RMIT Gallery facade transforms on White Night

ectoplasm

If you’re heading to White Night Melbourne on Saturday make sure you pay RMIT Gallery a visit.

From dusk till dawn, the RMIT Gallery facade will be transformed into organic digital audio reactive light display called Ectoplasm by MindBuffer & digital artist Andy Thomas.

Thomas is a digital artist who creates intricate artwork and specialises in particle simulation based motion graphics, inspired by nature and technology.

MindBuffer is the combined music programming and synaesthesia exploration of RMIT lecturer Dr Joshua Batty and Mitchell Nordine. They met studying at RMIT University early 2010 and clicked instantly. Last year at White Night, they transformed RMIT’s iconic Storey Hall (home of RMIT Gallery) into a dazzling abstract light projection. Watch the video below:

“Last year was the first time we had the opportunity to projection map the entire facade of a building, which was an amazing opportunity offered by RMIT Gallery,” Batty said.

“This year, we have taken a more organic approach with the visuals, and moved beyond the geometrical tricks. What we plan is to work with the features of the facade and bring it into the three dimensional plane.

“We will also be adding an important audio component.”

Thomas is excited about using Storey Hall as ‘an enormous canvas’ for his work.

“I am so used to doing work on the small screen and this is very different. I can have organic elements growing up the building, and it’s going to very luminous as well.”

Nordine, who is handling the audio component, promises a cross between “Sci-Fi and organic”  and says people will be surprised by how the addition of sound will change their experience of the light display.

“Sound brings you a lot more into the space. Humans evolved to perceive space through sound, so it this additional element will be transformative,” Nordine said.

Anyone who has worked White Night knows the endurance required. MindBuffer and Thomas are no strangers to working festivals, having recently performed at country Victoria’s Rainbow Serpent Festival of electronic music and art.

Batty has a few tricks up his sleeve after being bed ridden for a week after last year’s White Night, which saw him working on top of the building opposite Storey Hall for the duration. It took its toll.

“This year, we have added a generative story engine, which will reveal different aspects throughout the night, without needing us to input new work the whole event,” Batty said.

“At White Night, people tend to come and go and experience lots of different things. We realised that no one sits in front of one work for a long period, so this year, we have taken that in account, along with a watchful eye on our own health.”

While you are at RMIT Gallery, step inside our Hybrid Worlds events and visit the final night of the interactive bio-art exhibition Morbis Artis: Diseases of the Arts, and watch ‘What big teeth you have’ an iteration of Jazmina Cininas’ Girlie Werewolf Project which will morph the face of the Storey Hall annex (next door to the Gallery) into a shape-shifting roll call of lupine ladies.

Listen to MindBuffer & Andy Thomas talk about Ectoplasm and the challenges of transforming the Storey Hall facade for White Night Melbourne.

When: 7pm Saturday 18 February to 7am Sunday 19 February
What: Ectoplasm, by MindBuffer & Andy Thomas
Where: RMIT Gallery facade (Storey Hall ) 344 Swanston Street Melbourne.

Behind the scenes – RMIT Gallery plans its Werewolf White Night event

Jazmina Cininas, What big teeth you have, projection mock-up, 2016.

Jazmina Cininas, What big teeth you have, projection mock-up, 2016.

RMIT alumnus and printmaking lecturer Dr Jazmina Cininas will present a bold new incarnation of her ongoing Girlie Werewolf Project on the Storey Hall annex next to RMIT Gallery during White Night Melbourne (18 February) from 7 pm to 7 am.

White Night is when the heart of the city comes alive, pulsating with people of all ages who surge through the streets, laneways and gardens over 12 hours to watch illuminations, installations and interactive events.

RMIT’s iconic building – stunningly renovated 21 years ago – will morph into an enormous canvas as Cininas’ light projection with bite transforms the surfaces. In a way, it is a homecoming of sorts for Cininas.

“When I commenced my Fine Art degree in 1992, the annex served as the printmaking studio and it was here that I first fell in love with the medium,” Cininas said.

