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Energies in the Arts Conference 13-15 August 2015

David Haines and Joyce Hinterding, EarthStar, 2008, installation view
Premier of Queensland’s National New Media Art Award 2010, Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, image courtesy the artists and Sarah Cottier Gallery, Sydney...

Energies in the Arts Conference 13-15 August 2015

Event dates

Thursday, 13 August, 2015


13 August 2015 - 10:00am

Event times

Thursday 13 August 10:00am-7:30pm Friday 14 August 10:00am-5:00pm Saturday 15 August 9:30am-4:30pm

MCA, The Rocks, Veolia Theatre (13 and 14 August)
UNSW Art & Design, Paddington, EG02 Lecture Theatre & F205 Seminar Room (15 August) 

The Energies in the Arts conference examines the dynamic relationship between art and energy. Bringing together international scholars and artists, it aims to uncover the seemingly elusive properties and potentials of all kinds of energy - both real and imagined - to investigate how they have been understood and used in the arts and related areas of music, literature and philosophy; how various energies configure and influence one another; and how artworks and theories might be better understood through them.

At the outset of the 21st century any discussion of energy is inextricably linked to the politics of power and environmental catastrophe. The conference extends this understanding of energy to encompass a more heterogeneous field in the arts. Art’s relationship with energy extends well beyond light and colour to the kinetic, sonic, electronic, metabolic, physical, physiological, neurological, solar and sensory. Scratch below the surface of modernist shock or global communications and you will find flashes and systems of energy. Ask musicians what they work with and they may say ‘the energy in the room’. Ask activists what fills candidates' coffers and foreshadows the fate of the world and they may point to the politics of old and new sunlight. For theorists, energy courses through networks and assemblages, animates bodies, fuels affect, and moves through the shimmering turbulence of existence. Despite all these vibrations, radiations, fluxes and flows, the prevailing comprehension of energies in the arts is still relatively static. The Energies in the Arts conference is an opportunity to broaden our historical knowledge, deepen our analytical rigour and generate new artistic provocations and possibilities.

Co-presented by the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) and the National Institute for Experimental Arts (NIEA), UNSW Art & Design to coincide with the exhibition Energies: Haines & Hinterding, 25 June-6 September, 2015 at the MCA.

Conveners: Anna Davis (MCA), Douglas Kahn (NIEA, UNSW Art & Design) and Josh Wodak (NIEA, UNSW Art & Design)

Keynote Speakers: Professor Marcus Boon (York University, Toronto), David Haines  and Joyce Hinterding (SCA), Professor Linda Henderson (University of Texas, Austin) and Martin Howse (Berlin/London)

REGISTRATION OPEN. Please register via the MCA conference page
3 Day Registration: $175 Standard/$150 Concession/$140 MCA Members
1 Day Registration: $75 Standard/$75 Concession & MCA Members 
(Booking fee applies)

PROGRAM now live and available for download (see link on the right).


Day 1, Thursday 13 August
MCA Veolia Lecture Theatre 

  • 10:00 am   Registration
  • 10:15 am   Welcome
    • Dr Blair French (Director, Curatorial & Digital, MCA)
    • Prof Jil Bennett (Director, NIEA and Associate Dean Research, UNSW Art & Design)
  • 10:30 am    Expansive Energies: Colour Analogies in Early Italian Futurism 
    • David Mather (Assistant Professor, Art History and Criticism, Stony Brook University, SUNY, New York)
  • 11:00 am    Mesmeric Modernism: František Kupka's Magnetic Waves and Vibrating Abstractions
    •  Fae Brauer (Professor, Art & Visual Culture, University of East London Centre)
  • 11:30 am    Morning Tea
  • 12:00pm     Official Address
    • ​Prof Ross Harley  (Dean, UNSW Art & Design)

      ​             Formal Opening of the Conference
    • Prof Ian Jacobs (Vice-Chancellor, UNSW)

      ​             Keynote 1: Illuminating Energy and Art in the 20th Century
    • Linda Henderson (David Bruton, Jr. Centennial Professor in Art History, University of Texas, Austin)
  • 1:00 pm      Lunch (BYO, own arrangements)
  • 2:30 pm      Biotricity-The Poetics of Green Energy​
    • Rasa Smite & Raitis Smits (Artist & Associate Professor, New Media Art Program, Liepaja University  / Artist & Assistant Professor, Latvian Academy of Arts) 
  • 3:00 pm      PV Aesthetics 
    • ​Peter Blamey (Artist/researcher, Sydney)
  • 3:30 pm     Earth-in-Circuit: Trees
    • Douglas Kahn (Professor, NIEA, UNSW Art & Design)
  • 4:00 pm      Afternoon Tea 
  • 4:30 pm      Surface Tensions
    • James Nisbet (Assistant Professor, Art History & Visual Studies, University of California, Irvine)
  • 5:00 pm      Standing Upright Here: Christchurch's Seismic and Sonic Energies​
    • Zita Joyce (Lecturer, Media and Communication, University of Canterbury, Christchurch)
  • 5:30 pm       Evening Break 
  • 6:30 pm       Keynote 2
    • David Haines & Joyce Hinterding (Artists & Lecturers, Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney)
  • ​7:30 pm       End of Day 1 


