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Screening Event: Areosphere and Atmosphere

from 8:30pm – midnight, January 25th 2011 at New Plymouth Observatory

The debut launch of ‘Areosphere and Atmosphere’ will take place as a late night screening event at the New Plymouth observatory, Marsland Hill, New Plymouth. A double video projection and an experimental sound composition will be played on the dome.

While we wait for darkness to fall, an open panel discussion between the artists Nina Czegledy and Janine Randerson and astronomers John Calcott and Paul Moss will take place. We will focus on the polar regions of Mars and Earth, from Science fiction imaginings to ‘terraforming’.

This event is open to the public, as well as New Plymouth Astronomical Society members and SCANZ artists-in-residence. Come along!

Biomodd Workshop – Angelo Vermeulen

Above a succinct summary of Angelo’s wider Biomodd work and concepts.

Workshop for 8-20 people
In the workshop participants will explore how to connect recycled and open source computer technology with the living environment. A series of second hand computers is disassembled, and new units and networks are being constructed in which diverse forms of small-scale biological life co-exist with the electronics. The participants are invited to come up with novel ways to make both worlds communicate through energy exchange, cooling mechanisms, simple sensors, etc. These hybrid systems are finally used for multiplayer gaming. Participants can learn how to graphically modify existing games, or bring their own software. The workshop draws upon the international Biomodd art project initiated in 2007. More info on the Biomodd community website.

Dates and times
18-21, 24, 25, 27, 28 January, 10am – 4pm, other times by arrangement.
Venue:  SCANZ Central – 109 Devon Street West (next to Kina).
You are welcome to drop by any time.

Tangible skills that participants will acquire: ecosystem building, computer recycling, case modding, open source software usage, game modification, energy management.

Want to participate?
Go to the registration page here [link removed post-event] and tick Biomodd under the ‘Workshops to be held Jan 17-29’ heading.

Result of the Biomodd Workshop at KIBLA in Maribor (Slovenia), 2010.

Testing and reconfiguring used computer parts during the Biomodd Workshop at KIBLA in Maribor (Slovenia), 2010.

Sampling local flora during the Biomodd (ATH1) project in Athens (Ohio), 2007.

Participant testimonies about the Biomodd (LBA2) project in the Philippines, 2009.

This is from an article that appeared on the Philippine ABS-CBN News website: “Leo Olivades, a student at UPOU, has been learning to grow plants with computers. He is part of a group of volunteers that built Biomodd, an art exhibit that uses recycled computers to power an ecosystem, on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art and Design in Manila. At its core, Biomodd is a network of computers, the excess heat from which has been harnessed to sustain an ecosystem that includes plants and fish. The computers have been equipped with a game that visitors can play. The more the game is played, the more the computers are used, and the more robust the ecosystem grows. For Olivades, Biomodd is not just an art exhibit; it is an experience. “It has some kind of dynamic characteristic,” said Olivades. It sort of encourages people to come out of themselves.” Although he does not consider himself a ‘team player’, usually preferring to work alone, Olivades said that Biomodd changed his perspective on group cooperation. In a personal statement posted on the project website, Olivades notes that the Biomodd experience reminded him of the Filipino concept of ‘bayanihan’, the traditional idea of a volunteer community project.” Continue reading here for the full article.


Angelo Vermeulen is a visual artist, filmmaker, biologist, author, and activist. His research in ecology, environmental pollution and teratology informs his art, which includes bio installations, experimental setups incorporating living organisms and sci-fi references. His projects include ‘Blue Shift’, a Darwinian art project in collaboration with biologist Prof. Luc De Meester, and ‘Biomodd’, a worldwide series of cross-cultural, symbiotic installations fusing game culture, ecology and social interaction. He is currently collaborating with the European Space Agency on the use of ecosystems in future space settlement. Vermeulen exhibits and lectures globally. In 2010 he was awarded a TED Fellowship.

Adapting the worldscape of modernity to climate change — Ruth Irwin

It is well known that modern industrial “business as usual” is “very likely” (to use the IPCC’s technical term) to create a tipping point in the earth’s climate that will take us from the Holocene, through the Anthropocene and collapse to a new climatic Age altogether. This apocalyptic scenario is what Heidegger describes as the “proximity to the zone of nihilism”. Ironically, Heidegger regards this proximity as potentially the greatest possibility for transforming modernity towards a more authentic relation with the earth.

At present, enlightened knowledge is enframed by modern technology. Through mass production, storage, trade, and communication, the technological lens has both freed people from the constraints of their localised ecology, but also alienated us from the needs of the earth. The question to ask is whether all components of modern trade and its concurrent technologies are the problem. Trade, after all, has occurred for thousands of years without producing climate change. Is it the massive global population then, and the longevity made possible by modern medicine, that is overcoming the earth’s capacity for absorbing pollution and thus, exceeding the carrying capacity of the planet? Again, not necessarily, as several billion people manage to live on less than 2 tonnes of CO2e per annum. These people have access to some of the benefits of modernity; medicine for example, but not rampant consumerism. Herein lies the crux. Consumerism is based on the premise of profit and exponential economic growth. It is actively encouraged by nation states that have enshrined economic growth into their financial legislation. All of this is based on the “fractional” banking developed in the late 18th century.

Adaptation to climate change means rethinking the relationship between climate change, consumerism, the definition of wealth, and alienation from the earth. This cannot entail a return to some kind of romantic pastoralism, because the global population is too heavy for the horse and cart to manage. But embracing certain indigenous concepts of whenua, or the inextricable connection between the earth and the people, like a placenta or umbilical cord, could begin to dissolve the antithesis between the bulk of the global poor and the modern elite whose toxic emissions are causing calamity for us all.

Dr Ruth Irwin is a Senior Lecturer in ethics with the Centre for Interdisciplinary Business Studies. She did a double major in her undergraduate degree, in the History of culture contact, and Women’s Studies. Ruth has won the Commonwealth Scholarship, Bright Futures, Ryoichi Sasakawa, and William Georgetti Scholarships. Her research interests include Nietzsche, Heidegger, Deleuze and Guattari, and ecofeminism, modernity, and climate change. She engages with globalization, philosophy of economics, philosophy of education, and philosophy of technology. She is the author of three books and she has published journal articles and book chapters on Nietzsche, Heidegger, the critique of neoliberalism, philosophy of subjectivity, philosophy of education, philosophy of science and technology, globalisation, and the philosophical and cultural implications of climate change. Ruth Irwin is a foundational member of the Sustainability Research Group at AUT.