ASN: Artist in Residence, Russel Beard, wins World Silver Medal at New York Film Festival

Last year MFA graduate and current ASN Artist-in Residence, Russel Beard, was part of a
team that won the Silver Medal in the World category at the recent New York Film Festival.


The film, ‘EARTHRISE : WINDS OF CHANGE’ was presented by Russell and was screened on Al Jazeera Television.

It is about the island of Samsö, in Denmark, becoming world leaders in renewable energy.
Islanders have a negative 3 tonne carbon footprint and thanks to a network of engineers,
artists and designers the energy academy is creating a global archipelago of resilient
communities in 29 countries based on energy sovereignty, creativity and cooperation.


The film can be viewed here…


Award details…

Luis Guzmán, Art, Space + Nature student exhibits in Saint Etienne Biennale du Design.


MYTERIALS/ ECOSPACE is an interdisciplinary, collaborative work by ASN student, Luis Guzmán and biologist Laura Turpeinen.

Based in the speculative future of the interaction between Fungi and robotics for the production of sustainable biomaterials. The installation included a prototype for carbon capture that operates due to the incrementation of biodiversity. The system is designed to grow fungi and plants in the gallery space, allowing the audience to observe the intimate ecological interactions between species. A third piece presented in this opportunity is a documented video based on the archive of mycologist Patrick Hickey that shows the world of fungi with an amazing detail and quality.

The Biennale curated by Lisa White titled ‘EU, VOUS, NOUS’, reflects on the integration of social, natural and technological networks, under the claim “Systems not stuff”.

The exhibition, which will receive an audience of 200,000 visitors, is open until the 22nd of this month at Cité du Design of Saint Etienne, France.


‘TESTIMONY FROM THE ROCKS’ : ASN Exhibition at An Lanntair Gallery

Art, Space + Nature students have just held a major exhibition at Stornoway’s An Lanntair Gallery


This follows our fieldtrip to Lewis and Harris, undertaken last year as well as considerable research and studio development.

It is always a challenge to present back to an audience works, which speak about their cultural and physical landscape. This year, the exhibition brought insight to the audience across a range of highly developed works, presented in a professional manner. It is a credit to the works developed, not only this year, that our programme can command an exhibition of student work at such a prestigious venue.

The exhibition was visited by Amanda Catto, Head of Visual Arts at Creative Scotland. Amanda commented: “I think the exhibition is really well done. A good range of well-considered and engaging work”



ASN 2, Solo project by Natalia Bezerra; RAMIFICATIONS

As part of ongoing practice-led research, Natalia Bezerra presented a body of new work, exploring the complex relationship between our actions and the natural world, in a solo exhibition in Tent Gallery.

Rising concerns on the global climate crisis in a time of increasing socio-cultural complexity forms the basis of Natalia’s research. Her interests examine this complexity in our increasingly interconnected societies and their paradoxical relationship of division and union with the natural world, principally through a linear language.

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In BOUND, what appear to be merely tree branches suspended in the gallery, at first glance, are the charred remains of twelve branches tightly entwined with wire, having been burned in a fire. Upon closer examination, the burnt remnants trapped within the wire, as well as the gaps present in these forms start to become recognizable. Moving around the installation provides the viewer with different perspectives of the work, with its linear qualities always intersecting regardless of where one’s standing – it is a form of three-dimensional drawing, developed in response to the increasing prevalence of catastrophic wildfires and deforestation threats.

Natalia seeks to challenge assumptions about our inability to combat the effects of climate change, bringing into question humanity’s tendency to create both physical and mental barriers in our interconnected world.

Inspired by the complex linear language found in tree canopies during a residency at Pishwanton Wood, near Edinburgh, Natalia sought to represent the interconnectedness among all living and non-living beings and systems. The perceived intersecting linear qualities of Bound are representative of this interconnectivity; however, the actual fragmented nature of the work presents the viewer with our disassociated awareness in the face of environmental catastrophe.

Her choice for using wire in the work is due to the material’s widespread use in creating boundaries — physical barriers across the landscape that divide ourselves from the rest of life. The processes of entwining and burning, as well as the confined configuration of the work itself, become emblematic of humanity’s impact in our ecological entanglement.

