SubCulture (2004-2012) Liminal BioSphere AU/UK

Sarah Jane Pell, Oron Catts, Ionat Zurr, Johannes Birringer


Original Human Aqua Lab proposed to The Arts Catalyst 2004 for 'Space Soon' 2006 at The London Roundhouse.

Over six days, life form Sarah Jane Pell will perform a sub space habitat investigation posited at a depth of 1.5ATA in a human-scale bioreactor filled with saline. The aquanaut will be suspended inside an observation chamber that emulates micro-gravity conditions either by vessel rotation (should the tank be spherical) or hydrodynamic force (using a donut-shaped model). A satellite of cultured and sub cultured life forms contained in mini bioreactors will also perform. Amphibian cells, complex vertebrates and monocultural aquatic organisms will be chosen. All living systems will be tended, monitored and mediated from the third tier biosphere of Life Support Personnel with life form researchers Oron Catts & Ionat Zurr performing Cultural Awareness Responsible Enforcement operations. The intention of the investigations is to CARE between the biological, physical and aesthetical systems that describe aspects of performance and behaviour in a saturated microgravity bioreactor. The fourth tier will explore telematic performance and consciousness across all systems. The culture of this research nexus embraces the functional evolution of existing extra-terrestrial, deep aquatic and earthbound living knowledge systems to examine the issues involved in defining and measuring the specific consciousness of life forms. The design considers the functional architecture of the live bio-technological system in relation to the tekhne of cognition and communication. The conditions inside the bioreactor combine saturation and velocity. The outer spheres combines moist and dry, ambient pressure laboratories and observation platforms. Each public and private layer of the micro/macro cultures represents a state or environmental habitat acknowledging the interrelated hybrid life support body comprising techno, industrial and societal faculties. The unique Meta performative body [inclusive of living and semi living beings] in a hydro micro gravitational field also conveys a paradigmatic shift between two epochs: cultural and ideological and the aesthetical spheres and scientific concepts of the body entity and site. This liminal performance-style laboratory explores the complexities of performance and technology of living systems in relation to their extreme environments. The unique conditions also provide opportunities with predictive validity for alternative habitat whilst unhindered by the requirements of a mission operation. In terms of the living and semi living, findings artistic or otherwise, will act as Canary-type early warning systems alerting larger bodies to environmental and cultural stressors, hazards and potentials. An open call will be made for researchers to submit associated research proposals to this work.

Inspirational References

Sea Life AquaDom Berlin 1 Sea Life AquaDom Berlin 2 Sea Life AquaDom Berlin 3

Sea Life AquaDom Berlin - aquarium inspiration for SubCulture: Liminal BioSphere for installation at The Roundhouse, London.


SubCulture StoryBoard 5 Liminal Biosphere 2005-12 Sarah Jane Pell SubCulture StoryBoard 7 Liminal Biosphere 2005-12 Sarah Jane Pell SubCulture StoryBoard 8 Liminal Biosphere 2005-12 Sarah Jane Pell

Spellart concepts for sea/space architectures supporting the SubCulture: Liminal BioSphere human-scale bioreactor art.


Birringer, J., (2007) Performance and Science PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art - PAJ 85 (Volume 29, Number 1), MIT Press January 2007, pp. 21-35. Pell, S.J. (2006) Sub Culture: 'Space Soon' art & human spaceflight conference, The Roundhouse, London UK, Sep 3
Birringer, J., Pell, S.J., Bell, S., La Frenais, R., (2006) Sub Culture: liminal Biosphere Panel PSi 12 Conference, Royal College, London UK, Jul 14
Pell, S.J. (2005) Sub Culture, Preparing a subspace habitat as an analogue to outer space, Blue2005 Human performance limits and behaviour underwater, Pisa, Italy, Dec 3
Pell, S.J. (2005) Sub Cultures: A presentation to SymbioticA : the art & science laboratory, The School of Anatomy & Human Biology, The University of Western Australia. Friday Meeting, Nov 19
Birringer, J. & Danjoux, M., (2005) The Telematic Dress: evolving garments and distributed prior-proception in streaming media & fashion performance, Wearable Technologies Conference, Leeds University UK
Birringer, J., (2005) The Gargarin System: Reflections on ‚ÄúSynnesthesia and Multimedia‚ÄĚ a workshop at Enfuit University, Dec
Pell, S.J. Catts, O., Zurr, I (2004) Sub Culture: liminal Bio Sphere, 500word Research Proposal to The Arts Catalyst, London

SubCulture was developed with the support of a BEAPWorks R&D Grant, the Western Australian Government Department for Culture and Arts and Lottery West.
⇐ Go to Studio Lab Experiments