much over this weekend, I'm not sure how to showcase it, but here's a snapshot.

Pitch to Pixel

Pitch to Pixel

Opening at the National Football Museum this week is a new exhibition I was involved with producing, through my relationship with the museum's artistic director, John O'Shea.

I have worked with John for many years now and he has done amazing work in bioart and new media art. He has brought together an extraordinary exhibition of the last 40 years of football computer games to show how much gaming has evolved and how close art and life now come together.

The exhibition is on until June, so plenty of time to see it. It's worth spending a whole day at least, just to experience the different kinds of game interfaces and appreciate how they have changed over the years.


Back to the Future Today

Back to the Future Today

In advance of #futureday, I worked with Guardian journalist Joanna Goodman to produce a piece that would come out on the day. It was a fantastic chance to talk about how close the film came to realising our world as it is today. Here's the final article - it got the most views on the Guardian for that day and Joanna even came up to Manchester for our sell-out screening.

#futureday @thisisGorilla #MSF

#futureday @thisisGorilla #MSF

BTTF-image-FINAL.jpg

My first contribution to the Manchester Science Festival is this amazing screening of Back to the Future 2, a trilogy that was certainly defining of my teenage years. I'm so excited to have been able to produce this with #MSF15 and that Gorilla in Manchester is screening. Here is my presentation from the night.

BTTF%20image%20FINAL
BTTF%20image%20FINAL

Electric Art - new commission

Electric Art - new commission

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Over the last few weeks, I have been working with the Manchester Science Festival and Electricity North West to launch a brief for a new artistic commission titled 'Electric Art'. We have just pushed out the copy and here it is. Please share and submit! The MSF is a fantastic context for new and provocative art work and a really great week to be in Manchester!  

CALL FOR ARTISTS: ‘Electric Art’

Manchester Science Festival 2015, in Partnership with Electricity North West, and the University of Salford, Manchester.

This new £5,000 commission seeks to help realise a visual art work, developed through the theme of ‘electricity’ for exhibition during the Manchester Science Festival (October 22 - November 1, 2015). The final work will create public debate around the role of electricity in our lives and may engage. We are keen to hear from artists working across genres from digital and mixed media to craft and performance. Thematic areas may include attention to the future of electricity, forms of sculptural lighting, smart grid design, laser and alternative fuel sources.

Your Proposal:

We want to hear your ideas at this stage but would anticipate that the final piece will be informed by dialogue with Manchester Science Festival (MSF), University of Salford, and Electricity North West.

·         Please write a 250-500 word proposal for your idea and include drawings and images where appropriate (PDF format). Include any information you can at this stage about what you need to make it happen (including time, resources and budget).

·         Include a PDF of images and information to evidence your previous work.

·         Articulate in which ways the work will stimulate public engagement with the science and technologies of electricity.

·         The art works will be installed or performed within the Manchester Science Festival programme (location to be confirmed).

·         Please let us know your anticipated technical and installation requirements.

·         Projects must have a designated lead who will be the key contact with the Festival team and who will be responsible for submitting a brief evaluation report about the event upon completion.

·         Please indicate your availability for the panel selection on 15th June.

Resources

Electricity North West - The Future

http://www.enwl.co.uk/about-us/the-future

The Science and Art of Electricity, 1914

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/electricity-the-science-and-art-of-1914/

Beyond/In Artists Who Engage in the Theme of Electricity and Alternating Currents

http://artvoice.com/issues/v9n43/art_scene/the_electric_company

Timetable:

Announcement of commission:  Monday 11th May 2015

Deadline for Proposals:  Monday 8th June 2015, 12.00pm

Selection Panel:  Monday 15th June 2015 12.00pm - 2.00pm

Winner notified:  Tuesday 16th June 2015

Development of project:  16th June – 3rd July 2015

Final details input into MSF online submission: Friday 3rd July 2015, 12.00pm

PR activity:  September/October 2015

MSF Launch:  Thursday 8th October 2015

Manchester Science Festival:  Thursday 22nd October – Sunday 1st November 2015

Please send your submissions to msf*at*mosi.org.uk (removing anti-spam measures).

 

 

Science Communication & Chester Zoo

Science Communication & Chester Zoo

Yesterday, I spent the day at Chester Zoo, filming with our Brazilian PhD researcher Luiza Passos, who is working with the Golden Mantella frog, a species under threat in Madagascar, under the supervision of Professor Robert Young. In the afternoon, I gave a talk for Heads of Depts at the Zoo, talking about science communication opportunities. It was such a refreshing and engaging discussion and we've got so much to do, not least of which is working to build a really exciting and creative documentary programme around the amazing science that is happening at the zoo!

FameLab UK

FameLab UK

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This week, I judged the regional final of @FameLabUK with contestants from Manchester and Sheffield. It was a fantastic display of the talented science communicators around England's North and the winner was @Benstutchbury with a 3 minute whirlwind through 'Mucous'! It was great to be involved with this and I really look forward to growing this network in my new role. 

In Conversation with Marcus Coates

In Conversation with Marcus Coates

How should we think about our relationship to other species - and their relationship to each other? This is the question we are invited to consider when seeing Marcus Coates' new work 'The Sounds of Others', which premiered at the Manchester Science Festival this week. I took part in a conversation with him and his collaborator Geoff Sample who, ironically, had to sample a bunch of animals in order to help Marcus explore his work. The project essentially involves speeding up and slowing down the sounds of different species which, when done, begin to sound remarkably like each other. This art work was funded by Cape Farewell's new Lovelock Art Commission, which explores James Lovelock's Gaia theory through art. It's a really compelling piece, which is very easily understood upon seeing it and does make one think about our place in the world. I am sure it will tour all over the place, so do try and get to it, if you find it in your neighbourhood!