ANAT 30 for 30: 1988 – 2018

In our 30 for 30 focus, we remember 30 watershed moments and stories celebrating ANAT’s 30th anniversary…

  1988 :: Thursday 25 October 

The seeds that grew into ANAT were sown by Interface, a suite of ‘art meets technology’ events developed by the Experimental Art Foundation, working with the South Australian Ministry of Technology, for Adelaide’s 1984 Festival of Arts. A pilot led to ANAT’s establishment in 1988 with a mandate to ‘promote, foster and develop … interaction between the arts, science and technology’.

With these aims in mind, ANAT was tasked with: managing the Australia Council’s devolved Artists and New Technology Fund; collecting and disseminating information relevant to the field; maintaining a database of artists, institutions and organisations; publishing a regular bulletin; contributing to both Australian and international arts and technological publications; initiating and managing special projects; and providing information, advice and assistance to artists, educators and students.

In its first year, Australian new media artists were invited to contribute to Imagescape, an event showcasing recent Australian works in film, video and computer graphics for the 1988 Adelaide Festival.

And the very same year, FISEA (the First International Symposium on Electronic Art), was staged in The Netherlands, bringing together “scientists, artists and other specialists in the field of the electronic arts” in a “scientific, creative and educational forum”. The zeitgeist was underway!

Image: ANAT’s certificate of incorporation

1989 :: Thursday 1 November

In its second year ANAT launched its National Summer School program, aiming to expand the palette of artists by helping them skill-up in the use of new technologies.

Twelve artists, designers and performers from around Australia converged on Regency College of TAFE in Adelaide for the chance to experiment with a range of software and hardware.

Researcher, artist, writer and performer Virginia Barratt was one of the 1989 Summer School participants. Virginia is a founding member of VNS Matrix, the influential cyberfeminist collective, and is currently undertaking a PhD at Western Sydney University.

1989 National Summer School in Computer Aided Design and Manufacture

#anat_australia #anat30for30

Image: Virginia Barratt and Adam Boyd, Dada Do, Eyeline Art Magazine Launch, School of Arts Building, 15 May 1987, Brisbane (photograph Jose Macalin)

1990 :: Thursday 8 November

In ANAT’s third year its exhibition Towards a New Aesthetic – Exploring Computer Aided Art featured big in AUSGRAPH 90, the art program of the Australasian Computer Graphics Forum’s annual conference, held in Melbourne.

This second in ANAT’s ongoing program of exhibitions focussing on works that utilise technology—particularly those developed during / inspired by participation in ANAT’s national summer (and sometimes winter) schools—featured works by Adam Wolter, Diane Mantzaris, Hilary Archer, Linda Wallace, Lynne Roberts-Goodwin, Peter Charuk, Phil George, Phillip Bannigan and Sue Harris, Richard Guthrie, Rodney Harris, Sandra Shaw, Simryn Gill, Stelarc, Stephen Hennessy and Wendy Mills.

Wendy Mills remembers the exhibition as a productive follow-on from the summer school, in that it showcased a new direction that artists were exploring” and “reinforced a feeling of optimism in the potential for using computers in the arts”.

On a personal note, Wendy feels the summer school and exhibition helped her shift the direction of her practice “from ‘real world’ installations to digital constructions and interactive artworks”. It wasn’t all good though, as back then, the equipment required to produce and show these works was still very expensive. Wendy had had to raise funds to produce her work, but during the exhibition equipment used in various artworks was stolen from the gallery. “The sound element of my work, which had been recorded live for the exhibition, was on a master cassette tape. This tape was stolen along with the cassette player, and never heard again.”

That year, ANAT also organised a delegation to SISEA (the Second International Symposium on Electronic Art), which was again staged in The Netherlands.

Image: Wendy Mills, memories of next easter, (1990), installation of transparent cibachromes and recorded sound, 400 x 400 x 400 cm (sound by Stephen Leek and VoiceArt)

1991 :: Thursday 15 November

Of the 62 artists who applied to ANAT’s Art Research and Development Fund that year, 10 were successful: Charles Anderson, Simon Carroll, Joyce Hinterding, Csaba Szamosy, Paula Dawson, Sally Pryor, Noelle Janczewska, Linda Johnson, James Harley & Shiralee Saul, and Stephen Hennessey.

Joyce Hinterding’s experimental electro-acoustic work Siphon (pictured) explored the inherent qualities and characteristic sounds of electricity by sculpturally interpreting an electronic component within a sound-producing circuit.

Joyce explains “this was a time when many people were tackling the building blocks of media and mediums; in my case electricity and the fabulously confusing water analogy was my starting point. I had been studying the Tafe electronics course when we were asked to repeat a turn of the century mathematical problem that calculated how much energy could be stored in a jar of water. This caught my imagination to such a degree that after calculating that I would need 300 jars to run a simple circuit, I set out to use this calculation to literalise the water analogy and the idea that energy flows. The result was Siphon, a work that gave the audience an experience of a literal filling and emptying of 300 glass jars with electricity. The entire room acted as and replaced a single component in the circuit, and gave agency to this invisible force through sound, and feeling as the room smelled and breathed with picofarads of electricity. “

Image: Joyce Hinterding, Siphon (1991) – detail (photograph Ian Hobbs)

1992 :: Thursday 22 November

Having organised an Australian presence at SISEA in 1990, ANAT was chosen to host TISEA (the Third International Symposium on Electronic Art). The first event of its kind to be staged in Australia (and the first ISEA hosted outside The Netherlands), TISEA invited Australian artists—and their audiences—to explore recent developments in art, science and technology, and their impact on the evolution of culture.

