Dublin City Arts Office
The LAB, Foley Street, Dublin 1

+353 1 222 5455

Past Exhibition

Future Proof

September 14 - December 14 2017

Brian Duggan - Sofie Loscher - Lucy McKenna - Siobhan McGibbon - Maria McKinney - Emer O Boyle - Meadhbh O'Connor - Matt Parker - David Stalling

Curated by Sheena Barrett and Emer O Boyle.

“If you want to understand the causes made in the past, look at the results as they are manifest in the present. And if you want to know what results will be manifest in the future, look at the causes that exist in the present.”
(Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin Vol 2 P.172.)

What will the world be like in the future and will there be a place for humanity in it? Art & Science help us to imagine answers to these questions. Both begin in the imagination, constantly questioning what we perceive to be true and looking at the world around us with new eyes all the time.

Future Proof brings together artists who work in scientific and technological contexts to contribute additional perspectives, re-frame debates, and create paths for new thinking to emerge. Their work is part of a shift occurring internationally in cutting edge education­al and scientific organisations, that welcomes artists to work alongside experts in other fields. This way of working sees new questions being asked and new connections being made, between different fields of expertise. Why is this important? New knowledge comes from answering new questions and understanding deeply how things work is a pre-requisite to taking correct action.

There’s a word in Japanese, ‘inga’, which means cause and effect. The principle underly­ing ‘inga’ is that if there is a cause, there will certainly be an effect, and that if there is an effect, there will, without fail, also be a cause. The artists in this exhibition explore how by looking at our past and present behaviour we can take real steps towards making, imagining, shaping and safeguarding our future.

Opening on Thursday 14th September 6pm.


Brian Duggan

Brian Duggan lives and works in Dublin, at times his practice may include sculpture, film, installation, printing, publishing and sound, all depending on the specific context where, when, why and how the work is being presented. In 2016, Brian Duggan presented a solo-project Ryou-Un Maru at the Project Art Centre in Dublin, curated by Tessa Giblin (Publication) and Activating Pangea: The Voyage  (MART) in CB1G Los Angeles. His work is included in the permanent collections of the Hugh Lane Gallery, the OPW national collection and the Irish Museum of Modern Art. He has undertaken residencies in UCD art and Science Parity Studios programme 2016-2017, ISCP New York, IMMA, CCI Paris, Braziers International, Project 304 Bangkok and ChangMai, Thailand. He was the co-Founder and co-Curator and co-Director of the multi platform Pallas Projects in Dublin from 1996 to 2009. Brian Duggan, (*1971) lives and works in Dublin. His work is represented by Balzer projects, Basel.

Sofie Loscher

Sofie Loscher is a visual artist whose practice focuses on installation with a scientific underpinning. She holds an MA in Sculpture from the National College of Art and Design (NCAD) and a BA in Visual Arts Practice from the Institute of Art, Design and Technology (IADT), Dún Laoghaire, Ireland.
'My work has a very strong scientific underpinning. Physics is my main area of interest and more specifically the field of optics and perception. Fascinated by human perception, my work is the product of a belief in expanding and exploring this perception in terms of sensory experience. Currently I am creating large Installation works that are concerned with specular reflection, or the mirror like reflection of light from a surface.' (UCD Art in Science Residency 2014)

Lucy McKenna

Lucy McKenna's work is concerned with the observation and constant structuring/ restructuring of information systems that attempt to explain the universe and our place in it. Through various mediums she traces different forms of data extraction, collection and communication developed by humans to understand existence; including methods of scientific experiment, invention of technology, intuitive belief, or myth. Using visual art more as a tool of data collection and data distillation rather than solely expression, her works seek to unfold the information hidden in those spaces where the analytic and the intuitive concur. Her practice is a multidisciplinary one consisting of drawing, photography, film, installation, and sculptural works. Lucy McKenna studied at NCAD. Exhibitions include solo exhibition in the Cube Space, The LAB, Dublin; Periodical Review #5, Pallas Projects/ NCAD Gallery, Dublin; Process Space, VISUAL Carlow; The Lacuna In Parallax, Source Arts Centre, Tipperary; Under The Rug, Iona College NY; The Darker Wood, GalleryWest, Toronto; Electron Cloud, Kilkenny Arts Festival; Convergence III, With Space Gallery, Beijing; Sanctioned Array, White Box Gallery, NY.

