Dr. Sarah Jane Pell (PhD 06, GSP10, SSP06, ADAS 2 02, MA) is an artist and researcher who founded the Aquabatics Research Team, Australia 2002-2008. Dr. Sarah Jane Pell is currently Co-Chair of the European Space Agency Topical Team Art & Science (ETTAS) responsible for the ESA Arts Initiative (EIA). Dr. Pell has 17 years experience as a visual artist and interdisciplinary researcher working most notably large scale collaborative art & science research with a specific emphasis in the performing arts, human movement, and underwater diving and habitat technologies. Her first expositions were installed at the National Gallery of Victoria in 1997 & 1998. She has since shown in over 50 exhibition/performance and festival programs. She holds a Bachelor Fine Art from the University of Melbourne, Victorian College of the Arts and a Masters of Arts Human Performance from Victoria University. She was awarded the Freedman Foundation Travelling Art Scholar and began doctoral research at Nottingham Trent University Live Art Unit and the British Library. She received a PhD Visual Arts from Edith Cowan University, Western Australia, and her dissertation was awarded Best PhD abstract Art & Science (English Language) 2007 from Leonardo LABS, MIT US. She is the first “artist” alumni of the International Space University SSP06, FR and Singularity University GSP10, NASA Ames. Her first Space Art payload was launched on-board SPRITE-SAT Payload H-IIA JAXA Japanese Space Agency (GOSAT) 2009. Her DVD ‘walking with water’ is available for International Educational Release with Contemporary Arts Media CAM, UK/AU. She also holds a restricted coxswain and an ADAS commercial diver’s license for occupational diving operations air to 30m and is an active diver with over 1500hrs in-water time logged (excluding decompression). She is official Aquanaut crew of the Atlantica Undersea Habitat Expeditions. Dr. Sarah Jane Pell is the only Australian TED Fellow.
An accomplished artist and commercial diver, Dr. Sarah Jane Pell consults, produces and performs underwater media and designs interdisciplinary sci-art laboratories as new forms of live art and civilian space analogues. She is TED Fellow and Freedman Foundation Travelling Art Scholar.
Pell began exhibiting award-winning works in national galleries, festivals and museums as a teenager. Her first solo shows were at the National Gallery of Victoria in 1997/8. Other exposition highlights include: the Western Australian Maritime Museum; Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts; National Review of Live Art; International Symposium of Electronic Arts ISEA; Thailand New Media Arts Festival MAP; Taiwan National Museum, Museum of Fine Arts; Live Art Surgery UK; Biennale of Electronic Arts Perth BEAP; Bonnington Gallery; GreenMuseum.Org; Adelaide Festival of the Arts; SPARTEN Space Art Environment, Reykjavik Arts Festival and 2m2 Gallery Stavenger.
In 2002 Pell founded ARTi the Aquabatics Research Team initiative: an underwater multimedia lab and production group. She has logged 1000+ hours work underwater as a commercial diver and published, performed and exhibited widely on new aquatic art and science and human performance research. Aquabatics has been featured in numerous collections, books, documentary and media including, ACBTV, TIME Magazine, BBC, Popular Science, PAJ A journal of Performance & Art, RealTime, NY Art Magazine, & Art Fairs International. She has published and presented widely – from the International Astronautical Congress to MOMA Brisbane and the TEDU Stage. Her DVD Walking with Water is available on international release with Contemporary Arts Media AU/UK. Leonardo LABS awarded her pioneering PhD proposing Aquabatics as New Works of Live Art the best international PhD Art & Science (English Language), MIT 2007.
In 2003, Pell began exploring the performativity of biotechnology and art, collaborating and touring with SymbioticA: the Centre for Excellence in Biological Arts, University of Western Australia. In 2006, Sarah became the first artist to study at the International Space University where she led & co-authored Luna Gaia: a closed loop habitat for the Moon: a study commissioned by NASA Ames/ISU. In 2008 she was invited to the ALTEC Alenia SpA. Neutral Buoyancy Test Facility, Italy to examine the feasibility of VR in underwater astronaut training. Her first Space Art payload was launched onboard SPRITE-SAT Payload H-IIA JAXA (GOSAT) 2009. In 2010, Sarah Jane joined the Space Team Project of GSP10 at Singularity University, sponsored by NASA Ames. There she established the thinktank Biological Enhancement Space Technologies (BEST); and Founded Liquid Uni: Altered gravity education and entertainment. Dr. Pell was appointed to the European Space Agency ESA Topical Team Art & Science 2011.
Sarah Jane Pell was born in Melbourne on the tail of Cyclone Tracy in 1974. It might sound like a dramatic entrance into the world, but for the most part, Sarah had a typically Australian childhood. Her first home was opposite the Harold Holt Pool in Glen Iris. Between the ages of two and eighteen, she lived regional Victoria, sojourning to the sea-side town of Torquay for the summer and to Melbourne for cultural events, sporting competitions and to visit family. Like most Aussie kids, Sarah felt grounded outdoors. She particularly enjoyed climbing trees, building, hammering, exploring bushland and all sorts of water activities. Sarah was naturally athletic, artistic and scholastically inclined nevertheless she hungered for new knowledge and changing environments often taking on as many extracurricula activities as she could. Basketball, tennis, life drawing classes, jazz ballet, high jump, metaphysics and yoga classes were high on the list of priorities.
