a history of gestures, actions and jewelry
September 25 – November 14, 2015
curated by Monica Gaspar and Damian Skinner and including Lauren Kalman & Kipp Bradford’s Virus Simulation, this exhibition demonstrates the relational and participatory potential of jewelry, investigating its presence in the social world through artworks, jewelry objects, and commissioned projects. Dr. Damian Skinner is a New Zealand art historian and curator of Applied Art and Design at the Auckland Museum. Mònica Gaspar is a curator, writer, and lecturer, investigating craft and design as critical and reflective practices.
“We are replacing the dominant model of the critique of preciousness. This installs the maker and aesthetic criteria as the key criteria for the value (economic as well as cultural) of a piece of jewelry. For this exhibition, we have developed a model that prioritizes the way objects and practices function—the gestures and agents that are involved in the relational aspects of a piece of jewelry. In part I wanted to follow the ‘non-human turn’ in social science to explore what happens when the object itself is understood to have agency and be a social actor.” Dr. Damian Skinner, co-curator.
Virus Simulation is a collaborative work between artist and jeweler Lauren Kalman and engineer Kipp Bradford. It is an interactive artwork that makes visible the hidden world of a biological virus spread by social contact. Is comprised of wearable interactive electronic jewelry that mimics the spread of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). The design for these brooches is derived from a computer image of the HPV virus.
Virus Simulation consists of adornment objects that are wearable computers. The computers are custom variants of the Arduino Pro Mini 328 developed by Kippkitts, LLC. These computers are equipped with infra-red (IR) transceivers for inter-device communication, as well as LEDs to “communicate” to the human host. Virus Simulation is powered by electronics loosely derived from Socialbomb, an interactive wearable badge that measured interpersonal reputation based on social promiscuity and status, and electronics derived from the AS220 Fool’s Board, an Arduino and XBee-based flexible platform for social gaming.
Ths work creates an opportunity to simulate the spread of a contagious disease in a real population, explore the limitations of simulations, explore the social implications, while avoiding the obvious ethical problem of infecting a live population with a live virus.
This research and design project combines Kalman’s visual art practice and Bradford’s biomedical engineering practice. In addition to the artistic impact of the work there are potential benefits outside of the art field. The spread of contagious disease in heterogeneous populations has been examined extensively using empirical models based on real world data.  These virtual simulations help us understand how a disease might spread and attempt to model the change in behavior of individuals during spread events.  These models are critically useful to building a better understanding of contagious disease dynamics and the public health implications, yet these models suffer from limitations with respect to model validation and computational capacity.
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