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Lab Projects
LAB KILL LAB

Concept & direction/ CHEANG Shu Lea
Production Team/ Escher TSAI, Monique CHIANG, CHEN Ping-Yi, HSIEH Che-Min

LAB as we know it - laboratory from laborare in Latin, a place to work with equipments, codes, programming and experiments. In the media art scenes, we have seen many incarnations of labs - the hard, the soft, the dry, the wet, the future, the post-future. We have sought collaboration of all sorts -  the artists and the scientists, the hackers and the schemers, the welders and the wielders.

LAB as we don't know it - activated inter-spaces that defy binary codes while traversing between inside and outside, human and non-human, nature and un-nature, above and underground. In working the fields, tracking the wild, braving the water, breaking the ice, cultivating the microbe, fermenting the chaos, walking the people, talking the talks, LAB can no longer be simply GPS navigated and location identified as we dive into the unknown territories of inner and outer sphere.

LAB KILL LAB proposes a lab concept that permits a well-defined working lab the possibility to be renewed, substituted, replaced, regenerated and retired as time progresses. Taking the approach of a 7-day multi-work-station camp-together, LAB KILL LAB situates non-conforming artists in collective work sessions and associates its development with deep-rooted local networks of activists, cultural workers, science labs and agro-bio-labs. Through the field-crossing collaboration, LAB KILL LAB is both ephemeral and durational in its seeding, hatching, breeding of a concept, a proposal, a project that remains ever-mutating and unfinished.

LAB KILL LAB acknowledges the following inspirations:

*FIELDS, initiated by Armin MEDOSCH with Rasa SMITE and Raitis SMITS of RiXC, Latvia, presents an inquiry into patterns of renewal and transition.
*FIELD NOTES by SOLU/BioArt Society is an art & science field laboratory at the Kilpisjärvi Biological Station in Lapland/Finland.
*Unfinished Lab presented by Pedro SOLER at STWST48x5, Stadtwerkstatt, Linz, Austria.
*Art Kill Art, a Paris-Berlin based label that promotes experimental audiovisual and sound art, explores the quality, complexity and limits of different media.

Work Plan:
5 work stations, each with core artists and collaborators, each with a specific thematic exploration - (1) PHYTOPIA (2) WATERIA (3) FORKING PIRAGENE (4) RICE ACADEMY Rice Bug Revolt (5) TECHNOIA
7 days of field/lab work with corresponding talks and collective performances.

(1) PHYTOPIA

CHEN Ke-Ting (Taiwan), a plant pathologist, sets up a community-engaged collector's workspace in his hometown Pinglin. Špela PETRIČ (Slovanian) studied biomedicine with a focus on plant life in (bio)technological terms. Both are practicing artists, working in and out of the plant fields.

“To begin to map the structure of phytopolitics, we must acknowledge that the tools we use to grasp plant agency will ultimately determine the scope within which we perceive their governance……” writes Špela PETRIČ for her Deep Phytocracy: Feral Songs (2018) which proposes a “participatory performance where the audience is led to explore plant communities in the (urban) wilderness using recombinant tools.”  In an attempt to multiply the possibilities of plant representation and gnosis, her reimagined tools taken from everyday objects are “queer ethico-onto-epistemological tools” that offer “a critical pause to the seamlessly integrated assumptions about knowledge, relations and history we act within.”

Homebased at collectors at Pinglin, CHEN Ke-Ting holds workshops and field trips with his community members. He observes that “in the past ten years, the old trees in Taiwan have received more attention. Many citizens have taken action to protect the long-growing trees in their land, whether it is legislation, parades, or even flexible activities to let everyone hug and climb trees.”  Departing from anthropocentrism Ke-Ting seeks to empower plants to actively, equally communicate with humans. He advocates a return to spiritual communication, making direct body contact with plants, to sense, feel, understand and further imagine each other.

PHYTOPIA brings together these two artists for a dialogue in their investigation of cross-species phytopolitics that include designing tools for field studies and devising participatory field work / performance in and out of the fields. PHYTOPIA further calls for collaborators of different epistemological practices and knowledges, including planters, growers, collectors, ethnobotanists, shamans, witchcraft practitioners, performance artists, to share their insight into the methods and tools they use to make sense of and interact with plants.

Participating artists: CHEN Ke-Ting, Špela Petrič

(2) WATERIA

“To imagine ourselves as bodies of water is to stage a clubhouse break-and-enter, a direct-action protest that floods up from the basement….. figuring ourselves specifically as bodies of water emphasizes a particular set of planetary assemblages that asks for our response right now. “ - Astrida NEIMANIS, Bodies of Water, Posthuman Feminist Phenomenology (2017).