Siobhan McGibbon

Siobhan McGibbon is an Irish visual artist and researcher interested in trans-disciplinary practice, particularly the intersections between art and medical science. She works conceptually with sculpture, installation, drawing, animation, narrative and biomaterials. In 2014 McGibbon was awarded a Limerick Capital of Culture scholarship to undertake a practice based research masters in the ACADEMY research center at Limerick School of Art and Design, where she explored the notion of “The Modern Prometheus” through a series of unusual investigations in the in the sectors of anatomy, medical and biological exploration and centers of scientific enquiry. McGibbon is currently a PHD student in the ACADEMY research center at Limerick School of Art and Design where she is exploring the contemporary quest for the fountain of youth. The artist is currently collaborating with writer Maeve O’Lynn on The Xenophon project. McGibbon and O’Lynn are currently artists in residence in The Centre for Research in Medical Devices, (CÚRAM, 2017).
http://www.siobhanmcgibbon.com I www.xenophonproject.org

Maria McKinney

Maria McKinney is a visual artist based in Dublin. She recently took part in Skowhegan 2017, an International summer school in the countryside of Maine, USA. Her most recent body of work considers the use of genomics in modern-day cattle breeding. For this she collaborated with genetic scientists and received a Wellcome Trust Arts Award.
Previous solo exhibitions include the RHA, Dublin (2016) Lokaal 01, Antwerp, Belgium (2016), La Permanence, Clermont-Ferrand, France (2015), the MAC, Belfast (2012) and the Lab Gallery, Dublin (2010). She was shortlisted for the MAC International 2014 and has completed residencies in the UCD school of science 2015/16 and Fire Station Artists Studios 2012-2015. In April 2017 she started a three-year studio membership in Temple Bar Studios.

Emer O Boyle

Emer O Boyle works with drawing, photography, video, sculpture and robotic telescopes to reweave the stories of under recognised women into the popular canon of science. She is co-founder and Director of UCD Parity Studios, Artists in Residence programme and teaches an undergraduate module that brings students of Fine Art and Science together in collaboration. Her public art projects have been funded by the EU Partnership for Peace Programme, Amnesty International, an EUFP7 project called GLORIA – Global Robotic Telescope Intelligent Array, The Creative Engagement programme and The Arts Council of Ireland. She has been collaborating with Professor of Astronomy Lorraine Hanlon and her team at UCD since 2010. For their help in her work for Future Proof she would like to thank, Dr. Antonio Martin Carrillo and David Murphy from UCD Astronomy and Space Science and Frank Heffernan, Enda Scally and Richard Byrne from the Mechanical Workshop at UCD School of Physics.

Meadhbh O'Connor

Méadhbh O’Connor (Dublin, 1984) is an artist who works at the conjunction of art, science and environmentalism. Most recently she was selected by an influential international jury which included Hans-Ulrich Obrist, Alexander Ponomarev, Nadim Samman and others to exhibit at the experimental Antarctic Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale of Art, 2017. She was twice awarded by Parity Studios the position of Artist in Residence at University College Dublin (UCD) College of Science in 2013 and 2017. She works through sculpture, sculptural installation and multimedia and exhibits both nationally and internationally.

Matt Parker

Matt Parker (b. 1984) is an artist working with and producing archives that amplify hidden connections between every-day technology and the environment. His work is influenced by the sonosphere, unsound, ecology, the economy of noise, infrastructure studies and the internet. He has a Masters in Music Technology from Birmingham Conservatoire, is the winner of the Deutsche Bank Creative Prize in Music 2014, winner of New Art West Midlands 2016, was shortlisted for the Aesthetica International Art Prize 2015 and was artist in residence at Bletchley Park in 2015. He is the co-director of media infrastructural investigative collective The People’s Cloud.

