Kat Austen (DE/UK) is a person. In her artistic practice, she focusses on environmental issues. She melds disciplines and media, creating sculptural and new media installations, performances and participatory work. Austen’s practice is underpinned by extensive research and theory, and driven by a motivation to explore how to move towards a more socially and environmentally just future.
Working from her studio in Berlin, Austen is currently Artist in Residence at the Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences, University College London and Senior Teaching Fellow at UCL Arts and Sciences. She is a member of the bbk, an inaugural member of the London Creative Network and is co-founder of the DIY Hack the Panke collective in Berlin.
Austen’s field research has included a voyage around the Canadian High Arctic as Artist in the Arctic 2017 for Friends of Scott Polar Research Institute (University of Cambridge) for her project The Matter of the Soul. In 2018 Austen was selected as inaugural Cultural Fellow in Art and Science at the Cultural Institute, University of Leeds for the same project. Austen has been awarded residencies internationally, including with NYU Shanghai, ArtOxygen Mumbai, LAStheatre, the Clipperton Project and Utter! Spoken word.
Austen has exhibited at Bonhams Art Gallery, London; The Polar Museum, Cambridge; Kuehlhaus, Berlin, among others, and her work is held internationally in private collections. She has performed around the globe, including at Opera North, Leeds; Fusion Festival, Berlin and Headlands Center for the Arts, San Francisco.
STRANGER TO THE TREES
What we consider to be our environment unequivocally and ubiquitously contains plastic. Recent research has been published on the presence of plastics at the outskirts of human reach: at the bottom of the Mariana trench, in the rain, clouds and atmosphere. While plastic can be detrimental to the quality of an ecosystem, plastic pollution is also a carbon sink, storing carbon and keeping carbon dioxide and methane out of the atmosphere. But is this carbon sink, itself an embodiment of industrial processes that contribute to the climate crisis, in competition or complementarity to forests? By what processes will they become together?
During her residency at WRO Dr Kat Austen is going to pursue artistic research on the topics of microplastic and the climate crisis.
These topics will be explored using DIY chemical analysis techniques previously developed to look at microplastics in water and soil and using chemical equipment specially adapted by Austen to generate sounds when used to measure chemical properties.
Stranger to the trees explores the reaches of anthropogenic influence in an artwork addressing the coexistence of microplastics and forests as carbon sinks.
I will look at the dynamic movement of microplastics in the atmosphere and its consequent distribution over land in the context of the climate crisis.
I will conduct experiments on incorporation and rejection between plastics and trees, considering the possibility for complementarity and coexistence, and develop a new media installation artwork.