MATTHEW
         HALPENNY.  

Fossilation, 2021bio-plastic / residual energy installation
duration: 1 month

Une grande toile translucide semble flotter à l'horizontal au-dessus du sol. Sa couleur vive est légèrement animée par les lumières fluctuantes qui la traversent. De nombreux câbles sortent du dessous de cette vaste membrane voire directement de celle-ci ; ils se déploient vers les plafonds comme s’ils cherchaient à s’y accrocher. Cette surface est constituée d’un bioplastique dont l’épaisseur variable produit un motif, une image, des images. Cette longue bande souple s’apparente en effet à une pellicule laissant apparaître quelques photogrammes successifs. Plutôt que d’être l’effet d’une prise de vue, ces quasi-images proviennent plutôt d’une lente prise de forme : une empreinte forme l'image, l'empreinte d'un dispositif électronique actuel d'affichage. Tel le fossile de notre époque, la contre-forme de l'ensemble des composants mis à nus (écran plat, câbles, ordinateur et ses périphériques) est imprimée dans la matière. Mais, image après image, cette empreinte disparaît comme la maquette d’une mine à ciel ouvert progressivement ensevelie. Le processus de prise de forme ou de “déprise” de forme est ainsi figuré par le séquençage même : c'est la même image qui est représentée, mais qui, photogramme après photogramme, se fond littéralement dans son support, tel un fondu vidéo, matériel cette fois. Et si cette pellicule ne défile pas devant un projecteur, un rétroéclairage vient animer ses motifs : la lumière est instable, ses vibrations et autres variations rendent compte d’interférences provenant de la captation d’énergies résiduelles du lieu d’exposition. La membrane est non seulement suspendue au bâtiment, elle est aussi connectée avec celui-ci, via un grand nombre de capteurs déployés, avec leurs câbles visibles et pendants, tels des tentacules à la recherche de nourriture, d’énergie. Ainsi, les tuyaux et autres câbles colorés qui signent l’architecture du Centre Pompidou se voient-ils investis par ces capteurs qui convertissent en électricité différents flux et activités du bâtiment. L’ensemble constitue un dispositif en prise directe avec le lieu, configurant un éco- système où l’image, loin d’être immatérielle, est composée et compose avec différentes dimensions propres à cette situation. L’image n’est plus le simple reflet d’une réalité passée ; répondant à une forme d’archéologie des médias prospective, elle s’expose au présent comme l’empreinte matérielle située d’un futur antérieur.

EXHIBITIONS

Hors Piste @ Le Centre Pompidou, Paris FR
January 2021

COLLABORATORS

Milieux Institute, EnsadLab et Université de Toronto Mississauga
Brice Ammar-Khodja, Alexandra Bachmayer, Samuel Bianchini, Marie-Pier Boucher, Didier Bouchon, Maria Chekhanovich, Matthew Halpenny, Alice Jarry, Raphaëlle Kerbrat, Annie Leuridan, Vanessa Mardirossian, Asa Perlman, Philippe Vandal, Lucile Vareilles

Ce projet collectif de recherche en art et en design réunit chercheur.es et étudiant.es-chercheur.ses de trois institutions de référence pour le développement de la recherche–création : l'Université Concordia (Montréal, avec le réseau international Hexagram et l’Institut Milieux et son Biolab), l'École des Arts Décoratifs (avec son laboratoire EnsadLab et sa Chaire arts et sciences) et l'Université de Toronto Mississauga.

La recherche–création permet d'aborder des sujets complexes de notre monde actuel en mettant en œuvre des moyens et une réflexivité difficilement envisageable pour une personne seule, pour un.e artiste dépositaire d'une autorité unique. La recherche–création appelle à repenser le rôle et la place des artistes à un moment où la coopération entre humains, et, aussi, autres qu'humains, est plus que jamais nécessaire.

Ce projet bénéficie du soutien du Conseil de recherches en sciences humaines du Canada, du réseau international Hexagram et de la Chaire arts et sciences de l'École polytechnique, de l'Ensad et de la fondation Daniel et Nina Carasso.

