Welcome to the latest news blast from Propela
Discover new talent in our Reading Room, a brand new Barbie with brains, women on the edge of a high-tech breakthrough, award-winning thinkers, rock stars in space and what it’s like to be kept in isolation for kicks.
Get reading. Get inspired.
One of the best parts of our job is discovering new talent and learning how creatives and scientists are collaborating and pushing boundaries… together. Wired magazine announced in 2015 that biologists are the next rock star designers whilst designers are using synthetic biology to bio-engineer industrial design. Some call it Super Hybridity while others Transdisciplinary Design, whatever the name, one thing is clear the old idea of the well-defined worlds of art and science is over and the future is beautifully blurred.
An early discovery of this convergence came in 2008 when we saw the ground-breaking collaboration between fashion designer Helen Story and scientist Tony Ryan. Wonderland used fashion as a 'Trojan Horse' to progress a radical, two-year exploration into biodegradable materials. The project showcased the life (and death) of Helen Storey's collection of incredible 'dissolving dresses', captured in a unique fashion film by star photographer Nick Knight.
To celebrate the artists, designers and writers exploring this stratum, we’re launching a new section on our website called the Reading Room. It’s a place for you to discover books and magazines that explore how the sectors are colliding, whether it be art, fashion, architecture, food, entrepreneurship or design. It’s time to tear up categories forever.
Nelly Ben Hayoun / Designer of Experiences
Immortalised In Barbie Form
Forget the Nobel Prize or the Oscars, the ultimate recognition of a life’s work is surely having a Barbie doll made of you? Which is exactly what’s happened to Designer of the Impossible Nelly Ben Hayoun. And it’s not a standard, old-fashioned Barbie either but an action-ready astronaut with a space suit, helmet and (platform) moonboots.
And to reinforce Nelly’s reputation as a woman who always thinks beyond Earth’s stratosphere, tonight her International Space Orchestra is performing on stage in San Francisco with London-based rock band The Savages.
Blending space science, planet-poking and bluegrass-playing, the world’s first orchestra composed of space scientists is coming together for a one-off collab with The Savages at the legendary Fillmore Theater, which launched the careers of Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Velvet Underground, Janis Joplin, BB King and so many more.
Nelly Ben Hayoun is an award-winning director and designer of experiences who works with leading scientists and engineers to devise subversive events and experiences that combine chaos, disruption and disorder.
Lucy McRae / Body Architect
Why Isolation Isn't Lonely
Here’s a sneak peek at Lucy McRae’s next project.
Pushing the idea of what it is to be human right to the edge, Lucy McRae examines solitude and its effects on the mind and body as part of her new research for the EU’s Sparks program. This part-scientific, part-artistic project led her to experiment on 100 subjects in Linz, Austria.
Isolating the subjects in vacuum containers for various lengths of time, Lucy then monitored them to see how they would respond. The reaction of one man stood out in particular: being someone who normally shuns physical contact, he found his disposition transformed after being enveloped by the treatment. Lucy says: “When he emerged and stood up, he hugged me, even though he’s extremely stand-offish.”
In collaboration with dozens of scientists the experiments prompted Lucy to research the so-called touch syndrome and how reluctance to interact can be offset by oxytocin, aka the trust hormone. The project has also encouraged Lucy to think about how similar new medical methods could be used to treat conditions like agoraphobia, autism, depression and anorexia.
Watch this space for the final short film.
Lucy McRae is a science fiction artist, filmmaker and body architect responding to complex futures with visually iconic experiences that douse technology in femininity.
Professor Charles Spence / Experimental Psychologist
The Daily Telegraph's Visionary for 2016
The UK’s Daily Telegraph have voted multi-sensorial psychologist Charles Spence as their Visionary for 2016. Charles’ pioneering work in multisensory food research is hailed as having “serious implications for the way we eat”. The judges were especially impressed by the influence Charles is having over supermarkets and healthcare, as well as reigniting the dulled tastebuds of elderly people. The recognition comes ahead of the release of Charles’ new book Multisensory Flavour Perception, which will launch in May.
