Analog Intelligence

The future artwork site awash with the sedge Fimbristylis nutans after burning and summer rains

Keith Armstrong. Juried Artist
Installation at QUT Kelvin Grove

Artist Statement

An early outcome of the forthcoming Forest/Art Intelligence Project (FAI) (2024-6) which aims to return a currently cleared block of land back to high conservation-value forest at Samford Ecological Research Station (SERF), near Brisbane, Australia. As the forest ecology slowly returns to health, a symbiotic, experimental artwork is being developed across the entire site. When realised it will have both local and on-line presence and include a full scientific analysis of the site’s ongoing revegetation status.

This video installation (Analog Intelligence) speaks to the projects’ first tentative steps – into uncovering and bringing to attention the extraordinary natural intelligences of a land in self-repair after decades of clearing, providing the inspiration for a non-extractive, hybrid art-science work capable of growing and evolving with the forest, whilst also actively benefitting it.

Analog Intelligence explores the future artwork site by land, air and soil, speaking poetically to early findings into conceiving loosely coordinating site-wide artworks, able to bring the forests’ regeneration process to public focus, whilst finding and occupying their own intelligent, beneficial ‘niches’ within that re-emerging forest ecology.

This first outcome of the R&D phase was developed during the initial six months of the long-term FAI project, supported by a prestigious ANAT Synapse Art-Science residency (2024) and a creative development grant from Creative Australia (2024-5). The project is supported by the Australian Network for Art and Technology (ANAT), Samford Ecological Research Facility (SERF) and the NCRIS-enabled Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN) and Dr. Dmitry Bratanov and Gavin Broadbent, Research Engineering Facility, Office of Research Infrastructure, QUT, Brisbane, Australia.

About the artists

Keith Armstrong is an experimental artist profoundly motivated by issues of social and ecological jus- tice. His engaged, participative practices provoke audiences to comprehend, envisage and imagine collective pathways towards sustainable futures. He has specialised for over twenty-three years in collaborative, experimental practices with emphasis upon innovative performance forms, site-specific electronic arts, networked interactive installations, alternative interfaces, art-science collaborations and socially and ecologically engaged practices.

Keith’s research asks how insights drawn from scientific and philosophical ecologies can help us to better invent and direct experimental art forms, in the understanding that art practitioners are powerful change agents, provocateurs and social catalysts. Through inventing radical research methodologies and processes he has led and created over sixty major art works and process-based projects, which have been shown extensively in Australia and overseas, supported by numerous grants from the public and private sectors.

In late 2019 he showed his work Elegy for Life, Anthem for Artifice in the 5th International Art and Science Exhibition and Symposium: Integration of Art and Science in the Age of Artificial Intelligence’, at the National Museum of China, Beijing, and in 2022 he was the installation artist for the large-scale collaborative artwork Uramat Mugas showcased for the Asia Pacific Triennial (APT10) at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Brisbane. His work Common Thread featured in ‘Possibles’, ISEA 2022, Barce- lona, Spain, Novtec Festival, 2022, Lima, Perú and V2_Lab For The Unstable Media, Rotterdam, Neth- erlands, 2023. His relational project Carbon_Dating (2019-23) has brought 5 communities together across Australia to engage and conserve native ecologies through a hybrid of planting, media art and First Nations engagement. He is currently a part time senior lecture at QUT Visual Arts, Brisbane, Australia and an actively practicing freelance artist.

Credits: This artwork was made on Indigenous Australian land. Always was, Always will be.

Collaborating Science Team: Dr David Tucker (QUT Landscape Ecologist), Dr Gabrielle Lebbink (QUT/Freelance Plant and Invasion Ecologist), Dr Eleanor Velasquez (TERN Education and Training Manager at Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network TERN Australia) and Marcus Yates (QUT/SERF Site Technician). Further supported by A/Prof Caroline Hauxwell (QUT Microbiologist and Agricultural Biotechnologist).

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ISEA2024 acknowledges the Turrbal and Yugara as the First Nations owners of the lands where the symposium will be held. We pay our respects to their elders, lores, customs and creation spirits. We also acknowledge and pay respects to all First Nations peoples across the continent and beyond Australian shores.