Artist Talk: Blast Theory

UK-based Blast Theory creates interactive art that reveals the interconnectedness of cultural, scientific, and political issues. Catch a limited screening of Blast Theory’s Spit Spreads Death: The Parade (2019) and join founders Matt Adams and Nick Tandavanitj who will discuss how this interactive parade of light and sound commemorated a ‘superspreader’ event in Philadelphia during early days of the Spanish flu epidemic in 1918. As part of the parade hundreds of participants honoured the many victims of the virus by walking with the death certificates of individuals who had died, accompanied by a moving score from composer David Lang.

For this artists talk, Matt and Nick will also reflect on their research undertaken as part of a residency with World Health Organisation in 2018 where the artists were embedded within the team which monitors epidemics and pandemics across the world. The resulting interactive installation piece, A Cluster Of 17 Cases (2018) examined in detail one of the early sites of transmission of the SARS epidemic - the Metropole Hotel in Hong Kong - and maps the movements of people and pathogens, as part of the epidemiological studies that followed.

Spits Spreads Death: The Parade (2019) was created by Blast Theory and commissioned by the Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia.

This event is a part of Talks.

The museum's Talk programme goes online. Look forward to specially curated Online Talks and Conferences and a brand new short conversation series with guests known as Take 5.

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About the Speakers

  • About Blast Theory

    Blast Theory is renowned internationally as one of the most adventurous artists’ groups using interactive media, creating groundbreaking new forms of performance and interactive art that mixes audiences across the internet, live performance and digital broadcasting. Led by Matt Adams, Ju Row Farr and Nick Tandavanitj, the group’s work explores the social and political aspects of technology. Drawing on popular culture and games, the work often blurs the boundaries between the real and the fictional.

  • Matt Adams

    Matt Adams co-founded Blast Theory in 1991, an artists’ group making interactive work. Blast Theory is renowned for its multidisciplinary approach using new technologies in theatre, games and visual art. The group has collaborated with scientists at the Mixed Reality Lab at the University of Nottingham since 1997.

    Blast Theory has shown Ulrike and Eamon Compliant at the Venice Biennale, A Machine To See With at Sundance Film Festival and Can You See Me Now? at Tate Britain. Commissioners include Channel 4, National Theatre Wales and the Royal Opera House. Awards include the Golden Nica at Prix Ars Electronica, the Nam June Paik Art Center Award and four BAFTA nominations.

    Matt has curated at Tate Modern and at the ICA in London and has taught widely. He has lectured at Stanford University, the Royal College of Art and the Sorbonne. With Ju Row Farr and Nick Tandavanitj, he is a winner of the Maverick Award at the Game Developers Choice Awards, was a Thinker In Residence for the South Australian Government and was an inaugural Artist In Residence at the World Health Organization in Geneva in 2018. Matt served on the South East Regional Council of Arts Council England from 2012 to 2019. He was the Visiting Professor in Interactive Media at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama from 2007 to 2014. He is an Honorary Fellow at the University of Exeter.

  • Nick Tandavanitj

    Nick Tandavanitj has worked with Blast Theory since 1994. In this time, Nick has focused on creative approaches to computing; contributing to the group’s unique mix of skills in structuring interactivity and narrative.  This has led to particular skills in 3D modelling, technical design & programming for interactive installations and web based artwork.

    Nick studied Art & Social Context at Dartington College of Arts from 1990-1993; collaborating for 2 years with Alison Cannon on a number of videos and performances. Following college, Nick became a friend and hanger on of the artists at Jamaica Street Studios in Bristol, occasionally working for Oil Experts and Stoloff & Hopkinson™ as well as working with Bristol based artists Sophie Warren and Charlotte Crewe.

    In 2003, Nick became an Arts and Humanities Research Council Research Fellow at the University of Nottingham undertaking a nine month programme of research into artistic, social and gaming applications which use mobile technology.

    Nick also teaches as part of Blast Theory’s programme of masterclasses and workshops. This work incorporates introductions to a variety of tools for prototyping and to concepts & techniques for generating interactivity. Nick has also contributed to a number of academic papers with the Mixed Reality Lab.

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