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To view the online Conference Programme Booklet (including abstracts and bios), click here.



17-19 November 2023, University of Western Australia


Day 1 – Friday 17th November (UWA School of Design)

9:45 Registration


@Cullity Gallery

10:15 Opening and Welcome to Country
10:30 Session 1.1

Anthropomorphic Automaticity

Chair: Catie Gressier

@Hew Roberts Lecture Theatre

Chris Danta (ANU)

‘Dear AI Reader: Nonhuman Perspective and Evolutionary Thinking in the Human-Machine Relation’


Robert Briggs (Curtin)

‘Ghosts in the Animal-Machine’


Matthew Chrulew (Curtin)

‘Animal Machinations’


12:00 Lunch
13:00 Session 1.2

Unruly Vital Signs

Chair: Elizabeth Stephens (UQ)

@Hew Roberts Lecture Theatre

Christopher O’Neill (Monash)

‘Recuperating the Ambivalent Biometric Trace of the Child and the Corpse’


Jimi DePriest (UWA)

‘Biomimicry in Automated Warfare’


 Sarah Collins (UWA)

‘Performing Automation’


14:30 Afternoon Tea
15:00 Session 1.3
Room A

Speaking, Communication, Signs

Chair: Pia van Gelder (ANU)

@Nelands Seminar Room

Room B

Automating Biological Systems

Chair: Cristin Millett (Penn State)

@Hew Roberts Lecture Theatre

Lottie Sebes (Berlin University of the Arts)

 ‘Speaking Machines: Wearing the Skin of Synthesised Voice’


Rachel Ankeny (Uni Adelaide)

‘Selecting a Chassis in Synthetic Biology: The Challenges of and Lessons Learned from Model Organisms’


David Friedrich (UWA)

‘From Gold to Naughtiness: Disclosing the Nature of the Cochlear Implant via the Sound Installation “Naughty Box”

Oron Catts (UWA)

‘The Myth of Reaching Abundance without Consequence through Metabolic Rift Technologies’

Kirill Postoutenko (Bielefeld University)

‘Automatism in Language and Society: Humans as (Non-)Trivial Machines’


Antti Tenetz

‘Machina Naturae: Exploring convergence of AI, Biological Systems, and Space Technologies in Speculative Futures’


16:30 Coffee/Tea Break
17:00 Keynote – Gunalan Nadarajan (University of Michigan)

‘Mea Culpa: Automation, Agency and Accountability’

Chair: Ionat Zurr (UWA)

@Hew Roberts Lecture Theatre

18:00 Reception

@ Cullity Gallery



Day 2 – Saturday 18th November (Before lunch at UWA School of Design; after lunch in Perth CBD)

8:30 Registration


@Cullity Gallery

9:00 Session 2.1

@ Hew Roberts Lecture Theatre

Panel: Anna Munster (UNSW), Zoe Horn (ICS/WSU), Liam Magee (ICS/WSU), and Ned Rossiter (ICS/WSU)

‘Automated Images, Images of Automation: Logistical Forms, Machine Imaginaries, and the Geopolitics of Automation’

10:30 Morning Tea
11:00 Session 2.2
Room A


Chair: Santiago Renteria Aguilar (UWA)

@Nedlands Seminar Room

Room B

Automation and Art Making

Chair: Mark Andrejevic (Monash)

@ Hew Roberts Lecture Theatre

Andrew Hutcheon (ECU)

‘The banana trick: “borrowing” subcultures and supermarket automation in contemporary capitalism’

Paul Boyé (UWA)

‘The vibe of “something automated”: questioning the recent use of AI tools in contemporary art making’

Libby Young (USyd)

‘Tracing the Personal in Personal Data’

Jan De Pietro (Griffith)

‘What If?’ Questions: the scientific thinking behind creative work and why it matters in the Age of AI’

Merve (Mercy) Akdogan and Selin (Cation) Sahin (MIT)

‘Reflective Infrastructural Relations: AI as Automated Illusion, Identity and Labor’

Tina Stefanou (Uni Melb)

‘Agripoet(h)ics: What is an Artist supposed to do with all this?’

12:30 Lunch, and Travel to Perth Cultural Centre, CBD
14:00-16:00 Policy Workshop: Strategising Cultural Interventions on AI, Automation and Drones

Conversation Starters: Julia Powles, Ionat Zurr, and Jenny Judge (Uni Melb)

Co-Hosted by the UWA Tech & Policy Lab


@ WA State Library: Great Southern Room

17:00 Keynote – Stelarc

‘Animating the Body: From the Involuntary to the Automated’

Chair: Oron Catts (UWA)


@ Art Gallery of WA, Theatrette


18:00-19:30 Reception

@ Art Gallery of WA, Rooftop



Day 3 – Sunday 19th November (UWA Conservatorium of Music)

8:30 Coffee/tea

@Music Common Room

9:00 Session 3.1
Room A

Sound, Music, and Machine Listening

Chair: Anna Munster (UNSW)

@Callaway Auditorium

Room B

Automating Futures

Chair: Laurent Shervington (UWA)

@Tunley Lecture Theatre

  Santiago Renteria Aguilar (UWA)