David Stalling

Originally from Bochum, Germany, David Stalling has been working as a composer, sound artist and musician since the early 1990s. His works have been performed and exhibited widely in Ireland and abroad. With a sensitivity to the sonic nature of both lived in and imagined worlds, David’s practice transcends the traditional definition of composing, utilising a variety of media: acoustic and electronic sound; field recordings and found objects; video and lighting. He also experiments and improvises with self-built instruments and microphones.
David is a recipient of the 2014 Artist-in-Residence award at the University College Dublin School of Science. He has curated and produced numerous festivals and events. He is a founding member and artistic director of the EAR ensemble (2002-2009). He is a former director of the Maynooth Chamber Choir (1999-2001) and the NUI Maynooth Guitar Ensemble (2007-2013). He is artistic co-director of the Hilltown New Music Festival since 2009.


Visiting the brightly lit former Physics Labs now home to Parity artists’ studios in UCD, you are struck by an overriding sense of optimism and a palpable joy derived from research and experimentation. When we first sat down to talk about putting this exhibition together, over 65.6 million people across the planet had been forced to flee their homes due to conflict, violence and disasters. Donald Trump had just been elected and the after shocks reverberated across the Atlantic.

As a group of curators, educators and artists, we wondered what it’s like to still be in school and to consider your future in this context?

Part of thinking in developing this exhibition was to develop something with younger audiences in mind. Through Liz Coman, who is spearheading Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) at the LAB Gallery and Dublin City Arts Office, we met with colleagues from the National Council for Curriculum Assessment, Fred Boss and Margaret O’Shea, Yoon Kang O’Higgins of VTS and teachers involved in the Creative Engagement in Schools Programme, to consider how an exhibition, and the work of contemporary artists, might support the new Junior School Curriculum in the classroom.

We wondered how we could we share the excitement of research and deeper understanding inherent in art and science and in the work of practicing artists. We considered ideas of cause and effect and why on a personal level it’s important to understand the principle. At any given moment in our lives, at least on an individual level, we can decide to change our behaviour, our thoughts, make new causes and create new effects. Many of the artists in this exhibition look at how we might take what might appear as an overwhelming crisis of our time, or ideas too immense to grasp, and bring them to a scale we can understand, reinterpret and hopefully find a space to take a stand in.

How do we secure our futures? In a time when we supposedly have access to limitless resources of information, how do we begin to go about the process of filtering out what is necessary? Can the lenses of science and art give us the focus to create deeper understanding and broader thinking, to ask questions of ourselves and the world around us?

What are the implications of our daily interactions with technology? The pervasiveness of the smart phone sees moment to moment documentation of our lives, stored in privatised infrastructures, generating data for global corporations and using vast amounts of electricity to do so.

Matt Parker’s work considers how we map the structure of the internet, where all of this vast information is stored, the physical cloud, who owns this new infrastructure and the social and environmental impacts around where and how we store all of this information. The work in this exhibition looks specifically at the case of a proposed data centre for Athenry.

Collapsing vast technological scales, Méadhbh O’Connor’s Climate Simulator illustrates how small changes in the earth’s atmosphere can have huge consequences on the environment. Her instructional video, invites us to create models of the Earth’s atmosphere for ourselves, in a small tank of water. The resulting images bear striking resemblances to atmospheric phenomena seen on Earth. They are created with nothing more than water, salt, a colloid (milk), a plain white light and a camera.

Brian Duggan links the radioactive contamination of our oceans and atmosphere to our kitchens, in a project that intends to map all 2054 nuclear test sites from around the globe, onto tea-towels. In presenting these sites on the domestic tea towel we use in our homes, he reminds us of the implications nuclear weaponry testing has on all of our water supplies, wherever we are on the planet.

But nuclear research has also been hugely beneficial in medical diagnosis, as we see in his self portrait. Using digital data from an MRI scan of his brain, he captures a fleeting moment of his life in stone. It renders the unseen, hidden internal biological organs, bones and tissues that constitutes and connects each one of us to each other, in our own original way.