RMIT Storey Hall annex, photo by Helen Rayment, RMIT Gallery

RMIT Storey Hall annex, photo by Helen Rayment, RMIT Gallery

“In the early nineteenth century, Hibernian Hall (now Storey Hall) was leased to the Women’s Political Association, whose purple, green and white flag flew from the rooftop, inspiring the colour scheme for the Ashton Raggatt McDougall renovation in 1995.”

Cininas said that cultural constructions of women as intrinsically lupine have existed throughout the centuries, whether as nurturing mothers (think Romulus and Remus), as ravening man-eaters, or as inherently demonic. Research into such representations inspired Cininas’ doctoral research and Girlie Werewolf  Project. Four her her prints are held in the RMIT University Art Collection.

Jazmina Cininas Maddalena was a True Marvel in her Day, 2011 Linocut on arches aquarelle hot press 300 gsm paper 39.8 x 40.4 cm (image), 51.5 x 49 cm (sheet) Purchased through the RMIT Art Fund, 2013 RMIT University Art Collection Accession no: RMIT.2013.47

Jazmina Cininas
Maddalena was a True Marvel in her Day, 2011
Linocut on arches aquarelle hot press 300 gsm paper
39.8 x 40.4 cm (image), 51.5 x 49 cm (sheet)
Purchased through the RMIT Art Fund, 2013
RMIT University Art Collection
Accession no: RMIT.2013.47

Cininas’ light projection What big teeth you have is very timely in the current political climate and has global as well as local resonance.

“Where you’ve seen the most female werewolves occur in popular culture have been at times when women-kind itself had been under attack,” Cininas explains.

“The female werewolf has been far more prevalent than her relatively modest profile suggests. We see this not just in the suffragette era but also—with rather more dire consequences—during the Early Modern witch-hunts.

“The nebulous figure of the female werewolf has encompassed different, often contradictory, identities over time, absorbing changing perceptions of women, wolves, morality and the monstrous throughout the centuries.

“The advent of menstrual lycanthropes and Red Riding Wolves is part of an ongoing evolution and revolution that borrows from the past in order to create new possibilities for imagining the female werewolf.”

Jazmina Cininas Christina sleeps on both sides of Grandma's bed, 2010 Linocut on paper 52.8 x 71.8 cm (image), 76.5 x 91.5 cm (sheet) Purchased through the RMIT Art Fund, 2013 RMIT University Art Collection Accession no: RMIT.2013.45

Jazmina Cininas
Christina sleeps on both sides of Grandma’s bed, 2010
Linocut on paper
52.8 x 71.8 cm (image), 76.5 x 91.5 cm (sheet)
Purchased through the RMIT Art Fund, 2013
RMIT University Art Collection
Accession no: RMIT.2013.45

The RMIT Gallery light projection for White Night Melbourne 2017 is part of this ongoing ‘evolution and revolution’. Cininas said her images of female werewolves would provide a strong feminist statement in the light of women’s Take Back the Night initiatives as they glare down larger-than-life onto the audience, like sentinels.

“These Girlie Werewolves are going to be three stories high, and say, don’t you dare mess with me!”

This is Cininas’ first foray into light projection, and she has been working closely with an animator and technical team to translate her striking artwork of female werewolves, some of which are represented in the RMIT University Art Collection.

“Generally digital artists start with the building first and then decide what can they can do to animate the building,” Cininas said.

“Whereas with my project, the challenge is how to make these images that originated as prints work with the building, particularly with the distinctive façade of the Storey Hall annex which in turn distorts the faces of the werewolves. I want to really engage with the building and animate it in some way that makes sense with the images as well.”

Jazmina Cininas, light projection test on RMIT Storey Hall, photo by Helen Rayment, RMIT Gallery

Jazmina Cininas light projection test for ‘What big teeth you have’, RMIT Storey Hall annex. Photo by Helen Rayment, RMIT Gallery

One of the challenges Cininas faces is recreating her lupine ladies will loom billboard size over Swanston Street.

“Size is one of the technical challenges that I’m presented with. As a printmaker, I know if I’ve got to print something of that size, the DPI has got to be enormous. But is it the same for projection and what happens when you project film? Can you project normal film onto that? Can you use normal film software? So these are all of the grey areas that are outside my area of expertise, and that’s where, you know, I have other people to help me out.”