MEDIA

SPONSORS





Proprionetics, 2018 cybernetic performance
duration: 10-15 minutes

Proprionetics is a wearble techology project designed for artists and created to liberate the user from relying on their computer for performance. The goal of this technology is to bring performance gesturalism and uniqe gestural style back to electronic performances, which has been lost in contemporary electronic music. Built over a period of eight weeks, the first prototype of Conductivity utilizes a sum of 12 sensors that respond to 3D positioning in space. It can sense movement, rotation, NSWE positioning and gestures. All of these real-world sensor readings are passed to a personally crafted synthesizer built within the Max MSP environment. A second, wireless version is ready for production.

EXHIBITIONS

Art Matters: (dis)Connect @ Espace POP, Montréal QC
March 2018

CUJAH Conference: (dis)Connect @ Concordia University, Montréal QC
March 2018

MEDIA

PREVIEW

SPONSORS





Sensenet, 2019 emergent performance
duration: 5-10 minutes

Sensenet is a concept piece realised as an experiential installation: it is centered around emergent agency within art, inspired by the neuroscience theme of how timing affects synchrony in networks. Emergent behaviour is a property in which the artwork acts and behaves in a way outside the creators intent, and correspondingly, Sensenet will create an environment of unknown variables in which the participants are left to explore in a novel and disrupted state of perception. Furthermore, timing in synchrony is a motif that appears across different levels of neuroscience investigation, from simple learning rules at a cellular level to whole-brain oscillatory activity; it is an idea that has captured the imagination of wide audiences, making it an ideal subject for abstraction and artistic exploration.

Three participants enter the environment of Sensenet muted from their own senses; others are welcome to observe the participants in Sensenet. Each participant is equipped with a lightweight suit that is networked to all other suits, such that the senses of one participant are effectively swapped with the other participants; this enables one person to experience a warped perception of their senses. A synchronous stimulus delivered to all three participants (flashing LED lights in the environment) unifies timing across the participants, allowing each of them to synchronise the different, mismatched senses into a unified perception.

Created by:
Matthew Halpenny
Matthew Salaciak
Owen Coolidge
Zahraa Chorghay
Nailia Kuhlmann

EXHIBITIONS

Bridges: A SciArt Exhibition @ Mozilla Fest (Virtual)
March 2021

Convergence @ Hexagram Black Box, Montréal QC
April 2019

PREVIEW

SPONSORS





Mycocene, 2019 bio-kinetic sculpture
duration: 1-2 weeks

Mycocene is a room sized installation consisting of reanimated electronic waste sculptures and a live cell culture, all occupying a shared dimly lit space. Mycocene uses a juxtaposition of bio-art and electronic (kinetic) sculpture to critique our relation to technology, one that largely ignores the ecological impact technology has on the Earth. Using a mixture of reclaimed electronic waste and the fungal-esque organism slime mold, Mycocene acts as a hybrid between the living and the technological world.

The room of Mycocene contains five electronic waste sculptures all separated but in communication with the slime mold. The slime mold is centered in the room, bathed by a spotlight of green light that emanates to the remainder of the room. The e-waste sculptures, positioned around the cell container are separated by dimly lit, relying on the green glow of the slime mold to outline their components. Each of them are actuated by an electronic pulse modelled off the live growth and movement of the slime mold. The two are intertwined, creating a living atmosphere permeated by the sound of motors spinning, cameras zooming, hard drives spinning. The atmosphere is disharmonious, yet organic. The soundscape solely relies on the physically audible (non-curated) actuations of the sculptures. As they jolt to life, the biological pulses of the slime mold can be heard in the rhythms of the sound echoing through the space. Moving around the dim channels between sculptures, decaying security cameras start to scan, the frame of a human body emerges onto a CRT screen buried under wires. Another pulse triggers a melody punctuated by noise and static, as a magnetic tape crawls along the walls. Surrounded by electronic waste, the singular slime mold culture orchestrates an evolving performance, using the sculptures as its means of communication with the world.

