The poet, writer and visual artist Redell Olsen is the winner of the £15,000 DARE Art Prize 2020-21.
The prize offers an artist the opportunity to produce new work in partnership with scientists at the University of Leeds, as well as staff and performers from Opera North.
Professor Olsen will produce a song cycle and film in collaboration with Leeds researchers from the BioDAR research project, which uses radar to collect information about insect biodiversity.
The work will not simply be an artistic response to scientific data, but also a contribution to the research itself, with the pieces created exploring alternative ways to represent climate change and the potential for species extinction.
Redell’s perspective on the work will not only add a novel way for us to communicate the project outputs but will also challenge us to think about how we work together as a wider team.
Dr Christopher Hassall, a Priestley Centre member and Associate Professor in the School of Biology, leads the BioDAR project. He said: “We are delighted to have an artist collaborating with the BioDAR project.
“The research project is already interdisciplinary, combining the unique and complementary contributions of atmospheric scientists, ecologists, and data scientists.
“However, a major challenge for us is how to present complex information in a way that is engaging and informative for technical and general audiences.
“Redell’s perspective on the work will not only add a novel way for us to communicate the project outputs but will also challenge us to think about how we work together as a wider interdisciplinary team.”
The BioDAR Team is developing a way to recognise and quantify different species of insects in our skies using weather radar data, 3D modelling and academic expertise from the fields of biology, ecology, physics and atmospheric science.
Information about insects and other animals in the sky is a by-product of the UK’s extensive weather radar network. Previously discarded by weather scientists, it is hugely valuable in the mapping of insect life.
I am so looking forward to developing a new piece of work in collaboration with the research of the BioDAR team at the University of Leeds and with the amazing Opera North.
A British poet and writer who often works with film and performance, Redell lectures at Royal Holloway, University of London, where her research and teaching specialisms include innovative poetics, conceptual writing, book, arts and sound.
She said: “I am so pleased to be awarded the DARE Art Prize 2020-21. I don’t think there is anything else quite like it! I am so looking forward to developing a new piece of work in collaboration with the research of the BioDAR team at the University of Leeds and with the amazing Opera North.
“I am really excited at the opportunity to work with The Tetley and to be able to draw on the expertise of the National Science and Media Museum. What a great team to be in dialogue with!
“More than ever we need the possibility of such collaborative exchanges between art and science.”
During the course of the year she will be attempting to develop her project in ways that both acknowledge the constraints of the current lockdown situation and circumvent them.
Alongside her own writing, she will be exploring various modes of artistic practice and audience engagement across a diverse range of media and collaborative practice.
She has already begun work on the commission under lockdown, meeting the BioDAR team virtually and exploring collaborations with Opera North’s music staff and ensembles.
This year’s DARE Art Prize received a record number of entries from across the globe. The six shortlisted artists presented compelling proposals for understanding and embodying scientific issues through a wide range of media in various creative ways.
Submissions ranged from a collaboration between a printmaker and a sound artist to map and analyse the shifting boundaries between land and water, to an investigation of the concept of time-consciousness and an investigation into how the perception of time is altered in a state of psychosis, explored through performance and video art.
The winner of the 2018-19 Prize, artist and researcher Anna Ridler, spent her tenure investigating the points at which artificial and human intelligence intersect.
Employing theories about the brain’s response to unfamiliar tasks, with the collaboration of staff in the University’s School of Psychology, she taught a machine to draw, and employed an algorithm to process musical scores.
DARE is a unique collaboration between Opera North and the University of Leeds, the first partnership of its kind in the UK. Now in its 13th year, DARE is a world leader in building collaborations between the arts and higher education.
As two of the UK’s leading institutions of culture and education Opera North and the University of Leeds fuse the artistic with the academic, combining the very best of both organisations to inspire and stimulate new ways of thinking and working.
Initiatives including the creation of new work, research, conferences, work-based learning programmes, fellowships, scholarships and the sharing of ideas and aspirations are having a positive impact on students, audiences and the wider sector – and making a positive contribution to the business development of our organisations. www.dareyou.org.uk