Collaboration with WPI students on the project ‘Participatory Action Research and Soundscape Collection Methods for Cultural Preservation ‘

The goal of this project was to assist the Studio Austen team with refining current remote participatory action research methods used for the This Land is Not Mine project and to explore the application of these methods for cultural preservation in the Jiu Valley, Romania.

Congratulations to the Worcester Polytechnic Institute IPQ students Ryan Birchfield, Hannah Brooks, Adele Burton and Mackenzie Goldschlager who worked with Studio Austen over the last two months for completing a fantastic project!

Link to the ”Participatory Action Research and Soundscape Collection Methods for Cultural Preservation’ project

The talk ‘Artistic approaches to the echoes of fossil fuels’

Fossil fuel use is essential to the anthropocene. In this presentation artist Kat Austen will discuss two artworks that address the topic of fossil fuel legacies. In the context of the climate crisis, Stranger to the Trees looks at microplastic, themselves a product of fossil fuel-intensive industrial processes, and their coexistence with trees in forests as carbon sinks. This Land is not Mine looks at the postextractive landscape of Lusatia as the region transitions from brown coal mining towards sustainability. Leveraging diverse methods including DIY science, acoustic ecologies and new material studies, Austen creates multimedia works that develop aesthetics of sustainability.

25 May 2021
17:00 – 18:30 CEST
The event is free

Register to the event

UCL Anthropocene

Picture credit: Roger Pimenta

Watch the recording:

Live screening of The Matter of the Soul | Symphony, followed by Q&A with artist Kat Austen at The Big Freeze art festival

The live screening of The Matter of the Soul | Symphony video (1 hr) will take place on the 7th of March at The Big Freeze Polar Art festival run by The Polar Museum, Cambridge, UK. It will be followed by Q&A with Kat Austen.

The Matter of the Soul is a music, video, installation and performance work. It engenders empathy with the process of dispersal and transformation in the Arctic. The work draws an analogy between human migration, the movement of water from ice to ocean in the Arctic and changing identity online in the context of our contemporary climate emergency.

  • Live event
  • Time: 6pm GMT, 7pm CET, duration 1.5 hours
  • Venue: Crowdcast (join live; register in advance for a reminder).
  • Free

The research for The Matter of the Soul was carried out during the Artist in the Arctic Residency 2017 with Friends of SPRI, Bonhams and One Ocean Expeditions. The work was completed during a Cultural Fellowship in Art and Science (Climate Track) at the Cultural Institute, University of Leeds. The Matter of the Soul | Symphony premiered in October 2018 at Howard Assembly Rooms, Opera North, Leeds, UK.

More information on The Matter of the Soul.

Article ‘Microplastics and Trees’ in MAZ newspaper

Last year we co-operated with the village of Bork, Kyritz in Brandenburg to prolong our Stranger to the Trees experiment on the effect of microplastic on birch tree growth. Bork have provided the Studio Austen birches with a home that allows us to continue to collect scientifically valid data in a long-term experiment. We would like to thank Bernhard Bosecker and the mayor Matthias Strauß for the kind support and oppourtunity.

Newspaper Märkische Allgemeine (MAZ) has published an article explaining ‘Stranger to the Trees’ and the long-term experiment we have started in Kyritz. Read the article “Mikroplastik und Bäume: Langzeitexperiment in Kyritz gestartet” or download it in pdf format (in German).

The premiere of Stranger To The Trees on Post-Gallery .online

21 Nov / Sat / 4 PM

Kat Austen’s Stranger to the Trees is a new media project exploring the complementary coexistence of microplastics and trees as carbon sinks. How do trees and microplastics coexist in forests, capturing carbon in the time of the climate crisis? Stranger to the Trees’ two channels of video orient around a musical composition combining traditional instruments, hacked instruments and field recordings. One video, an analogue silhouette animation mixed with live-action video, explores the macro perspective of this coexistence. The other, incorporating results from a scientific experiment into the effect of microplastics on birch trees, explores the micro perspective. Together, they query the response of forest ecosystems to the ubiquitous and irrevocable dispersal of microplastics around the Earth.

