Research & Artist statements and Philosophical claims

Research Statement

The research of Dr. Sarah Jane Pell focuses on the relationship between technological innovation, advanced life support, human factors research, and aesthetic practices. Pell has extended experience in the visual and performing arts developing new choreographies and expertise in developing multimedia platforms, by converging audio visual new media and traditional arts medias and commercially relevant industry regulation equipment, technologies and science protocols. Her previous dissertation, Aquabatics as new works of Live Art, explored aqueous philosophies and issues around the human performance experience underwater through practical and theoretical examinations of the diving body producing innovative live art performance laboratories, prototype life support and pneumatic technologies, operational protocols and manuals for the practice of Aquabatics in accordance with Australian and UK ADAS/ HSE Occupational Diver Standards, various lectures, new media exhibitions and publications.

I am currently designing subspace habitat performance laboratories to test innovative countermeasures and hybridised life support architectures for potential use in outer space applications. My interest lies in the exploration of the aesthetic possibilities, and economies, of biotelemetries; communications systems; cognitive adaptation; spatial navigation; adaptive systems; actual and virtual presences; the limits and behaviours of human performance in extreme environments; and the creative intelligence potentials of extreme environments sustaining life. This research may lead to significant new thought paradigms, strategies and technologies for future human habitation away from the earth. I intend to contribute a distinctly human voice to further the sci-techno-medico and sporting terrains of subspace research by asking 'what are the futures we imagine, and how do we begin constructing them?' One day I would like to be involved in enriching programs for space research and space analogues on earth, and in related spaces such as VR and remote stellar outstations. I am also deeply interested in the poetics, ethics, aesthetics and politics of these spatial intersections.

The aim of Pell's research is to critique and extend the human condition through the physical and psychological limits of the body and aesthetics of care operations and life support in extreme environments with new technologies, choreographies and protocols. By documenting how the body adapts to perform in extreme environment habitat situations, new technologies and bio-psycho data with predictive validity for longer durational subspace habitability will result (unhindered by the challenges and limitations of remote ocean operations for example). This research contributes widely to life support system development and understanding: from health care to the defence and military, information and surveillance systems, the mechanisms of public and private institutions, and the design and technology of living systems in, and of themselves.

Keywords Interdisciplinary Art Forms, Media Arts, Performing Arts, Visual Arts

Additional Terms Art and Science Collaboration, Human Performance Behaviours, Innovative Countermeasures for Space, Space and Art, Underwater Technology, Underwater Habitat, Space Analogue, Extreme Performance, Undersea Exploration, New Media

Aquabatics - TEDxSydney Talk interpreted!

Artist Statement

Humans experience many coexistent and contrary needs in relation to any given space. We have a desire for socialising, communicating and being close to others and, in direct contrast, we desire privacy, individuality and opportunities for meditation and creativity. I am practice-based performance researcher and I explore these issues and how they signify human patterns, rituals, behaviours and performances of day-to-day life through my laboratories and further imagine how they relate as a space analogue missions.

As a human factors researcher, live artist and philosopher, I became a fully qualified commercial diver and founded the Aquabatics Research Team in 2002 to explore commercial diving and creative practices together in a unique union. Originally focused on making underwater performances, my work now spans aqueous live art, digital media, installation, prototype pneumatic technologies, philosophies and experiments with advanced life support and living systems.

My practice exists as both temporary and permanent forms of new media in the form of actual and virtual habitats. My creative process begins with research, writing, and publishing my ideas. I build sculpture and prepare an installation which then becomes the construction site and space for the undertaking of a performance. This performance is documented and sometimes broadcast live. The visual and audio recordings of the entire process and the products of the performance are collated and remixed into new digital products for distribution and secondary exhibition as evidence in galleries, on the internet and for worldwide distribution on DVD.

Such a practice enables discussions of being, life and the critical climate in the way that it inspires correlations between/across various systems of our Universe. Aquabatics research is a unique, unconventional and innovative practice that draws on many histories and newly combined disciplines to propose a new aqueous philosophy. I have learnt more about the spirit of my escapism and connection with the artist-as-envoy and artist-as-explorer behaviour inherent in my underwater performance ambitions since attending the International Space University and leading a presentation for Directors Colloquim at NASA Ames, US (2006). By extending my work in the Space and Defence sectors - often as the only artist - I have begun the process of developing analogue simulation residencies and innovative research collaborations.