Pell's childhood preoccupations were put to use and she graduated from Victorian College of the Arts, The University of Melbourne (BFA Drawing) with the Mixed Media Award (1995). Starting an engineering production certificate at RMIT TAFE (1996), Sarah discovered rock climbing winning the National Student Indoor Climbing Championship title. Her first major production ‘The Many-to-Many World’ premiered in the Great Hall of the National Gallery of Victoria (1997) and it incorporated climbing in the trans-disciplinary choreography. She travelled overseas for the first time that year then completed a Masters of Human Performance at Victorian University of Technology (1998) producing various confined space habitat experiments, 'The Many-to-Many World II' and ‘Substance & Transparency’ on the National Gallery of Victoria forecourt (1998).
Sarah supported her art by working for well-respected curators, galleries, festivals and museums before moving to Western Australia in 2001. The sea change shifted Pell’s focus. She was inspired anew by recreational diver courses undertaken at the Perth Diving Academy, coincidently becoming a third-generation Pell diver following her father and grandfather. Sarah was awarded an AFWA studio, a WAAPA creative development and PICA R&D grant (2002) to explore human performance potentials, behaviours, and underwater life-support. She continued training to become a fully qualified ADAS 2R Occupational Diver at The Underwater Centre, Fremantle (2002) and, with an ECU Research Advancement & Enterprise Scholarship, she developed the project as the inaugural Doctor of Philosophy at WAAPA Edith Cowan University.
Since 2002, Pell's aqueous research has been shown in galleries, museums and site-specific venues across Australia, Asia, Scandinavia, UK, and Europe. Highlights include the National Review of Live Art, Midland (2002), National Review of Live Art, Glasgow (2003), Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (2003, 2004, 2006), BEAP04 Biennale of Electronic Arts, Perth (2004), ISEA04 International Symposium of Electronic Arts, The Baltic (2004), Bonnington Gallery, UK (2004), Multimedia Asia Pacific, Bangkok (2005, 2006), ARC Biennial, Brisbane (2005) Reykjavik Arts Festival, Iceland (2006) and BOOM!: An Interplay of Fast and Frozen Permutations in New Media, Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts, the Australian-Taiwan New Media Art Festival, Taipei National Musuem Taiwan (2007).
Artist residencies include ArtGeo Old Court House Artist Studio Residency, Busselton (2003), Time_Place_Space 3, AIT Arts Adelaide (2004), Judith Wright Performing Arts Centre and RAW Space, Brisbane (2005), Live Art Surgery Festival, Penzance UK (2006) and freshwatersaltwater Central TAFE Gallery, Perth (2007). Pell was also artist-in-residence at Riks Utstillinger: the Norwegian government touring exhibition organisation (2004), research associate to SymbioticA: the art & science laboratory, UWA and collaborator for ‘Lifeboat’ the international touring mobile life-state lab (2003 - 2005). Workshops include Interdepend with Martyn Coutts, ArtsTAS New Media Creative Development (2005), SymbioticA Genetic Engineering Workshop and Tissue Culture Workshops, UWA (2006) and remote-contributions to Telepresence in Performance with Johannes Birringer, The Performance Space, Sydney (2006) and Yuri's Night Bay Area, NASA Ames, US (2007).
In 2004, Pell was awarded a Freedman Foundation Travelling Arts Scholarship to research the archives at the Live Art Unit, Nottingham Trent University, the Live Art Development Agency, London and the British Library. Pell published ‘Aquabatics as new works of Live art’ in many forums including a DVD 'Walking with Water' for worldwide release and a retrospective exhibition at the Western Australian Maritime Museum (2005) as one part of a submission towards a Doctor of Philosophy, Edith Cowan University (2006). Simultaneously, Pell received BEAPWorks R&D funding (2005-6) to conduct a feasibility study of ‘Sub Culture’: a weightless environment training (wet) performance habitat inquiry and an ArtsWA Distribution grant (2006). Pell became a Society for Underwater Technology member and presented 'Sub Culture' at Blue05 Human performance behaviour and limits underwater, Pisa Italy (2005) and Performing Rights Conference, Queen Mary College, London (2006).
While Pell has established a reputation for exploring human performance behaviour underwater, she has consistently produced work dealing with a range of interests in other media to investigate broader states of being. For example, Pell has written operational protocols and proposed a new, aqueous philosophy, challenging the boarders of post-humanism and the ethics and status of contemporary existence. Pell joined the Zero Gravity Arts Consortium, presenting at the ISDC06 25th International Space Development Congress, LA (2006) and was awarded a scholarship to participate in the SSP06 at International Space University, France (2006) as the only artist. The ISU experience was Pell's second 'sea change' inspiring serious consideration of the syzygy between subspace and outer space. Following the nine-week intensive in Strasbourg, Pell presented 'Sub Culture' at Space Soon: art & human space flight The Roundhouse, London, (2006). She was also nominated by the SSP06 TP Co-Chairs to coordinate the TP 'Luna Gaia' presentation at the Directors Colloquium, NASA Ames Research Centre, California (2006) and independently at the 2nd International Space & Society conference, European Space Agency, The Netherlands (2007). In 2010, Sarah Jane joined the Space Team Project 'To Boldly Go' of GSP10 at Singularity University, sponsored by NASA Ames. There she established the thinktank Biological Enhancement Space Technologies (BEST); and Founded Liquid Uni: exploring altered gravity education and entertainment.
Her mother recently recalled that Sarah was 11 years of age when she first told her family she was planning to go to space. Sarah still believes this is possible and she is passionate about the adopting the principals of underwater architectures and choreographies for use in altered gravity conditions. Dr. Pell is a TED2010 Fellow. She was appointed to the European Space Agency ESA Topical Team Art & Science 2011.