EPFL announces four artists-in-residence

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2021 EPFL / Alain Herzog - CC BY-SA 4.0

2021 EPFL / Alain Herzog - CC BY-SA 4.0

The Artist-in-Residence program of EPFL’s College of Humanities announced Alan Bogana (Switzerland), Dorota Gaweda (Poland) & Egle Kulbokaite (Lithuania), Joel Kuennen (USA), and Riccardo Giacconi (Italy) as the artists selected for its first international call: Enter the Hyper-Scientific.

Initiated by the College of Humanities (CDH) and amplified by EPFL Pavilions, the Artist-in-Residence (AiR) program reflects the CDH’s mission of fostering transdisciplinary encounters between artists and the scientific community at EPFL. By forging collaborations between artists and scientists in different disciplines, the program aims to establish a platform for propelling new approaches and aesthetic investigations at the intersection of art, technology, science, and the humanities.

For its first international open call, launched in October 2021, the AiR program received 216 applications. Light-Oriented Ontologies by Alan Bogana, Synthetic Landscapes by artist duo Dorota Gaweda and Egle Kulbokaite, Spheroids by Joel Kuennen, and Rational and Irrational Numbers by Riccardo Giacconi are the four proposals that will be developed in close collaboration with EPFL labs and scientists.

"At CDH, we are delighted to host our new artists-in-residence," says CDH Dean Bela Kapossy. "The AiR program is unique in that artists will work directly with EPFL labs, thereby allowing art and science to form entirely new kinds of collaboration."

The four winning projects were selected by a jury composed of Bela Kapossy, Giulia Bini (Program Manager and Curator, EPFL CDH AiR); Sarah Kenderdine (Director, EPFL Pavilions); Laurene Donati (Executive Director, EPFL Center for Imaging); Monica Bello (Curator and Head of Arts, CERN); and Natalie Esteve (Adjointe, Visual Arts, City of Lausanne).

The EPFL CDH AiR program thanks all applicants for their interest, and looks forward to launching the call for its next edition in 2023.

Selected artists and their projects

Alan Bogana : Light-Oriented Ontologies

Alan Bogana is a Swiss visual artist based in Geneva. Over the years, he has developed a multiform art practice involving installations, sculptures, time-based media, websites, virtual realities and holograms. His research focuses on the real and speculative behaviour of light as well as on the emergence of organic shapes and patterns by means of technological processes. He completed a Fine Arts Diploma with honours at the Geneva University of Art and Design HEAD in 2009 and a specialization in artistic research methodologies at the Zürich University of Art and Design in 2013.

Light-Oriented Ontologies aims to interrogate speculative narratives concerning the threshold between living and inanimate matter as well as animistic belief systems in relation to light. The project will focus on experimental applications of holography, photonic crystals, and UV lithography, as well as experimental forms of volumetric 3D printing with light. Bogana will have a deeper insight into the mechanisms of "volumetric printing" of various types of organic (and biological) entities with light. Envisioned EPFL collaborations: The EPFL Center for Imaging , the Laboratory of Applied Photonics Devices ( LAPD ) and the Optics Laboratory , among others.

Dorota Gaweda and Egle Kulbokaite : Synthetic Landscapes

Dorota Gaweda and Egle Kulbokaite are an artist duo living and working in Basel. Both graduated from the Royal College of Art in London in 2012. Their multimedia practice - which includes performances, videos, sculptural and installation works, as well as perfumes - draws from extensive historical and theoretical research processes, a high sensitivity to materials, and intellectual openness.

The duo will develop the project Synthetic Landscapes, which will look into the history of the Western landscape painting tradition. Through this research, Gaweda and Kulbokaite will explore the formation of the concept of Nature in an effort to better understand the current ecological crisis. The project will seek to challenge the illusory promise of subjectivity as a whole, and separate from the environment in order to break normative patterns of behaviour, and negotiate new ways of relating to the world. Envisioned EPFL collaborations: The EPFL Center for Imaging , among others.

Riccardo Giacconi : Rational and Irrational Numbers

Riccardo Giacconi studied fine arts at the University of Venezia. He has been an artist-in-residence at the Centre international d’art et du paysage (Vassivière, France), lugar a dudas (Cali, Colombia), MACRO Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome, La Box (Bourges, France) and Künstlerhaus Büchsenhausen (Innsbruck, Austria). He is the co-founder of the collective listening festival ’Helicotrema’ and the audio storytelling studio ’Botafuego’. Giacconi’s work has been exhibited at various institutions, and he has presented his films at the New York Film Festival, Venice International Film Festival, International Film Festival Rotterdam, and Visions du Réel and FID Marseille, where he won the Grand Prix of the International Competition in 2015.

Rational and Irrational Numbers is a project on the concept of animation. It aims to connect the archaic tradition of puppetry to the latest technological developments on robotics and artificial intelligence, while addressing puppets as an ancient prefiguration of the ’uncanny valley’ theory, according to which the more an anthropomorphic automaton resembles a human being, the more monstrous its imperfections appear. The project focuses on the production of a film in collaboration with the Carlo Colla & Figli Puppet Company in Milan, and the EPFL Reconfigurable Robotics Lab (RRL). Envisioned EPFL collaborations: The Reconfigurable Robotics Lab ( RRL ) and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory ( LIA ), among others.

Joel Kuennen : Spheroids

Joel Kuennen is an art critic, curator, editor, and artist. They received an MA in Visual and Critical Studies from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2010). Their art practice investigates human relationships to the earth as a means of understanding the social dynamics that can interrupt the extractive and exploitative ways in which we engage with this planet. Working through site-specific land art interventions and extensive materials research, they push back against a persistent present that blinds us to the consequences of our daily actions.

Spheroids interrogates exoplanet geologies and ecologies to question our burgeoning interplanetary imaginary, and its relationship to how we interact with the Earth. The objects will be spheroidal with magnetic cores coated in materials believed to comprise certain exoplanets. Biological textures and biofilms will be added to create a relationship that straddles the known and unknown. These geo-eco hybrid objects question imperialist and colonialist motivations through which we have come to include these intergalactic places in our cultural imaginary, as potential escapes from our own looming climate disaster. Envisioned EPFL collaborations: The Laboratory of Statistical Biophysics ( LBS ), Crystal Growth Facility , and the Distributed Electrical Systems Lab ( DESL ), among others.


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