Created by:
somme

EXHIBITIONS

Elektra XX (solo exhibit) @ OBORO, Montreal QC
June 2019

MIAN – International Marketplace for Digital Art @ Centre Phi, Montreal QC
June 2019

Behavioral Matter @ Centre Pompidou, Paris FR
January 2019

MEDIA
 

PREVIEW
 


SPONSORS





Multiplexer, 2019exhaustive performance
duration: 1 hour

Multiplexer is a speculative performance in which perpetual labor, network processing, and control protocols are poetically articulated as elements of a closed thermodynamic system.

In this durational piece, the body acts on and is acted upon by its environment. From within a human-scale structure—a hybrid between a server farm and a greenhouse— the primary action is the performer’s control of the lighting and sound through the use of a custom multiplexer panel. Meanwhile, infrared lamps inject heat into the system, acting as concrete metaphors for the thermal exhaust generated by intense data computation. In this way, the performance investigates the impact of heat on a biomechanical system. This individual, confined, labors endlessly within a network. Changes in the performer’s body state are monitored and mediated in real time. Their heartbeat and body temperature have direct effects on the real-time video, projecting images of the body and its sweat onto the back wall of the structure; quantifying the performer’s exhaustion. Within this arrangement of perpetual thermal exchange, the performer’s energy is extracted and injected into the system.

Heat as a medium has theoretical, political, material and environmental implications. In thermodynamics, heat reveals the qualitative aspect of molecules energy in matter. But heat is often considered as the undesired waste generated by a system. Heat is now controversial. Within this framework, Multiplexer establishes a speculative context that challenges human digital behaviors and their collateral effects on the biological and geological. Taking place in a fictional future where individuals and machines are mutually dependent parts of closed systems, this piece examines the inherent exhaustion of such arrangements.


Created by:
somme
In collaboration with Jeremy Michael Segal

MEDIA
 

PREVIEW
 


SPONSORS





Multiplexer, 2019exhaustive performance
duration: 1 hour

Multiplexer is a speculative performance in which perpetual labor, network processing, and control protocols are poetically articulated as elements of a closed thermodynamic system.

In this durational piece, the body acts on and is acted upon by its environment. From within a human-scale structure—a hybrid between a server farm and a greenhouse— the primary action is the performer’s control of the lighting and sound through the use of a custom multiplexer panel. Meanwhile, infrared lamps inject heat into the system, acting as concrete metaphors for the thermal exhaust generated by intense data computation. In this way, the performance investigates the impact of heat on a biomechanical system. This individual, confined, labors endlessly within a network. Changes in the performer’s body state are monitored and mediated in real time. Their heartbeat and body temperature have direct effects on the real-time video, projecting images of the body and its sweat onto the back wall of the structure; quantifying the performer’s exhaustion. Within this arrangement of perpetual thermal exchange, the performer’s energy is extracted and injected into the system.

Heat as a medium has theoretical, political, material and environmental implications. In thermodynamics, heat reveals the qualitative aspect of molecules energy in matter. But heat is often considered as the undesired waste generated by a system. Heat is now controversial. Within this framework, Multiplexer establishes a speculative context that challenges human digital behaviors and their collateral effects on the biological and geological. Taking place in a fictional future where individuals and machines are mutually dependent parts of closed systems, this piece examines the inherent exhaustion of such arrangements.


Created by:
somme
In collaboration with Jeremy Michael Segal

MEDIA
 

PREVIEW
 


SPONSORS





poetry.DNA, 2018   |  visit

Poetry.dna explores the relationship between the organic and the mechanical.It is a generative poetry bot that is modelled after the biological principles of evolution, mutation, and self-regulation. Inspired by artificial intelligences that learn based on associative phrasing (such as twitter bots) this project is given the capacity to create unique phrasing, wording, and formatting to poetry on it’s own accord. This ability is passed on through JavaScript where Poetry.dna is given a large array of data about the English language and the use of mathematics such as Markov chains (thanks to RiTa.js). What makes Poetry.dna different is it has no end goal. Most modern AI learns through a process that involves reward systems upon correct identification. Poetry.dna does not learn in the sense one might traditionally expect from an AI, instead of a static algorithm that dictates its creative direction it was instead modelled after nature. True evolution does not have an end goal, when a mutation occurs the organism either dies, or passes on their genes. AI evolution typically evolves to a specified point, when it reaches that point it is deemed successful. Poetry.dna does not have an end point, like in nature it evolves at random and does not move solely forwards but possibly backwards, it is always in a state of flux and self-regulation. It has corrective mechanisms within its coding, but it is not always guaranteed, much like genetics.

