The former Hollywood star Hedy Lamarr was co-inventor of a frequency-hopping, spread-spectrum communications system. It’s the basis for what became everyday wireless communication systems (such as Bluetooth, cellphones, wi-fi and GPS). The invention came out of a collaboration with an avant-garde music composer, George Antheil, who experimented with automated piano roll music. Together they found a way to apply the same principles to prevent the jamming of radio frequencies for torpedoes in World War II.

Feral Experimental is a UNSW Art & Design exhibition celebrating contemporary boundary pushers, not unlike Lamarr and Antheil, and the best of what has been developed from so-called feral ideas. Curated by Dr Katherine Moline, it exhibits projects by award-winning international practitioners and researchers from a range of disciplines, and explores possible strategies for modern-day community-based challenges. Bushfire preparedness, energy-use awareness and the preservation of cultural heritage are all explored.

The exhibition includes a bike that measures and documents stress levels generated from the body via electrodes, which could potentially identify accident hot spots. Double Fountain is a video installation that re-creates the ancient device of a water clock (a clock that has a pendulum-like action powered by water, designed by the Arab engineer Al-Jazari 1136–1206). There’s the experiment by Benedikt Groß, who looks at the possibilities of “agricultural printing” – making a tractor work like a virtual desktop printer to plant combinations of crops, bio-fuels, and flowers and herbs through the application of algorithms.

Other exhibits include an “Energy Babble” device. The Energy Babble looks like a quirky phone but is something like an internet-radio appliance, dedicated to the topic of energy demand reduction. Did you know it’s possible to move objects with your mind (via wireless probes)? Another project can show how distracted you are while driving and listening to certain types of music (spoiler alert: heavy metal and thrash don’t fare well). Run That Town combines Census data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics with mobile-phone app technology to create a strategy game in which municipalities such as Sydney are designed. Other exhibits reference the Cold War-era and film in If We Never Meet Again. The Smell-Memory Kit: The Molecules That Matter, builds on research on the power of smell. Only a handful of molecules compose all the smells in the world, yet it’s the associated experiences that give them meaning. Circus Oz fans will enjoy the Living Archive, a celebration of performances since it started in 1978.

Feral Experimental runs from July 18 until August 30.

UNSW Art & Design (Formerly known as COFA)
Cnr Oxford St & Greens Road, Paddington