TISEA revolved around two major themes. ‘Art and the Algorithm’ explored the critical role played by artists’ visual literacy in expressing and communicating esoteric data, while ‘Cultural Diversity in the Global Village’ highlighted the globally transformative impact of three decades of IT proliferation, and the role of artists in resisting the homogenising effects of the ‘global village’ and ensuring a future for the rich diversity of human cultures.

The TISEA Coordinating Committee Chair was Gary Warner, with members Virginia Barratt, Rebecca Coyle, Paula Dawson, Tim Gruchy, Ross Harley, Jon McCormack and Bill Seaman. The symposium included presentations by artists including Simon Biggs, John Colette, Linda Dement, Ian Haig, Elena Popa and VNS Matrix. The performance program included notable performances by Rod Berry, Barbara Campbell, Stelarc, Amanda Stewart and Warren Burt.

Stephen Jones’s film Artists in Cyberculture, shot during TISEA, examined the cultural, social and environmental implications of new technologies and featured many of the TISEA artists.

Image: Tim Gruchy, Video portrait (1982) – still, (video synthesis by Stephen Jones, photograph by Pam Greet)

1993 :: Thursday 29 November

In its sixth year ANAT curated Artists thinking about Science for the 1993 Great Australian Science Show. Held at the World Trade Centre, Melbourne and later toured to other states, the exhibition included works by Deborah Kelly, Dale Nason, Troy Innocent, Moira Corby, Faye Maxwell, Brad Miller and Jason Gee.

Troy Innocent describes his work Idea-ON>! (pictured) as exploring “ideas for virtual worlds inspired of the first wave of VR” at a time when “a VR headset and the hardware to run it would cost in excess of a million dollars. Not having access to this tech at the time, I created interactions that explored the endemic properties of electronic space by emulating the language of VR via playable CD-ROM experience”.

Through showing the work in the context of the Science Show Troy was able to observe “a range of different players experience the work in the different ways”, and this “became part of my creative research practice and an effective methodology for exploring possibilities afforded by interaction and game design”. Idea-ON>! was later released on the cover of Mediamatic and included in Burning the Interface exhibition at the MCA in Sydney:

Read more about Idea-ON>! here

Read more about Burning the Interface, The first major survey exhibition of works on CD-ROM by contemporary Australian and international artists, here

Image: Troy Innocent, Idea-ON>! (detail), 1992, Database of experience, CD-ROM

1994 :: Thursday 6 December

Twelve artists participated in ANAT’s fifth National Summer School in Computer Aided Art and Design, held at Curtin University in 1994. Twenty-four years later we asked Alyson Bell for a still from her moving image work Here I Sit—inspired by a poem with the same name written by Sandy Jeffs—which she began working on there. Alyson replied:

I didn’t finish Here I Sit at the summer school, but all the Super 8 footage you see in the film was the original footage I worked with at Curtin. I got to grips with what I could do with the technology and how I wanted the film to look … and most importantly I learnt motion graphics.

For some reason we were unable to copy the work from the computer at the end of the course (in those days it wasn’t so easy with large files!) Then unfortunately, somebody at the university managed to wipe it completely … leaving me absolutely nothing to show from my time at the Summer School!

Luckily though, a representative from the Australian Film Commission came to Curtin to see what we were doing, and I felt encouraged to apply to the AFC for funding to remake my film.

The second attempt was a lot more sophisticated because I’d had more experience with the software by then, and the funding allowed me to employ a sound designer, and a cinematographer to shoot extra footage on 16mm, and to get assistance with editing, kine-ing to 35mm and so on.

Losing the first attempt turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as the second version went on to be screened at film festivals all over the world, including the Venice International Film Festival, and back home it was nominated for an AFI award, and screened on SBS for International Women’s Day. Amazingly, Here I Sit is still doing the rounds – it’s recently been screened at a poetry festival, and will be shown in Paris (again) next month.

The Summer School helped put me on a very interesting path: one where I could combine my interest in film and video (I’d just finished a postgrad course at VCA (Swinburne) Film & Television School) with my design background … at that time, this was really unique.”


Image: Alyson Bell, Here I Sit (still), 1996. 8 minutes. Poetry by Sandy Jeffs

1995 :: Thursday 13 December

Now in its eighth year, ANAT put together a program of screen-based new media work for the Australasian Interactive Multimedia Industry Association (AIMIA) conference in Adelaide. It featured works by Kim Bounds, John Colette, Linda Dement, Ian Haig, Troy Innocent and Elena Pope, Faye Maxwell, MindFlux, Bill Seaman and John Tonkin, as well as The User Unfriendly Interface (pictured) by Josephine Starrs and Leon Cmielewski.

ANAT also convened a special panel at the conference on artists’ use and development of technology, chaired by multimedia producer Simon Edhouse. Presentations by Leigh Hobba, John McCormack and Josephine Starrs sparked questions from the audience on issues including the politics of authorship, relations between artists and the multimedia industry, intellectual property, moral rights of artists and copyright.

ANAT’s presence in the public domain took a great leap forward that year with the launch of its website, designed by the ubiquitous cyber-entrepreneurs Virtual Artists (Jesse Reynolds and Dave Sag).

And as 1995 came to a close, ANAT launched an international artists project—designed to bring artists and writers to Australia to present their work and meet with Australian practitioners—with Francesca da Rimini’s curation of Virogenesis (1995–96).

