Ground Zero Earth Overview

15 April 2019

Exhibition Ground Zero Earth took place between 15th February and 22nd March 2019 curated by Yasmine Rix in collaboration with the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER). Bringing together five artists who question, provoke and explore our relationships with technology, our environments and how these relate to our humanity, Ground Zero Earth aimed to address what is at stake and ways in which we should be looking at the present and near future.


In a world of increasing technological power, and multiplying existential risks, art’s ability to help understand those relationships, and provoke dialogue about them, could turn out to be a critical component of our toolkit for survival.

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Taking place through the Art at ARB programme, the exhibition’s objective was to explore themes researched by CSER. Having emerged as a research centre within CRASSH, located at the Alison Richard Building, it was an apt space to host this exhibition which was one of the first of its kind for the research group.

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In conjunction with the opening night, a panel discussion took place composed of Bob Bicknell Knight (Artist, Director and Curator) and David Lisser (Artist) Dr. Lauren Holt (CSER Research Associate, Bio-Risk) Dr. Beth Singler (Homerton College, Junior Research Fellow in Artificial Intelligence) moderated by Dr. Adrian Currie (University of Exeter, Research Affiliate CSER).

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In conjunction with the exhibition a curator tour and film screening took place as part of the Cambridge Science Festival programme. ‘Rise of the Machines’ is a quartet of short films by Dr Beth Singler, made with the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion and the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence, University of Cambridge, with support from ARM for Friend in the Machine and Good in the Machine. This screening coincided with a launch of the fourth instalment in the series, Ghost in the Machine, exploring what consciousness is and whether a machine could be truly conscious.

A Q&A took place chaired by curator Yasmine Rix, with Dr Beth Singler in discussion with Dr Matt Crosby (Post Doctoral Researcher, Leverhulme Institute) Dr Marta Halina (Lecturer in Philosophy of Psychology and Cognitive Science) and Dr Simon Beard (Senior Research Associate, Centre for the Study of Existential Risk).

Ground Zero Earth artists included:

  •  Olivia Domingos (b.1991 Leicester) is an artist and illustrator based in London. Domingos brings focus to celebrity culture and challenges the public domain of wellbeing. Her rendering of specific events and their detail brings attention to falling victim to voyeurism of celebrities or news sensationalism. 
  • Bob Bicknell-Knight (b. 1996, Suffolk) is a London-based artist and curator working in installation, sculpture, video and digital media. Using found objects and tools made readily available by the Internet, as well as drawing from a unique sensibility influenced by participation in online communities and virtual games, Bicknell-Knight’s work explores the divergent methods by which consumer capitalist culture permeates both online and offline society.
  • Daniel Sean Kelly (b.1989, Leicester) is an artist and co-director of Two Queens artist led gallery and studios. Working largely in painting, printmaking and ceramics, his work seeks to create a speculative space for the imagining of other realities – a science fictional universe comprised only of objects existing in the world up to this point. 
  • David Lisser (b. 1987 Wolverhampton) is an artist based in Newcastle who investigates our relationship with food and emerging technologies, playfully creating artefacts excavated from an imagined past, documentation of protests that haven’t yet materialised, and mechanisms for producing novelty meats.
  • Jillian Mayer (b. 1986) is an artist and filmmaker living in Miami, Florida. Through video, sculptures, online experiences, photography, performances and installations, she explores how technology affects our lives, bodies and identities. Mayer investigates the points of tension between our online and physical worlds and makes work that attempts to inhabit the increasingly porous boundary between the two.
gze 7In addition to the exhibition, Nick Bostrom, Professor of Philosophy and Founding Director of Future of Humanity Institute, University of Oxford loaned a painting titled ‘My Young Soul, Creation, Garden of Eden,’ 1989, accompanied by two poems.  bostrom artThis exhibition was made possible through obtaining sponsorship and funding through Cambridge BID, Arts Council England and the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk. With the generous support of Arts Council England, the exhibition facilitated commissioned art works from three of the artists. Additional support was generously facilitated by Judith Weik at the Art at ARB programme and CRASSH. Thanks also to Dennis Amoah, Shelley Bolderson, Cubed Creative, and Van Haulin’. GZE 2

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