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Supercomputers inspire artworks

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New media artists Špela Petrič and Miha Turšič work on thought-provoking projects within the intersection of art, science, ecology and technology.
Supercomputers inspire artworks
Discovering the “intended and unintended meaning” of algorithms to produce artworks. This is one of the key-issues investigated by the Slovenian artists Špela Petrič and Miha Turšič. Originally from Ljubljana, they are currently based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Having a background in science and biology, Špela Petrič works in the field of bio-art and living organisms within the artistic context. Miha Turšič is known for collaborations with space projects. He works on questions of humans, or becoming a non-terrestrial human. "How does it feel to be a human out of our planet?," he ponders.

One of their most recent works is Becoming.A (Thing). It is an audio-visual performance, for which the artists immersed themselves in the fascinating yet complex world of the latest High Performance Computing (HPC) technology: exascale supercomputers.

Miha Turšič explains that “the art piece is made up of things, which are inputs, devices, algorithms, ourselves. Everything in the process is part of the new art-work. Everything is reduced to being things. It's a semiotic instrument, a tool to understand ourselves."

This work resulted from a Future Emerging Art Technologies (FEAT) residency in collaboration with the Future Emerging Technologies High Performance Computing (FET-HPC) consortium, supported by the EU programme Horizon 2020.

The researchers are exploring the societal, aesthetic, bio-political, and scientific implications of exascale supercomputing.

In Miserable Machines: Soot-o-mat “mussels are mercilessly lashed into an electro-stimulated design apparatus to make a vase. The creatures are allowed to relax up to a certain point, then shocked, prompting movement that scratches a design onto the object,” explains Petrič. It sounds cruel. This work is a reflection on manufacturing processes that exploit biology.

For the artists, bio-design calls for integration with living systems as a technological, environmental, and moral imperative. Should the mussels live under stress and die in order to serve the machine, the design, the product, and ultimately the humans?

Through this work, Špela Petrič and Miha Turšič question if we humans are ourselves engaged in a similar cycle, in the machine of capitalism. It represents a sharp commentary of obsolete but still persisting ways of production with shameless exploitation of living systems.

In Naval Gazing, Špela Petrič and Miha Turšič use the "habiton," a kinetic-machine which simultaneously acts as a platform for the attachment of marine organisms, as a way to establish a relationship between biotic marine entities, the human, and the sea.

"The habiton creates a travelling, uncontrollable transient biotope in the North Sea. It becomes a true example of non-human architecture, that unravels through time as the colonization of the structure gradually breaks its symmetry, causing it to transform from a human-conceived kinetic architecton into an immobilised, utilised, and eventually sunk micro-ecology formed around the habiton," the artists say.

How much do we know about the secret life of the plants? In PSX Consultancy, a thought-provoking plant-centred design, the artists attempted to "feel into" the subject. The Plant Sex Consultancy responds to potential requests of “vegetal clients” to increase their pleasure and (re)productivity.

Read the full article and watch the gallery here:


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art, performance, computing, exascale computing, ict, fet
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