Image: Conference-goers exploring The User Unfriendly Interface by Josephine Starrs and Leon Cmielewski




1996 :: Thursday 20 December

Invited to speak at the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Art) in London, ANAT’s Director Amanda McDonald Crowley gave British audiences a taste of the Australian new media scene via works by Gashgirl (aka Francesca da Rimini), Isabelle Delmotte, John Tonkin, Lloyd Sharp, Martine Corompt, Michael Grimm, Patricia Piccinini and Video Subvertigo. In her talk ‘Interactive Nation’ Amanda used the diversity of the works to demonstrate the multiplicity of ways in which Australian new media artists were using new technologies to critique the body and representation, and to address changing notions of communities—both local and global—brought about by the use of those same technologies.

Meanwhile back home ANAT continued to facilitate tours and events featuring new media artists and enthusiasts from overseas – including London-based nomadic sound artist, composer and DJ Scanner (aka Robin Rimbaud), Italian activist, writer, publisher and videographer Gomma (aka Ermanno Guarneri), and London-based writer, publisher and interactive zine editor Matt Fuller.

And at ANAT’s increasingly popular National Summer School John Colette, head of multimedia at AFTRS, cautioned artists against being swept away by multimedia hype, encouraging them to develop a ‘language’ for this ‘new and potentially exciting medium’ that was then still in its infancy.

Image: Francesca da Rimini, Ricardo Dominquez and Michael Grimm, Dollspace (1995) – still

1997 :: Thursday 27 December

Continuing the international artists project, ANAT teamed up with Performance Space to create CODE RED. This international event brought together writers, artists and activists who were then interrogating and critiquing contemporary media and information culture. It dissected the mass media to open up the body of information for analysis and scrutiny.

CODE RED featured works by Cornelia Sollfrank (Germany), Geert Lovink (Netherlands) and Marko Peljhan (Slovenia), as well as Australians Brad Miller, Jeffrey Cook, Linda Wallace and Zina Kaye.

Zina Kaye remembers CODE RED as
“a happening, a meeting of minds as much as an exhibition. [Curator] Julianne Pierce convened us as a group of maverick technologists who shared a passion for disrupting communications systems, each working in our own discipline to demystify that technology and bring it to the masses. I used Cold War listening tools and radio tracking to turn Artspace – then on Cleveland Street – into a giant microphone. It was a great opportunity to tinker and work out what could be used for social change – or simply create a sublime experience – and be in a forum where others could try using what you’d made.”

Image: CODE RED, exhibition program cover (1997)

1998 :: Thursday 3 January

The 1998 Telstra Adelaide Festival was the perfect opportunity to celebrate some of the artists and personalities who had contributed so vividly to ANAT’s identity over our initial decade. The FOLDBACK project, one of only a few events that year to tackle the nexus between technology and art, was structured in four parts: a forum at Ngapartji Multimedia Centre; an exhibition installed at Ngapartji throughout Artists’ Week; satellite events profiling contemporary sound artists and electronic musicians; and a national tour by multidisciplinary artist Mark Amerika.

The exhibition, developed by Adelaide-based designers inSECT22, explored the grey areas between art, technology, minds and machines. Digi-artefacts, online manifestations and hard copy works included Linda Dement’s interactive computer-based work pictured here, Cyberflesh Girlmonster.

Image: Linda Dement, Cyberflesh Girlmonster (1995)

1999 :: Thursday 10 January

The inaugural National Indigenous School in New Media Art—the first ANAT Summer School to be dedicated exclusively to Indigenous artists—focused on helping participants to develop digital arts practices by providing access to appropriate training, computer equipment and software. It took place at Northern Territory University, Darwin in July and was project-managed by Indigenous (Gurindji) artist, curator, writer, lecturer and consultant, Brenda L Croft.

With support from the Emerging Artists program run by the Australia Council’s Visual Arts/Crafts Fund, ANAT then initiated a series of follow-on residencies specifically aimed at website development. NT-based Jason Davidson-Hampton’s site, for example, was based on stories and imagery from the Kimberley region, while Victorian Christian Thompson’s featured a series of text-based works exploring knowledge, literature, and the importance of theory for Indigenous people and academics. These were created during residencies at 24Hr Art, Darwin and the Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne respectively.

1999 also saw the inauguration of ANAT’s Scientific Serendipity residency program, aimed at facilitating mutually beneficial collaborations between artists and scientists.   

View Jason Davidson (NT) at 24Hr Art, Darwin, website based on stories and images from the Kimberley region here

Image: Christian Thompson, Urban Murri’s (1999), digital images, raffia, magpie feathers

2000 :: Thursday 17 January

In the new millennium, Alchemy International Masterclass for New Media Artists and Curators brought together 58 tutors, participants and curators—from Australia and overseas—in an intensive three-week workshop combining performance, internet, sound, video and multimedia. Alchemy, which evolved from ANAT’s successful Summer School model and ran from May through June at Brisbane’s Powerhouse, was one of the largest projects ANAT has mounted to date. In many ways it set a benchmark for the organisation, by expanding its brief to incorporate a wider diversity of artistic practices. With artists having developed complex skill bases, ANAT now aimed to offer training environments which explored advanced uses of technologies within the context of developing ideas, artforms, concepts and projects.

Charity Bramwell, then a staff member at ANAT, recently unearthed two rolls of 35mm film taken during Alchemy that had never been printed! She got it processed (luckily that’s still possible!) and we sent scans of the prints to ANAT’s then director Amanda McDonald Crowley to jog her memory. Her response was:

“Oh goodness! I could tell so many stories from these images! What an absolutely amazing group of people!! I just think of all the astounding things everyone … went on to achieve! … I could tell you the names of everyone in that picture; and I’ve still got the serving bowl those guys gave me as a gift that night: I made shared meals a big part of Alchemy, so that’s how they thanked me … You just sent me down a wormhole of memories!”

