ART AND INDUSTRIAL CREATION CENTRE
LABoral Art and Industrial Creation Centre is a multidisciplinary institution, which produces, disseminates and fosters access to new forms of culture rooted in the creative use of information and communication technologies (ICT’s). Its transversal, integrated programming is targeted at a wide public base with the ultimate goal of generating and sharing knowledge.
LABoral is designed as a platform of resources available to designers to facilitate the development of ambitious projects in the fields of visual arts, design and architecture. The local presence of the institution is considered as an important factor to boost the relationship between creators and those of other Asturias regions of Spain or abroad. Laboral has since its inception, worked with numerous institutions in Spain and Europe, the purpose being to extend this network to other regions.
-A multidisciplinary institution that produces, disseminates and fosters access to new forms of culture emerging from the creative use of ICTs.
-A platform for access to tools and know-how to support artists and creators in the development of ambitious projects in art and industrial creation environments.
-A cross-cutting programme targeting all audiences with the goal of sharing knowledge.
-Offers a variety of ways to engage with the different programme areas.
-Acts as an anchorage point for the purpose of fostering dynamic relationships between the artistic and creative communities in Asturias and the rest of the world.
-A Centre for the production of contemporary art works that will form part of our future heritage.
-A Centre for innovation available to the public and artists.
-A “museum with a difference” where you can experience art, new technologies and industrial creation.
-The Europe 2020 strategy highlights the potential of cultural and creative industries and their substantial contribution to economic development.
-It identifies new information technologies as the driving forces in the development of creativity and the dissemination of culture.
-The capacity for innovation is closely linked to creativity as a personal attribute.
-Emerged from an initiative by the government of the Principality of Asturias in order to strengthen the field of technological culture as part of a strategy aimed at implementing alternative models for the future.
-Is a non-profit private foundation formed by corporations, private companies and institutions.
-Occupies 14,000 metres2 of the old Universidad Laboral’s workshops built in the 1950s of the last century by the architect Luis Moya.
-Acts as a spearhead for the City of Culture where more than 5,000 people study, work, create…
-Is one of the cornerstones of the “golden mile of knowledge and innovation”, a perimetre delimited by the technology campus of the University of Oviedo and the Gijón’s Science and Technology Park where the most innovative businesses are concentrated.
Four inter-related activity areas:
– Exhibitions and diffusion.
– Training and Cultural Mediation.
EXHIBITION AND DIFFUSION
-The DNA of LABoral: showcasing work by artists and creators.
-LABoral researches and experiments with new ways to share the experience of art. With exhibitions, performances, presentations…
-Provides access to the best in contemporary creation.
-Is a space for interaction.
-Presents work by local, national and international artists.
-Carries out coproductions with high standing international institutions: ZKM, Karlsruhe Banquete, Centre Pompidou, Paris, Electric Nights; TBA-21, Passages; Museum of the Moving Image, Gameworld and Playware; Ars Electronica, Playware; CA2M The Art Centre Dos de Mayo, Madrid, Auto.Dream and Matter and Experimental Station; MARCO Vigo, Active Presence.
-Plataform Cero. Centre for the production of contemporary art works and other cultural projects: future heritage.
-Technical support, consultancy, resources and infrastructure for creators, working groups and educators.
-Support for the creation of new work and artistic research.
-Provides technical support to creators and develops artist in residency programmes.
-Strategic agreement with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
-A space for research, training and production with advanced digital fabrication machinery to create real and virtual prototypes. One of the 50 existing centres in Spain and the world. Financially supported by Alcoa.
-In the Worldwide Network of Fab Labs. Signing of agreement with the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC).
Audiovisual Production Platform
-platO: Experimentation and research on artistic actions and new audiovisual forms.
-With equipment for recording, editing and the production and postproduction of digital and audio video.
-Aimed at national and international creators, developers and companies.
-Agreements, pacts and collaboration with companies, cultural institutions, schools, universities…
TRAINING AND CULTURAL MEDIATION
-Classroom for knowledge.
-Talks, workshops, courses, meetings, conferences, symposiums.
-Education offers for schools, educational centres and the general public.
-New teaching methods and ground-breaking formats.
-Learning resources to supplement classroom work.
-Collaboration with universities.
-Postgraduate programme with the Open University of Catalonia (OUC). Aiming to provide the necessary tools to understand and take part in present-day culture from an interdisciplinary perspective in connection with the main debates on the international scale.
-Interpretation Room. With audiovisual material, bibliographies and documentation so that visitors can better access their searches.
