In his 1971 collection of short stories, Vermilion Sands, the British writer J.G. Ballard invented a rich array of living technologies that respond to and communicate with humans. Ballard’s sentient, responsive, smart technologies communicate and translate data but, more importantly, they witness what Dimitris Papadopoulos describes as, “neither the singular subject nor the network nor the pack but the communities of species and things.”
On the evening of 23 November 2016, Gediminas Urbonas, a professor from MIT will present a talk at CAC titled Psychotropic House: Zooetics pavilion of Ballardian Technologies introducing the Zooetics Pavilion, a result of his long-term research project in collaboration with Nomeda Urbonas and exhibited at the São Paulo Biennial in 2016. Conceived as a radical playground of hybridity in art, technology, and non-human forms of life, the Zooetics Pavilion takes inspiration from Ballard’s propositions: flowers that sing opera, houses that sense their inhabitants’ psychological states and change their form to reflect those states, clothing that responds to its wearer’s moods and social situations. Taking those overlapping and intertwining “communities of species and things” as its core of exploration, the Zooetics Pavilion project demonstrates that the relations between life and non-life, human and non-human may be unknowable and unmapped by existing cartographies of knowledge, yet at the same time their existence is mutually inextricable and therefore calls for new forms of aesthetic and scientific imagination.
Gediminas Urbonas is director of the MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology, associate professor in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Department of Architecture, and co-founder with Nomeda Urbonas of Urbonas Studio, an interdisciplinary research practice that facilitates exchange amongst diverse nodes of knowledge production and artistic practice in pursuit of projects that transform civic spaces and collective imaginaries. Combining new and old media, their work frequently involves collective activities contributing to the cross-disciplinary exchange between several nodes of knowledge production: network and participatory technologies; sensorial media and public space; environmental remediation design and spatial organization; and alternative planning design integration. They also collaborate with experts in different cultural fields to develop practice-based artistic research models that allow participants—including their students—to pursue projects that merge urbanism, new media, social sciences and pedagogy to critically address the transformation of civic space.
Urbonas has exhibited internationally including the San Paulo, Berlin, Moscow, Lyon and Gwangju Biennales – and Manifesta and Documenta exhibitions – among numerous other international shows, including a solo show at the Venice Biennale and MACBA in Barcelona. His work was awarded a number of high level grants and residency awards, including the Lithuanian National Prize (2007); a Prize for the Best International Artist at the Gwangju Biennale (2006) and the Prize for the best national pavilion at the Venice Biennale (2007).
Urbonas is co-founder of Transaction Archive and co-director of the Pro-test Lab Archive. His writing on artistic research as form of intervention into social and political crisis was published in the books Devices for Action (2008) by MACBA Press, Barcelona and Villa Lituania (2008) by Sternberg Press. The forthcoming Public Space? Lost and Found (2017) Urbonas edited will be published by the MIT Press.
Established in 2013, the Chronus Art Center (CAC) is China’s first nonprofit art organization dedicated to the presentation, research / creation and scholarship of media art. CAC with its exhibitions, residency-oriented fellowships, lectures and workshop programs and through its archiving and publishing initiatives, creates a multifaceted and vibrant platform for the discourse, production and dissemination of media art in a global context. CAC is positioned to advance artistic innovation and cultural awareness by critically engaging with media technologies that are transforming and reshaping contemporary experiences.