Silicon Dreams Art, Science and Technology in the European Union

Silicon Dreams
Art, Science and Technology in the European Union

tabakalera donostia – san sebastián
February 9th – March 21th 2010

Silicon Dreams draws attention to the currency for transdisciplinary practice across Science, Technology and Art. Aiming to support a vision of the European Union as a leader in Research and Development, the project highlights emerging art forms, exploring creative influences, experimentation and innovation in the field.

The exhibition presents artworks selected from an invited shortlist of outstanding works in the field. The final selection was undertaken by The Scientific Committee established by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation for the purpose of the project, and sought to reflect the high level of transdisciplinary research across arts and science. The exhibition represents the complexity and diversity of the field from an ever evolving perspective reflecting broad categories of practice. However, the underlying intention behind the exhibition is not to provide a comprehensive survey of the field, either contemporary or historical in character, but to highlight key moments and outstanding ideas that have been driving the development of creative ideas. In particular, the selection aimed to exemplify: advanced research and innovation demonstrating cross knowledge in the field Art, Science and Technology; the potential for further collaborations between artists and scientists; interaction between artistic and scientific production methods; an influence and challenge to scientific paradigms; significant public impact; vision and imagination to inspire new ideas, new experiences and to dream our future in new ways.

Selected works:

Camera Lucida, Evelina Domnitch & Dmitry Gelfand (2005).
Interactive Plant Growing, Christa Sommerer & Laurent Mignonneau (1993-1997).
Luci – Sin nombre y sin memoria, José Manuel Berenguer (2008).
Mission Eternity: Tamatar. SWARM F71834AA6A9A6586, Etoy (2010).
My Black Cat, Knowbotic Research (2009).
Natural Fuse, Usman Haque (2008).
Probe, Boris Debackere (2008).
Requiem, Marcel.lí Antúnez (1999).
Terrain_01, Ulrique Gabriel (1992-1993).
The exhibition also includes Protrude, Flow by Sachiko Kodama (2008).

Scientific Committee:

Chair: Carlos Martínez Alonso, State Secretary for Research, Ministry of Science and Innovation
Curatorial Co-ordinator: Dr. Joasia Krysa, KURATOR / University of Plymouth.
Montserrat Toné Escasany, Director General for International Cooperation and Institutional Affairs, Ministry of Science and Innovation.
Clara Eugenia García, Advisor to the Minister’s Office, Ministry of Science and Innovation.
Lourdes Arana Uli, Director General of FECYT.
Elisa Sáinz, CEO of Development of Design and Innovation, Ministry of Science and Innovation.
Alex Adriaansens, Director, V2.
Daniel Canogar, Artist.
Fernando Castro Flórez, Art Critic.
David Cuartielles, Artist – Programmer, founder of Arduino.
Dr. Yago Torroja. ETSII School of Industrial Engineering, University Polytechnic of Madrid.
LaAgencia, Secretary of the Committee

Photographic material:

“The Selection Committee of the exhibition had a meeting on the date of October 19th 2009 under the presidency of Carlos Martínez Alonso, then State Secretary for Research of the Ministry of Science and Innovation, position held until December 2009”


Interactive Plant Growing, Christa Sommerer y Laurent Mignonneau (1993-1997)

Interactive Plant Growing is a classic in the field of media art. In this installation, living plants function as the interface between the human user and the artwork. This not only provides a new, emotionally charged and unusual connection between computers and living beings but also poses the questions of what a plant is, how we perceive it, and how we interact with it when we touch it or approach it. The electrical potential differences (voltage) between the user’s body and the real plant is captured by the plant and interpreted as electrical signals. The images generated on the screen show the final results of that interaction as a collective image of virtual plants that were grown by several users.

Probe, Boris Debackere (2008)

Probe: noun, an unmanned exploratory spacecraft designed to transmit information about its environment.
Cinema is a virtual capsule with a projection screen as a window, which gives access to an audiovisual trip through time and space. As soon as the film starts the projection surface becomes invisible. It becomes the magic window of the cinema capsule that engages the whole body through the eyes and ears, and abducts you to another time and space. Probe is an interactive installation in which the relationship between the viewer and the screen is central. The position of the viewer determines the creation of generative sound and image that physically take the viewer on an audiovisual trip.