The Datan algal reef which expands approximately 27 kilometers along the Taoyuan coastline in North-western Taiwan has been home to abundant, rare, endemic marine and coral species for centuries.  Industrial pollution, most recently the Chinese Petroleum Corporation of Taiwan’s construction of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) port in 2019, has threatened the topography and ecosystem of this exquisite algal reef. Taiwan’s environmental activists, the water resources conservation union and Academia Sinica’s Biodiversity Research Center, have all been calling for urgent actions to save the algal reef, #Taoyuanalgalreefs.

The WATERIA work station brings together researchers of ecoacoustics, ecoinformatics and marine biodiversity studies with citizen action groups for a clean water act, investigators in water pollution and field artists in collecting natural sounds to focus on ‘sampling’ the waters around Taoyuan’s algal reef areas. By monitoring the water flows and living creatures, by sampling and analyzing the ocean water’s chemical toxicities and acidification, WATERIA takes a methodical approach to collecting the bio-data of water and underwater micro-macro-organisms.

John Cage’s composition Water Music (1952) which calls for a solo pianist, using also radio, whistles, water containers, and a deck of cards has been interpreted in various ways by different musicians since its release.  “If we were to continue to divine water in the arts, it would necessarily invoke an ecological self-consciousness, including the nature of the body, where materials and techniques themselves become political” - Douglas Kahn, Noise, Water, Meat (1999).

WATERIA further invites sonic artists to render collected water data into transmittable S.O.S. signals, calling for public awareness on urgent water rescue actions.

Members of WATERIA: Yannick Dauby, CHANG Yung-Ta, CHANG Hui-Sheng, WANG Chiao-Ping (Associate Researcher, Silviculture Division, Taiwan Forestry Research Institute, COA), Xosé Quiroga (El Instituto para la Monitorización Vecinal de Espacios Contaminados) 

(3) FORKING PIRAGENE

In 2001, invited by Acer Digital Art Center [ADAC] Taiwan, 3 curators CHEANG Shu Lea, Armin MEDOSCH and Yukiko SHIKATA proposed the Kingdom of Piracy   as an online, open work space to explore the digital commons and piracy as the net's ultimate art form.  was conceived to include links, objects, ideas, software, artists' projects, critical writings and online streaming media events. In April 2002, ADAC abruptly cancelled the project in progress due to sensitive political issues.  The curators and artists' FTP access to the server set up at ADAC was denied.  By mid-June, was taken offline. The joint curatorial team relocated the server to Ars Electronica and premiered with the online works of 14 artists and 3 writers at Ars Electronica 2002.

Among the 14 artists commissioned in 2001 are The elixir Initiative - Ilya Eric LEE (Shih-Chieh Ilya LI) and Autrijus TANG of Taiwan. Their proposals  "Pira4all: PiraGene Discovery Campaign, Ilya Eric LEE's Gene Study" and PiraPort which is based on the piragene study were never realized at the time. In 2019, Shih-Chieh Ilya LI passed away unexpectedly due to a sudden illness. Autrijus TANG transitioned to being Audrey TANG and from a free software programmer and hacker activist to become Taiwan's first digital minister, promoting governing and democracy by digital means. In 2020, she is engaged in online tactics for combatting the Covid-19 crises including mask distribution and quarantine enforcement.

In memory of Shih-Chieh Ilya LI, we propose FORKING PIRAGENE as one of the work stations. Taking PiraGene’s original concept, “PiraGene, piracy gene (sub)project, is thus a gene space reverse writing / discovery campaign. Everyone can join the action of discovery a gene inside everyone, which determine the ability of creation and cultural survival acts. “ and PiraPort’s attempt to “…demonstrate an alternative "identity platform" for pirates, via Gene discrimination, Port multiplexing, and Cross-signed trust chains.”  FORKING PIRAGENE invites Taiwanese and international open source/free software coders, hackers, bio-trans-gene researchers, artists and civic media activists to further expand, update and fork the PiraGene/PiraPort concept in the context of the current Covid-19 crises of viral contagion.

