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CAST is a research centre for the continuous elaboration of the relationship between contemporary arts and social transformation. It provides a forum for researchers to present and debate ‘work-in-progress’ as well as a vehicle for critical interdisciplinary exchange within an expanded field of contemporary arts. One of the central objectives of CAST is to facilitate new knowledge via collaborative research strands that, in the spirit of transformation, enable the discovery of common themes and events beyond that which we can currently imagine.

CAST is currently working with the thematic “Nature, Network and Event in Contemporary Arts.” Nature is what cannot be avoided amidst the current social and ecological crises. Networks involve the formation of ever expanding knowledges across bodies, species and institutions; and, events are the moments of intensity within the anthropocene through which we can respond. In focusing on this common theme CAST will work to engage directly with other UOW faculties, a range of researchers in Australia, and further afield.

CAST is looked after by the co-convenors Su Ballard and Lucas Ihlein, a research assistant Pip Newling, and a specialist advisory board: Sarah Miller, Brogan Bunt, Ian Buchanan, Vera Mackie, and Jo Law.

CAST 2014 Program

Aerial View of Nevallan, Western Sydney7 November
URGENT ECOLOGIES: Conversations on Art and Transformation 

UniCentre, Building 11, Room 3 and 4
9am - 4:30pm

Free event, all welcome.
Spaces limited and RSVP essential - Pip Newling

Human transformations of our environment have long been a focus for art, writing and performance. The unprecedented environmental challenges we face today demand we pay attention to the Urgent Ecologies in which we are now embedded and complicit. If art, writing and performance are underpinned by the invisible, and in some cases, highly visible, powers of cultural institutions and social borders, what does it mean to think about transformation? It is not just that we have a need for transformative responses to current political, social and geographical horrors, but that we must also consider transformation as an activator of new forms of thought. In an environment of constant and unfathomable change, the tools of critical romanticism are perhaps as valid as those of protest.

Urgent Ecologies brings together a leading group of critical and cutting edge thinkers to assert the unequivocal importance of work that challenges and expands our knowledge of the violent sites we now occupy. Drawing on multiple knowledges and ways of being from French ethico-aesthetics to Indigenous expertise and presence, Urgent Ecologies will ask how we might begin to match the scale of our thought with that of the catastrophe around us. What alliances can we form and what patterns can we reveal, for thinking both about today and the future?

The symposium will offer an open conversational format. Participants will be invited to think beyond the usual logics of science and art, and begin to redress the contemporary anthropocentric view of ecology via the activities of art, writing and performance.


Image: Ian Milliss and Lucas Ihlein, "Aerial View of Nevallan, Western Sydney", offset lithographic print from "The Yeomans Project", 2011-14.

Amanda Cachia installation.23 September
'Disabling' the Museum: Curator as Infrastructural Activist

Public lecture by Amanda Cachia
HA Research Hub

Museums and the cultural sector continue to grow in popularity. This lecture examines the ways in which the curator might become an infrastructural activist in the museum for the benefit of disabled artists and audiences. If museums forsee how curators are playing a more critical role in working with their publics, rather than with objects, and if educators too, are always already doing this kind of work, how can curators and educators work together to create meaningful and accessible experiences about disability in museums that serve a wide range of audiences? What are the ethical and practical responsibilities for curators in thinking about exhibits that offer disability as a central subject matter? How can access become a dynamic conceptual tool for interrogation in art exhibitions hand in hand with thinking about access as a practical conundrum? The presentation will include an overview of Cachia’s recently curated exhibitions, such as Composing Dwarfism: Reframing Short Stature in Contemporary Photography and Performing Crip Time: Bodies in Deliberate Motion for Space4Art gallery in San Diego (2014) and LOUD silence for the Grand Central Art Center at California State University Fullerton in Los Angeles (2014). 

Image: Installation shot, "Performing Crip Time: Bodies in Deliberate Motion," Space4Art, San Diego, CA, June 27 - July 19, 2014, curated by Amanda Cachia.

Timo Arnall Image8 September
Thinking Art and Science: Conversations on Arts and Transformation

Keynote Lecture and Afternoon Seminar
Performance Space, Building 25

As part of the TAEM Postgraduate week CAST is very excited to be hosting an afternoon of conversations on art and transformation. Beginning with a Keynote lecture by Honor Harger Executive Director of the ArtScience museum in Singapore, and followed by a panel discussion addressing relationships between art and science in digital contexts the afternoon will consider the contribution that artistic practice in the network can make to social and environmental change.  

Harger’s talk will introduce audiences to cutting edge work that includes artists using drones and critical data technologies. Titled “Something Invisible in the Landscape is Just Landscape” Harger’s lecture examines recent art practices that have engaged scientific and social data both big and small to enable us to critically rethink relationships with the environment. Her visit is made possible by a grant from the Australia Council visiting scholar’s program.

Honor’s keynote will be followed by a panel discussion addressing the intersections of art and science and their transformative potentials in contemporary contexts. It will build on the recent CAST research camp “Nature, Network and Event” that drew together eleven UOW researchers and two invited guests to discuss the critical and practical tensions in research that addresses contemporary concepts of nature.  With two new invited guests, the Thinking Art and Science panel will begin by attempting to address the ways in which links between art and science are becoming more visible. 


  • Su Ballard, Convenor CAST, UOW
  • Honor Harger, Executive Director ArtScience Museum, Singapore
  • Kathy Cleland, Director of Digital Cultures Program, University of Sydney
  • Brogan Bunt, Associate Dean Research LHA, UOW
  • Lucas Ihlein, Lecturer Contemporary Arts, UOW

Image: Immaterials: Light Painting WiFi by Timo Arnall, Einar Sneve Martinussen, and Jørn Knutsen (2011)

Nathan Thompson Image21 - 23 July
Nature, Network and Event: The CAST Research Camp

Riversdale Glenn Murcutt Education Centre and Library, Bundanon

Fifteen artists, historians, designers, writers, and thinkers will gather for 48 hours in a focused research environment. The discussion will centre on the contributions contemporary art practices can make to our understanding of the Illawarra in the context of social transformation. We will explore interdisciplinary strategies for re-imagining nature, network and event in this part of the world. The researchers gathering for this first CAST research camp have all previously worked with imagining the social, political and affective capacities of the environment. Insofar as research is a process rather than a goal, a modality rather than an output, the camp will develop active engagements with thought and possible transformations of practice.

Opening questions:

How might the work of art facilitate our understandings of environmental transformation?
How might the affective encounter be understood within environmental transformation?
What are the pragmatic contributions that thinking through contemporary arts might make to ethical, sustainable and considered transformations?
How do connections form between research practices, and how might we catalyze the process of “not-knowing”?
What are the innovative and interesting research directions that might shape the future directions of CAST?


  • Adam Lucas (UOW STS)
  • Agnieszka Golda (UOW Contemporary Arts)
  • Bianca Hester (SCA Visual Arts)
  • Brogan Bunt (UOW Media Arts)
  • Catherine McKinnon (UOW Theatre)
  • Douglas Kahn: (UNSW NIEA)
  • Jo Law (UOW Contemporary Arts)
  • Jo Stirling (UOW Design)
  • Leah Gibbs (UOW AUSSCER)
  • Kim Williams (UOW Contemporary Arts)
  • Louise Boscacci (UOW Visual Arts)
  • Lucas Ihlein (UOW Contemporary Arts)
  • Pip Newling (UOW Creative Writing)
  • Su Ballard (UOW Contemporary Arts)

Image: Nathan Thompson Bird Distributions, 2013 ink on paper.

Last reviewed: 12 November, 2015