Amanda later came up with more memories:

“Oh yeah: it was life changing for many of the participants. I can attest to that. Myself included. I could go on and on, but some examples:

Raqs Media Collective were documentary filmmakers before they attended: their practice shifted radically afterwards.

Shilpa Gupta was a web developer by day and a sculptor in the studio until she met John Tonkin and thought about data and art.

Sophea Lerner was so overstimulated she joked she had to eat deb potato in the evening to keep her balanced.

The meals prepared by participants were amazing. Mervin and RPD’s Carribean Feast was the bomb.

Jo Law’s Japanese meal was delish, and the Indonesians knocked it out of the park.

Grisha Coleman’s work went from dance to an entirely cross-disciplinary practice.

Sara Diamond had the group turn the entire building into a game space.

Mari Velonaki and I exchanged our clothes in Sophea’s sound installation in the elevator.

Mongrel’s offline NINE became the online project Linker (that they later realized at de Waag), because their work in indigenous communities led them to understand that interconnected stories, not just interactive stories, should be essential to the project.

I can’t remember who was projecting Morse Code on the front of the building – but no-body wanted to show their work in the galleries: it was on everywhere else in the building.

Bruce Gladwin said he couldn’t stay more than a week, but I said no-one could attend for that short a time, and I am going to say that Back to Back’s work became even more expanded as a result of his attendance.

Mike Stubbs hung out an extra week so he could teach as well as participate.

Alexei Shulgin performed his 386dx one Friday night at one of our community gatherings – and he’s about to perform it again this month at the New Museum in NYC as part of Rhizome’s Net Art Anthology program series.

I BBQ’d every Friday night on the deck and locals came by.

Graham Harwood always joked that I wanted a six-week-long party with brilliant friends from all over the world as my ANAT swan-song.”


1: (LR) ANAT Team 2000:
Charity Bramwell, Amber Carvan, Michael Shanahan & Amanda McDonald Crowley.

2: (L-R) Caroline Farmer current ANAT Board Chairperson, residing in Melbourne & Megan Rainey (ADE).

3: Alchemy masterclass in action.

4: (L-R) Tim Plaistead (Brisbane-based tech assistant), Grisha Coleman (US), Sheridan Kennedy (QLD) & Caroline Farmer current ANAT Board Chairperson, residing in Melbourne.

5: (L-R) Shilpa Gupta (IN), Sophea Lerner (AU), Alexei Shulgin (RU) & Raewyn Turner (NZ).

6. (L- R) Mervin Jarman (Mongrel, UK) & Alexei Shulgin (RU). Mervin sadly passed in 2014.

7. (L- R):Mervin Jarman (UK), seated Kamal Krishna (QLD), seated Jenny Fraser (QLD), Raul Ferrera-Balanquet. Richard Pierre-Davis has his back to camera (Mongrel UK), & Sarah Neville (SA) in the background.


2001 :: Thursday 24 January

The Scientific Serendipity residency program, initiated in 1999, culminated in 2001 with two Australian artists taking on residencies in scientific organisations.

During a residency at the Museum of Natural History in New York, Sydney/New York-based Justine Cooper assisted with the year-long Genomic Revolution exhibition, and also developed her work Transformers, which was exhibited in the 2002 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art.

Justine also came very close to the event that dominates our collective memory of 2001. She remembers: “That year I also had a six-month studio space residency on the ninety-first floor of the World Trade Center, with a dozen other artists. At the Museum I’d been working on the Genomic Revolution exhibition, learning to extract DNA from saliva and also how to think about genetics conceptually and ethically, and helping set up their public Genome Learning Laboratory. That’s where the photo with Dr Jim Bonacum was taken. I think my husband Joey Stein took the photo. We met at the museum, so I can thank ANAT for that as well ;-)”

After 9/11, in which I lost a colleague and also much of my work, I shifted the project I produced related to the World Trade Center. I’d read the sequence of Tower One’s office lights as if they were an autoradiograph, which is an old form of DNA mapping, and had synthetic DNA made from the sequence I mapped – so I ended up with a biological transcription of the absent building. The ANAT residency absolutely informed that work, which was called Evanition.”

Meanwhile Brisbane-based Adam Donovan spent three months at the Maritime Acoustics Division of the DSTO (Defence, Science and Technology Organisation) in Adelaide. The collaborative relationships he established with scientists there were instrumental in his development of ‘audio spotlights’ (ultrasound sound projectors) which, again, featured in the Adelaide Biennial the following year.

Read Justine’s description of the work here.

Scientific Serendipity also led to the initiation of Synapse—an Australia Council / Australian Research Council (ARC) initiative for multidisciplinary linkage grant applications—which was to enable new media artist Mari Velonaki to work with field robotics experts on her interactive work Fish-Bird (see our 2003 post in two weeks for more details).

Image: Justine Cooper with Dr Jim Bonacum during her residency at the Museum of Natural History, New York (photograph Joey Stein)

2002 :: Thursday 31 January

BORDERPANIC, held in Sydney in September, brought together artists, media makers and thinkers questioning the world’s geopolitical and metaphorical borders. It was initiated by Performance Space and curated by Zina Kaye and Deborah Kelly. As Deborah remembers:

“BORDERPANIC began as an exhibition and grew into a kind of festival (though that word lends a misplaced sense of festivity). Fiona Winning at Performance Space invited me to curate a cultural response to Australia’s disastrous refugee policies, which felt so urgent in the wake of Tampa, the ‘children overboard’ debacle, and the drowned hundreds who had perished when the SIEV X sank. I asked Zina Kaye to work with me, and she brought with her an association with Amsterdam’s Next 5 Minutes festival, which we became an arm of.”

