Responsive Ecologies is an exhibition part of an ongoing collaboration between ZSL London Zoo and Musion Academy. Collectively, this collaboration has been exploring innovative ways of generating an awareness and understanding of nature and the effects of climate change. All of the footage has come from film sessions within the Zoological Society. This has also raised some interesting questions on the spectacle of captivity, an issue which we have tried to reflect upon in the construction and presentation of the installations showed in this exhibition.

As part of a system of numerous dynamic connections and networks, we are reactive and deterministic to a complex system of cause and effect. The consequence of our actions upon ourselves, the society we live in and the broader natural world is conditioned by how we perceive our involvement. Awareness of our impact on a situation is often realised and processed subconsciously so the extent and scope of these actions can be far beyond our knowledge, our consideration and importantly beyond our sensory reception. With this in mind, how can we see the effects of our actions on for instance, the honey bee depopulation syndrome or the declining numbers of Siberian Tigers?

The expanding distance between our lives and the natural world has created a detachment in which we begin to lose a sense of responsibility. This exhibition references this dislocation of human-nature, creating a dynamic environment which can be effaced and controlled by the audience. It aims to symbolise an embodiment of ecology, exploring the relations of organisms and their interactions with the environment.

The nature of interaction within “Responsive Ecologies” means that a visitor to the space cannot simply view the installation but must become a part of its environment.
When attempting to perceive the content within the space the visitor reshapes the installation. Everybody has a degree of impact whether direct or incidental and when interacting as a group it is interesting to see how collective behaviour can develop and incite the outcome of the work.


Gareth Goodison and Jonathan Munro have been working collaboratively as captincaptin since 2007, creating installations and sculptures which interact and respond to public presence, to question the role of audience participation in the display and creation of contemporary art. They have presented their work at new media events including Future Everything Festival, Abandon Normal Devices, Leeds Expo, and the V&A. http://captincaptin.co.uk/

Parag K Mital is a computational visual artist and PhD student at Goldsmiths Computing Dept. investigating questions of liminality, perception and attention in mixed reality environments. http://pkmital.com/home/art/

Riverside Gallery:

Life in a Beat (2010)
Jonathan Munro, Madi Boyd & Gareth Goodison

A visual performance video which can be syncronized with music, this VJ video presents a manipulation of visual footage taken from ZSL. Life in a beat was shortlisted for the Randstad Gold VJ Award, where it was screened in 19 different countries to 28,000 voters, the hope is that this project may raise an awareness of, and further inquiry into, some of the key issues this collaboration is exploring. Life in a Beat has since been displayed at onedotzero Adventures in Motion festival at BFI Southbank, and the International Festival of Audiovisual Arts, in St Petersburg. Music composition by Mr Magoo’s Poop Experiment.

The (Dis)Appearance of Bees(2010)
Madi Boyd

Looks at the appearance of bees from the inside out: the mri scans show as precise a representation of a single bee as is possible at this time. The musion screen becomes a new tool of observation as it allows us to see this detail in a large, 3D, high quality and moving image. It is important that no animation has been used- this is the reality of this creature. This portrait is prescient at this time when bees are rapidly and inexplicably disappearing.

Changing Habit(at)s (2010)
Madi Boyd

This short film reflects my interest in animals’ perception. This story/case study looks at the Praying Mantis and the Bat, both of whom use sound and vibration to perceive space and objects. It draws our attention to the concept of bats as a warning system for climate change. Bats represent 20% of all mammals and are found on every continent except the Arctic. They are seen by some as perfect indicators of human induced climate change and habitat quality. www.madiboyd.com

Potosi (2010)
Kira Zhigalina

This film follows the embryonic development of Potosi pupfish, which is extinct in the wild due to coastal development and drought. It is a microcosm of the fragile nature of life and our planet, showing the beauty of nature from a primordial perspective that is yet beyond the world where the planet is deteriorating because of climate change and human influence on the eco-system.www.dotkira.com

Partula (2009)
Kira Zhigalina

Filmed at the London Zoo, the film was intended to promote awareness of the endangered lives of a small Polynesian tree snail – the Partula Snail. The film concentrates on the image of the snail’s spiral, as a symbol of infinity that contradicts the true nature of the being inside, its shell almost serving as a conceptual exploitation rather than protection. Throughout the film`s narrative the image of the Partula snail is being imposed on by contradicting elements, – nature, and artificiality of an object; power (evolutionary success) and fragility, infinity and extinction. To bring awareness at our own misguidance, of control and appreciation of the natural habitat.

Life out of Balance (2010)
Kira Zhigalina, Madi Boyd, Gareth Goodison & Jonathan Munro 

Commissioned by ZSL London Zoo and Musion Academy. Life out of balance is a holographic documentary, which highlights the importance of action against climate change. This first part features the Oceans and rising ph levels. The natural release of CO2 has been significantly added to by human intervention; the result produces a steady but deadly increase in the acidity of the earth’s oceans.

Musion Academy

Based on the Victorian optical illusions of Peppers Ghost, Musions cinematic installations allows for 3D optical illusions, spatial cinematic experiences and most of all on stage interactivity with virtual worlds. This leads to a re-conception of the virtual space – The cinematic world merges with the real world allowing for new visual strategies for artists. The Musion Academy is a forum to explore such strategies creatively and technically. In the last 2 years 350 artists joined the Musion Academy.