Maria McKinney explores how knowledge of our genetic make up, is used in improving breeding strategies. Her video installation Double Muscle depicts a Belgian Blue bull wearing a semen-straw object, made by the artist, based on the structure of the myostatin gene. This gene is responsible for muscle growth regulation. In her sculptures the tiny semen straw becomes a symbolic carrier, a vessel of contemporary values and meaning, while referencing the harvest knots of folklore. The bull is the bearer of this ceremonial-inspired sculpture. Together, the carrier and object coalesce into something strange and entrancing.

From controling nature through genomics in present day farming, to imagining new species of the future, Siobhan McGibbon imagines a new breed of post-human inspired by current reseach into the Sea squirt. Her mythical species, the Xenothorpian, is a way of interweaving and connecting narratives, from the human species of our early evolutionary forms in the depths of the oceans, to the possiblity of medically enhanced humans of tomorrow.

As we look to the future we think about pioneering research in the past. Lucy McKenna imagines a collaboration with a 19th century Irish astronomer Charles Burton. As the first astronomer to observe Mars canals, McKenna responds to his detailed descriptions through watercolours. Their allure reflects the contemporary obsession with Mars as a possible new world for human emigration, while belying what McKenna refers to as our seemingly unrequited love affair with Mars. Throughout history, people have been drawn to the potential to inhabit Mars. NASA is currently developing capabilities to send humans to Mars in the 2030s. Today’s teenagers could finally make it there.

In 1671, James Gregory discovered that sunlight could be divided into component colours when it passed through a bird feather, or a diffraction grating as we know it now. By attaching a modern diffraction grating to a window in her studio in UCD School of Physics, Sofie Loscher watched the movement of the sun throughout the day as a large spectrum moved along the walls changing in colour and brightness depending on the time of year and the quality of light. Over the year she experimented with various optical devices and materials as a way to better understand light—to see how it moves through space and to picture how we move in relation to it. Her sculptural work in this exhibition uses the specific function of polarising filters to create paradoxical situations that make the viewer more conscious of their own perception. As we move through the work we are at turns intoxicated by the beauty of the rainbows, at others moving between sharpened vision and opaqueness.

Cupula, by Emer O Boyle and David Stalling alludes to the technology of astronomy as an extension of ourselves, our bodies, our desire to see. We hear sounds from the interior dome of a robotic telescope tracking the first asteroid discovered by astrophotography. It was discovered on December 22, 1891 and named in honour of Catherine Wolfe Bruce, a very important and under recognised patron of astronomy. Two long handled spoons refer to an ancient allegory of heaven and hell, told by means of people forced to eat with this unwieldy cutlery. Hell is depicted where people are starving, unable to lift food to their mouths. In heaven, the diners feed one another across the table and are satisfied.

How can we Future Proof? Advances in research and technology appear to be accelerating but to what extent can we learn from the past, how can we look more deeply at the present and imagine our place in the future? How can the joint disciplines of art and science foster curiosity, questioning, research, thinking and sharing of ideas. Beyond an exhibition, how can representations of artworks back in the classroom continue to support young people’s lines of enquiry. These are some of the questions we hope visitors to the exhibition and our programme of events will have an opportunity to consider with us.  Full programme information and booking details are available on our website.

Sheena Barrett and Emer O’Boyle


Acknowledgements: The Dublin City Arts Office team led by City Arts Officer, Ray Yeates would like to thank all of the exhibiting artists, Emer O Boyle and her colleagues at University College Dublin, LAB Gallery Assistant Curator Caroline Pi, Gallery technicians Mark Clare and Liam O’Callaghan, Fred Boss, National Council for Curriculum Assessment, School and St. Mary’s Secondary School, Glasnevin whose work as part of Creative Engagement in Schools features in our Resource Area.

This exhibition presented by Dublin City Council's The LAB Gallery is a collaboration with UCD Parity Studios with thanks to the Arts Council, the National Council for Curriculum Assessment, Visual Thinking Strategies, the OPW and the RHA Gallery.

UCD Parity Studios is a university wide artists in residence programme connecting the rich ecology of art practice in Ireland with research and education at University College Dublin. Our mission is to create a dynamic network of professional artists, academics, researchers and students, working at the intersections of their disciplines.

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