Sculptural Snogging Beyond the Binary by Simon Hall

British Science Festival – Free public drop-in art / science workshop

Sept 8th 2023 – 7pm until 10.30pm

As part of the Guildhall Centre evening takeover, Exeter City Centre 

As part of the British Science Festival (a partnership between the British Science Association and Exeter University), ‘Sculptural Snogging’ is an art/science workshop exploring public health research surrounding sexual healthcare experiences of trans and non-binary people.

The UK National LGBTQ+ Survey found they are less likely to attend a sexual health clinic and are far more likely to report a negative experience. Worldwide it’s estimated that HIV rates are over 10x greater amongst trans women compared to the general population, but because of a lack of good evidence, we don’t know the true UK figure for prevalence of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections in these groups. The underlying systemic exclusion and poor access of trans and gender non-binary people from such healthcare is an issue that needs to be further researched and publicly explored.

Join artist and doctor Simon Hall in collaboration with local sexual health and LGBTQ+ charities, in a session that will de-bunk myths about sexual health, explore public health challenges, peek into the history of medicine, and promote queer body positivity. 

Step into a make-shift art laboratory space to delve into the art and science of our mouths, kissing and sexual health by creating your ideal luscious lips and tantalising tongue. Craft with dental tools and materials to sculpt and hack your creations with piercings, ink and make-up. Explore digital anatomies, queering of the body and the fantastical self by viewing digital models in VR and capture your own transcendentally enhanced oral creation with photogrammetry on your mobile phone for sharing and learning.

Event organised by IUR Director Anna Dumitriu in her role as recorder of the Art and Science Section of the British Science Association.

New Department of Futures

We are pleased to announce our new Department of Futures headed by Luke Robert Mason, a futures theorist who studies the technological developments that will alter what it means to be human. Throughout his career he has interviewed hundreds of the world’s most influential thinkers on their vision for the future. These insights have informed his collaborations with innovators in the fields of advanced science, emerging technology and the arts and have provided him with a unique perspective on the world of tomorrow. Find out more here.

Gold from Seawater – Inspiration for the IUR

Cover of Mr Henry James Snell’s “Processes for the Extraction of Gold from Sea-water (Works, Plants etc etc)”

It’s not just what we remember that’s important, but what is remembered about us. How do we achieve immortality? Is it through our genes as they are passed down? Why is it that sometimes we can feel so close to ancestors we have never even met? Our director, Anna Dumitriu has attempted to trace a genetic link to between her family history and her art-science practice.

Henry James Snell

The inspiration behind the Institute of Unnecessary Research is Anna Dumitriu’s great grandfather Henry James Snell 1842-1927. He was a renowned stained glass and ceramic painter (with studios in London and Brighton), a playwright and a songwriter (and father of seventeen children with three different women). Five of his books of plays, poems and enamel painting techniques can be found in the British Library rare books collection and he was known to have painted over three thousand stained glass windows.

HJ Snell’s Gold Works, Isle of Wight, UK

Whilst investigating the properties of enamel painting he found he was able to extract silver. This lead to further experiments into methods of extracting gold from seawater. Nobel prize winner Sir William Ramsey was retained by a syndicate, called the Industrial and Engineering Trust (Limited), to develop H J Snell’s work. Shareholders included Lord Brassey, Lord Tweedale, Hon. Alban Gibbs, several manufacturers and Albert Sandeman, foremost owner of the Bank of England. The syndicate had the modest capital of £3,000 in £1 shares.

Gold Works, Hayling Island, UK

Ramsey made experiments and stated in a formal report that “there is no doubt Snell has proved that gold can profitably be obtained from sea water on a large scale, and the amount of the gold obtained is so large that whether the cost of the treatment is £1 a ton or even the outside figure of £8 a ton, which it could not exceed, it would not make very much difference.”

HJ Snell at the Gold Works, Isle of Wight, UK

This research was unnecessary because the cost of electricity required to undertake the work would actually have been more than the gold that could be extracted by those means. If on the other hand nuclear fusion was possible, or green energy was used, it would be a relatively easy process, potentially leading to a crash in world gold prices and of course global economic disruption (especially at the time of the experiments when the gold standard was in practice). This has many parallels with contemporary cryptocurrency mining and blockchain technologies and a new artwork to explore this aspect of the story is currently being developed by Anna Dumitriu and Alex May.

Gold Works, Hayling Island, UK

Anna Dumitriu originally spoke about  H J Snell’s experiments  in her talk “Science and Art – A Genetic Link?” at the Catalyst Club in Brighton  on 21st February 2006, and later that year published an article in Aesthetica Magazine on the subject.

HJ Snell’s Gold Ore Concentrators

Also in 2006 she created a performative intervention “Putting Back Henry’s Gold” where she hired a boat from Brighton Marina, went out to sea and poured 24 carat gold dust into the water. The work can be seen as a reaction to the extraction of natural resources and its economic impact.

HJ Snell’s Laboratory