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Lichen Kelp studio


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During her studio, Lichen is working towards Unconformity Festival 2020. With her own residency program, Forum of Sensory Motion, Lichen will travel to Tasmania, exploring the West Coast for 2 weeks in Feb 2020 with artists Jannah Quill, David Haines and Joyce Hinterding. The works will be based around experimental future technologies that can be harnessed to recontextualize the landscape of Queenstown.

Lichen will also work on a project called  ‘E skin’. It is an interactive electronic textile based on cuttlefish skin, which operates as a dazzling invisibility cloak and investigates the act of camouflage as a political practice. The textile will be developed into a wearable costume for performance.

Lichen Kelp’s practice combines performance chemistry – photography, sculpture and performance with curating travelling residencies. In her solo work, she explores chemical reactions, colour chemistry, transformation and phase states. In the group missions, she presents improvised dynamic (performance/dance/music/video) and kinetic (sculptural/ immersive) works resulting from hive-mind thinking and place-based learning while co-living on the move.

Lichen Kelp

November 2019

I am experimenting with sculptural botanicals and transparent coloured materials such as perspex, ice, and liquids. I am developing experiments that can be performed live for an event I am curating and performing at called MULCH: System Garden Performance Picnic. These will be the backdrop, props and costume elements for a dance by Benjamin Hancock with a live score by Dylan Martorell. https://www.forumofsensorymotion.com/mulch-performance-picnic

I am testing out new combinations of materials and how they respond to embodied movement.

I have recently learnt that bees are capable of counting up to 8.

December 2019

I have been making BioPlastic with Jessie French for a project called BioMutualism. I was also curating a Forum of Sensory Motion event called MULCH that was held at the System Garden in the University of Melbourne in November. This was part of Ian Potter Museum’s Inside Out program. I performed an electronic ikebana set on the day for Kelp D with Benjamin Hancock.

The MULCH event grew out of a friendship that I established with the System gardener, Tim Uebergang after approaching him for an earlier piece that I worked on, featuring a dying corpse flower. Tim gifted the over-sized greenhouse flower to me to be frozen into an large cyryogenic sculpture. I curated MULCH to give other artists this opportunity to work closely with the gardener and establish similar connections to the plants and respond to them directly through dance, poetry, music, perfume and performance.

I am currently investigating ideas around plant agency. As part of a performance I did for MULCH I created plant vision goggles for the audience to give them the chance to see the work from a plants point of view. Seeing the work that I create from this non human perspective is inspiring me to give more back to the environment and plant more flowers!! It has also helped motivate the algae based bioplastic work.

I discovered that the seaweed based BioPlastics and BioLatex we have been making behave in an odd non-animal, non-plant manner. They ooze ocean smells and move like they belong underwater.

February 2020

Reporting from the field…I am currently on a residency in Morrocco at La Pause in the Agafay desert with Jessie French. We have been researching Moroccan marine algae, focusing mainly on agar production as part of our work for the Seaweed Appreciation Society. We visited the only processing plant in Africa and secured some agar to create bioplastic sculptural works for an exhibition in Marrakech at Pikala Bikes on February 22nd. Last night we gave a talk at Mohammed V University about bioplastic. We discussed our recipes, future bio dreams, our project Biomutualism and the upcoming exhibition.

The work we have done with Seaweed Appreciation Society leads us to explore the local socio-economic politics related to algae in Morocco for this residency. Morocco is one of the main producers of agar in the world and in recent times there have been shortages due to over-harvesting. This has resulted in medical researchers around the world stockpiling supplies to use in Petri dishes.

We have been playing in the studio with various recipes including local ingredients such as the agar as well as olive pips, desert sand and pigments from mint, turmeric and saffron. The results are colourfully futuristic alien materials which are exciting as there as so many possibilities in terms of different applications, ingredients and variations in plasticity, stability durability and strength. The work is also a direct response to the seaweed research we have conducted along the Moroccan coast and will be referenced in texts presented on textiles and metal sculptural moulds created in collaboration with local artisans, within a bioplastic installation.

We have discovered that the local agar industry was a multi-million dollar industry which had lead to a rush on unsustainable harvesting. The government has recently placed sanctions on harvesting levels, which is good news for the marine environment.