Adjacent to BOUND was the sculpture, CIVILISED, a plinth wrapped in branches of decay left over from the fire. One’s focus on these lines, mapped onto the plinth begins to unravel a map of Edinburgh’s road network. These networks run downward towards a mound of carbon, signaling the destructive aspects of civilisation’s advancement. This work, in conjunction with BOUND, shows the impact our actions not only have on the natural world, but also on ourselves.


A further projected work, MOSAICS, was exhibited in the cinema space, which depicted a subtly changing series of images of a figure in a woodland. Shadows depicting the linear language of the woods become darker and darker, appearing vein-like on the subject. The human eventually becomes unrecognizable; her individual identity is lost as she becomes completely entangled in these networks.


MOSAICS, which was a collaboration with fellow ASN student, Audrey Yeo, explored the human identity within the ecological entanglement. The gradual development of the time-lapse piece signals a merging with the landscape — the sought intimate union between humanity and the natural world. The work lends itself to notions of Queer Ecology, bringing into question how we distinguish ourselves as humans from nonhumans if our existence is dependent on relationality (T. Morton). The intimacy of this experience, which is only possible through direct observation and engagement with the natural world, introduces a sense of empathy and renewal, necessary during times of ecological catastrophe.


ASN 2, Solo project by Luis Guzmán; LOUPERKALION.


This was the second performance by the artist, which took place in Tent Gallery on the 14th of February, Saint Valentine´s day. The piece consisted of a blood sacrifice given by the artist to a little birch, the tree was planted later in the grounds of Edinburgh College of Art in a manifestation about climate change. 

The focus of the work was to produce a deconstruction of a contemporary myth by rescuing elements of the ancient Roman ritual called Lupercalia, a pagan festivity dedicated to fertility, sexuality and the horned god Louperkos. 


By comparing the Christian and the Roman version of the festivity, the work aims to raise questions about the ways we relate to nature, as a generative force (which is a concept that the artist explores in depth through his sculptural practice). While the Roman ritual took into account sacrifice in order to offer the vital energy to nature, the Christian-capitalized version lacks any form of retribution. In change, sexuality was sublimated into romantic love, which is ultimately expressed in economic transactions and over consumerism. The lack of retribution in contemporary social (and mental) systems is a sign of alienation created by the inversion of cultural symbology. “Giving back” to nature was slowly transformed into “taking from it”, in the same way, that sexuality was slowly transformed into a tamed form of happiness. 


Photo credit: Harmony Bury

ASN Graduate Series: Christine Morrison

Christine Morrison undertook the ASN course between 2010 and 2012. Here she shares her experiences of the course, as well as where the course took her since her graduation.


Christine’s practice is based on a need to be out in the natural environment, either on land or sea. Primarily she makes work by researching data and information relevant to a specific location and from a personal and emotional response to place. Viewing data of natural phenomena facilitates her entry into the landscape.

Christine researches data relevant to hours of daylight, wind patterns, times and heights of tides; patterns and rhythms emerge from this information, which in turn, formulate ideas for re-presentation of the ephemeral and the unseen in a visual way.

Christine works across a number of media including sculpture, video, drawing, printmaking, unique books or as a site-specific temporary installation, made directly within the landscape. Her practice also involves working within community groups, schools and public art projects, often in collaboration with other artists, such as writer, artist and storyteller Ian Stephen.

ASN 2, Solo project by Cody Lukas; OTHER

An extension of his previous body of work, which focused on the remediation of living processes through modern technology as to weave perceptions of man back into nature and dissolve notions of otherness between organisms; Cody Lukas’s recent solo exhibition, OTHER, narrows in on various expressions of otherness from his own experiences, as they relate to larger social constructs.

The first of which, A simple act of masochism, explores the dynamic between mankind and other living organisms; where normative perceptions rest mankind at the apex of Darwinian evolution, due mainly to our supposed superior intellectual capabilities, however overlooking our regular execution of self harmful actions in our day-to-day lives.

