Beyond Uncertainty

Attractors: Roberta Buiani & Jim Ruxton

Peur toujours, peur partout (Bauman, 2005: 2).” With these words, Bauman recalls Febvre’s description of “the experience of living in the XVI century Europe,” when ubiquitous fear was evoked by darkness, “…which started just on the other side of the hut door and wrapped the world beyond the farm fence….” While darkness is not directly connected to uncertainty, it sure is the natural locus of uncertainty, as the place where anything could happen. For years, scientific institutions, governments, etc. have made it their mission to tame uncertainty by mapping, calculating, assigning specific roles to all types of phenomena. The idea was that once tools and instruments were made more advanced, and focused, uncertainty would be substantially reduced, or even erased. However, as many individuals in science technology and theory have noted (from Virilio to Robins and Webster, Deleuze, Barad) this is only partially the case. The more we move the horizon of the unexplored, the unseen, the previously uncalculable, the more we find more problems to be solved, more theoretical issues to be untangled, more uncertainty to be captured. Uncertainty can paralyze. We can try to limit its fuzziness. Even better, we can move beyond it, by turning “uncertainty as an object to be conquered” into “the very instrument fueling research and creative opportunities.” Starting from this idea, we would like to invite artists, scientists, and theorists to reflect on the potentials of uncertainty as a medium, rather than on how instruments and tools can better solve its unpredictability. In other words, we would like you to re-think uncertainty as a means, rather than an end.

Methodology: One of the main goals of Subtle Technologies is to facilitate cross-examination of similar concepts among different areas as well as cross-disciplinary collaborations. As proponents of this stream, in addition to the classic panels, we would like to see the above-proposed thematic area questioned, discussed or contested through a series of, or even one single session, which would take the form of a roundtable made to accommodate short interventions. This strategy would prioritize dialogue and discussion rather than just exposition and academic presentation, thus fostering a fair circulation of ideas. While we have listed below two possible keynotes/guests who would superbly address both the general topic of the conference and the stream we have proposed, we would like to see them engaging with the larger community (local and international) of the participants in the Mutamorphosis conference. In addition, we would like to solicit interventions from a variety of individuals coming from a variety of other backgrounds (not just physics or bioengineering/biomedicine). Of course, we are committed to take part in the programming process, in the panel/roundtable facilitation and organization, by writing a dedicated call to solicit short interventions from local or international scientists and/or artists that would like to be involved in this timely discussion.


Roberta Buiani, Program Advisor, is a community artist, educator and postdoctoral fellow in Technoscience at the Canada Research Chair in Technoscience at Lakehead University. She received a PhD in Communication and Cultural Studies from York University. Her work at the intersection between science, technology and the arts, questions their traditional uses and looks for threads that facilitate cross-communication between disciplines, individuals and creativity. Her viral interventions (”The Viral-Knitting Project,” “Megaphone Choir,” “YorkisUs”) and experimental labs (the sandbox project) investigate the role of the “viral” as concept and creative practice that carries potentials to transform social customs and the way we communicate., http://

Jim Ruxton is the Founder and Director of Programs at Subtle Technologies
Jim has over 20 years experience as an engineer and 15 years experience as a media artist. He has integrated science and artistic vision into his own work and is interested in the interdisciplinary work of others. Jim has developed a broad international network of fellow artists, engineers and scientists. As an engineer and artist his passions, skills and networks within both the realm of art and science/technology provide an expansive and critical vision for the festival. He is also a professor in the Integrated Media Department at the Ontario College of Art and Design and inventor of ColorWave lighting technology.