“Over nearly a month we pulled together: an exhibition featuring wildly diverse artworks – from coffee-on-tin imaginary landscapes by asylum seekers incarcerated in Villawood detention centre to Hossein Valamanesh’s iconic burning carpet (pictured) – which was accompanied by a video screening and presentations at Performance Space; a tactical media lab and symposium hosted by the Museum of Contemporary Art; a forum at Metro Screen; a sprawling website; a little book; workshops; and a postcard competition held in conjunction with Avant Cards.”

“We thought we were part of a popular movement that would gather power, mass and persuasiveness. We thought that by now, things would be better. That we would be better.

Image: Hossein Valamanesh, Longing belonging (1997) colour positive print, 99 x 99cm. Photograph Rick Martin.

2003 :: Thursday 7 February
From 2003 to 2006, ANAT partnered with the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Artspace and Partick Systems and Technology on an Australia Council / Australian Research Council ‘Synapse’ initiative that encouraged multidisciplinary Linkage Grant applications. This project enabled new media artist Mari Velonaki to take up a three-year postdoctoral research position at the Australian Centre for Field Robotics (ACFR), University of Sydney. Mari headed a team that worked with ACFR investigators Dr David Rye, Steve Scheding and Stefan Williams to develop a new interactive artwork Fish-Bird: Autonomous Interaction in a Contemporary Arts Setting.
Image: Mari Velonaki, Fish-Bird: Circle B – Movement C (2004–06), Interactive installation with two autonomous robots and distributed data fusion system. Installed at ARoS Aarhus Art Museum, Denmark, 2009 (photograph by Paul Gosney Photography)

2004 :: Thursday 14 February

ANAT worked closely with Adelaide City Council and the Capital City Committee to develop Luminosity, a public art projection initiative that investigated themes of sustainability around the city. To kick off the project ANAT collaborated with Brisbane-based projection artist Craig Walsh to develop a masterclass program for SA-based new media artists.

Held over four days in June in an old ice-skating rink, the masterclass – run by Craig Walsh together with Stephen Thomassen from God Lab, Brisbane – focussed on a high degree of experimentation, encouraging participants to reinterpret the surrounding city through the projected image. Craig remembers:

“One of my first masterclasses and an early example of artwork exploring 3D projection in response to environments, it was the overall vision and commitment that ANAT and Adelaide City Council made to this project which still stands in my mind as a significant initiative. Luminosity not only gave access and opportunities to artists interested in exploring projection as a spatial medium, but also delivered one of the first temporal projection public art programs in Australia, and continued for several years in a number of different sites and commissioned works. I have very fond memories of a great group of artists full of energy and ideas!”

Image: Craig Walsh, Temporary Lodgings (2004), digital animation and stereo sound (3-minute loop), installed in Rundle Street, Adelaide



2005 :: Thursday 21 February

In 2005 ANAT partnered with the City of Melbourne’s Art House program to hold ANAT’s New Media Lab 2005 Create_Space in North Melbourne’s newly refurbished Meat Market. This intensive two-week workshop for Australian new media arts practitioners brought participants together to network, develop skills and seed new projects.

With a focus on collaboration, exchange and the investigation of the potential and possibilities of emerging media, Create_Space was a unique opportunity for new media artists. It aimed to provide not only access to technology and software, but also a space for creative dialogue, experimentation and exchange, with an emphasis on critical engagement with new technologies, rather than just training in their use.

Australian and international expert facilitators Adam Nash (AUS), Jonah Bruckner-Cohen (USA) and Katherine Moriwaki (USA) were engaged to work closely with Create_Space’s participants, to facilitate development of skills and project ideas.

Image: Create_Space participant Matt Gardiner working out communication between his phone and processing

2006 :: Thursday 28 February

Presented as part of the Adelaide Festival of Arts 2006, ANAT’s Media State Forum program of exhibitions, events, forums and workshops explored how media arts connect to – and intervene in – our daily lives. Projects included Mobile Journeys, The Peoples’ Project , alva noto and Project 3.

The Peoples’ Project by USA artist Zhang Ga, connected Adelaide to other global cities via a large-scale public portrait projection in the centrally located Rundle Mall. 

alva noto was a compelling audiovisual performance of sound compositions morphed into electronic projections through which German artist Carsten Nicolai earned a reputation as a highly innovative and experimental practitioner working across installation, sound and performance.

Project 3 delivered a rich program of electronic and computer music and film by local, national and international artists.

Ian Haig was a participant in Mobile Journeys. He notes: “a possessed mobile phone, haunted media, satanism, a conduit to the otherworldly and the paranormal …” remind him of his work about “a possessed mobile phone … The idea of the phone being taken over by some kind of entity”.

Image: Ian Haig, Liberv rel reguli, 2005


2007 :: Thursday 7 March

Until now ANAT’s Emerging Technology Labs had focused on introducing the skills associated with emerging technologically-based practices to Australian media arts practitioners, writers and curators, but in 2007 the reSkin wearables research and development laboratory, presented at ANU in Canberra, extended the reach to include design and craft practitioners such as jewellers, fashion designers and object makers.

Twenty national and international artists and designers investigated the dynamic field of wearable technologies over a three-week intensive period, under the guidance of international leaders in the field Joanna Berzowska (Canada) and Elise Co (USA), while national facilitators Susan Cohn and Cinnamon Lee were assisted by sound artist Alistair Riddell and media artist s Stephen Barrass to cover the diverse skill bases associated with the field and informing the development of the lab.

