Mobile BioTechArt Performance Lab (2003-2005) The Baltic

LifeBoat Project

ISEA04 International Symbosium of Electronic Arts

Nigel Helyer, Oron Catts, Sarah Jane Pell, Stuart Hodgetts, Ionat Zurr

Lifeboat proposed multimedia performance as a complex living system. The performative stratosphere included a fully operational biological laboratory and psychological profiling station (contained within an off-shore platform lifeboat), visa and passport processing terminus, web presence and audiovisual broadcast across the Oslo Fjord, and then on Silja Liner “Opera” for ISEA04 International Symposium of Electronic Arts, 2004 and the ‘Touch Me’ Intelligent Abuse festival, Zagreb Croatia 2005.

“When a person is part of a system, he cannot easily see what his role accomplishes…. Unless he understands the system thoroughly, he will not have any inkling of the networks of controls that may or may not exist to keep the flow(s) continuous, adapted to inputs, adapted to outside demands, and stabilized in the face of fluctuations". Odum, 1971 .

Lifeboat 1 ISEA04 LifeBoat shipping Lifeboat 2 ISEA04 Helyer, Pell, Zurr, Helskinki Harbour 2004 Lifeboat 3 ISEA04 Hodgetts, Oslo Harbour 2004 Lifeboat 6 ISEA04 Nigel Helyer, Silja Liner Lifeboat 4 ISEA04 Sarah Jane Pell, Silja Liner Lifeboat 5 ISEA04 Sarah Jane Pell, Crew Pearl Lifeboat 7 ISEA04 Pell, Zurr, Lilith processing life forms Lifeboat 8 ISEA04 Crane Helsinki Harbour Silja Liner Lifeboat 9 ISEA04 Oron Catts, Silja Liner, The Baltic

LifeBoat Project, 2004 (Nigel Helyer, Oron Catts, Sarah Jane Pell, Ionat Zurr) tour the Baltic for ISEA04 International Symposium of Electronic Arts onboard Silja Liner 'Opera'.

LifeBoat established a fully functional biological laboratory and psychological profiling station enclosed within a fully enclosed ship lifeboat. The Lifeboat Crew employed protocols both for, and as of a point of departure to “culture” living, semi-living, non-living and the partially living on board the vessel. They devised multi-layered systems as ubiquitous ‘processing operations’, which guided visitors through the real and transformative terms of participation and consequence. The production re-contextualized existing bodies of knowledge of living systems to perform tactical manoeuvres between modes of data, operation and discourse. The complex network of artistic, biological, technological, bureaucratic and political productions discussed the interrelatedness of life on an unprecedented level. The audience examination traces the accumulative Meta culture of socio-biomaterial sustained by Lifeboat to critique the un-locatable and complex nature of ideas and presences of performance across all living systems. The performance utilized biological, ecological, societal and technological strategies to cultivate a lifeboat state. Crew issued health warnings about DVT: Deep Vein Thinking and the effects of Cell Disassociation as audiences lined up to be ‘processed’. Without question, visitors ‘gave’ their name, address, signature, data-of-birth, occupation, passport photo, and fingerprint, completed a 73 part psychological profiling questionnaire and donated DNA samples in full view of a quad-video surveillance system. The unique ‘profile’ they generated affected a life form assigned to them. Crew assured audiences that they ‘were with them every step of the way’ and their ‘privacy is important to us’. Post performance, visitors were left to ponder their level of engagement – was it symbolic? Was it metaphoric, virtual or worse, an actual system? Lifeboat proposed a new type of live(d) art terrain for all of us.

Artists should steer clear of politics. Strongly Agree? Agree? Disagree? Strongly Disagree?

Lifeboat 12 Symbiotica Catts, Zurr, Hodgetts Lifeboat 13 Symbiotica Catts, Zurr, Hodgetts Lifeboat 14 Symbiotica Catts, Zurr, Hodgetts

LifeBoat Project, 2004 Oron Catts (LifeBoat Crew: St.Jaques), Dr. Ionat Zurr (LifeBoat Crew: Jonah), Dr. Stuart Hodgetts (LifeBoat Crew: Geddy Lee) preparing 'cultures' from SymbioticA: the Art & Science Laboratory, University of Western Australia 2003-4 and Heureka Science Museum in Finland 2004.

