Presented in an exhibition of shortlisted proposals for a new public art work at the Huxley Building, University of Brighton, for Brighton Digital Festival, 5th to 23rd September 2017

This new project proposal for the Huxley Building Public Art Commission is a development on two previous telematic public art installations by Paul Sermon and Charlotte Gould: Screen Machine in 2016 and Peoples Screen from 2015, originally commissioned by Public Art Lab Berlin for the Connecting Cities network of urban screen projects. In this new project entitled ‘Bio-encounters’ Sermon and Gould have considered the technical and conceptual aspects of the former works to develop and propose an original site-specific interactive telematic art installation, linking live audience groups between indoor and outdoor entrance areas at the Huxley building. This new installation pushes the playful, social and public engagement aspects of their work into new arts and science realms in an attempt to address the pharmacy and biomolecular themes of the commission. The proposed project picks up on the need for a shared visual language and experience that allows a diverse public audience to physically engage with the current research and taught subjects in the Huxley Building through improvised performative interaction as their means of visual dialogue. Using a tried and tested telematic concept and technique, the installation takes live oblique camera shots from above the screens of two separate audience groups connected over a networked video link. Both groups are located on retro-reflective green-screen steps, and are then combined via a chroma-key video switcher in a single composited image displayed simultaneously on each screen. As the merged audiences start to explore this collaborative, shared telepresent space they discover the ground beneath them, as it appears on screen as a digital backdrop, locates them in a variety of surprising and intriguing anamorphic biomolecular environments. These backgrounds directly reference their scientific and social settings, containing converged scenes from these communities in a three dimensional ludic landscape.

Our intension is to provide the audience participants with the opportunity to direct and change the outcomes of this installation through an open system of interaction. These unique transitory outcomes will rely entirely on the roles and performances the public participants bring to these public screens and the experiences they choose to live out. Contextualized by a diverse array of interactive backdrops, our aim is to allow these public audiences the opportunity and agency to engage within these biomolecular and pharmacological environments. This ‘fluxus happening’ will include the widest range of participants of all ages, from those who work and study there to those passing by, to create a fusion of scientific discoveries and street stories as its long-term legacy. This biomedical-embodied experience will provide the opportunity to better understand the contribution biomolecular sciences have on our changing lives and provide a virtual bio-playground to build confidence, cohesion and inclusion by overcoming scientific language barriers. Our practiced-based research approach in the lead up to the installation will allow local participants and Huxley Building users an opportunity to input on the development of a fused social and scientific virtual environment that they will engage within.

Original Bio-encounters proposal and concept (1.7MB) PDF

Huxley Building, Public Art Commission call document (4.4MB) PDF

Huxley Building Commission - shortlisted proposal exhibition, Brighton Digital Festival 2017

This installation offers an open-system of interaction and any particular narrative sequences or rule-based scenarios that emerge will be purely intuitive and improvised. Fundamentally there are no right or wrong ways to interact. The background scenes, contexts and interactive animations will provide a platform on which the public can respond, play and create by stimulating and provoking a response in what is a vacant space of potential. The concept and structure of the installation is an open framework, where the artwork itself emerges only through the participation of users and through their lived experience at a given moment in space and time. Bluntly put, the intuitive experience through this interface is the artwork. Our overarching objectives are to explore the potential to generate benefits, in terms of awareness and inclusion through new visual translations that extend across cultural and scientific barriers via a networked interactive art installation. This research is inspired by observations and methods drawn from practice-based telematic art and aims to address the social and cultural challenges of reaching a diverse audience.

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