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11 - 15 FEBRUARY 2019

Screening Times: 10:00 | 11:30 | 13:00 | 14:30 | 16:00

Total Run Time: 1 hour 30 mins

What do we mean by life? Is life a material that we can shape? What are the limits of life? How do our definitions of life shape our understanding of culture and society? What happens when life becomes technology?


In LIFE week, we explore the physical material of life itself, our connection with it and the ways in which artists and scientists relate to life as material. 

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Squid Coming to Life (2017)

Nipam Patel

Produced by the evolutionary and developmental biologist Nipam Patel in his lab at the University of California, Berkeley, Squid: Coming to Life is a hypnotic film that follows the process of life from its most basic materials to complex living organisms, in this case squid and cuttlefish. With music composed by Kirsten Dutton and entrancing microscopy footage, the short video shows the cephalopods transforming from embryos (when they develop in egg capsules) to hatchlings that emerge with the resplendent, colour-shifting skin they use for communication and camouflage.

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Aseptic Requiem (2014)

WhiteFeather Hunter

Aseptic Requiem presents a new scientific protocol for the compassionate disposal of in vitro semi-living organisms. The 24-hour time lapse of digital micrography shows repetitive looping of 11 compressed seconds of live NIH3T3 connective tissue cells successfully engaging with and performing vital functions on silk filaments in cell culture nutrient media. Aseptic Requiem is presented with the accompaniment of Gabriel Fauré's Requiem Op. 48. The time lapse sequence was produced in August 2014 with technical advice and assistance from Guy Ben-Ary at CELLCentral, School of Human Biology, University of Western Australia. This video was generated as part of the research conducted during an artist residency at SymbioticA Centre for Excellence in Biological Arts.


Lively Material (2018)

Louise Mackenzie

Lively Material is a video diary of artist Louise Mackenzie's research within the Institute of Genetic Medicine at Newcastle University. The film follows a thought from the mind of the artist into the body of a genetically modified organism, the laboratory workhorse: E. coli. The thought is translated from a spoken phrase, voiced by Mackenzie, into a code that becomes represented as physical material: synthetic DNA, stored within the body of a living organism. The lively material of the organism becomes both container and commodity in the context of the laboratory, used to store and generate DNA. Through a diary-based narrative, Mackenzie explores how her relationship to this lively material alters when DNA is stored within the organism in a cultural, rather than scientific context. 


HAEM (2018)

 Cecilia Jonsson and Dr. Rodrigo Leite de Oliviera             

Bridging the fields of art, life sciences and metallurgy, HAEM explores fundamental connections between elements of the earth and the human body. Jonsson’s film, usually shown as part of a multimedia art installation, focuses on the transformational process of deriving iron from an unexpected source – the human placenta. Through a complex labyrinth of blood vessels, the placenta provides a direct connection between mother and developing child. Iron, plentiful throughout this process of exchange, plays an essential role, moving through this labyrinth, guiding oxygen from the mother to the foetus. To symbolise this directed movement Jonsson chose to make a compass needle with iron derived from the blood contained in discarded, postpartum human placentas. This object concentrates the labour of dozens of births, of thousands of hours of fluid exchange, at the earliest meeting point between new and existing life. The film project was commissioned by Bio Art & Design Awards 2016, with the support of ZonMw, The Netherlands Cancer Institute, The Arts Council Norway and Bergen Municipality.

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A Child of It's Time (2014)

Laura Harrington

In Laura Harrington’s short film, our inherent and intuitively playful relationship with the materials of the earth are explored. A Child of It’s Time positions Moss Flats, an eroded peat flat in the North Pennines as an exploratory playground for Harrington’s fifteen-month-old son to investigate, framing a spontaneous and sensory response to environment.  We experience a sense of animating and imagining new ways of discovering what surrounds us; of relating to one’s environment, creating new connections and becoming interconnected. In contrast to scientific processes of monitoring and observing, Harrington makes a claim for a more spontaneous relationship with our surroundings. Rather than passive or inactive, this relationship is in a constant state of flux.

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Subatlantic (2015)

Ursula Biemann

Subatlanticexplores our connection to the material properties of life on a geological scale. Biemann’s film unfolds across the Subatlantic, the latest phase of the present geological period, the Holocene that began around 2,500 years ago and has registered major civilizational changes. The voiceover alludes to a she-scientist who is making instrumental observations about a changing environment around glacial melts. From an increasingly submerged place of oceanic observation, her objects of examination are as much the physical world and the atmosphere that is engulfing her as the thoughts that are formed, reconfigured or released under the changing conditions. Subatlantic also refers to the submerged space of the Atlantic Ocean. Set in the Shetland Islands, Greenland’s Disco Bay and a tiny Caribbean Island, the video implicates far apart locations that are connected through ocean streams.

A Visualisation of Beta Amyloid Growth,

A Visualisation of Beta Amyloid Growth, Cortical Slice 

Matthew Pickering

Originally shown as a floor-based projection, this short film was developed through studies of PET scans that show the growth of the beta amyloid protein in the brain, a protein strongly connected to the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. The work explores the physicality of Alzheimer’s using the visual language of bacterial growth and drawing on the psychological impact of interior growths. Both beautiful and sinister, the meaning slowly reveals itself as the animation progresses. A Visualisation of Beta Amyloid Growth, Cortical Slice is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

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Noisy Licking, Spitting and Dribbling

Vicky Smith

Vicky Smith's animation combines 16mm film and bodily fluid, making apparent our material relationship with technology. Made with the mouth alone, Noisy, Licking, Dribbling and Spitting is a direct animation that takes the idea of licking as a primary and semi-automatic action. Using the stained tongue as a tool and stamping pad, the first impression is made 40 frames (1 foot) into the film and then reduced by one frame with each new stamp, accelerating until the marks overlap. Mechanistic control is then rejected in favour of spitting and dribbling as random action. Painterly like splats and swirls roll down the filmstrip and spill across into the audio track, generating noisy rasps and skidding sounds.


Un Passage D'Eau The Waterway (2014)

Louise Hervé and Chloé Maillet


Un Passage D’Eau speculates on our water-based interactions with the material of life. The film takes place in a sea resort on the Atlantic coast in France. A group of subaquatic archaeologists are looking for the remains of ancient shipwrecks and try to preserve what they find from corrosion. A spa proposes rejuvenation to its clients with the help of seawater treatments. Meanwhile, a mysterious group of retired people are set on finding the way to eternal life. 


Written and directed by Louise Hervé & Chloé Maillet with Brigitte Roüan, Bernard Verley, Mathurin Maret, Philippe Bilheur. Production redshoes & I. I. I. I., with the support of La Région Pays de la Loire, Pôle Image Haute-Normandie, Liverpool Biennial 2014 (European Culture Programme 2007-13) & la Passerelle Centre d’art contemporain – Brest.

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