PiraGene/Piraport proposals for KoP (2001)
https://hackmd.io/hNM5iXpQRyC2NPWFHjipCA?view

Special Curation: Yukiko SHIKATA, Michael CONNOR
Participating artists: Theresa Tsun-Hui TSAO/ Paul GONG/ WU Po-Min, CHIU Hsiao-Wei/ KAO Chia-Liang/ g0v community, Adriana KNOUF, Ryu OYAMA, CHENG Hsien-Yu, Winnie SOON/ LEE Tzu-Tung
Online participating artists: Harm VAN DEN DORPEL, Devin KENNY, Lynn Hershman LEESON, Sean RASPET & Francis TSENG, LIU Xin

(4)RICE ACADEMY Rice Bug Revolt

“To parasite means to eat next to.”  [The Parasite. Michel Serres, 2007]

The human history of infestations of grains and rice is a story of plague, famine and of revolts and revolutions. Moulds and little bugs can be seen as freeloading or parasiting on essential and ever-dwindling food resources, yet the effects of their invisible invasions mark them as conspirators producing new social forms. The domestication of wild things is always accompanied by a revolution breaking out from within.

The RICE ACADEMY, a collective comprising a rice laboratory from the Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute, an old rice factory in Chihshang, Taitung, the mechanical engineers from Tatung University, Taipei and the artists from Mycelium Network Society (shown in Taipei Biennale 2018), focuses on the rice bug as both freeloader/parasite and revolutionary inter-species co-conspirator. RICE ACADEMY attempts to give a voice to the bugs hatching out from within each rice grain, echoing the mass stirring within a mundane and ancient, domestic and global food source. With the bugs, we compose a collective symphony of emerging bug noise, making visible and audible the stages of this interior and microscopic revolution, from latent dormancy, through propagation, to pandemic.

RICE ACADEMY cultures, studies and cultivates rice bugs towards the rice bug revolt. The ACADEMY examines ways of making audible these hidden agents, proposing a series of installations and instruments for collective actions, modelled on grain storage towers with tubes and breakout containers. We borrow techniques from the sciences of management and system control of harmful agricultural insects, checking out high frequency crunchings and low frequency temperature changes, encouraging the inner dynamic revolt.

Members of  RICE ACADEMY: LAI Ming-Hsin (Senior Agronomist and Rice Lab Principle Investigator, Crop Science Division, Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute, COA),  YAO Me-Chi (Associate Researcher, Applied Zoology Division, Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute, COA), LIANG Cheng-Hsien (Chih Shang Duo-Li Rice Co., Ltd), LAI Yao-Jen (Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering,Tatung University), CHUNG Chiu-Hung (Department of Mechanical Engineering,Tatung University), Mycelium Network Society artists (Franz XAVER, Taro, Martin HOWSE, CHEANG Shu Lea)

(5)TECHNOIA

TECHNOIA expresses (un)certain paranoia towards the ever-updating and ever-redundant electronic technology. Consumer electronic gadgets carry a factory slated pre-defined expiration date as part of the corporate scheme of planned obsolescence.  Parallel to the hi-tech product development, we find in media art the existence of DIY (Do it yourself) and DIWO (Do it with others) communities who sniff and snap the electronic trash for recycling, creating their own versions of chiputers and boards.  Open source minded, they share resources, code and knowledge.

TECHNOIA proposes a collective hack work-station from trans-techno-feminist perspectives led by Constanza PIÑA (Chile/Mexico) who has been organizing Cyborgrrrls Encuentro Tecnofeminista (CET) in South America since 2017.

“The Cyborgrrrls Technofeminist encounter is a critical, hackfeminist, technoanarchist and cyber-libertarian party held to debunk the stereotyped notions of technology, aesthetic and genders. A space to share ideas and affections, to reprogram technologies, hack the body and conspire strategies of technical disobedience, by means of cyber-witchcraft and electromagnetic conjurations. The main intention of this meeting is to meet and share ideas collectively in an environment of complicity, sorority and love, hacking together, celebrating our bodies and imagining technologies for enjoyment, pleasure, creation and subversion, and thus build new spaces for coexistence designed from feminist speculation."  writes Constanza PIÑA for the CET’s programming notes.

TECHNOIA invites CHANG Yen-Tzu  who makes DIY/handmade/Arduino music instruments and LIAO Hai-Ting who established the printed noise lab to join Constanza PIÑA in conducting two workshops – (1) Technologies of sensuality, sensoriality and corporality (2) Fuck the soundcheck: Against sexist violence in the sound test. Dedicated to women and gender queers, TECHNOIA seeks women and technology working groups in Taiwan to join and calls for workshop participants to find co-habitable spaces and new tools in their technocultural practices.

Participating artists: Constanza Piña, CHANG Yen-Tzu, LIAO Hai-Ting (printednoise_lab)