Professor Charles Spence is a multi-award winning expert in the field of multisensory perception and neuroscience-inspired design. He heads the world-renowned Crossmodal Research Laboratory at Oxford University.
Dr Kate Stone / Digital Storyteller
Ahead of this year’s hackathon in Pasadena, digital storyteller Kate Stone is putting women through Data Bootcamp to sharpen their skills and hosting a Stardust Station for NASA, an innovative new platform for discussion and experience sharing. These sessions held within the bootcamp will see leaders from companies such as Microsoft, Intel, and IBM taking part. The event is backed by NASA’s Space Apps Global Organizing team.
The sessions will take off on 22 April, connecting young women so they can learn new skills and approaches to help them tackle the challenges facing planet Earth and outer space too. Among the highlights put together by Kate are talks by Beth Beck from NASA’s Office of Information; Kimberly Bryant of Black Girls Code, Dr. Anita Sengupta who works at the unbelievably cool-sounding NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, plus astronaut Doug Wheelock.
Kate’s genius for bringing people together in such an innovative way is aimed at galvanising a new generation of women to lead the tech world and shake up how we all think about the new digital frontier.
Dr Kate Stone is a TED speaker and digital storyteller. She brings interactivity to dead surfaces and was voted by Bloomberg in 2015 as a Gamechanger.
Experience our mavericks at the following events
The Savages perform with The International Space Orchestra,
San Francisco directed by Nelly Ben Hayoun
19 April, 2016
The Fillmore Theatre
1805 Geary Boulevard, San Francisco, U.S.A
Blending space science, planet-poking and bluegrass-playing, the world’s first orchestra composed of space scientists (and directed by Nelly Ben Hayoun) is coming together for a one-off show with The Savages at the legendary Fillmore Theater, which launched the careers of many stars including Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin.
For more details visit the Fillmore website
Digital Revolution, Istanbul with Yuri Suzuki
From now until 12 June, 2016
Sky Lounge, Zorlu Center PSM, Istanbul, Turkey
The ground-breaking immersive Digital Revolution exhibition moves to Istanbul this month with sound artist Yuri Suzuki showcasing Pyramidi - his collaboration with Will.i.am and featuring the music of Sergio Mendes. The exhibition draws together music, art, design, film and video games and points to what creativity will look like in the near and distant future.
Bureau Europa, Maastricht with Liam Young
From now until 10 July 2016
Timmerfabriek, Boschstraat 9, 6211 AS Maastricht, The Netherlands
Liam Young has been getting under the metal skin of the drones that are becoming a fixture in our skies and imaginations. You can see his City of Drones, an interactive animation of the city seen through the eyes of a drone at The Next Big Thing Is Not A Thing, an exhibition at Bureau Europa
Reset Modernity Exhibition, Karlsruhe with Liam Young
From now until 21 August, 2016
ZKM_Lichthof 8, Lorenzstraße, 76135 Karlsruhe, Germany
What do you do when you're disoriented, when the compass of your phone goes haywire? You reset it.
This exhibition offers you something similar: except what is being recalibrated is not as simple as a compass. Here, it's Modernity.
At a time of deep ecological mutation, this compass is running in wild circles without offering much bearing anymore. Join Liam Young for a reset.
Acoustic Pavilion with Yuri Suzuki
27 April to 28 August, 2016
Design Is (Not) Art
Mudam Luxembourg, 3 Park Drai Eechelen, 1499, Luxembourg
Inspired by architect Iannis Xenakis, Yuri Suzuki has designed an interactive sound installation that allows the visitor to explore the relationship between space, form and sound. Using a network of pipes, everyone has the opportunity to create long, short, straight or angular structures and hear how the sounds evolve through conical tips.
For more information visit the Mudam website
Wired Health, London with Lucy McRae
29 April, 2016
30 Euston Square, NW1 2FB, London, UK
From helping humans to live longer and hacking our performance, to repairing the body and understanding the brain, WIRED Health will explore the evolution of this critical sector. Lucy McRae joins the stage along with 18 other pioneers to redesign the future of health.
For more information visit the Wired website