-Mediation team. Guided visits, Visit-workshops.
-Mediathéque. Space for research and the dissemination of today’s art and creative industries. With a strong focus on the intersections between society, art, science and technology.
-Archive of Asturian Creators. Database for looking up works produced by creators born or resident in Asturias
-The third best cultural initiative in Spain in times of crisis. (Barometre “The Culture Observatory” of the Contemporary Foundation, Madrid).
-More than 805,081 people have visited its exhibitions or participated in its activities between 30 March 2007 and 31 December 2014.
-A communication strategy with specific actions targeted at different publics.
-Numerous integrated and cross-cutting communication channels.
-Publications: Videos, photographs, catalogues, brochures, flyers, invitations.
-Web 2.0. An online strategy with a website and strong presence in social networks acting as far-reaching communication elements to engage with its geographically-dispersed publics and audiences. 617,769 visits and 3,443,665 website pages seen between 1 January 2007 and 31 December 2014.
-Strong presence in social networks.
-High impact in the Asturian, national and international media.
-During its first five years of existence, more than 18,000 press reports, features or interviews published in the Asturian, national and international media.
fabLAB Asturias is one of the labs integrated in the global network of fab labs, among other workshops that research on digital manufacturing using computer-controlled machines to manufacture physical objects from digital designs, as well as projecting and creating electronic tools and devices.
Fab Labs were originally an initiative by the Center for Bits and Atoms of the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) aimed at facilitating access to these new means of research, creation and production. The global network of Fab Labs connects more than 100 labs located in 30 countries in order to share documentation, projects and experiences, thus building one of the world’s largest network of distributed knowledge, which grows exponentially with the creation of new labs at a surprising pace.
fabLAB Asturias, located within the Production Centre Plataforma O of LABoral Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial, offers a unique creative environment in the network of Fab Labs due to its relationship between art and new technologies, which is the hallmark of the Centre since its creation, based on the relationship between the artistic arena and cultural industries, ICTs and the educational institutions related with the line of work of the Art Centre.
fabLAB Asturias is a centre for the research on the creative applications of digital manufacturing, but also an important educational resource and a node aimed at building a community that fosters the cultural and economic development of its environment.
In the field of research, fabLAB Asturias works on its own projects aimed at finding applications of digital manufacturing for artistic and industrial creation, designing devices and tools and making them available to the public following the open source philosophy.
As an educational resource, fabLAB Asturias follows the experience of LABoral Centro de Arte and offers resources to local educational institutions, and also to individuals, by means of courses, workshops or collaboration programmes. These activities, on the one hand, offer the knowledge and the access to techniques of digital design and manufacturing and, on the other hand, support creativity and open new lines of work regarding training and education. In addition, fabLAB Asturias, by sharing the results and documentation of its research and projects, becomes a public repository of information that can inspire the same processes in its local and global environment.
Moreover, fabLAB Asturias is intended to be a work resource that can connect creators, firms and educators in lab processes, by means of residency programmes, internships, collaborations and shared research projects. In addition, it also offers resources open to the public by means of open house days and a membership programme that provides access to use the machines for one’s own projects.
Conceived as a space for experimentation in the various practices of contemporary sound art, the Sound LAB aimed at fostering and providing technical and creative support to contemporary art practices related with sound following three lines of action: production, research and education. The Sound LAB is part of Plataforma 0. Production Center, the area of research, production and resources of LABoral. Located in a 122 square meters compound, in the southern area of LABoral, the Sound LAB is divided into three areas: achiving-documentation, listening room-exhibition area-experimentation workshop and control room.
Line of work
During its first year, the Sound LAB will focus its activity on the relationship between space and sound. To this end, work will be developed in fields related with the connection of acoustics with technology, sound spacialisation, radio spectrum… paying also attention to the construction of synthesisers, controllers, microphones and listening equipment or also, programming for artists and musicians using different tools, such as Pure Data, chuck or supercollider. All of this, obviously, following the line of work of Plataforma 0. Production Center of LABoral. In other words, focusing on the use of digital manufacturing equipment and machines, in search of new forms of production which outline a new industrial concept.
A space for experimenting and research of the new audiovisual forms of contemporary art, supporting artists with whom they collaborate directly for developing their projects from conception or adapting them to the halls of the Art Centre. The Audiovisual LAB carries out the documentation of exhibitions and activities of LABoral, as well as promotion, dissemination and communication videos for several on-line and mass media platforms.
