Research Talk with Heather Barnett and Physarum polycephalum
Wednesday, March 27, 2:00pm – 3:00pm
Sensorium Research Loft (M333)
4th Floor, Joan & Martin Goldfarb Centre for Fine Arts
We are pleased to invite you to a series of events featuring interdisciplinary artist Heather Barnett and Physarum polycephalum. During her visit, Barnett will present her recent research, will conduct a workshop, and will explore the city of Toronto, inspired by the nonhuman perspective of this organism, also known as slime mould.
The slime mould (Physarum polycephalum) is a bright yellow amoeba that possesses primitive intelligence, problem solving skills and memory. It is highly efficient at forming networks between given points and has been used to map the worlds’ transport networks, migration routes, and desire paths. Most notably, in 2010 it accurately replicated the Tokyo suburban rail network. The slime mould is also quite beautiful, the branching patterns reminiscent of forms seen at varying scales within nature, from blood vessels to tree branches, from river deltas to lightning flashes. It can learn about its environment, remember where it’s been and navigate through complex territories – all without any sensory organs and not a single neuron to its name.
Heather Barnett’s art practice engages with natural phenomena and complex systems. Working with live organisms, imaging technologies, and playful pedagogies, her work explores how we observe, influence and understand the world around us. Recent work centres around nonhuman intelligence, collective behaviour, and knowledge systems, including The Physarum Experiments, an ongoing ‘collaboration’ with an intelligent slime mould; Animal Collectives collaborative research with SHOAL Group at Swansea University; and a series of publicly sited collective interdisciplinary bio/social experiments, including Crowd Control and Nodes and Networks.
This event has been made possible thanks to the support of the School of Cities and New College (UofT), and is a collaboration between ArtSci Salon, Sensorium, the Research Centre for Creative inquiry and Experimentation, the Departments of Computational Art and Visual Art & Art History at York University. Research for this event was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. ArtSci Salon is an interdisciplinary program hosted by the Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences. LASER – Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous is a project of Leonardo® /ISAST.