Purgatory Possible Projects

A Sound Installation:

Sci-Art, Density, Collaboration and Ethics




A Collaboration between Petra Kuppers, Jay Steichmann (sound art), Lisa Steichmann (book art)

Created in response to an artist's visit to SymbioticA, with thanks to the participating artists/scientists, including Oron Catts, Ionat Zurr, Donna Franklin, Guy Ben Ary, Paul Vanouse, Stuart Bunt, Shelly Browning, Miranda Grounds.

SymbioticA is a research laboratory dedicated to the artistic exploration of scientific knowledge in general, and biological technologies in particular. It is located in The School of Anatomy & Human Biology at The University of Western Australia. SymbioticA is the first research laboratory of its kind, in that it enables artists to engage in wet biology practices in a biological science department.


Purgatory Possible Projects emerges out of the notion of waiting, of indecision, of an absence of judgment implied in the old Christian concept of purgatory as a place of suspension between heaven and hell. The possible project at the site of indecision is a project that is in abeyance, not begun, not finish(able), a chimera. PPP, then, refers to the exciting realms of ethics, investment, imagination, subjectivity, to relationships between laboratory spaces and the ‘public realm'.


PPP stems from a three-week artist visit at SymbioticA, where Petra Kuppers interviewed artists and scientists at a local café outside the laboratories, on an ocean bay, surrounded by sea birds, in Perth, the most isolated city in the world. The interviews were recorded on mobile phones, giving the sound a transitory quality, a density, and an embedment in the local site with its winds and non-human participants.


PPP explores the thought-patterns and dreams of art workers who engage in affect-laden realms (such as transgenic art, tissue-culture work or other forms of sci-art where issues of life and death are at stake). PPP offers visitors noise and information, a dense soundscape in which communication can only be established precariously, and where all stories remain fantasies.



Olimpias Collaborators:

Lisa Steichmann is a visual artist whose work is primarily in photography and book arts, ranging from miniatures to large installations of murals. Her technique of painting photo developer onto nontraditional surfaces interrupts the photographic multiple, stressing individual communication over distributive. She teaches at University of Michigan and at
Washtenaw College . Her MFA is from Wayne State University .

Jay Steichmann is a PhD student at Michigan State University whose specialization is in the emergent field of digital rhetoric. His research area includes technical and professional writing, digital literacies,  and curriculum and program development. He also writes on ergodic literature and technology transfer, and their influence on rhetoric/composition theory.


Exhibition history:

National Communication Association Conference, San Antonio, TX, 2006

Sedimentations: An Art/Culture/Nature conference, Rhode Island, 2007

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