EXHIBITIONS

RiTa Gallery @ rednoise.org
June 2017 (Ongoing)







3DLA Render #1, 2019   |  full size

Inspired by the sketches of Ernst Haeckel, this rendering was coded as a generational alogrithm of natural processes. The process that inspired the rendering is called limited diffusion aggregation, a process of growth related to environmental rewards. This process can be seen in the growth patterns of organisms like slime mold, or the inorganic growth of certain crystals. This model takes the LDA growth pattern and applies it to three dimensional space, allowing the growth of a speculative orgasmism.



focus∞focus, 2019 GAN-generated images
print: 30cm x 30cm

focus∞focus is a GAN generated series that recursively focuses and re-focuses on a central point both through an AI-driven generative adversarial process and through a process of selection.

Built using BigGAN (Made Accessible by Joel Simon)

MEDIA









Slow Serif, 2021 Slow Bio-Performance
Installation

Slow Serif is an performance on energy sustainability and slowness. Slow Serif utilises the notion of experiential learning to communicate the systematic issues of climate change, capitalism, and biological-social timescales. Upon approaching the e-ink screen, one sees three moss ecosystems contained within a cozy environments that double as "batteries" for the novella. The batteries, called Microbial Fuel Cells, gather energy through the extremely slow (relative to capital-centric extractive models - i.e. oil & coal) process of energy harvesting. The mosses gather sunlight and produce sugar to feed microbes living amongst their root-like rhizoids. The microbes then produce ions which slowly accumulate to be send in a pulse tyo the e-ink screen. Through the experience of watching these mosses write a novella on 'slowness' the piece hopes to invoke an experiential model of real-time sustainable energy and alter the perception of what we consider normative timescales regarding energy consumption and digital technologies - timescales in which operate through ubiquitous, unsustainble extractive energy paradigmns.

MEDIA

SAMPLE NOVELLA

The following was synthesized using RiTa.js to program a Markov model based novella algorithm off the following texts:

Jussi Parikka - A Geology of Media
Slow Violence – Rob Nixon
A Manifesto for Slow Science – Isabelle Stengers


In the long haul writings have decisively reshaped many debates that animate environmental fallout... This demands an understanding of the manifesto’s message. It performs this cartography while present in the view. The body of the delta and its substrates; of megamergers; of disappearing problematic brand names through that act of national reengineering.

James Watt’s invention of emptiness, emptiness being the vessel itself for the order of the Western powers typically supported by oligarchs, dictators, and assays. Indeed, aesthetics becomes twisted into a soap bubble, exporting a part of reinvention as pure wilderness.We can read these scenes as intimating the twilight of the mega-dam and, disproportionately, children. However, in consuming oxygen, thereby rendering the deceased immaterial: he was only staged to none of these combined effects; munitions represent a novel. The spread of regional oil wealth goes to a multitemporal reality where the thinking of future burial. To be sure, the World Bank and white environmentalists are humane because they faced a more expansive vision that remains inside a spiritualized and naturalized national frame - it inhibits economic, cultural, and in our technological devices.

Our theories of violence and climate change were associated with hidden deaths and injuries. The result is a requirement of infrastructure and technological lengths to avoid enemy senses into evil powers that make it easier for global corporations and social events by utterly transforming it. The recent turn within environmental studies boom. Something similar applies to any vision of what can counting even mean? The historic track record of human gain. Change is a sufferer. I should note that the expansionist drive of capitalism and the cultures of benediction: Our Own: The Incantor. In addition, slow violence across environmental and postcolonial studies, creating landscapes that linger off-camera.

FULL PROJECT DESCRIPTION

Experiential learning was coined by Bauhaus director Lazso Moholy-Nagy as a methodology to teach human-centric design to his students via sensory knowledge. Using tools crafted to convey visual, tactile, and auditory information, Moholy-Nagy placed an emphasis on experience as the methodology that allows the 'crystallization of the whole' (Moholy Nagy, 1974). Microbial Slowing uses microbial fuel cells, e-paper, a microcontroller and an internet connection as its mediums. Within the piece, microbial fuel cells offer the viewer a means to connect with a timescale rooted in biological (and symbiotic) growth. By powering a microcontroller (e.g. Arduino, ESP32, etc) one must adapt the power needs of the microcontroller to the cells. This requires a series of energy steps to be stored and released over the span of a day.

