Rob La Frenais (UK) The Arts Catalyst


The Arts Catalyst is an arts organisation that actively makes connections between art and science through commissions and strategic projects. Since 1993, Arts Catalyst has worked nationally and internationally to promote understanding and cooperation between the arts and sciences. We seek new ways to involve artists, scientists and the wider public in a discourse about science in society, its direction and impact. A driving interest is to extend the practice of artists engaging with scientific processes, facilities and technologies in order to reveal and illuminate the social, political and cultural contexts that brought them into being. We are also interested in the new artistic forms and perspectives that this engagement can activate. The Arts Catalyst believes that a repositioning of different specialised areas of investigation is necessary for an innovative, outward-looking and ethical society. We foster collaboration between scientists and artists and seek scientists' involvement in artistic and interdisciplinary projects.

Rob La Frenais, in his lecture, will illustrate the most recent of these projects commissioned and produced by the Arts Catalyst including work in microgravity, (Gravitation Off! - various artists), the history of scientific research (Marching Plague - Critical Art Ensemble) and artists engaging in aviation (Escape Vehicle - Simon Faithfull). He will also report on the Arts Catalyst's contract with the European Space Agency to provide a cultural policy for the International Space Station.

Rob La Frenais (UK)

Rob La Frenais is a contemporary art curator and writer living in London, England and Albi, France. He has curated major installations, performance, technology and art/science commissions both in museums and public places since 1987, and has worked with many major international artists ranging through James Turrell, Marina Abramović, Stelarc, Orlan, Erik Hobijn, James Acord and Jan Fabre. He has directed major arts festivals in England, Scotland, Switzerland and Spain. In 1997 he joined the Arts Catalyst, the science-art agency as curator and developed and produced a number of major initiatives involving nuclear art (Atomic), space exploration in art (Gravity Zero,Artists and Cosmonauts), indigenous science (Parallel Universe), new living systems for artists and scientists (Marko Peljhan's Makrolab in Scotland), art and biotechnology (CleanRooms) and flight (Artists Airshow). With the Arts Catalyst he has organised four zero gravity campaigns, in Star City, Russia and Bordeaux, France. He participated in the first dedicated artists zero gravity flight in the Ilyushin MDK 76 in Russia with Noordung/Projekt Atol in 1999.He is currently curating and researching Space Soon a major exhibition, performance programme and conference at the Roundhouse, London, UK in 2006. He is an honorary Doctor of Arts at Dartington College of Arts, University of Plymouth, UK.