It’s going to be fabulous! Come and check it out on White Night. Oh – and for the record, Jazmina Cininas is not a werewolf.
What Big Teeth You Have

When: 7pm Saturday 18 February to 7am Sunday 19 February
What: Girlie Werewolf Project by Jazmina Cininas
Where: Storey Hall annex, 342 Swanston Street Melbourne.

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Focus on Lienors Torre – glass artist & creator of ocular obscurities

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Lienors Torre with her work ‘Degenerative Vision’ in Morbis Artis: Diseases of the Arts

Melbourne artist Lienors Torre’s work in Morbis Artis: Diseases of the Arts (until 18 February) has generated a lot of interest. Enormous glowing glass eyeballs, glass fish with human eyes, and a disturbing cabinet of ocular obscurities are both compelling and disturbing.

Lienors lectures in Screen at Deakin University and is a glass artist and animator who is currently working on a book on Australian animation history. She spoke about her work in the exhibition at RMIT Gallery on 29 November, 2016. This is an edited extract of her talk.

“Some time ago the call for proposals for this exhibition came out. It was about diseases of the arts and when I first heard about it I thought ‘that’s not quite for me, what I do doesn’t quite fit in to the realm of this exhibition’.

“The pieces I had made in the past, they were very much in the area of glass making or they were in animation or they crossed the divide between the two. It was very much about objectifying animation and bringing it into the world looking at screens and things like that.

“I thought about it for two weeks before I came up with a proposal that would fit it and one of the things that really stuck in my head was the idea of rain that might fall and become eye-drops. Water is an amazing thing. It’s something that we take for granted, it makes up most of our bodies, and it falls as raindrops from the sky. It’s also something that falls from our body as teardrops or sweat and the idea of rain that might fall and the sound of those raindrops was something that stuck in my head right from the start for this exhibition.

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Lienors Torre, ‘Degenerative Vision’, a screen based work that appears to look back at the viewer with two glass eyes peering from the screen. Morbis Artis: Diseases of the Arts. Installation image, RMIT Gallery, by Mark Ashkanasy 2016.

“Another thought I had was this idea of a cabinet of obscurities and right from the start it was the idea of a cabinet with objects that one would look into and they would be obscured objects so that you could barely see what was happening on the inside.

“During that process of thinking about the work and exploring and working out how to make it, I have to say I didn’t have a cabinet, I had no idea what this cabinet was going to look like. I thought I might be making one from scratch. I thought at the beginning that there might be a back light box and there might be the shape of bottles shining the light through.

“But through that journey I found this cabinet. I’ve looked at a whole lot of images of objects where you have, like, sort of sea creatures in bottles and there is that sense of enticement where you know it’s a dead creature and it’s quite an ugly object. At the same time you really want to look into it and you’re enthralled by what you might see.

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Lienors Torre’s Degenerative Vision and Cabinet of Ocular Curiosities, in Morbis Artis: Diseases of the Arts, RMIT Gallery. Installation image by Mark Ashkanasy, 2016.

And so, again, when I first imagined this object, those bottles in the corner, I imagined them engraved and you’d be looking through them seeing other objects. And it would be that same kind of looking but not being able to see clearly again.

“I imagined it really as sort of a diagram across all those shelves with lots of little bottles like you would see in some museum. As the making of it unfolded it became an exercise of finding bottles so that I wasn’t making them from scratch and the ones in the top corner are probably antique bottles. The ones lower down are more, sort of, recent bottles. Then it has been a process of trying to find ways to make the images come to life in some way.

“So in the top I’ve got a whole load of decals that have come from old text books and that idea of a diagram over a whole load of bottles and objects and spaces that one might read is sort of shown in that little bit but it’s also become more of an exploration as I’ve tried other things as well.

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Detail of Lienors Torre’s Cabinet of Ocular Curiosities, in Morbis Artis: Diseases of the Arts.

“One of the things I learned is that there’s an enormous giant squid that has been found with eyes the size of dinner plates. There was a time, about a week in the studio where I had squids and fish and octopus and a whole load of sea creatures. I have to say it smelled quite interesting while I was making models of them, making waxes. I’ve still got waxes in the studio. But the ones that were turned out in glass were a fish with a human eye and sort of an octopus type creature again with a human eye.