CREATING FORETS / Art science technology & animals nature
Creating Forests (Piñera, Asturias,1996…) is a participative art action, representing a monument and at once a society. A living monument and an architectural society coupled with the passing of time which seeks to create a large global forest connecting all those already existing, through the sponsorship of trees.
It all started with a video-installation which, filling the function of a green house, invited people to fill in a form to sponsor a tree. This action produced a transfer from the urban setting to the natural environment, and in so doing fused apparently hostile realities. Following through on those initial parameters,crear bosques has become a far-reaching global action which, by means of networking and activism, wishes to create guidelines for dialogue and action: in short, individual engagement as a form of politics or eco-politics. Another of its principles is to work with a resource economy in order to turn the process into a growing relational node from the technological perspective of networking, outreach and sustainable growth.
The action consists of the compilation of sponsorship applications, while the management of the action —with a key involvement of museums, art centres, collectives and NGOs— and the actual planting returns to objecthood inasmuch as the transformation into a location map that allows sponsors to visit their tree should they so wish. To date, a number of actions have been carried out in Asturias and Galicia in Spain, and in Argentina, Peru, Paraguay, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Germany, among other countries.
Instructions: Use of the crear bosques map in the garden of LABoral Variable piece=168 trees
The artist Carmen Cantón volunteers to plant trees under commission in the garden of LABoral. The seed for the action was a performance, in turn based on a work in progress that began on 21st March 2000 in Monte Deva, Gijon.
Project Management: Carmen Cantón
Coproduction: EMULSA-Municipal Company of Urban Environmental Services, Gijón
Organization: Crear bosques & Centro de Arte Ego
Curator: Lucia Antonini
Collaboration: WVA-Women in the Visual Arts-, FPWA-Fund for the protection of wild animals-, Space Invaders, Guerrilla Girls
Monsters of the Machine
Frankenstein in the 21st Century
Monsters of the Machine is a contemporary take on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and asks us to reconsider her warning, that scientific imagining and all technologies have unintended and dramatic consequences for the world. It also invites us to ask the same about the arts and human imagination. Shelley’s classic, gothic horror and science fiction novel, has inspired millions since it was written 200 years ago in 1816, and then published anonymously in London in 1818. It offers a lens through which to look at the practices of arts and sciences today and how they shape society’s relationship with technology.
Dr. Frankenstein plays the role of the Promethean scientist, a creative genius, and also a narcissist tangled up in his own individual desires, exploiting others in an irresponsible and abusive drive to control nature. However, who is the real monster? Dr. Frankenstein or the poor wretched mutant he brought to life? Are we Dr. Frankenstein, or the suffering mutant, or both? This question posed by the exhibition considers the roles of our arts and science traditions and examines these issues as part of everyday life; as they are played out in the anthropocene, and climate change, gender politics, ethics, governance, surveillance, posthumanism, transhumanism, hacking, biohacking, colonialism, neoliberalism, biopolitics and accelerationism.
In this exhibition, visitors can experience artworks in which the human genome is used as the basis for a poetry machine for a self-assembling video montage spanning the thirteen years – a memorial work and an algorithmic visualisation for an historic scientific landmark. 3d printed avatars, representing distorted bodies in pain, in relation to virtual worlds, where there’s no geography and the result is the crack / wound, everywhere and nowhere. Visitors participate in a software-driven installation, a performative social neuroscience experiment to discover our shared psychological biases. A surreal video installation shows us a dystopian blend of ‘reality’ out in the remote Australian desert with traditional ghost stories and dreamtime stories, mixed with science fiction. The Sahara Desert is remapped by a custom bot in an algorithmically scripted performance, traversing the data-scape of Google Maps and filling a Tumblr blog and its data-centres. Artists take our bio-matter and the inconceivable quantities of data which we generate in our daily lives as materials with an inherent recombinant intelligence and the power to generate (without the intervention of human will) the narratives of human destiny and more. Do we inhabit our own bodies anymore, or do we share our body materials out for others to measure, reshape and construct, data-scrape and manage remotely. Arthur Kroker in Body Drift: Butler, Hayles, Haraway says that, “we no longer inhabit a body in any meaningful sense of the term but rather occupy a multiplicity of bodies – imaginary, sexualized, disciplined, gendered, laboring technologically augmented bodies.” 