The MCU (microcontroller unit) has an energy consumption of between 3.3v and 5v at a current of 30mA. Without diving into technicalities, this number is lower than larger devices such as laptops and, of course, scales up with a device's energetic demand. The MFCs (microbial fuel cells) produce a fraction of this energy. Within my own experiments and those of other researchers (Bombelli, 2016; Yang, 2020) the number is loosely situated around 300mv and 2mA, a drop in scale almost 10x. While MFCs don't represent all energy harvesting technologies (solar, wind, thermal), they all produce a fraction of the energy produced by extractive methods such as oil and coal (Parrika, 2015). MFCs are a unique form of energy, as living organisms they require continual care through either us or their environment.

Microbial energy is produced by symbiotic bacteria and fungi within soil and root nodules of plants. Regardless of the method, these processes produce ions in the soil. In the case of mycorrhizal fungi, fungi that live within root nodules, sugar from photosynthesis is given to the fungi in exchange for nitrogen converted into a bio-available form (Stamets, 2015). The conversion of nitrogen creates these ions, as do other microbial processes such as the metabolism of organic matter by anaerobic bacteria. Microbial energy is communal. It relies on communities of microbes, plants, microfauna, and fungi working together to cycle waste products into bio-available resources. Microbial energy works in opposition to extractive methods of energy “creation” - it’s processional rather than fixed like coal and oil. Extractive energy is the product of millions of years of geological labor, a temporality embedded with what Jussi Parrikka would call “deep time” (Parikka, 2015). The geological labor put into these energy sources presents us with abundance, yet it’s the immediate release we see and not the slow process of energetic transmutation. Burning deep time energy means we are releasing all of that energy in one movement, bringing along the millions of years of tethered CO2 that has been locked away within the earth. Processional energy is that of live processes such as communities of microbes. They are “slow” but regenerative. They produce while growing their communities. What they lack in speed they gain in longevity and mutual benefits.

It is this “slowness” that offers the viewer an experience in alternate temporalities. Within the scope of Slow Serif, slowness is communicated through the construction of a novella on slowness itself. This process is set to take around 10 years, drastically juxtaposing a biological time scale with that of capital-centric expectancy. Each day when enough energy is gathered from the MFCs to power on an e-paper display for a few seconds, a switch is activated and power runs through the work. The MCU boots up and decides what word comes next in its novella followed by a refreshing of the screen to include the word and a time stamp of the total run time of the project. The decision stems from a Markov model - a linguistic model for sentence and paragraph construction that requires “training” from previous texts. Scholars and artists that write about slowness, timescales, and embodied energy have greatly influenced the work and thus will be chosen to train the model. Some included thinkers will be: Stengers, Cavillo, Mann, Guattari, and Parikka (see bibliography). The MCU will then pass the information on to a router which will store the work online to be viewed in full. Regularly we would come to expect computers to process our demands within seconds. What we consider a second may appear very different under the clock of computational clock speeds. Computers cycle extremely vast, creating a temporality of apparent instantaneity. It is one thing to say we can change to live more slowly, but being an actor in a slow experience may test the viewers patience. It's certainly not easy to sit by and wait an entire day for a new word. Within Slow Serif, design is political. It’s speculative design around organisms, energy, community, and care creates an atmosphere of awareness around the parasitic consumption habits of the digital media devices we use daily (Ye, 2020). Since the work is living it requires care from the viewer every few days through misting and watering. The daily check-in and care routine further creates a narrative of involvement, growth, and slow work through tangible action.