On a deeper level, I am considering the qualities of space through my own perceptions of time, distance and space both metaphorically and literally. Artists are well placed to translate the human factors of encounters with the world around us and in extreme environments. In my future postdoctoral research hope to address a broader provocation and that is: If I were to imagine the architecture of the future to be adaptive to the bio rhythms of the human species, how would we account for the specific bio rhythms of people living and working together underwater and in extreme environments on Earth as an analogue to outer space? Furthermore, what countermeasures or embrasive panaceas would be appropriate for quality of life?...

I have presented in Australia, Asia, UK, Europe, Scandinavia and the USA. Highlights include the National Review of Live Art, Glasgow (2003), Biennale of Electronic Arts Perth (2004), ISEA The Baltic (2004), ARC Biennial Brisbane (2005) MAF Thailand (2005, 2006) Tract, Live Art Festival UK (2006) Reykjavik Arts festival, Iceland (2006) BOOM! International New Media Festival, Taiwan (2007) and a retrospective of Aquabatics at the Western Australian Maritime Museum (2005). I completed a PhD at Edith Cowan University, attended the SSP at the International Space University, France (2006) and GSP10 Singularity University, NASA Ames, California (2010).

Philosophical Claims

Aquabatics is the term I use to describe the research between contemporary performance praxis, commercial diving operation and life support protocol. Aquabatics explores the psychological states, physical conditions and ideas that have grown out of an experimental process of inhabiting an aqueous environment – literally and metaphorically. Such a practice enables discussions of being, life and the critical climate in the way that it inspires correlations between/across various systems of our Universe. Aquabatics research is a unique, unconventional and innovative practice that draws on many histories and newly combined disciplines to propose a new aqueous philosophy. Development of the practice included trans-disciplinary documentation on the changes of my cognitive awareness, the aesthetics of care surrounding the practice, the spiritual journey and proprioceptive responses of the body underwater as a live(d) practice-as-research challenge. Commitment to this strategy enabled me to psychometrically profile and map new territories in human performance behaviours and limits in extreme environments as new works of live art. Inadvertently, Aquabatics proposed new aqueous philosophy to situate the human body in/of/as a body of water. (Pell, 2005)

  • Aquabatics literally translates ‘walking with water’.
  • Aquabatics is proposed as a noun and verb, theorem and praxis.
  • The state and condition of/in/for Aquabatics requires liquid architectures.
  • The Aquabatic body is inclusive of the human body and a body of water.
  • Aquabatics suggests the sovereignty to the self be resigned to concentrate the body of water.
  • The notion of the corporeal schema inherently presupposes ‘disembodiment’ and is therefore a futile strategy towards approaching Aquabatic performance.
  • Heidegger on ‘releasement’ and ‘disengagement’ points to the trajectories of form and matter, inhalation and exhalation, unification and individualisation but in this discourse, it contravenes the state or condition of Aquabatics itself.
  • Schauberger’s creative formation nodal point – represented as black hole or point of creation - is used as an alternative model to describe the Aquabatic potentiality and the actualised experience.
  • The sensibility and integrity of Aquabatic performance is a conduit for pneumatoses therefore transgressing transgressive performance towards an ‘aqueous transillumination’ flouting Virilio’s dispersions of pitiless art.
  • The paradoxical subversion of the two non-worlds of body and environment are described between the art and science of saturation and bare life.
  • Aquabatics performance, limits and behaviours are compared to the poetics and biotech fission body modification operations in Freeology.
  • ‘Membering is described as a strategy towards, and a consequence of, alterity / abjection / and the chora in/of/for performance which posits the choreographies of the body in an aqueous becoming.
  • The ‘escapist’ pathology of Aquabatics is identified as a simultaneous marriage and contest of natures: decadently carnivalesque and solemnly Lenten.
  • Taunting the Freudian notion of ‘somatic compliance’, Aquabatics is defiant to the laws of logic and expectation, evidenced through a subversive strategy of ‘over compliance’, transparency, visibility and concentration.
  • In an Irigarayan mode, Aquabatics as new works of Live art articulates the elliptical positions and status of the recalcitrant ‘feminine’ performance artist.
  • The priori status of posttraumatic body technicity is described as ‘sub human’ and requiring intensive care.