Artists and scientists work with the same tools, frameworks and archetypes. There are crossovers, it’s no surprise that we find the boundaries of imaginative fantasy and objective reality breaking down. Take for instance, the jellyfish invasions around nuclear reactors in Japan, Israel, Sweden, and the Scottish plant in Torness. The natural world is writing its own science fiction into a new reality, with vivid images and outlandish outcomes. Right now, the classic techno-utopian dream of computers liberating us all and providing the tools that will underpin global democratisation, seem a long way off and even somewhat sterile. Since the news stories broke of mass surveillance of Internet users by NSA and Prism, we’ve experienced new formulations of mutual surveillance and manipulation everyday. So now we stand at a precipice, what choice do we have but to jump into this sea of dysfunctional dystopias, and to directly observe for ourselves, what we have become and what we will be, the Monsters of the Machine.
 Body Drift: Butler, Hayles, Haraway (Posthumanities). Author Arthur Kroker. University of Minnesota Press (22 Oct. 2012).
 Body Drift: Butler, Hayles and Haraway. Review by Marc Garrett 15/08/2015.
The exhibition draws upon ideas originally written in an essay. Prometheus 2.0: Frankenstein Conquers the World! Marc Garrett. http://www.furtherfield.org/features/prometheus-20-and-our-god-complex
Curated by: Marc Garrett, co-director of Furtherfield.org
Participating artists: [AOS] Art is Open Source, Cristina Busto, Equipo Sauti ya wakulima, Mary Flanagan, Carla Gannis, Genetic Moo, Fernando Gutiérrez, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Shu Lea Cheang, Gretta Louw & Warnayaka Art Centre, Regina de Miguel, Joana Moll & Cédric Parizot, Guido Segni, Karolina Sobecka, Alan Sondheim, Thomson & Craighead.
Graphic Design: Carmen Vázquez
This project is part of the activities of the European Digital Art and Science Network, co-funded by the Creative Europe Program
True to its commitment to researching and disseminating in Spain the most current creative practices, LABoral Centro de Arte de Gijón opens the exhibition Materia Prima.
True to its commitment to researching and disseminating in Spain the most current creative practices, LABoral Centro de Arte de Gijón opens the exhibition Materia Prima. Experimentos en arte digital y ciencia. This show, designed as an artistic-scientific experiment, focuses on the relationship between art, science and technology, emphasising the possibility to generate knowledge through art. From November 14, 2015 to May 8, 2016.
In his celebrated book The Scientific Outlookof 1931, the philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell states that science, in the beginning, resulted from men that loved the world. Men (and let me add women…) who realised the beauty of the stars and the sea, the winds and the mountains. And, precisely because they loved it all, the focused on the elements, the shapes and matters of nature trying to get a deeper understanding of Nature, going beyond the mere superficial observation.
The knowledge of the laws of the functioning of nature, brought about by their discoveries, granted humans a huge power to master their environment. The power based on the method and the concrete results of science explains, according to Russell, the success and prestige acquired by science in recent centuries as the leading paradigm to explain reality. The scientific technique, continues Russell, tends to consider nature and its components not as simple data, but as a “raw material” that serves any human purpose. The main characteristic of the scientific technique, in this sense, is that its way to know is not based on tradition, but on experiments. Therefore, the English philosopher thinks that scientific mentality -based on the experimental spirit- is the most distinctive characteristic of modern times.
If we extend these ideas of Russel on the experimental spirit as the defining feature of modernity to the field of cultural and artistic representations, we can realise how, along the twentieth century and the first half of the twenty-fist century, the scientific mentality has deeply penetrated the worldview of the contemporary man. From the avant-garde concerns of the first decades of last century to the most current forms creation of digital art, some of the key concepts of art theory and critic have been, and still are, things like observation, research, innovation, hybridisationand, especially, experimenting. In our digital era, science represents a source of inspiration increasingly important for artists.
Regarding the contemporary relationship between art and science, we should not forget a memorable page written by Umberto Boccioni in his book futurist aesthetics and art. In this passage the Italian artist summarises very well the aesthetic concerns of the futurist movement, emphasising that artists of his time needed to be updated on the great technical and cultural changes of that time and to connect especially with the new scientific sensitivity. Boccioni writes:
«The microbe is chased in the unfathomable depths of matter, its typical behaviour is monitored, photographed and defined in its infinitesimal individuality. Tens of thousands of electrons spin around the atom, separated from each other like the planets of the solar system and, like them, with inconceivable orbits and speeds, and the atom is already visible to our eyes, to our optical tools… Continents are cut into sections, the depth of the ocean and the incandescents gorges of volcanoes are explored… And artists: What do we do? We continued dividing nature into landscape, figure etc., etc. measuring the perspective of a street, and we are afraid to affect a light, slightly change a shape, create a work that does not follow traditional aesthetic laws! Let us admit that, if this infinite, this imponderable, this invisible gradually turns into an object of research and observation, this is because there is wonderful meaning flourishing among contemporary men, in the undiscovered depths of their conscience» (Futurist aesthetics and art, Acantillado, Barcelona, 2004, p. 171-172).