Through a co-operation with innovative online gallery curated by Kelli Gedvil and Kristen Rästas, the release of Stranger to the Trees is reconfigured, hybridised like the trees themselves, to allow the meaning and affordance of the two channels of video to be conveyed through online media fit for pandemic times.

“The Work was realised within the framework of the European Media Art Platforms EMARE program at WRO Art Center with support of the Creative Europe Culture Programme of the European Union”.

Contemporary Art in the Anthropocene

Kat performing The Matter of the Soul at MORE WORLD / ZkU Berlin, 2019
Photo: Norman Posselt | | CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Tuesday 17th November, online

Kat will present a selection of her work as part of the UCL Anthropocene Initiative’s Symposium “Contemporary Art in the Anthropocene” 17th November, 15:30-17:30 CET.

Register here (free of charge).

More info:

Expanding the focus on scientific data which is common to discourse on the subject, UCL Anthropocene emphasises the causal links between the conditions of human experience and escalating ecological collapse. In this vein, this seminar will explore the potential of contemporary art practice in addressing the problems that the Anthropocene poses for our collective future.

Given the scope of the subject at hand, the format will be expansive and discursive. Each of the seven contributing UCL artists will give a short presentation (10-15 minutes) to introduce the significance of the notion of the Anthropocene within their practice and point towards ways in which contemporary art might effectively address the environmental crisis. Afterwards, these perspectives will be brought into dialogue through a 30-minute round table discussion, which will also be an opportunity to welcome questions from the audience. 

Contributing artists: 

Conference “Taboo – Transgression – Transcendence in Art & Science”

Kat will present her artistic work at the fourth international conference “Taboo – Transgression – Transcendence in Art & Science”, November 26–28, 2020.

Kat’s talk “The transgression of boundaries through transdisciplinary research relevant to the climate crisis” draws on her portfolio of projects interrogating the boundary between the self and other(s) in the context of ecological crises.

“Taboo – Transgression – Transcendence in Art & Science”, exclusively online as TTT2020 Vienna/Online, an umbilical cord between what would be and what it is. Including theoretical and art practice presentations, TTT2020 continues to focus (a) on questions about the nature of the forbidden and aesthetics of liminality as expressed in art that uses or is inspired by technology and science, and (b) on the opening of spaces for creative transformation in the merging of science and art.

For more information visit TTT2020 website.

Making Kin: Resilience through Multispecies Care and Coexistence at NODE20

Kat was part of the Main Kin panel at NODE20 earlier this month. If you missed it, you can catch up by watching this recording of the session on Youtube: Making Kin: Resilience through Multispecies Care and Coexistence.

Info about Making Kin at NODE20

Both the pandemic and the climate crisis are lessons on human hubris—our failure to recognize planetary interdependencies and that we’re not above but a part of the biosphere. Ecofeminist icon Donna Haraway reminds us that “if we appreciate the foolishness of human exceptionalism then we know that becoming is always becoming with, in a contact zone where the outcome, where who is in the world, is at stake.” Building more resilient futures will require a new multispecies perspective that is grounded in kinship and connection. We need to challenge delusions of separation and open up the frames of what matters to us, in part by recognizing what matters to others. But how do we expand our circle of empathy? How do we develop hybrid, embodied, and multi-sensorial languages to communicate across species boundaries? And how can we engage and mobilize the general public around issues of multispecies care and coexistence?

This panel gathers a diverse group of artists, researchers, and activists – Kat Austen, Andrea Haenggi, Ellie Irons, Christopher Kennedy, Mary Maggic and Sukitoa o Namau. This panel is hosted and moderated by Anna Nowak, a German art historian and curator focused on transculturalism and biodiversity. The session will be streamed publicly for free following this link on the 7th of October from 21:00 until 22:30 (GMT+2).