UNCONTAINABLE: The World Is Everything That Is The Case

DATES: 14.09.2011 - 07.10.2011 TIMES: 10:00 - 19:00 From the portable museum to the make-shift stand of the street corner trader, the migrant’s battered suitcase tied with string acts as an echo of Wittgenstein: “The World is everything that is the case”. (In each case) The contributing artists explore the migratory nature of artistic practice; acting as a global mediation between the aesthetics of trade along the peregrine, wandering routes that lead towards meaning.
Karen Casey (in collaboration with Harry Sokol & Tim Cole), Meditation Wall, 2011.
Mark Cypher, Propositions 2.0, 2011.
Tina Gonsalves, Chameleon, 2008-10.
Mark Guglielmetti, in collaboration with Indae Hwang, Travelogue: a recording of minute expressions, 2011.
Nigel Helyer, Weeping Willow, 2011.
Mitchell Whitelaw, Local Colour, 2011.
Sean Cubitt
Vince Dziekan
Paul Thomas
Karen Casey
Mark Cypher
Tina Gonsalves
Mark Guglielmetti
Nigel Helyer
Mitchell Whitelaw

Publication: UNCONTAINABLE: The World Is Everything That Is The Case

UNCONTAINABLE: The World is Everything That is The Case
Australian Representation at ISEA2011/Istanbul


Sean Cubitt, Vince Dziekan & Paul Thomas


Karen Casey, Mark Cypher, Tina Gonsalves, Mark Guglielmetti, Nigel Helyer & Mitchell Whitelaw

From the portable museum to the make-shift stand of the street corner trader, the migrant’s battered suitcase tied with string acts as an echo of Wittgenstein: “The World is everything that is the case”.

The suitcase which is also the table where the three-card trick draws in the punters, or where the gains get played away on endless trains across the countless borders of Europe and Asia. The "boite-en-valise" of the import-export man (the artist?), the smuggler (the curator?) and his knowing innocence, the ‘who me?’ look, and the ready lie. Artist as itinerant trader; the artwork as migratory, both ready to make their case given half a chance.

In this case, the exhibition (assuming the form and conceit of the portmanteau) explores the migratory nature of artistic practice to act as a global mediation between the aesthetics of trade along the peregrine, wandering routes that lead towards meaning.

The case (suitcase) is explored as a space that embodies (contains?) the transformation of cultural practice under contemporary aesthetic conditions, occurring across states, borders and demarcation zones of continuous production. The suitcase is self contained and its consignment compressed ("zipped"); curation operates as CODEC. When uncompressed, its contents manifest the spatial science of the Multiple.

Each of the artists included (in the case; in this case) have been approached to contribute a work designed to toggle between materialities and modes of display (the "material manifest", the pixel-as-container). So demonstrated, the curatorial project is predicated upon "unpacking" the tensions that are brought into existence and amplified between:
- containment and the uncontainable (contents contained inside other containers, inside other containers, inside… other…)
- the sited (placed, in transit, holding areas) and unsighted (invisible, unforeseen, non-visual)
- the revelation of the deep focus X-ray scan of carry-on luggage (inspection, materials discrimination, detection; scanning, optimizing, visualizing). and the portmanteau (the "under-meaning" of the double entendre; deceptive, inconspicuous; what remains hidden, undetected, lurking in the shadows).

Lanfranco Aceti, ISEA2011 Istanbul Artistic Director and Özden Şahin, Program Director

UNCONTAINABLE: The World is Everything That is The Case at ISEA2011 Istanbul is part of the Official Parallel Program of the 12th Istanbul Biennial.


Karen Casey (in collaboration with Harry Sokol & Tim Cole), Meditation Wall, 2011

Meditation Wall is an immersive environment designed to ellicit meditative or trance-like mind states. The work was created using a custom designed video interface that generates effects from both real time and pre-recorded brainwave Electroencephalograph (EEG) data. The software utilizes the artist’s EEG to control and manipulate original sound and image files, producing a changing audiovisual sequence inspired by the colours, patterns and sounds of Istanbul and the Australian dessert.

Harry Sokol - Software developer and programming  
Tim Cole - Audio design and recording
Additional musicians  
Murad Ferhad - Ney (bamboo flute)             

Russell Smith, Pitjantjatjara - Yidaki (didgeridoo)
James Power- Audiovisual display programming

The artist acknowledges continued support of the Australia Council for the Arts, Arts Victoria, City of Melbourne Brain Sciences Institute, Swinburne University and Emotiv Systems for this project.

Mark Cypher, Propositions 2.0, 2011

The installation Propositions 2.0 will enable participants to interact with and generate different landscapes based upon the manipulation of sand in a suitcase. A Kinect camera interfaced with a games engine interprets the sand's surface, this then provides the topology for a virtual landscape. As the participant finishes their 'landscape' it is added to a cumulative sculpted surface of a world. The surface of the world and indeed the piece as a whole is not a lasting and pure statement of fact, but rather a cumulative series of propositions that articulate an immensely networked topography.