The crew used the LifeBoat vessel to produce and process ‘living’ cultures as part of a creative development residency with Riks Utstillinger, the Norwegian Government Touring Exhibition Organisation, Oslo Norway 2004 for ISEA04 International Symposium of Electronic Arts, The Baltic 2004 and Intelligent Abuse Festival, Zargreb 2005.

Lifeboat 16 Helyer, Pell, Hodgetts, Olso Harbour, NO Riks Utstillinger Lifeboat 17 Olso Harbour, NO Riks Utstillinger Lifeboat 18 Stuart Hodgetts, Olso Harbour, NO Riks Utstillinger

LifeBoat Project, 2004 Dr. Nigel Helyer (LifeBoat Crew: Melville), Dr. Sarah Jane Pell (LifeBoat Crew: Pearl), Dr. Stuart Hodgetts (LifeBoat Crew: Geddy-Lee) Initial crew for the Australia Council Artists in Science Residency, fitting out the laboratory at Riks Utstillinger, Norway and creative development performance in Oslo Harbour.
Reviews and Media

  • Big Brother (2005) Croatian TV Appearance
  • Majda Juric, p., (2005) Vampires, butterflies, sheep, golden girls, semi-living entities and other miraculous encounters, Touch Me festival OutInOpen 08 – 17.09.2005 stara tvornica Badel/ old factory Badel, Zagreb K-021 Catalogue: M12 & Kontenjner, Croatia, pg 19
  • Touch Me – artists, Melville, St. Jacques & Jona Touch Me festival OutInOpen 08 – 17.09.2005 (2005) stara tvornica Badel/ old factory Badel, Zagreb K-021 Catalogue: M12 & Kontenjner, Croatia, pg 70 - 73
  • Fitzgerald, M., (2004) Giving (Real) Life to Art, TIME Magazine, August 23, pp. 66-67
  • Gjerstad, I., (2004) Biologisk kunst pa Oslofjorden, Aftenpoften Idag, (Norway) July 26, pp. 1, 6-7
  • Norro, N., (2004) Lifeboat, Cultivating Living Cells & Critical Biological Art, M-Cult (Finland) ISEA 2004 Mag p.7
  • McDonald Crowley, A., (2005) New Media Art investment in Australia, ARSIS 3-04 New Media Art and Multi-Media, University Helsinki Press, pp. 26-28
  • Pierce, J., (2005) Beyond the Borders of Turing-Land, Experimenta- MESH 17: New Media Art in Australia and Asia, Jan 9
  • Roudavski, S., (2005) ISEA2004 Layers of Performance, NY Arts Magazine, (US) January/ February 2005
  • Roudavski, S., (2005) International Symposium on Electronic Arts (ISEA) 2004 Layers of Performance, Art Fairs International
  • Lifeboat 10 SymbioticA Catts, Helyer, Pell, Zurr, Hodgetts Lifeboat 11 Acknowledgemnts Catts, Helyer, Pell, Zurr, Hodgetts Lifeboat 15 Helsinki Ice Bar, Helyer, Pell, 2004

    This research project was generously supported by the New Media Arts Board of the Australia Council; Riks Utstillinger, The Norwegian Government Touring Exhibitions Organisation; M-Cult; and Silja Liner in 2004. Also the research partnerships between SymbioticA: the art & science Laboratory, School of Anatomy & Human Biology, University of Western Australia; Sonic Objects: Sonic Architecture and ARTi Aquabatics Research Team made this possible. I would like to acknowledge the support of an ArtsWA Artsflight Grant to travel to Norway to be artist-in-residence at Riks Utstillinger, Norway and attend ISEA04 International Symposium of Electronic Arts, Scandinavia. This collaboration is part of the Aquabatics Research Team initiative (ARTi) and in part, informed PhD research.

    Australia Council VACS Arts WA Riks Utstillinger LifeBoat Project Logo SymbioticA Sonic Objects Sonic Architecture ARTi Aquabatics Research Team

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