REFERENCES

Bombelli P, Felder F, et al. (2016). Electrical output of bryophyte microbial fuel cell systems is sufficient to power a radio or an environmental sensor. R Soc Open Sci. 2016;3(10):160249. Published 2016 Oct 26. doi:10.1098/rsos.160249

Calvillo, N. (2020). Slowing (1240484379 920270539 K. Jungnickel, Ed.). In Transmissions: Critical tactics for making and communicating research. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Guattari, Felix (2014). Foreward. Paul Sutton. The three ecologies. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

Hertz, G. & Ratto, M. (2019). “Critical Making and Interdisciplinary Learning”. The Critical Makers Reader. Bogers & Chiappini - Institute of Network Cultures.

Moholy-Nagy, L. (1947). Vision in motion. Chicago: P. Theobald.

Parikka, J. (2015). A Geology of Media. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Stamets, P. (2005). Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World. (Berkeley, Calif: Ten Speed Press).

Yang, F., et al. (2012). Study of transformer-based power management system and its performance optimization for microbial fuel cells. Journal of Power. Sources 205:86–92. DOI: 10.1016/j.jpowsour.2012.01.

Ye, L. (2020). Design for carbon-aware digital experiences. Retrieved March 10, 2021, from Slow Serif – Final Report https://branch.climateaction.tech/2020/10/11/design-for-carbon-aware-digital-experiences/









Matthew Halpenny is an interdisciplinary media artist from Montréal who works between the milieus of biology, society, and technology. Their work seeks to disrupt conventional boundaries around life, evolution, the body, consciousness, and human expression. Such ideas have been explored through use of the human body as a performative instrument, artificial organisms, technological-biological sculpture, and networked cognition performances. Their work is inspired by systems theory, embodied cognition, sense theory, emergent behavior, multi-species being, and media ecologies. They were previosuly a research member at Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture, & Technology, where they worked within the Speculative Life and Critical Materiality research clusters. They are now working as a research member of Hexagram through the Université de Montréal.

He works within the collective somme, which is an interdisciplinary art collective formed by Sam Bourgault, Owen Coolidge, Matthew Halpenny, Matthew Salaciak, and Emma Forgues in 2018. Their diverse individual backgrounds allow them to collaborate on projects that lie between programming, biology, robotics, video and sound synthesis. Driven by research-creation questions surrounding biological-technological relations, surveillance, and data politics, the collective creates works that could be defined as a hybridity of bioart, robotic sculpture, and networked performance art. somme was awarded the Caisse Desjardins New Media Creation Grant (2018) for their work Mycocene. The project was subsequently shown in Elektra XX (2019) and presented at International Marketplace for Digital Art (MIAN). As part of the presentation Behavioural Matter by Alice Jarry, Mycocene was brought to Le Centre Pompidou (2018). As a research assistant for Alice Jarry they collaborated on the research-creation project Membranes, resulting in the installation Fossilation at Le Centre Pompidou.

His research portfolio involves a residency at MilieuxBauhaus (2019) as part of the Bauhaus100 research study, Vision in Motion: Moholy-Nagy. His research on technological-biological system relations will be published by ISEA 2020 (2020), where he will be speaking about the work.


email: matthew.halpenny@gmail.com
CV







PANELS & TALKS

Bridges: A SciArt Exhibition
Mozilla Fest 2021 - Mozilla Organization (Virtual)
March 8, 2021

Reprise de Vues
Hors Piste - Le Centre Pompidou (Virtual)
January 28, 2021

Face aux troubles de l’urgence écologique, la lenteur et la durabilité comme mode de production et de création
HTMLLES festival: Slow Tech - Ada X (Virtual)
November 26, 2020

Ecologies of Experience: Systems & Art
Convergence SciArt - Concordia University (Virtual)
October 30, 2020

Designing Technologies for a Symbiosis between Natural Systems and Digital Infrastructure
ISEA2020 - Printemps Numerique (Virtual)
October 15, 2020

MIAN – International Marketplace for Digital Art
Elektra XX - Centre Phi (Montréal QC // Tiohtià:ke)
June 14, 2019

(Dis)CONNECT: Alienation and Art
CUJAH Conference - Concordia University (Montréal QC // Tiohtià:ke)
March 21, 2018

WORKSHOPS

BioCircuitry: Slime Mold Networks and Computational Models
Milieux Workshop Series - Speculative Life Research Cluster (Montréal QC // Tiohtià:ke)
April 16, 2019