As May is coming to a quick end, I am ready for my annual appointment with Subtle Technologies Festival. This is a special year, as the festival approaches its 10th anniversary. To celebrate this achievement, no better topic could be chosen: the Festival title for this year is “In Situ – art | body | medicine”
The expression “In Situ” encompasses many disciplines, from biology, to natural science, engineering and the arts: it indicates a status and a procedure at the same time. As a status, it indicates an object or a phenomenon that is “localized” but not “isolated from its surroundings.” As a procedure, it sets to examine a phenomenon exactly where it occurs, in its “natural” or “proper” environment.
As I am preparing to provide a detailed report of the days ahead, I am trying to think about the motivations behind the above theme and to
connect it to current debates at the intersections between the arts, sciences and technologies.
The press release I was supplied with reads:
“As scientific and technological breakthroughs penetrate our daily lives, we
ask where the boundaries are. We investigate how we relate bodies in situ:
as parts, as a whole, as systems. How do we identify, map, modify, protect,
violate, and heal?”
this, to me, really speaks to the theme. However, it also raises a number of questions. for instance:
how are we made aware of technological and scientific breakthroughs before we even start looking for the boundaries?
how can we find, define and even question the boundaries? do mainstream media and cultural prejudices play a role in this?
and again, in this “messy” context, how can artists dealing with the above theme send across a message without being misunderstood?
can the collaboration between artists, scientists and technologists provide a platform for discussion or does it run the risk of further “spectacularizing” much trumpeted innovations in science and technology?
I will keep these questions in mind as the festival unfolds and I will make sure that presenters, organizers and participants alike will discuss, if not answer, some of them.
actually, some of them are currently being addressed online on the “In Situ Forum” at
You can find more information about the Festival and a detailed schedule, on this website:
The festival will feature
1) a panel on “Art, Science, and the Emotional Response: a discussion on the
biological as a medium in art and science,” co-presented with MicrobeWorld
and Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD)
2) a core Symposium with 26 presenters from the most diverse disciplines
3) three performances featuring dance, robotics and butoh.
Biography Becomes Biology
Grace State Machines: Flesh Bodies,
4) a public art envent “Neighbourhood + Ayurveda, Queen Street West: How do alternative methods of
medicine affect a neighbourhood?”
The Anatomies, The Ontario Science Centre
Whose Body is it Anyway? InterAccess Electronic Media Arts Centre
Subjects of Hybridization and Children and Youth Picture SickKids Hospital, Innis Town Hall
I encourage everybody to browse the excellent website: in addition to program, forum, and bios of the presenters, it contains links to an incredibly rich collection of resources archived on del.icio.us and a number of flickr photos
but more later.