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UCL’s MAPS Faculty Artist in Residence, Kat Austen, exhibits as part of London Creative Network Showcase at SPACE

By Charlotte E Choudhry, on 6 February 2017

 

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Over the last six months, UCL’s MAPS Faculty Artist in Residence, Kat Austen, has been developing her newest project, Vital | Flows, an interdisciplinary exploration of our relationship to food.

As part of the London Creative Network, Kat has been drawing together research methods from multiple disciplines to develop an artistic method that she will both publish open source and take out to communities through workshops.

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Late last month, Kat exhibited at SPACE some of her the artwork she generated through personally going through the development of these methods, alongside interactive invitations for visitors to overlay their own interpretations. Part of the LCN Showcase at the gallery, Kat’s work featured “tart cards”, using found #foodporn images. These postcard-sized flyers show doughnuts, cakes and tarts in the style of London’s recognisable call-girl cards, which adorned phone boxes in their dozens up until the 2000s.

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Kat will stage an intervention over the next two weeks where she will distribute her “tart cards”, which are complete with a valid phone number and topical voicemail message, around central London phone boxes.

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Her “sensual eating talismans”, reminiscent of the ouroboros, teamed up with excerpts from D.H. Lawrence’s Mystic, evoke a multi-sensory aesthetic experience of eating and “the transmutation of matter that we conceive of as food”, says the artist.

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As part of Vital | Flows, Kat also developed and exhibited DIY Chemistry analysis methods for investigating the presence of micronutrients in foods.

The methods developed for the artwork are the basis of Kat’s Citizen Science for Radical Change: co-design, art and community course for UCL’s Arts and Sciences BASc. As part of the module, students are leading workshops for pupils at Newham Sixth Form College to disseminate these methods as a way to discover new perspectives on food.

The LCN is an EC funded initiative, run by SPACE Studios in Hackney. Kat’s research has been supported by UCL’s Grand Challenges, doing it together science, Prof Andrea Sella and UCL Arts and Sciences BASc.