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LASER TALK. Restoring the Human Element

Restoring the Human Element

LASER TALK with Frank Theys, Eva- Maria Lopez, Ronny Blust, Edith Doove, Marjolijn Dijkman, Florian Zanatta, a.o.
organised by Alexandra Dementieva and Kristof Timmerman (research group MAXlab)

The current state of our society is a product of the technological developments that originated in the second half of the past century. These accelerating technological innovations have shaped our way of life profoundly. However, the rapid pace of progress often overshadowed the long-term implications, leading to unintended consequences such as environmental degradation, social inequalities, and the erosion of human connection. Blinded and propelled by the promises of technological progress we have often overlooked the human factor and ecological consequences.  
MAXLab invites artists and scientists working at the intersection of art and technology to a debate on reintroducing the human element at the centre of scientific and technological progress and the role of the arts in this. 
In collaboration with Leonardo/ISAST LASER Talks.

Ronny BLUST is Professor of Ecophysiology and Ecotoxicology at the Department of Biology, University of Antwerp.
His research is focused amongst others on environmental chemistry, ecology and bioaccumulation. His environmental chemistry research integrates issues from pollution, bioavailability and surface water. His ecology research is multidisciplinary, incorporating perspectives in zoology and animal science. 

Marjolijn DIJKMAN is an artist, researcher, and co-founder of Enough Room for Space, based in Brussels. Her works, that have been shown worldwide, can be seen as a form of science-fiction, partly based on facts and research but often brought into the realm of fiction, abstraction, and speculation. Enough Room for Space initiates long-term experimental research projects, challenging the barriers between disciplines (artistic, scientific, or activist). She is currently a Ph.D. candidate as part of the artistic research cluster Deep Histories Fragile Memories at LUCA - School of Arts Brussels / Leuven University until 2027. 

Eva-Maria LOPEZ  is a multidisciplinary artist based in Karlsruhe and Paris. 
After receiving the master’s degree in agriculture, she studied art at the Academy of Fine Art in Karlsruhe, Germany. Due to this background, issues relating to nature and environment have an important impact on her art. Working with the themes of nature, ecology and their historical contexts, she explores the relationship between object and environment. Her sensitivity to the destruction of natural habitats and resources, as well as socially anchored structures in contemporary societies, is highly visible. In her work, Lopez places various realities in new contexts and thereby makes them visible. Her work is shown internationally in shows and on art & science conferences; she is key founder of NAIA (Naturally and Artificially Intelligence Art association) in Karlsruhe.

Frank THEYS is an artist and researcher based in Brussels and Amsterdam. In 2006 he collaborated with Michel Bauwens to create the three-part documentary film TechnoCalyps and the author of TechnoCalyps which delves into the scientific, ethical and metaphysical dimensions of technological development.Genetics, robotics, artificial intelligence, bionics and nanotechnology have mankind transcending human limits.

Dr. Florian ZANATTA is based in Liège and working on biogeography and urban ecology. He focused his research on developing ecological niche models to explore bryophytes migration capacity, integrating wind dispersal simulations, in the context of climate changes. Later he worked at Meise Botanic Garden, mainly on bryophytes spores morphological variations using SEM photography and morphometric analysis. He co-founded lacYme, a collaborative urban ecology lab which develops science communication and citizen-science-based research projects and activities combining scientific, historic and artistic approaches.

Alexandra DEMENTIEVA is a multimedia artist, based in Brussels. The idea of interaction between the viewer and an artwork, mediated by technologically progressive visualization methods, lies at the core of her work. In her installations she uses various art forms on an equal basis: dance, music, cinema and performance. 

Edith DOOVE (PhD) is a curator, writer and researcher, specifically interested in notions of emergence and contingency, cross and transdisciplinary collaborations. She holds a PhD as member of Transtechnology Research at Plymouth University where she is a postdoctoral advisor. Since 2018 she lives and works in France, currently in Rouen where she teaches at ESADHaR (École supérieure d’art et design Le Havre Rouen). She was the curator visual arts for the arts festival Watou in 2023 and currently prepares an exhibition and publication on the Research Group and their influence on art education for the Stadsmuseum and PXL School of Arts in Hasselt (autumn 2024).

Kristof TIMMERMAN is a designer and director of digital performances and installations, working in the field of live, interactive digital environments and virtual reality. He is the chair and coordinator of MAXlab, the research group on the interaction between art and digital technology at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp. He is involved as promoter and researcher in several research projects on virtual and augmented reality, mostly in a multidisciplinary context, and is currently working on his doctoral research ‘Sense of Wonder. Artistic portals between the real and the virtual’.

(Image from Technocalyps, 2006, by Frank Theys)

This event is part of ARTICULATE 2023 I ECOSYSTEMS.