WhiteFeather awarded UC Davis graduate fellowship for Useful Fictions Symposium, Paris

WhiteFeather was selected as one of 18 graduate fellows to participate in the Useful Fictions: Symposium + Speed of Light Expedition, Paris from September 9-15, 2019.

Symposium: September 9–13, 2019
Creative research in scientific laboratories + lectures / workshops / discussions
École polytechnique, Institut Polytechnique de Paris, France

Speed of Light Expedition: September 14–15, 2019
Revisit Hippolyte Fizeau’s 1879 Speed of Light Experiment + Public Participatory Art Project and Forums
From Mont Valérien, Suresnes to Montmartre, Paris, France

Useful Fictions is a week-long symposium and a public participatory art project in Paris. It is a platform to embrace complex problems by modeling radical openness to research in which tools, laboratories, studios are shared between artists and scientists to expand concepts for ecological thinking. Useful Fictions proposes to see the calculation of a catastrophic future not as an inevitability but as an invitation to innovate and effect change. Bridging the divide between urgency and agency, the project gathers a coalition of artists, designers, humanists, and graduate students to work with globally acclaimed climate scientists in their laboratories to build future machines and write absurd fictions.


This project invites critique of the human-centered narrative that dominates and defines contemporary cultural consciousness. The issues we are faced with challenge us to reclaim knowledge creation by examining the idea of proxy and measurements in ways that will expand anthropocentric lenses. Through the use of both critical discourse and practice-based research in art, design, and science, as well as case studies in climate science and related contextual research, we will ask: “What controls the manufacturing of our systems of belief? What stories do we tell ourselves? Can we imagine differently?”

The Speed of Light (SOL) Expedition brings together artists, designers, scientists, and the public to produce work individually and collectively as we travel the same eight kilometers of distance between Mont Valérien in Suresnes and Montmartre defined by physicist Hippolyte Fizeau in his significant 1879 Speed of Light experiment in Paris. Designed with incredible precision, Fizeau’s experiment is a part of the collective genius, a wave of breakthroughs in history that gave birth to Einstein’s theory of relativity that introduced paradigm shifts in the science and art of the modern world.

As an interdisciplinary research project taking place in the “city of light,” the SOL Expedition harnesses the momentum of this historical wave of collective genius. The project invites collaborators to conduct research, produce artwork, and design games for public participation, stimulating inquiry and exchange as cultural production that inspires agency. Forum sites and ateliers will be set up at cultural and arts institutions along the journey to invite collaboration. The creative outputs will be documented as a publication for wide dissemination.

For more information, visit the Useful Fictions website, here.