The lab was hugely popular with participants, facilitators and project partners alike. According to facilitator Joanna Berzowska, the high quality prototypes developed during reSkin heralded the advent of a ‘third wave’ in the field of wearable technology, in which the conceptual resolve and use of applicable materials technologies was, for the first time, married with high-end craft and design skills.

Image: Michael Yuen, Black Tee prototype developed during reSkin


2008 :: Thursday 14 March

ANAT partnered with Arts Victoria’s ‘Arts Innovation’ program to deliver three artist’s residencies in science/research settings.

Chris Henschke focused his investigations at The Australian Synchrotron on the incandescent lightbulb, which has symbolic and technological associations with the facility. Using Synchrotron’s beamlines to analyse the lightbulb in various ways, he then combined the data to create a series of images, animations, sounds and sculptural forms.

Leah Heiss used her residency at Nanotechnology Victoria (NanoVic) Ltd to develop jewellery that has therapeutic properties. Her ‘Diabetes’ range works in tandem with NanoVic’s transdermal patches to administer insulin through the skin, replacing syringes, while her ‘Arsenic’ series of vessels remove arsenic from water, and can be used when transiting areas where this poisonous substance is prevalent in well water, such as India and Bangladesh.

And Frances d’Ath, resident at Swinburne University’s Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing (CAS), derived new choreographic systems from computer-based data visualisation, then applied her research to interactive lighting and projection systems, out of which came her performance work ‘monadologie’.

Image: Leah Heiss, ‘Diabetes Jewellery’ (2008) (photograph Narelle Sheean)


2009 :: Thursday 21 March

SUPER HUMAN: Revolution of the Species turned the spotlight on how artist/scientist collaborations can explore what it means to be human – both now and into the future – via:

A masterclass which provided a theoretical context for emerging practices within an international framework; identified the key emerging artforms, artists and advocates; connected curators, presenting organisations and resource networks; explored the impact of gallery space and exhibition design on emerging artforms; and identified audience development and marketing strategies

An exhibition which showcased works by leading Australasian artists, revolving around three themes – cognition and neurology, augmentation and biological manipulation, and nanoscale interventions – to reframe the Cartesian body within contemporary culture

A symposium which presented an invigorating and inspiring mix of keynote speakers and collaborative research projects, each of which engaged with one or more of the above themes.

In 2009 ANAT also partnered with RiAus and the Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, Swinburne University to present an immersive fulldome cinema experience, The Dome Project, as part of the BigPond Adelaide Film Festival (BAFF) – hear more about ANAT’s follow-up Dome Lab in next week’s post.

Image: Jill Scott, The Electric Retina (2008), interactive sculpture, 200 x 120 x 80 cm


2010: Thursday 28 March

Following on from 2009’s Dome Project, Dome Lab 2010 – held at the University of Western Australia, Perth – was an intensive, strategically focused residential fulldome cinema workshop for mid-career filmmakers. Emphasising a trial-and-error approach that prioritised risk-taking and experimentation over ‘finished product’, Dome Lab brought together the world’s leading fulldome experts and their local counterparts in order to build upon WA’s existing creative and research capabilities and to ensure that Australian artists were at the forefront of developments in fulldome content production.

Image: Dome Lab participants, 2010


2011 ::  Portable Worlds

In 2011 ANAT partnered with Country Arts SA to present the Portable Worlds 2nd Edition 2011 Tour throughout regional South Australia. Featuring works created and/or displayed on mobile phones, Portable Worlds had been touring urban and regional Australia since 2008, exploring connection and intimacy, portability and community, scale and distance.

In his work ‘Detour 27’, participant Thom Buchanan combined drawing and video to literally ‘draw’ himself into his work. Looking back, he reflects: 

“As a layered response to the process of making a piece of art my work aims to reveal the beauty of a lived environment. Making myself a subject within the work allows me to visually explore my own life’s journey and how certain events have shaped me. I have used modern technologies – digital media – coupled with the oldest of mediums – charcoal and paper – to create an imagery that can be read beyond the surface. These drawings are held in a constant state of flux, erased and reworked until the last moment when I walk into my world.

This work opened a major door to my practice. Looking back, it’s amazing the journey it sent me on.

kind regards thom”

You can view Thom’s work Detour 27 here 

Image: Thom Buchanan, Detour 27 (2011), video/animation – still 

2012 :: 3D Printing
Realising that the rapidly evolving fields of personal fabrication, digital manufacturing and 3D printing were beginning to do to manufacturing what the internet was already doing to information-based goods and services, ANAT presented this public forum and workshop to encourage participants to ponder whether 3D printing was – as was being widely touted – ‘the next industrial revolution’. Realising that a 3D printer is essentially a machine that can turn a 3D digital design into a physical object, ANAT posited that it would ultimately have the power to transform creative culture.
Image: MakerBot Replicator Original, the first desktop 3D printer.

2013 ::  ISEA2013

From 2011 to 2013, ANAT worked with partners COFA (UNSW), UTS, University of Sydney, d/Lux Media Arts, Business Event Sydney and Events NSW to establish the groundwork for The International Symposium on Electronic Art (ISEA) 2013. ISEA is one of the most significant international events in the field of electronic arts and digital media, and attracts global leaders in the field. Held in Sydney in June, alongside VIVID festival, ISEA2013 created significant opportunities for collaboration between universities, cultural organisations, artists and the creative industries locally, nationally and internationally, and offered Australian academics, members of the creative industries, new media practitioners and contemporary artists a chance to showcase their work and research on an international stage.

One of the highlights of ISEA2013 was ‘test pattern’. This stunning immersive installation by renowned Japanese artist Ryoji Ikeda utilised the grand scale of Redfern’s Carriageworks to represent the intense energies of massive digital data flows that increasingly shape our globalised world.