Tina Gonsalves, Chameleon, 2008-10

This work contains 6 screens displaying video portraitures of six subjects shot around the world. The video portraits respond to the facial emotion expression of the audience (using facial emotion expression technology developed by the MIT Media Lab). This triggers the portraits to respond, via intelligent emotional algorithms that mimic how we socialize (developed with neuroscientist Chris Frith).  The work develops moods and temperaments, constantly shifting the emotional landscape.

The work explores emotional contagion - how we infect each other with our emotions. It transforms scientific, technical and visual theories into poetic interactive installations driven by emotions of the audience and the portraits on the screen. The art pieces strive to create a feeling of empathy with the audience drawing attention to how we innately and continuously synchronize with the facial expressions, voices and postures of others by unconsciously infecting each other with our emotions.

The project is collaboration with UK based neuroscientists prof Hugo Critchley and prof Chris Frith, affective computer scientists Prof Rosalind Picard, and Dr Rana El kaliouby at the MIT Medialab, Cambridge, and curated by Helen Sloan of SCAN. The artist acknowledges the in kind support from the MIT Media Lab, Fabrica, Banff New Media Institute, SCAN and Institute of Neurology at UCL. The project was funded by the Wellcome Trust Large Art Award, Australian Network for Art and Technology Synapse Residency, Arts Council England, Australia Arts Council.

Mark Guglielmetti, in collaboration with Indae Hwang, Travelogue: a recording of minute expressions, 2011

The work uses site-specific information, in this case Turkish government census data collected on tourism in Turkey during 2010, to seed or initialise the ‘world’, carpet and documentary. The underlying code transforms this data into an infinite array of modulating patterns of light and colour, that recalls Islamic art, specifically carpet making, and ‘virtual worlds’. The visualizations celebrate the enfolded potential in cultural migration, both human and digital.


The artist acknowledges the support of the Australian Research Council and Australia Council for the Arts.

Nigel Helyer, Weeping Willow, 2011

Weeping Willow is an audio installation that examines the complex relationship between two empires, Britannia and Cathay employing the vehicle of the ubiquitous Blue Willow pattern, a commodity that taps deeply into the Orientalist psyche of the European empires.   The work appears as a series of fragments (physical and sonic) that coalesce to tease out the trade of images, concepts and material goods that simultaneously illuminate and obscure inter-cultural understanding.

Many thanks to my assistant in HangZhou, Wu Yang Ping.

Mitchell Whitelaw, Local Colour, 2011

This work uses generative processes and digital fabrication to address the relationships between growth, materiality, locality and the network. Bowl forms are generated using a simulated growth process - a software model that has been used to model both cancer tumors and urban sprawl. Here this process is materialised using cardboard produce boxes - containers that both enable trade and colourfully display their local origins. These forms are framed by a network diagram in which our familiar hyperconnectivity disintegrates into localised islands.

Bios of the Artists



University of Southampton, University of Melbourne, University of Dundee

Sean Cubitt is Director of the Program in Media and Communications at the University of Melbourne and Honorary Professor of the University of Dundee. His publications include Timeshift: On Video Culture (Comedia/Routledge, 1991), Videography: Video Media as Art and Culture (Macmillans/St Martins Press, 1993), Digital Aesthetics (Theory, Culture and Society/Sage, 1998),Simulation and Social Theory (Theory, Culture and Society/ Sage, 2001), The Cinema Effect (MIT Press, 2004) and EcoMedia (Rodopi, 2005). He was the coeditor of Aliens R Us: Postcolonial Science Fiction with Ziauddin Sardar (Pluto Press 2002) and The Third Text Reader with Rasheed Araeen and Ziauddin Sardar (Athlone/Continuum 2002) and How to Study the Event Film: The Lord of the Rings (Manchester University Press, 2008). He is an editor of Cultural Politics and serves on the editorial boards of a dozen journals including Screen, Third Text, Visual Communication, Futures and The International Journal of Cultural Studies. His article on early video art won the 2006 CAA Award for best article. He is the series editor for Leonardo Books at MIT Press. His current research is on public screens and the transformation of public space; and on genealogies of digital light.


Faculty of Art & Design, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia

Dr Vince Dziekan is Associate Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Art & Design at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. In addition, he is affiliated with the Foundation for Art & Creative Technology (FACT) in Liverpool, UK as a FACT Associate and most recently was appointed Digital Media Curator of The Leonardo Electronic Almanac (LEA). His research focuses on the impact of digital technologies on curatorial design and the implications of virtuality on exhibition-based practices. This interdisciplinary investigation has been articulated recently in Virtuality and the Art of Exhibition (forthcoming publication, Intellect Books, UK). He has exhibited widely in solo and group exhibitions and through independent curatorial practice. He exhibited his demonstration exhibition, The Ammonite Order, Or Objectiles for an (Un) Natural History at Ormeau Baths Gallery in Belfast, Northern Ireland as part of the ISEA2009 juried exhibition. He is research leader of the Photography & Video Research Cluster at Monash Art & Design, Adjunct Programme Advisor for FACT ATELIER (FACT, Liverpool), series editor of Transdiscourse (in collaboration with Z-Node; ZHdK, Zurich University of the Arts), and member of the international advisory committee of ReWire 2011 (MediaArtHistories conference, Liverpool) and the Virtual NGV steering committee (National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne).