As we know, over the last century the limits of art have gradually expanded beyond the merely plastic field, towards traditionally foreign domains like technology or science. From the late 1970s, in particular, many initiatives have focused, in different parts of the world, on the intersection between art and science, starting lines of research, production and dissemination of these new creative practices.
Gene Gun Hack, Rüdiger Trojok. Courtesy of the artist.
Among other experiences, we should emphasise the historic exhibition Cybernetic Serendipity: The Computer and the Arts that took place between August and October 1968 in London’s Institute of Contemporary (ICA) curated by Jasia Reichardt. This show was aimed at reflecting upon the way the “new technologies” were impacting the field of artistic creation. Following a pioneer approach that focused on the incipient role of computers in contemporary art, the show included pieces that combined disciplines as diverse as poetry, music, graphic design, animations, painting machines and robots. Gordon Pask, Bruce Lacey, Nam June Paik (one of the founding fathers of video art) or Jean Tinguely (well-known for his sculpture-machines) among others took part in the show.
Another landmark in the field of the research on the hybridisation between art and science is the foundation in 1979 of Ars Electronica in Linz (Austria). With its innovating initiatives (from the Sky Art Conference in 1980 or the 1992 nanotechnology festival, to the category of Hybrid Art at the Prix Ars Electronica created in 2007) Ars Electronica has made an essential contribution to the development of this field, introducing scientific issues in the theory and practice of media art.
Some months ago in this blog our colleage LABlogger José Luis Calderón published the post A few metres between art and science, where he suggested an interesting overview of the relationship between art and science in Spain. This updated summary must be now extended with another event that is clearly important in our country. It isMateria Prima. Experimentos en arte digital y ciencia that LABoral Centro de Arte de Gijón opens from November 14, 2015 to May 8, 2016.
Curated by Gerfried Stocker, Artistic Director of Ars Electronica, Materia Prima is an exhibition/activity made up by sixteen projects by international artists and collectives. It has been taylor-made for LABoral, considering its peculiar nature a s venue for artistic creation, education, research and participation at the same time. The discourse of the curator tries to go beyond the traditional exhibition format, it is an attempt to generate knowledge through works that are halfway between and science. In summary, visitors are offered an experimental exhibition or, rather a exhibition, collaborative and interdisciplinary process-based experiment.
The title – Materia Prima – clearly refers to that first raw material mentioned by Russell. However, now-a-days which, using Jeremy Rifkin’s famous definition, we could as well call the age of access (The age of access, 2000), the concept of raw material, understood as a primary resource for human technical activities, acquires also an intangible meaning. As we know, now-a-days, data are probably the most valuable primary resource for many service providers that develop their successful businesses on the web 2.0 (Like, for example, Google or the leading online social networks).
ARTSAT team: Art and Satellite Project. Courtesy: Ars Electronica, 2015.
The exhibitional experiment Materia Prima is structured in six thematic labs, open for the observation and participation of visitors: BioLab (Bio-science Laboratory); FabLab (Digital fabrication lab); DataLab; Visualisation lab;GeoLab and Philosophy Lab. The goal of this labs is to group works according to the different phenomena chosen by the artists. The projects cover different scientific topics, such as, genetic engineering, as in the case of Andy Gracie’sDrosophila titanus, aimed at breeding a species of fruit fly (drosophila) that in theory should be suited for living on the largest moon of Saturn, Titan; the machine-human relationship, as in Environment Dress by the Asturian artist María Castellanos and the Madrid native Alberto Valverde, who propose clothing with sensory devices, or data compilation, as in the case of ARTSAT1:Invader, the first artistic satellite in history, sent into space on February 28, 2014 by a team lead by ARTSAT: Art and Satellite Project, with the aim of capturing and broadcasting image data and communication with ground control.
AGRIEBORZ, Nick Ervinck. Courtesy of the artist.
Lovers of the interaction between art and science, as well as the general public interested in the most innovating and experimental trends in current art should not miss the visit to Materia Prima. Experimentos en arte digital y ciencia.The interesting Programme of activities related with the exhibition can be seen in the web site of LABoral Centro de Arte.