Image: Ryoji Ikeda, “test pattern [no.5]”, 2013, audiovisual installation at Carriageworks. Commissioned and presented by Carriageworks and ISEA2013 in collaboration with Vivid Sydney. Photograph Zan Wimberley.


2014 :: Synapse Residency Program

2014’s Synapse Residency program led, as always, to new and often career-defining trajectories for its recipients:

Sound artist Jane Baker’s time at the Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre, University of Tasmania led to her 2018 ‘The Inward Eye – A Psychoacoustic Journey’ installation at MONA, Hobart.

While resident at the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Eye Research, choreographer/dancer Shelley Lasica worked with both sighted and vision-impaired participants to investigate the realm of proprioception.

Performance artist Cat Jones’s Somatic Drifts, which featured in the 2015 program The Art of Pain (see next week’s post), developed out of her residency at the University of Western Australia’s School of Medicine and Pharmacology

Sound artist, composer and researcher Leah Barclay’s investigations at the Australian Rivers Institute, Griffith University furthered her subsequent practice as an acoustic ecologist, sonic artist and interdisciplinary researcher.

Looking back, Leah sees Synapse as “a fantastic opportunity to develop a truly interdisciplinary foundation for a project that has continued to expand and evolve with a wide spectrum of artistic and scientific outcomes … the Synapse residency pushed me to gain much more experience and understanding in the scientific intentions of my work.”

Images: Leah Barclay, River Listening Synapse Feature, 2014


2015 ::  The Art of Pain

Timed to coincide with National Pain Week, The Art of Pain discussed contemporary pain research and its implications via an exhibition, an expert conversation, and panel discussions revolving around the experience and management of pain. It was presented by ANAT, The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre and Pain Adelaide, and supported by the Australia Council for the Arts.

Somatic Drifts, presented by Art of Pain participant Cat Jones, came out of her 2014 Synapse Residency at the School of Medicine and Pharmacology, UWA (see last week’s post). This sensory, one-to-one artwork and accumulative audio-visual installation explored trans-human and inter-species empathy, by enabling each participant to experience the bodies of other entities through body illusion and touch. Bodies and narratives travelled beyond their own boundaries to ask: What realm does the human body exists within? How far can we drift? What can this drift enable us to change?

Cat recalls that during the Synapse research phase she was “devouring research papers and meeting with a stream of clinicians, researchers and health workers”, feeling like a “strange kind of pollinator – seeding ideas for some and transporting new research between them.”

Later, she found performing Somatic Drifts to be “euphoric, like many of the participants I lose sense of time and space, real and virtual, and a blurring of their body and mine. Its concepts live across multiple planes too – sensory art, pain science, vegetal cultures, queer thinking, very personally in participant’s lives and within mine.”

And this year, half a decade after Cat’s Synapse Residency, “we’ve published new research that came out of my observations” and “I’ve discovered that I have ‘mirror touch synaesthesia’ …”

You can view documentation of Somatic Drifts here

In 2015 ANAT also partnered with three other organisations to host Unfixed, a residency for Deaf and disabled artists from Australia and the UK. See next week’s post for more on Unfixed and its 2016 UK follow-up, Unlimited.

Image: Cat Jones, Somatic Drifts (2014), installation view (sound design Melissa Hunt)

























2016 :: UNFIXED.2

ANAT’s 2015 partnership with Access2Arts​ (AUS), Unlimited (UK) and Watershed (UK) on Unfixed – a residency which invited ten Australian and UK Deaf and disabled artists to investigate the determination of bodies as ‘disabled’ / ‘abled’ – was followed up in the UK.

For participant Daniel Savage​ (as for many of the artists), Unfixed had been his first experience of a professional arts residency, and “one that acknowledged that lived experience of disability was an inherent part of our practice and actively encouraged creative exploration of its interaction with technology was more than I could have hoped for”. Most valuable, for him, was “the interaction with such a diverse group of disabled artists in an environment that supported critical discourse”, as in Australia “the tyranny of distance often forces disabled artists to work in isolation”.

Daniel had also found that the residency “forced me to step back and reflect on my own practice, to critique both the content of my work and the manner in which I made it accessible to my audience. Since then my work has engaged more experimentally with the idea of access and how it can be used as creative driver which opens artwork to new audiences, rather than being tacked on at the end.”

In the UK-based Unfixed 2.0 the Australian artists joined their English counterparts in London for the 2016 Unlimited Festival, then travelled to Watershed in Bristol to undertake a week-long Creative Development Lab. For Daniel this follow-up “built on everything from the year before”. By showing him “what opportunities were out there, what could be achieved with the right support and funding and how audiences will embrace work by disabled artists when given the opportunity”, it set a benchmark for “how disability arts can be a thriving part of the broader arts community.”

Since Unfixed Daniel’s own practice and ambition have grown, and he has also taken an active role in advocating for access, inclusion and representation of disability arts across the sector. For him the residency “stood in stark contrast to the inaccessibility of the broader Australian art world”, and his discussions with other artists “laid bare my own privileged position”. Realising that he had both the opportunity and responsibility to use this privilege to speak out, Daniel has gone on to work with local festivals and national institutions, and speak to arts organisations and government bodies on the importance and value of disability arts and inclusion, holding up Unfixed and Unlimited as examples of best practice.