Camera Lucida, Evelina Domnitch y Dimitry Gelfand (2005)

Within a transparent chamber filled with a gas-infused liquid, sound waves are directly transformed into light emissions by means of a phenomenon known as sonoluminescence. While adapting to the darkness surrounding the installation, one gradually perceives the   detailed configurations of glowing sound fields.

Réquiem, Marcel•lí Antúnez (1999)

The robot Requiem is an interactive pneumatic exoskeleton made of aluminium sheets, stainless steel and nineteen pneumatic pistons enabling movement of the knees, thighs, groin, hip, shoulders, elbows, jaw and hands. The robot is suspended by the head from an iron support, hanging a short distance from the floor. As an installation Requiem has eight sensors located around the exhibition space and they can be activated by the spectators.

Terrain_01, Ulrike Gabriel (1992-1993)

Terrain_01 is the first version of a series of solar robot installations which were created between 1992 and 1997 with the Otherspace group. The radical hybridisation of ‘artistic engineering’ and ‘engineering art’ resulted in very specific artistic and technological approaches, ideas, problem definitions and solutions. Terrain_01 explores the paradoxical situation of an observer who is simultaneously part of the observed system. This creates a scenario in which dynamic feedback is relayed between perception, thought, the perceived environment, the observer and the observed.

My black cat, Knowbotic Research (2009)

In this installation, ballons, filled with helium, hover freely in space, suspended in a state of limbo, kept in subtle motion by an intermittent breeze of air generated by a circle of rotating fans. The audience is free to play with these ballons and the system emits standing waves and tracks the sonic feedback in order to monitor the changing configurations of the ballons. The system calculates and modifies its sound frecuencies according to the locations of the ballons, thus creating ambience in the space.

Natural Fuse, Usman Haque (2008)

Natural Fuse harnesses the carbon-sinking capabilities of plants to create a city-wide network of electronically-assisted plants that act both as energy providers and as shared “carbon sink” circuit breakers. By sharing resources and information between the plants energy expenditure can be collectively monitored and managed. The purpose is to create a collective “carbon sink”, that offsets the amount of energy consumed by the plant owners – a natural “circuit breaker”.

Protrude, Flow, Sachiko Kodama (2008)

Enabling people to experience a strong aesthetic feeling is the main purpose of Protrude, Flow 2008. The strong electromagnet, which has a simple, basic geometry, and the slow movement of the smooth, organic-shaped liquid make for a contrasting but restrained aesthetic expression. The artist has designed a computer program that controls the ferrofluid very accurately and slowly in carefully planned sequences. The expression of movement in time becomes extremely sober and poetic.

Luci – Sin nombre y sin memoria, José Manuel Berenguer (2008)

Electronic and computational emulation of synchronic behavior of SouthEastern Asiati Fireflies. Its 64 electronic and computational fireflies complete networks that reach stable beating patterns after have been following chaotic paths through finite sets of instable beating patterns. Chaotic beating patterns emerging from synchronisation gives complex visual and sonic rythms. The individual conduct of each agent, whether analogue or computational, gives rise to Luci: No Name and No Memory, which is nothing but an unexpected emergence.

Mission Eternity: Tamatar. SWARM F71834AA6A9A6586, Etoy (2010)

TAMATAR are white spherical carriers created for the resurrection of dead MISSION ETERNITY PILOTS. The reincarnation of one human being takes place in 16 Styrofoam bodies. Styrofoam is a typical packaging material: light, cheap, shock-absorbing and, thus, ideal to protect sensitive content. The inherent fragility of the material and the ephemeral nature of its function remind us of the permanent decay of matter. In a ritualistic art performance, the TAMAS (software) are uploaded into the 16 TAMATAR (hardware: the spheres acting as the transport layer for digital content).


Posted by:  Ozden Sahin (LEA Co-editor and Curator)