“It was this sort of mixture of eye object and sea creature that eventuated from looking at a whole load of bottles and specimens. The bottle in the far bottom corner – I just ran out of time from- there’s a whole load of wax fish that are associated with and are a part of that bottle and might one day be made.

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Lienors Torre with a work from Cabinet of Occular Curiosities, which references the grotesque sideshow or museum displays of biological abnormalities.

“The little eyeballs is one of my favourite pieces. The only thing is I didn’t actually make those eyeballs. They’re actually old eyeballs that have been made specifically for people’s eyes. I think they were made in the 40s or 50s. I got help making the stands so that they all appear there looking at you but there would have been an eyeball maker and this is a process that I learned along the way.

“An eyeball maker would have been a lamp worker sitting at a little table with his flame torch. He would have looked at the person’s other eye to match it. Then he goes through this process of using special soft glass that he will blow into the shape of an eyeball, get all the veining happening with rods of glass, make the iris so that it matches the iris of the person’s other eye and then he’ll sort of suck the air out to make an indentation in the back of it.

“At some point it is then fitted back onto a person’s eye. So each one of those would have been in someone’s eye at one point and would have been made specifically to match their other eye. I found that a fascinating process to look at in the journey of making this work.

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Close up of antique glass eyes, from Lienors Torre’s Cabinet of Ocular Curiosities. Installation image from Morbis Artis: Diseases of the Arts, by Mark Ashkanasy, RMIT Gallery, 2016.

“One of the things I’ve thought about and looked at is vision and how we see it in its myriad forms and how diseased or dysfunctional it can become in some way. We think of the internet as a way of vision. We all assume we’ve got access to it; that we’re seeing the same news, we’re seeing similar things come from it. But if you think of people who have no reception, their knowledge, understanding and, in a sense, their vision of that is again dysfunctional and it has that sense of macular degeneration that one would get with one’s eye.

“Just on that note, one of the things that amaze me – I had to look at how eyes work of course for this exhibition and I have to say that I still don’t really understand it. It’s amazing that we can see at all. I now think of eyes as a little cinema for your head because, of course, the light comes in, it hits our iris and there are all these cones and things at the back of our eye that pick up the light and they absorb the red or the blue.

“When you think there’s a whole load of cells at the back of those eyes, it’s amazing we can see at all.”

The animated world of Drew Berry

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Drew Berry with his work in Morbis Artis: Diseases of the Arts

Drew Berry is a biomedical animator at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical ResearchHis stunning, scientifically accurate animations illustrate how the molecules in our cells move and interact. His work, featured in the RMIT Gallery exhibition Morbis Artis: Diseases of the Arts (until 18 February) is a perfect merging of art and science – as well as being beautiful, it helps researchers see the ‘unseeable processes’ within our own cells.

Drew’s animations have been exhibited at the Guggenheim Museum, Museum of Modern Art (New York), the Royal Institute of Great Britain and the University of Geneva. He has done two TEDX talks, worked with Bjork, created special effects for a Doctor Who episode, won major awards including a BAFTA, an EMMY, and a MacArthur Fellowship Genius Award. Not surprisingly, Drew has a very impressive Wikipedia entry!

He spoke at RMIT Gallery on Friday 18 November 2016 – here is an edited version of that talk.

MY FIRST INSPIRATIONS IN ANIMATION WERE MESSING AROUND WITH COMPUTER GAMES

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I was born in 1970, in the late 70’s I was really inspired by the documentaries of Jacques Cousteau, and his travelling lab on a ship and being co-inventor of the scuba tank. He was doing these amazing adventures but also science all around the world and I just knew as a young kid that that was exactly what I was going to do. So I did everything I could do at school to get into marine science. I was a rescue diver by the age of 18, I had hair back then and I was really tanned so I was really into it and got to go to university into their marine science program.

I was the first generation to grow up with access to a personal computer, the most pivotal machine for me was the Omega. It was a powerhouse well designed for graphics and sound.  These are a couple of games that I just found mind blowing and inspirational. I’ve always been into games, not so much the game play but just the graphics. I remember someone saying ‘it just can’t get better, they’ve solved it all! These giant, colourful characters with a 3D effect.’ I couldn’t believe it and then Xenon II came out and had all these organic forms and I just thought, how are they doing this? With the Omega for years I ‘wasted’ many summers stuffing around with computer graphics and just playing around with games.