Images: No offense, but… 1-16 (of 18), 2014. Inkjet prints, 50 x 70cm
Daniel – Quadraplegic / Will you ever get better?
Aoife – Mental illness / Can’t you just take a pill?
Cam – Transgender / You were born a girl right?
Troy – Gay / When did you admit you were gay?
Bec – Lesbian / Who is the man in the relationship
Andy – Mixed race / Halfies are always hot

Read Daniel’s reflections on Unfixed…

“For me and a lot of the other artists unfixed was our first experience of a professional arts residency and having one that acknowledged that lived experience of disability was an inherent part of our practice and actively encouraged creative exploration of its interaction with technology was more than I could of hoped for.

The most valuable thing I got from unfixed was the interaction with such a diverse group of disabled artists in an environment that supported critical discourse. As a disabled artists in Australia, the tyranny of distance often forces you to work in isolation and unfixed showed me that there was strong emerging community in Australia and overseas by exposing me to my peers.

The residency also forced me to step back and reflect on my own practice, to critique both the content of my work and manner in which I made my work accessible to my audience. Since then my work has engaged more experimentally with the idea of access, and how it can be used as creative driver, opening art work to new audiences, rather than tacked on at the end.

To follow it up with Unfixed 2.0 at the Unlimited festival in London and at the Watershed Pervasive media studio in Bristol built on everything from the year before.

It showed me what opportunities were out there, what could be achieved with the right support and funding, how audiences will embrace work by disabled artists when given the opportunity. It set a bench mark for how disability arts can be a thriving part of the broader arts community when given the opportunity.

Since unfixed not only has my practice and ambition grown, but I’ve taken an active role in advocating for access, inclusion and representation of disability arts across the sector. The residency stood in stark contrast to the inaccessibility of broader Australian art world, and my discussions with other artists laid bare my own privileged position, and that I had both the opportunity and responsibility to use that privilege to speak out.

I’ve since gone on to work with local festivals and national institutions and speak to arts organisations and government bodies on the importance and value of disability arts and inclusion holding up Unfixed and Unlimited as prime examples to strive for.”

2017 :: Australian Antarctic Division & CSIRO

In 2017 ANAT increased its engagement with federal science and research infrastructure via new fellowship and residency programs.

The successful recipients of ANAT’s inaugural Synapse CSIROResidencies were three artists. Anton Hasell worked with Daniel East and the Lab 22 – 3D Printed Structures research team, while Jiann Hughes worked with Xavier Mulet, JJ Richardson and the Metal Organic Frameworks research team, and James Geurts worked with Richard Evans and his Polymer Coatings for Cell Adhesion research team.

The Australian Antarctic Arts Fellowship, originally established by the Australian Antarctic Division, enables members of the creative community to experience Antarctica firsthand, then share this with the broader Australian community through their practice. Photographer Martin Walch– a specialist in time-lapse and still photography – was awarded the first AAA Fellowship administered by ANAT, and spent three months at the Mawson research station capturing the unique icy environment on camera. Martin remembers:

“My first encounter with ANAT was being selected to participate in their fifth National Summer School in Computer Aided Art and Design, held at Curtin University in 1994. Having trained as a photographer during the final decade of analogue dominance, what I learned from my tutors and fellow students completely transformed my practice, setting me up to meet the challenges and frustrations of early digital technologies with a powerful DIY attitude to problem solving, and the realisation that I was now part of a supportive and vibrant community that had something it wanted to contribute to the world.

“Fast forward to November 2017 and I’m standing on the deck of the Aurora Australis as we sight the Antarctic continent for the first time. ANAT’s support via the fellowship was key to achieving the goals I’d set in my application. Amongst other things, it allowed me to rapidly construct blizzard-proof camera housings for my time-lapse cameras at Mawson Station, as well purchasing terabytes of drive space for my data archive. I cannot thank ANAT enough for the support I’ve personally received over the years, and for the central role the organisation has played over the last three decades, as our national champion of interaction between the arts, science and technology.”

You can read the CSIRO residents’ blogs here:
Anton Hasell
Jiann Hughes
James Geurts
and view some of Martin Walch’s time-lapse works at

to see all the 30 for 30 posts.

Image: Martin Walch, ‘Terra-Antarctica_Time-panorama_Mawson_Station_60 days_20171208- 20180205’, (2017-18) – still courtesy of the artist.


2018 :: SPECTRA

Art/science collaborations contribute to the creation of knowledge, ideas and processes beneficial across both disciplines. Artists and scientists approach creativity, exploration and research in different ways and from different perspectives; and when working together they open up new ways of seeing, experiencing and interpreting the world around us.

Originally instigated by artist, Mary Rosengren and CSIRO​ host partner, Cris Kennedy​, following their 2011 ANAT Synapse art/science residency, Spectra 2012 was held at the CSIRO Discovery Centre in Canberra, and brought together some of Australia’s leading artists and scientists discussing the use of images and data in the studio and the laboratory.

Last year, ANAT partnered with the University of South Australia​ and Experimenta Media Arts​, with generous additional support provided by Arts South Australia​, to present Spectra 2018 in Adelaide, SA. This new biennial art/science gathering was tasked with showcasing the best research and creative work being produced via collaborations between Australian and New Zealander artists and scientists.

Spectra 2018 explored the increasing convergence of art and science to consider how each area impacts the other and how, together, they shed light on who we are and where we’re heading. It comprised a three-day symposium presenting collaborative research, an exhibition showcasing research outcomes, and a public program of screenings, talks, performances and special events.

We were unsure how valuable our iteration of Spectra in 2018 would be to artists and scientists – but – we took a risk and with the support of our incredible community it paid off in spades. We’re thrilled to report that a whopping 100% of those surveyed said Spectra was helpful to them professionally and 97% support Spectra taking place biennially. We’re 100% committed to bringing on Spectra 2020! Stay tuned.

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