For Cody, this does not manifest itself it the acts of smoking or excessive drinking, but rather his passion for the sport of rowing. An activity that he trains for on average 12 times a week, leaving his hands blistered, calloused and bleeding. An action that has caused him to have a hernia at the age of 19, increases his likelihood of dying earlier at an old age from a heart attack, and left many of his friends with discus collapses before the age of 18. Viewed objectively, rowing shows to be a completely masochistic act.

Rather than depict the ailments that arise from this sport as a representation of this irrational aspect of his everyday life, Cody remediates the process in the gallery, daring viewers to carry out a similar illogical act of their own.

Over the course of a standard 2-kilometer rowing race, Cody generates an average of 381 Watt of energy for over 6 minutes. As energy is neither created nor destroyed, merely converted from one form to another, this electrical energy is equivalent to the physical strain that is placed on his body during that period of time. Suspended in the gallery viewers are confronted with two electrically charged rowing oars, cast from the artist’s own blades, allowing them to choose, of their own free will, to carry out a simple act of masochism and electrocute themselves in the space.

A simple act of masochism, exploring the place of masochistic action within the human condition is paralleled within the exhibition with a smaller complimentary work. War on Nature, is a photo series and film installation that depicts silhouettes of trees cast by fireworks on New Year’s Eve 2018, hereby contextualised within the scope of a societal act of warfare on the environment, an often incorrectly perceive form of Other that is understood as the nature-culture divide.

Looking at forms of Other as they exist between humans, the exhibition sets themes of gender and sexuality in opposition to one another, in terms of their relationship with the artist’s lived experience. The former, a category in which Cody finds himself within in the perceived majority, not as a male but a CIS gendered male; meaning he identifies with the gender he was ascribed at birth. The latter, which explores otherness within the scope of sexuality, is one in which he finds himself within the perceived minority. In this way, the pieces attempt to interpret the subject matter from a place of objectivity however recognising the artist’s inescapable subjective relationship with the subject matter.

L’homme qui marche (The walking man) explores the portrayal of the male gender in art, referencing the works of August Rodin and Alberto Giacometti. Here Cody studies the pieces, of same material, motif and title, as a linear progression of perceptions of gender over time from the 19th and 20th century, recognising the artists’ reliance upon the physicality of the subject as to convey gender. Recreating the work for the 21st century, in a time when the correlation between an individual’s sex and gender no longer exist, and gender is one’s own subjective interpretation of a construct, of which they choose whether or not to identify, the piece takes the form of a bronze cast strap-on dildo.










Taking into account Rodin and Giacometti’s relation to contemporary art of their time, the phallic symbol for the male gender is paired with a body length mirror, in keeping with the 21st century’s heightened interest in interactive art and the inclusion of the audience into the artwork itself, as to allow any individual to choose whether of not to wear the strap-on at the exhibition, regardless of their physical sex, thus becoming the third walking man in the series.

Once again it should be noted this interpretation of gender is coming from an artist living in the perceived majority, as a CIS gendered male, and the work welcomes future continuations of the series, leading to questions as to how the male gender may be portrayed in the 22nd century and beyond.

Designing Gay Babies, is created in response to the announcement made at the end of 2018 about the successful delivery of 2 twin girls who had been genetically modified with HIV resistance, calling into question the place of various minority groups in a genetically designed future. To this effect, the mixed media installation presents audiences with information regarding advances in the fields of genetic modification along with epigenetic studies of homosexuality in men; such as the development of a machine learning algorithm capable of determining with 70% accuracy a males sexual orientation purely looking at 9 sites along the human genome, or studies showing that gay males tend to score higher on metrics of cooperation and compassion and lower on metrics of hostility.

Amidst the DIY age, where anyone can get there hands on the technology for bio hacking and genetic engineering online, Cody focuses on the evolutionary advantages that this specific category of Other, to which he belongs, brings to society, and challenges viewers to think about, living in a time where it is okay to be gay, whether anyone would actively choose it?

This piece also includes the presence of yeast and E.coli cultures, genetically modified with antibiotic resistance as well as components from a DIY CRISPR Genetic Modification Kit purchased online.

Lastly, the entire exhibition, contextualised as a self-reflective exploration of otherness amongst humans, culminates itself in a self portrait. An animated creation compiled from images of the artist, distorted and morphed into its own form of Other.