Scientific visualisations and mixed realities at the art/science nexus

Trish Adams

Expressions of corporeality and moments of perception which exceed habitual boundaries have been examined through a hybrid art/science research project. Reflecting upon relativistic constructs of the observer that contravened accepted norms of so called objective scientific protocols the artist became a �human guinea pig� and experimented on her own stem cells in the laboratory context. Through this innovative strategy, where she was both subject and object, the artist probed orthodoxies of �being�, the discourses surrounding genetic manipulation and the intricacies of emerging technologies, both visual and procedural. The artistic outcomes of the project, outlined here, are also informed by an interrogation of the epistemological status of scientific imaging, computer-mediated representations and digital simulations in this context.

By shifting the activity of viewing from a transparent relationship of meaning and expression to an immersive encounter with the �self� contemporary constructs of �humanness� are explored. The artworks: Temporal Intervals and Wave Writer probe the ambiguity of data flow and corporeal �presence� through the interplay between the real-time installation and the remote Internet access. They investigate the potential for this experience to be more participatory and widely accessible through the space-time separation enabled by computer and communications networked forms of dispersal and interaction, via the feedback loops of the informational mode. The divergent characteristics of digital technologies are discussed, leading to a deliberation on contemporary notions of virtual realities in comparison with the so called �worlds within worlds� depicted at the advent of the microscope.

The open-ended, immersive installation: machina carnis reflects upon the sequential processes revealed in complex systems of biological life. In layered physical networks these epistemological complexities and ambiguities resonate with the participant�s lived experiences of the �real� and, through the fluidity and interactivity offered by digitsation, individual participants complete the installation through their symbiosis.

1. Cavendish, M, Duchess of Newcastle, �Of Many Worlds in This World�, 1668, in Parini, J. The Wadsworth Anthology of Poetry, Wadsworth Thomson, Boston, USA, 2006

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