Frankenstein’s monster conference


Two centuries after Mary Shelley’s novel comes a conference inspired by its enduring success.


Boris Karloff, in the 1931 film adaptation of Mary Shelley's novel.
Boris Karloff, in the 1931 film adaptation of Mary Shelley's novel.
Silver Screen Collection / Contributor

The University of Western Australia’s one-of-a-kind laboratory, SymbioticA, which conducts research at the intersection of biology and art, invites you to participate in Quite Frankly: the Monster Conference, by submitting ‘provocations’ by March 31.

The conference will run on October 18 and 19 at the University Club of Western Australia, in the city of Perth.

The ambitious gathering welcomes submissions from a variety of disciplines, ranging from scientific topics like animal studies and AI, to the more interdisciplinary topics of Indigenous futurisms and transhumanism. The organisers challenge people to submit things that defy the norms of conventional conference presentations and encompass both artistic and scientific expression and voice, to foster creative discussions of an alternative nature.

The conference takes its inspiration from the 1818 literary masterpiece and genre-defining novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, by Mary Shelley. The organisers feel that this will provide impetus for dissecting and discussing the many social, ethical, and techno-scientific issues raised by the novel, that continue to be valid in modern society.

The conference aims to challenge the rigid perfection, control and surveillance that today’s scientific world is fixated on, and to promote instead a constructive discussion about how science and technology affect humankind, using Frankenstein’s Monster as a metaphor.

The SymbioticA laboratory was established in 2000 by Oron Catts and his collaborator Ionat Zurr. Since then it has seen numerous residents, researchers and artists produce thought-provoking and imaginative works of that have intermingled of science, technology and artistic ingenuity.

The laboratory has partnered with Somathechnics – a multi-disciplinary journal and book-series, published by Edinburgh University Press, which covers content about the human form and how technology affects it, having published on issues such as the LGBTQI community, disability, and radicalisation with nuance.

The experience and expertise of the conference guest speakers are sure to stimulate some interesting dialogue. Among the keynote addresses will be one delivered by 2005 Australian of the Year and plastic and reconstructive surgeon Fiona Wood, whose work in forwarding burns research and treatment have earned her numerous honours.

Also speaking will be Karen Barad, who acquired a PhD in theoretical particle physics and quantum field theory but transitioned to thinking about the universe in a more interdisciplinary manner, and is now a professor of Feminist Studies, Philosophy, and History of Consciousness at the University of California, Santa Cruz

Another guest is Ambelin Kwaymullina, an Aboriginal law academic and successful fiction writer. Her works uses literature, academia and business to explore on how non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal people may engage to create a harmonious society.

They will be joined by Kira O’Reilly is a celebrated artist whose work has been displayed the world over and currently heads up a masters program in Ecology and Contemporary Performance at the University of Arts Helsinki.

To find out more about the unique conference, click here.

  1. https://www.conferenceonline.com/abstract/alogin/?clear=1&warehouse_id=1423
  2. https://www.euppublishing.com/loi/soma
  3. http://www.symbiotica.uwa.edu.au/activities/symposiums/quite-frankly-2018
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