College of Fine Art, University of New South Wales

Associate Professor  Paul Thomas  has a joint position as the  Head of Painting at the College of Fine Art, University of New South Wales and Head of Creative Technologies at the Centre for Culture and Technology at Curtin University. Paul was the co-chair of the Transdisciplinary Image Conference 2010. In 2000 Paul instigated and was the founding Director of the Biennale of Electronic Arts Perth. Paul has been working in the area of electronic arts since 1981 when he co-founded the group Media-Space. Media-Space was part of the first global link up with artists connected to ARTEX. Paul's current research project "Nanoessence" explores the space between life and death at a nano level. The project is part of an ongoing collaboration with the Nanochemistry Research Institute, Curtin University of Technology and SymbioticA at the University of Western Australia. The previous project "Midas" was researching at a nano level the transition phase between skin and gold. Paul has recently completed working on an intelligent architecture public art project for the Curtin Mineral and Chemistry Research Precinct. Paul is a practicing electronic artist whose work can be seen on his website Visiblespace.




Karen Casey is an Australian interdisciplinary artist with a uniquely diverse creative approach and process. While her works have taken numerous forms, Casey's thematic interests have focused steadily on the interplay between mind and matter, the tangible and the intangible; referencing both ancient and contemporary modes of thought as she questions and challenges perceived notions of reality, time and space and our collective world view. In recent years she has experimented with a range of digital technologies, collaborating with arts and non arts professionals working in divergent fields and giving rise to some unique interactive and generative hybrid art forms.


Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia

Mark Cypher is a new media artist and Chair of Digital Media at Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia. His practice reflects an ongoing engagement with the practice and discourse of interactivity particularly in relation to actor-network theory. His artwork has featured in several international exhibitions including, 404 International Festival of Electronic Arts (Argentina), Salon International De Art Digital (Cuba), Siggraph 2006 (USA), FILE - Festival Internacional de Linguagem Eletrônica ( Brazil), NewForms06 (Canada), BEAP -Biennial of Electronic Art (Australia), Haptic 07 (Canada), Bios4, Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo (Spain) and Electrofringe (Australia).



My work has always explored aspects of the intimacies and vulnerabilities of being human. Most of us go through life hiding our wounds and vulnerabilities, or trying as best we can to conceal them. I look to the ways art, science and technology can converge to allow us to form a more intimate relationship with our own bodies. In the past I have explored the emotional signatures pulse, sweat movement (Feel Series 2005/07), emotional intonation of voice (Medulla Intimata 2004) as agency for interactive artworks, to highlight the nuances of emotions and its importance in our lives. With Chameleon (2008/2009), an aim was to investigate the social role played by the unspoken language of emotional contagion. My current residency with the social neuroscience group at Max Planke Institute in Leipzig explores compassion. Together we are developing tools that can cultivate compassion and elicit awareness.


Center for Electronic Media Arts, Monash University

Guglielmetti explores the formation of cultural identity vis-a-vis encoded and decoded systems. He is  currently researching the relationship between cinema and artificial life and, the expressive potential to co-evolve an artificial life filmmaker in and with an artificial life 'world'.


National Institute for Experimental Arts COFA, UNSW; Chairperson International Advisory Board to the SymbioticA Laboratory UWA.

Dr Nigel Helyer (a.k.a. DrSonique) is an independent sculptor and sound-artist. He is the director of a small multidisciplinary team Sonic Objects; Sonic Architecture which has forged an international reputation for large scale sound-sculpture installations, environmental public artworks, museum inter-actives and new media projects.

His practice is strongly interdisciplinary, linking a broad platform of creative practice with scientific Research and Development in both Academic and Industrial contexts, and he maintains an active interest in critical and theoretical debates.

Nigel is a longstanding collaborator with and advisor to the SymbioticA lab (UWA) is the Creative Director of the Audio Nomad Research group (UNSW) and is a Professorial Visiting Fellow at the National Centre for Experimental Art (COFA, UNSW).


University of Canberra

Mitchell Whitelaw is an academic, writer and artist with interests in new media art and culture, especially generative systems and data-aesthetics. His work has appeared in journals including Leonardo, Digital Creativity, Fibreculture, and Senses and Society. In 2004 his work on a-life art was published in the book Metacreation: Art and Artificial Life (MIT Press, 2004). His current work spans generative art and design, digital materiality, and data visualisation.