You know that feeling when you start the day with the sun shining, your dirty work clothes on and a deadline behind you? That’s the one I’ve got today. It’s like the first day of the rest of my life.

After several weeks of very focused thinking, writing and planning for my talk at ONCA in Brighton last night, I feel as if I have completed something. Now the next few weeks stretch ahead of me with the potential for making exciting things.

The ONCA talk, though not part of the original Once In A Universe project plan, was a great opportunity to really focus the mind and force me in to trying to articulate some of my ideas. But also, I made a decision at the start of the project to treat all aspects of the project, including events, as part of my creative process, so the talk became a sort of experiment, a bit of work in progress perhaps  – a way of gathering together ideas and fragments of work made over a very long period of time, into a sort of live sketchbook/performance. The talk posed questions about the meaning and extent of life, not only as a state of being, but as a biological process – and now in the 21st century, potentially as a non-biological, inorganic phenomenon; questions like “Maybe there is no such thing as an inanimate object?” and “can everything that can be imagined be made?”

I was ably aided and abetted by one of ONCA’s Graduate Monthly group, Ruby Bateman, who became a second voice in the talk, issuing forth a stream of factual information which underpins my work like a living Alexa (or as a Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fan mentioned, like the Encyclopaedia Galactica). Ruby gave us all the facts about a range of subjects from the 1952 Miller-Urey experiment to try to create life to John Craig Venter’s 21st century progress in bioengineering; from Animism to Trovants and from the formation of flints to self-healing concrete.

The audience responded by asking probing questions like, “What would have happened if you had actually succeeded in making your stones grow?” and “Are you afraid of artificial intelligence”? Phew! Challenging!

But now it’s done and today I’ve got the dirty clothes on and a sense of freedom and anticipation. Bring on the messy stuff!

Some images below from my presentation:

A nourishing solution fed through a drip. An electrical charge like that from a defibrillator. But no, still no success. Maybe I was being impatient…