AT UNIVERSITY MY FOCUS SWITCHED TO CELL BIOLOGY

I discovered that if you just sample a little bit of the water even from muddy gutters, and put it under a microscope, it’s teeming with life. Even the most green and scungy water is guaranteed to be full of beautiful creatures.

I COMBINED MY SCIENCE DEGREE WITH GRAPHICS AND A SHORT EXPERIENCE IN MARKETING, WHERE I LEARNT PHOTOSHOP

I’m using the tools of cinematography, the same things they use in Hollywood for special effects so it is extremely powerful, you can deal with pretty much anything nowadays, it’s very mature and very powerful. But what I’m doing is applying it with real scientific data.

The principle of how I work is I don’t make anything up. I am just responding to the data, the measurements, what is being described in scientific literature. I build models based on that and the animations come out after, so I never know what the animation is going to look like. I go into data and it becomes clear once I am playing around.

I USE SOUND AND COLOR IN MY ANIMATIONS VERY MUCH AS AN INFORMATION TOOLS

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Drew Berry

Color in my animations provides contrast and emotes a feeling, and helps viewers look at different aspects of what is happening inside the body. It is very much a storytelling devise I use. This is my visual communication about these cells, which are are all smaller than the wavelength of light, so there is no actual color.

I also use sound for a similar reason. Sound designers like my friend, composer Frank Tétaz, who won a Grammy of the year for his work with musician Gotye, provide the sound tracks.

If you play the animation without sound in a classroom the kids will scream ‘yeah!’ you put sound in and they go, ‘whoa!’ they start leaning in, and that’s a really critical thing and they’re sucked in and they ask great questions like ‘is there really sound?’ and it’s a great question, or colour? And so on. Sound and color are really important tools in my animations.

MY ANIMATIONS ARE AN ARTISTIC INTERPRETATION OF WHAT IS HAPPENING INSIDE THE HUMAN BODY

The models, the shapes, the scale, and wherever possible the speed, are all accurate. The colours and motion, I am telling you a story, this world you wouldn’t be able to watch if I hadn’t slowed it down and stripped away all the stuff. I go into depth about what the actual molecule looks like and it’s like putting your head in a thick soup and you can’t see anything. So I stripped away everything except the things that I’m just showing you.

ONE OF MY HEROES IS NEUROBIOLOGIST RAMON CAJAL AND HIS ARTISTIC DRAWINGS OF CELLS

Cajal (A Spanish Nobel laureate) did these exquisite watercolours and ink-based paintings and these are still used in education class textbooks today. They’re beautifully accurate; you can’t really improve on what he’s done in such detail. This is very much what I do, using technology to look at data and do measurements and paintings as accurately as I can.

Cajal had worked out a hundred years ago the wiring of our brain that we are still barely working out today. What it turns out he was doing was adding dye to the neurons up here and he was seeing the dye flow and that’s actually the flow of information; it’s a stream inside the cells. With the dye he was mapping out where the flow was and as it turns out that’s where the signal goes.

MY SECOND MOST FUN PROJECT WAS WORKING WITH BJORK ON HOLLOW FOR HER ALBUM BIOPHILIA

I am very excited to have worked with Bjork! Hollow is a beautiful piece of work, you can actually use her interface and you dive into the stars in one of the songs. I did a 3D face scan of Bjork and I represented her proteins as an ancestral spirit creature to show the flow of genes going from one generation to the next.

What we built was a drum machine made out of the DNA because it broke the mechanism so that we achieved what she wanted and then we also did this feature video.

The song itself, the instrumentation is the world’s largest acoustic instrument, which is the pipe organ, which Bjork played in a lighthouse. It’s a very spooky Gothic song. She specifically asked for bling DNA, it was ‘blinged’ up with the colours and everything else.

So this was a fun project and we did some crazy stuff and it was fantastic.

RMIT Gallery Christmas & summer opening times

RMIT Gallery will be closed from Saturday 24 December to Monday 2 January 2017, reopening on Tuesday 3 January. 

