Tag Archives: art

2014-07-02 00.18.16

Ways of curating

If you’ve heard me talk about science unconferences, you may have noticed me refer to this quote before:

“At a conference the most important things happen in the coffee break” – Hans-Ulrich Obrist

It comes from a 2008 Edge interview with Hans-Ulrich Obrist, and refers to an event he organised in the nineties, where he brought together artists and scientists for a conference – but eliminated the entire conference programme. The idea was to have a conference that only consisted of the valuable meetings between like-minded people in coffee breaks and social events surrounding the conference. Obrist calls it a “nonconference”, but it’s similar to “unconferences” made popular by the tech community.

Recently, I saw Obrist latest book, Ways of Curating, in a bookstore, and after confirming that this “nonconference” was in there, I picked it up. The book is amazing! Obrist is an entertaining writer, and in a series of short chapters he discusses all kinds of exhibits he has curated, and artists he has met and worked with. He describes how he once created an exhibit in the kitchen of his house, where Fischli and Weiss, of The Way Things Go (Der Lauf Der Dinge) fame, created an installation of giant food items in the cupboard above the sink.

I learned that besides the nonconference Art and Brain, Obrist worked with scientists a few other times. In 1999, he curated  Laboratorium, a project featuring artists and scientists, which took place in various locations in Antwerp. Participants here also included Fischli and Weiss, as well as another of my favourite artists, Bruce Mau. (“Don’t clean your desk”, from Bruce Mau’s Incomplete Manifesto for Growth, is another of my favourite quotes. Fun fact: Both this quote and the Obrist quote above have been on my Facebook profile for years. )

Ways of Curating is a fun read, in which I learned some basic ideas of art curating, and got inspired to think about curating and organising other things.

Slice and Dice

Two medical art related things:
I’m in Gerstein Library at the moment, and one of Gunter Von Hagen’s Bodyworlds pieces is on display in the lobby , to advertise that there are many more of them at the Ontario Science Centre. I saw his last exhibit there when Shelley came to visit a few years ago and don’t really feel the need to brave the crowds again, but seeing a sliced up man for free at the library where I was working anyway is pretty cool.

Slicy in the library lobby. He’s officially called “6 Meter Man” but I’ve named him “Slicy” instead. (Photo from UofT )
I still need to watch the episode, but I’m already excited about it. My friend Brett is an illustrator/cartoonist, and he has been selling some stock images lately that have popped up here and there. Most recently, a cartoon he did of a sick guy was used to make a box for a fictional board game shown on my favourite current comedy show, How I Met Your Mother. Yay! In terms of medical art it’s a bit of a stretch, I know, but look how fun this looks:

Diseases! I so want to play this game!


On the off chance that you’re going to be in Prague this weekend, make sure you don’t miss enter3 , the third international festival for arts, sciences, and technologies.
In particular, you’d want to visit the performances and installations at various locations in the city.
My picks:
Proteic portrait by Marta de Menezes.
Marta spelled out her entire name in one letter amino acid codes, and engineered the corresponding peptide.

Pigeon Blog by Beatriz da Costa
PigeonBlog enlists homing pigeons to participate in a grassroots scientific data gathering initiative designed to collect and distribute information about air quality conditions to the general public.”
Streptomyces by Linda ?iha?ová
Linda subjects photographs of a bioinformatics lab to the same algorithms as the lab’s researchers use on their data.
Dangerous Liaisons
This documentary screens three times at enter3 this weekend. It follows a Transgenic Pheasant Embryology Art and Science Lab as part of an honours biological arts course in Leiden.

I wish I could be in Prague this weekend to see all this!