Day 2, Friday 14 August
MCA Veolia Lecture Theatre


  • 10:00 am     Registration
  • 10:15 am     Welcome
    • Dr Anna Davis (Curator, MCA) 
    • Dr Josh Wodak (Associate Lecturer, UNSW Art & Design)
  • 10:20 am      Introduction 
    • Prof Douglas Kahn (Professor, NIEA, UNSW Art & Design)
  • 10:30 am      Carbon moon-moths: Joan Brassil's Resonant Machines for Ecological Listening 
    • Su Ballard (Senior Lecturer, Art History and Contemporary Arts, University of Wollongong)
  • 11:00 am      Annea Lockwood: Vibrational Bond
    • Margaret Schedel (Associate Professor, Music, Stony Brook University SUNY, New York)
  • 11:30 am      Morning Tea 
  • 12:00 pm      Keynote 3: Thinking Energy in Contemporary Theory and Culture
    • Marcus Boon Professor, English, York University, Toronto)
  • 1:00 pm         Lunch (BYO, own arrangements)
  • 2:00 pm         Photography, Haunting, and (Electro-)Magnetic Energies
    • Kieran Murphy (Assistant Professor, French and Comparative Literature, University of Colorado, Boulder) 
  • 2:30 pm         Haunted Energies
    • Frances Dyson (Professor Emerita, Cinema and Technocultural Studies, University of California, Davis)
  • 3:00 pm         Bathing in the Material-Energetic Spectrum
    • Christie Pearson (Artist, writer and architect, Toronto)
  •  3:30 pm         Afternoon Tea 
  • 4:00 pm         Wrap Up Roundtable
    • Led by Anna Davis (Curator, MCA)
  • ​5:00 pm         End of Day 2


Day 3, Saturday 15 August
UNSW Art & Design
EG02 Lecture Theatre & F205 Seminar Room

                        EG02 Lecture Theatre

  • 9:30 am     Registration
  • 9:45 am     Welcome & Introductions 
    • Dr Josh Wodak (Associate Lecturer, UNSW Art & Design)

                   EG02 Lecture Theatre                     F205 Seminar Room
  • 10:00 am   A Constellation of Energies           Visual Moonbounce    
                      in German Radio, April 1930          & the Cosmic Flaneur  
    •             Heather Contant                                Daniela de Paulis
                  (PhD Candidate                                (Artist & PhD Candidate
                  UNSW Art & Design)                        University of Amsterdam)
  • 10:30 am    The Aesthetics of Transmission     High Energy Art 
                       in Contemporary  Art                      
    •              Nancy Mauro-Flude                           Chris Henschke
                   (Artist & Research Fellow                  (Artist & Lecturer
                    Creative Exchange Institute               Media &
                    University of Tasmania                      Communication RMIT)
  • 11:00 am   The Weight of Information              Winds Section
    •             Julian Priest                                        Cameron Robbins  
                  (Artist & Senior Lecturer                     (Artist, Melbourne)
                   Massey University Wellington)
  • 11:30 am   Morning Tea     
  • 12:00 pm   On Tremulation
    • Jonathan Kemp (Artist, London)
  • 12:30 pm   Keynote 4: Occulated Energies: Earth, Alchemy, 
    ​                  Electronics & Technology
    • ​Martin Howse (Artist, Berlin/London)
  • 1:30 pm    Lunch (BYO, own arrangements)

                     EG02 Lecture Theatre                    F205 Seminar Room
  • 2:30 pm    Media Ecologies of the                 Alexander Hector's Colour
                     Anthropocene                               Music Instruments and 
                                                                             His Correlation of the
    •            Erin Obodiac                                    Pia van Gelder
                 (Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow            (Artist & PhD Candidate
                  Cornell University)                            UNSW Art & Design)      
  • 3:00pm    Energy In Equals Inergy Out         Electrobotany: Tree
                                                                              Microphones and Plant
                                                                              Audio Interfaces 
    •           Josh Wodak                                      Vincent Wozniak-O'Connor
                (Associate Lecturer                           (Artist & PhD Candidate
                 UNSW Art & Design)                          UNSW Art & Design)   
  • 3:30 pm  The Derwent Project:                       Living Systems: the Work of 
                   Visualizing Energy Flows                 Emily Morandini and
                   Environmental Change                    Alan Lamb
                   Across a Watershed
    • ​          David Stephenson                              Nathan Thompson
                (Artist & Associate Professor             (Artist & PhD Candidate
                 University of Tasmania)                     UNSW Art & Design)
                 & Martin Walch (Lecturer
                 University of Tasmania)
  • 4:00 pm   Wrap Up Roundtable
  • 4:30 pm   End of Conference


  • 8:00 pm   Transductions         
                    Performances by Martin Howse, Pia van Gelder 
                    and Peter Blamey

                    Red Rattler, 6 Faverham Street, Marrickville
                    Tickets $20, available at the door               



MCA, Veolia Lecture Theatre
140 George St, The Rocks NSW 2000

UNSW Art & Design,
EG02 Lecture Theatre & F205 Seminar Room
Cnr of Oxford Street and Greens Road
Paddington NSW 2021


Keynote Speakers
Professor Marcus Boon (York University, Toronto)
David Haines & Joyce Hinterding (SCA, University of Sydney)
Professor Linda Henderson (University of Texas, Austin)
Martin Howse (Artist, Berlin/London)

Dr Anna Davis (MCA)
Professor Douglas Kahn (NIEA, UNSW Art & Design)
Dr Josh Wodak (NIEA, UNSW Art & Design)