Gene A. Felice II is a new faculty member within Intermedia & New Media at the University of Maine where he is also developing his Coaction Lab for interdisciplinary collaboration with an ecologically minded approach. He bridges his research and practice across:  Art, Science, Design & Education, developing a network of creativity, living systems, and emerging technologies. He has a hybrid practice at the intersection of nature and technology, developing symbiotically creative systems as arts / science research.
Coaction Lab website:  www.coactionlab.org

Arts Research
I am a hybrid artist exploring the intersections created by a variety of ever evolving mediums and methods: light, moving images, interactive systems, analog / digital fabrication, sustainable material research, and sculptural installation.  I bridge my research and practice across Art, Science, Design & Education by developing a network of creativity, living systems, and emerging technologies. My practice includes hybrids of nature and technology, which develop symbiotically creative systems as arts / science research.

At a conceptual level, I strive to develop new understandings and collaborative relationships between my audience and the living systems that support humanity, while keeping site specific resources and histories in mind. The genesis of my work blends traditions of ecological and bio art, interactive installation and video projection mapping.  By assembling collaborative, interdisciplinary teams of creative thinkers and makers, I not only widen the conversation of my work by exposing it to a variety of experiences and skill-sets but I also enable stronger bridges across the arts, humanities & sciences to form. Developing new modes and methods of collaboration and coaction within academia and beyond into our communities empowers us to address the complexity of world issues that face all of us in the 21st century.  I believe we need a diverse array of minds and bodies to seek creative, sustainable solutions that support all of the living systems on this planet.

By employing the medium of light focused through video projection mapping systems, I illuminate alternative screens and architectural structures, transforming a variety of surfaces into three dimensional storytelling space. Much of my projection mapping work is performative in nature and often involves collaboration with local communities of artists, city and state government officials and a variety of art, science, and ecology based non-profit organizations. These large scale, ephemeral installations serve as a compelling method for addressing entire communities by transforming public spaces into unexpected creative territory which take art to an experiential place decoupled from the gallery or museum.

Relationships between art and science form a dynamic point of confluence within my work. I see my art as a facilitator for the evolution of new hybrids involving nature, technology and creativity. Through a variety of input and output systems such as LED’s, transducers, motors, sensors and microcontrollers, I am able to access an array of science based data streams captured from nature and then translate this information via interactive, multimedia puzzles. I enjoy exploring myriad combinations of technologies, pairing contemporary tools such as 3D printing, CNC milling and laser cutting with older methods such as resin, glass and metal casting. In a world that constantly replaces old technologies with newer forms, I find these amalgamations to be essential to my interactive installation process as it forces me to slow down and reflect on the rich histories that support my creative technology practice.

Interdisciplinary collaboration rests at the core of my research philosophy. The Coaction Lab (http://www.coactionlab.org) is dedicated to the compulsive exploration of un/stable relationships between organisms, environments and technology; examining site specific histories, stories and inspiration. We analyze the symbiotic worlds of bio & ecological art, biomimicry, interactive systems, 2D & 3D prototyping, biosensors and multi-sensory data translation.  This is an array of constantly evolving investigations into the myriad collisions of life and technology. Within the borders of the University, this lab which is dedicated to collaboration between the Arts, Humanities and Sciences, has begun new partnerships with the schools of Marine Sciences, Molecular & Bio Sciences, Engineering, Art & Theatre.  Outside the University, we have begun collaborations with the Openlab Research Group at UC Santa Cruz, the city of Bangor Water District, Bigelow Labs, Data Alliance / Epsilon, The Maine Science Festival, the University of Sussex in Great Britain and with the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in France. The lab develops ways for students to get hands on experience outside of the classroom both locally, nationally and internationally, by establishing connections between their research agendas and the needs / missions of individuals, ecosystems and organizations in need.

The Coaction Lab also facilitates the exploration of the processes and practice from ideation to implementation. We encourage students to develop their own hybrid process which suits their particular needs, agendas and, skill sets. Emphasis is placed on finding solutions by using one’s senses, researching, creating prototypes, and examining user feedback, all with the intention of developing alluring systems of exploration and wonder. These endeavors lie at the heart of what we do. We give our students new ways to visualize, sonify and spacialize their work. This facilitation gives students the room they need to adapt, contextualize and communicate their ideas. As a result, they develop a toolbox that will foster future opportunity, such as higher education, large scale projects, jobs, grants, internships / residencies, and self-entrepreneurship.

With a careful attention to the materials and methods used to create my work, I seek out local, renewable materials and processes that keep both the health of my body and my environment in mind. Examples of this include the use of bio-plastic based material in my 3D printing systems, the use of local, soy based bamboo as a building material and by using biodegradable pine resin in my mold making and casting processes. Another important consideration is the justice issues that arise within my bio art explorations such as my projects involving bioluminescent phytoplankton.  I seek to discover new methods of collaboration with living systems that can’t communicate if they want to collaborate with me nor possess an understanding of what human collaboration means. By exploring our mutualisms, through detailed observation and carefully planned research agendas and by living with these organisms in my home and studio, I strive to form empathetic and mutual respect based relationships. This allows me to layer these lessons, ethical dilemmas and unique observations on interspecies collaboration throughout my creative practice. This careful approach to art and science collaboration and hybrid medium exploration combine together into an ecology of symbiotically creative systems.