Are you in the city over summer? Come into our air conditioned gallery right in the centre of the cultural district and enjoy our interactive summer exhibition – Morbis Artis: Diseases of the Arts (until 18 February  2017).

Have a play with (((20))) VIM\SIMS which explores visually and sonically induced motion sickness (pictured above). Place your hand in the well of the plinth and watch shadows dance to the sound.The experience is in turns dissociative and enveloping – and potentially nauseating. This is serious academic discourse as popular entertainment; physical discomfort as fine art.

For those who prefer gentler interactive experiences, explore the work of Andrea Rassell. We are silently surveilling one another is a microscopically mediated installation that puts the human organism on the slide and offers up a perspective of that humanity as a crawling seething mass.

In his review on the exhibition for The Article, Sam Leach commented “The works provide scope for a poetic and elliptical understanding of the interactions between humans and non-humans and the ideas of connection and contamination.”

Don’t forget – RMIT Gallery is open until 7 pm every Thursday night, and from 12 noon to 5 pm every Saturday during exhibitions.

Merry Christmas from RMIT Gallery and thank you for your support in 2016. We look forward to seeing you in the New Year with more compelling exhibitions in 2017.

 

 

Photography & particle accelerators: Harry Nankin & Chris Henschke at RMIT Gallery

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Harry Nankin installing his work Syzgy at RMIT Gallery as part of the exhibition Morbis Artis: Diseases of the Arts (until 18 February 2017)

In the final of our public programs for the exhibition Morbis Artis: Diseases of the Arts at RMIT Gallery (17 November – 18 February 2016) join us at RMIT Gallery on Tuesday 13 December from 12.30-1.30 pm when photographer Harry Nankin and artist Chris Henschke talk about their work.

In Harry Nankin’s work (pictured above) nine, multi-panel palimpsests are displayed on light boxes, and lake Tyrell in the semi-arid Mallee region of Victoria becomes semi-arid land as the impact of the contemporary ecological crisis finds its root and branch in starlight and shadowgram as live invertebrates mourn the age of the anthropocene.

The work ‘photo-poetically’ memorializes this erasure, resurrecting the dry lakebed into a focal plane upon which primal starlight is used to imprint photographic films on moonless nights. The environmental disease at the heart of this work is human-made: as we lay waste to our planet, the stars are slowly going out.

The prepared images include rare astronomical glass plate negatives from the telescopes at Mount Palomar (USA) and Siding Spring (Australia) and camera-less photographs of live native anthropods gathered from the lake’s shore.

Harry Nankin’s work honours the lost sacrament and acts as a metaphor for our global ecological predicament.

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About Harry Nankin: Harry Nankin is an Australian photo media artist and educator. In 1993 Nankin put aside the camera altogether and he has been creating ‘photograms’ (and occasionally ‘chemograms’) in the studio and on location in forest, desert, atop mountains and under the sea.

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Chris Henschke with his work Song of the Phenomena, opening night, Morbis Artis: Diseases of the Arts at RMIT Gallery. Photo by Vicki Jones.

Chris Henschke’s work explores anti-matter as we bare witness to how radiation is released by organic matter. Using an actual particle accelerator, the work shows how the humble banana emits antimatter on a regular basis. In an age where we fear the way antimatter impacts upon the nature of everyday life and the workings of the cosmos, we see how the organic itself brings potential dissolution to the human world.

About Chris Henschke

Chris Henschke is an artist and researcher who works with digital and analogue media and high-energy physics. He has exhibited around Australia and internationally, and has undertaken art residencies at the Australian Synchrotron, supported by an Arts Victoria Arts Innovation grant (2008), and the Australia Council for the Arts Synapse program (2010). He has developed and lectured courses in time based and interactive media at RMIT University, Monash University, and the ‘Art vs Science’ seminar series at the University of Melbourne Victorian College of the Arts. Currently, he is undertaking a Doctorate of Philosophy at Monash University, which includes on-site work at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), Switzerland, as part of the ‘art@CMS’ collaboration.

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What: Hanny Nankin and Chris Henschke artist talk

When: Tuesday 13 December 12.30-1.30 pm

Where: RMIT Gallery 344 Swanston Street, Melbourne

Free: register for tickets