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

Mutek @ Virtual Gallery, Montréal QC
August 2021

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 wearable technology 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 unique 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

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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

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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

Eco(Systems) of Hope @ Anteism Books, Montreal QC
October 2022

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

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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
 

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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 DLA growth pattern and applies it to three dimensional space, allowing the growth of a speculative orgasmism.



The Cybernetic Meadow, 2024 Slow Text-Gardening Performance
Installation

The Cybernetic Meadow is the installation outcome of "Gardening the Cybernetic Meadow" (2021-2024), a SSHRC funded research-creation thesis project that engages with the fields of interdisciplinary art, ecology, and sustainable energy technologies that draw residual energy from bio-matter (soil microbes). It’s full title, "Gardening the Cybernetic Meadow: Fostering ecosophic care using microbial fuel cells as a temporal aesthetic medium", communicates several core philosophies that inform the work, while outlining how the technical research on microbial fuel cells is situated inside the art-creation of the project.

The installation is a participatory, slow performance installation centered around notions of the extractive energy paradigm, environment-technology relationalities, and slow temporal aesthetics through gardening. The garden requires collective acts of care and maintenance to sustain the work’s creative output, a series of slowly generated texts taking the forms of novellas and poetry. The Cybernetic Meadow operates as a system where its living components and digital technologies cannot be removed from one another. Each component influences the system and, through this, the outcome of the performance. Each garden seeded for a new performance will result in an emergent outcome distinct from any past iterations. The outcome is not static, it exists throughout the growth of the garden, the evolution of the texts, and the social participation sustaining the garden through invitations to care for the garden.

EXHIBITIONS

Gardening the Cybernetic Meadow @ World Creation Studio, Montréal QC
March 2024

Digital Ecologies @ University of Bonn, Bonn GER
July 2022

MEDIA

FULL DESCRIPTION
 

The Cybernetic Meadow's process is embodied by a garden interwoven with Microbial Fuel Cells and digital technologies, such as E-Ink screens, microcontrollers, and a solar server. Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs) are a regenerative energy harvesting technology working in tandem with other-than-human organisms to collect energy. The process they use to harvest energy cannot be removed from the ecosystem they exist within. Microbes within the soil of the garden produce ions as a metabolic by-product during their growth, which is sustained through the photosynthetic processes of the plants and mosses living within the soil. MFCs gather energy through extremely slow means relative to capital-centric extractive models of energy production (i.e., oil & coal). Extractive energy practices are environmentally devastating through their physical destruction of ecosystems for material gain, their emissive by-products, and the inability to renew what is extracted. In contrast, the energy collected through MFCs is regenerative, slowly growing the ions used rather than extracting them.

The slow temporality of this regenerative energy creates the temporal aesthetic conditions within The Cybernetic Meadow. The ions produced through microbial metabolism are slowly accumulated by the electrodes of the MFCs and stored in an energy capacitor, a battery-less energy reservoir. A tactile switch sits in front of the garden, connected to the power circuit of the MFCs. The switch communicates with the digital technologies of the garden when toggled, triggering a creative cycle that adds a single word to the textual outputs. Only when the garden’s reservoir is full can the switch be toggled by a participant, it cannot be pushed beyond this temporal constraint. If it were, extracting a surplus of energy would result in a depletion of soil and microbial health. The textual outputs and digital technologies are directly linked to the growth, health, and energy temporality of the organisms they share the garden with.

The texts are displayed on three E-Ink screens within the garden, generated through a natural language algorithm that are trained a selection of books and papers thematically linked to the installation, such as Geology of Media by Jussi Parikka (2015), Another Science is possible: A Manifesto for Slow Science by Isabelle Stengers (2018), and Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor by Robert Nixon (2013). The texts used as reference for creative generation are stored on the garden’s solar server, allowing new additions to be continually added through participant recommendations, furthering the emergent potential of the creative text generations through an evolving set of literary influences.

To fully experience the created texts, one must return to the garden to witness progress, encouraging the development of slow, ongoing relationships between participants and the artwork. Through the experience of watching The Cybernetic Meadow’s garden slowly compose creative texts on extractive energy paradigm, environment-technology relationalities, and slow temporalities of care, the performance invites a reflection on how our use of digital technologies and our temporal expectancies of energy, are bound to environmental health and sustainability.

OPEN SOURCE FILES & MFC CREATION GUIDE









Matthew Halpenny is an interdisciplinary media artist from Montréal who works between the milieus of biology and technology. Their current work examines the embodied material processes that form the technology we use daily while offering speculative design solutions that deconstruct academic barriers between new sustainable technologies and the general public through open-source designs. Their on-going artistic process is inspired by both theory and the material. It is informed by systems theory, embodied cognition, sense theory, emergent behavior and social/biological ecologies and formed by a range of materials such as networked electronics, sensors, slime mold, microbial fuel cells, e-waste, and bio-plastic printing. These influences have manifested as both installations and performances ranging from using the body as a performative instrument, bio-technological sculpture, open-source speculative design and networked sensory performances. 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.

They work 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.

Their research portfolio involves a residency at MilieuxBauhaus (2019) as part of the Bauhaus100 research study, Vision in Motion: Moholy-Nagy, a paper on technological-biological system relations that was published through ISEA 2020 (2020), a workshop on open-source microbial fuel cells at Ars Electronica (2021), and many more research projects in the works.


email: matthew.halpenny@gmail.com
CV







PANELS & TALKS

Open Source Microbial Fuel Cell Project
Digital Ecologies Conference - University of Bonn, Bonn GER
July 29, 2022

Laser 11Distributed Greenery [Moderator]
Hexagram - Montréal, QC (Virtual)
April 13, 2022

Hexagram - Fossilation (2021)
Mutek Forum - Montréal, QC
August 20, 2021

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

Emergenc-y: Living Materials Workshop
Ars Electronica - Vienna, AT (Virtual)
September 9, 2021

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