‘Dadamining Soundscapes: Found Sound in Environmental Sonic Analytics’


 Stephanie Morissette (UMich)

‘Speculative Paleontology: From Future Synthetic Biology Artifacts’


  Pia van Gelder (ANU)

‘Sticks and Strings, Circuits, Worms and Earth: Divination or Automation in Music Composition Practices’


Tom Smith (RMIT)

‘Quantitative Collapse’


  Samuel Beilby (UWA)

‘Noise within Ecosystems of the Automated Worksite and the Automated Artwork’

Vladimir Todorović (UWA)

‘Algodreams: algorithmic visions for the future’


10:30 Morning Tea
11.00 Keynote – Carolyn Pedwell (University of Kent)

‘The Intuitive and the Counter-Intuitive: AI and the Affective Ideologies of Common Sense’

Chair: Elizabeth Stephens (UQ)

@ Callaway Auditorium

12:00 Lunch


13:00 Session 3.2
Room A

Automated Bodies and Biopolitics

Chair: David Friedrich (UWA)

@Tunley Lecture Theatre

Room B

Automating Care/Control

Chair: Paul Boyé (UWA)

@Eileen Joyce Studio

Agatha Okon (UWA)

‘Automation with Non-human Animals’

Mark Andrejevic (Monash)

‘Mass Customized Culture and the Recession of the Social’

Donna Franklin

‘Speculations of Reanimation, techno-body ecosystems, bio-political care’

Ionat Zurr (UWA)

‘Automated Wombs’

Cristin Millett (Penn State)

‘Ex-Utero: Reproductive (De)Evolution’

Elizabeth Stephens (UQ)

‘“Artificial Mothers” and the Strange History of Incubator Baby Shows’


14:30 Closing Roundtable Discussion:

Oron Catts (UWA), Sarah Collins (UWA), Elizabeth Stephens (UQ), Ionat Zurr (UWA)

@ Tunley Lecture Theatre

15:00 Close


Automation Culture:
Intersections between Art, Automation, and Living Systems

17th-19th November 2023
The University of Western Australia, Perth.
Keynotes: Prof. Gunalan Nadarajan (University of Michigan), Carolyn Pedwell (University of Kent) Stelarc.
CFP Submission Deadline: March 6th, 2023

Since the dawn of mechanical automation there has been a desire to explore the creative potential of automated processes. Some of the most note-worthy examples of clockwork automata from the eighteenth century are figures who are made to perform ‘creative’ tasks, such as drawing, writing poetry, or playing a musical instrument. Even earlier, mechanical fountains depicted birds singing and in more recent times we see an interest in AI-generated art, or AI’s seemingly creative approach to games such as chess.

These fascinations are based on the assumption that automation is framed and usually discussed in the realm of the non-living that attempts either to emulate/mimic life-like properties such as movement, the appearance of sentiency/creativity, and metabolism, or express mechanic qualities that goes beyond the abilities of the living. When these categories are hybridised, troubled or blurred, automata seem both remarkable and unsettling.

This conference discusses thought experiments and case studies which metaphorically and literally transgress the relationship between art, automation and living systems (human and non-human), focusing on processes of automation in food systems, care-giving, judgement, and labour. By troubling the categories of art and automation, can we change the way we approach the increasing automation of life and culture?

The event will include papers, performances, workshops, and roundtables.

Topic areas may include but are not limited to:
⦁ Animal Studies
⦁ Biological Arts & Biodesign
⦁ Biopolitics
⦁ Cultural Studies and Literary Studies
⦁ Economic History
⦁ Environmental Humanities, Posthumanism and Extinction Studies
⦁ Feminist, Queer, Race, Post-Colonial and Disability Studies
⦁ History of (Life) Science
⦁ History of Aesthetics
⦁ Indigenous Futurisms
⦁ Law and Technology studies
⦁ Media Studies
⦁ Musicology and Theatre and Film Studies
⦁ Non-Human Biopolitics & Bioethics
⦁ Philosophy and Ethics
⦁ Political Theory and Political Philosophy
⦁ Robotics and Computer Science
⦁ Science, Technology and Society studies
⦁ Science Fiction and Speculative Fabulations
⦁ Synthetic Biology
⦁ Transhumanism and AI

Abstract word limit maximum 300 words (2100 characters including spaces).
Submissions to Sarah Collins: by March 6th, 2023. Presenters will be notified within three weeks past the deadline.

Programme Committee: Oron Catts, Sarah Collins, Elizabeth Stephens, Ionat Zurr.

This conference is a part of a project exploring the cultural and intellectual history of automated labour, with support from the Australian Research Council

Conference Accommodation Suggestions:

There are several options for accommodation which are close to University of Western Australia.

First is UWA’s official short stay options, which are found on the website:

One of the colleges (St Cats) is closed at the moment for renovations so spots might be limited in the remaining places.

Outside of UWA, Kenata on Fairway is a good budget friendly option:

Lastly, another suggestion is to find a hotel in the CBD area. Buses to and from UWA are available from Elizabeth Quay Bus Station, specifically routes 950, 23, 102, 107 which run every 5 minutes during peak times.