Workshop – Drawing on Complexity
(The Experimenta Series)

24 May 2018 - Plimsoll Gallery UTAS, Hobart

Join artist Briony Barr in an experiment which combines collaborative, expanded drawing with an exploration of complex adaptive systems.

Over a one-day session, a group of participants (called ‘agents’) will draw on the floor with colourful PVC tape following simple rules determining placement of the tape and how to collaborate with others. As the lines build up over time, so will the emergent patterns – a hallmark of the complex adaptive systems that have inspired the project. This process is also inspired by ‘agent-based modelling’, a digital method used to model systems with many interacting parts.

From a bustling crowd of people, a fluctuating stock market to the behaviour of a weather system or grains of sand in a desert, complex systems can be found everywhere around us. They are studied by an extremely diverse range of scientific disciplines, from sociology to physics to mathematics. Like a ‘grass-roots’ movement, complex systems evolve from the ‘bottom up’, meaning larger patterns and behaviour (like a stock market crash or a hurricane) evolve from interactions and feedback between the parts. This unpredictable process is often described as ‘the whole being more than the sum of the parts’.

Part of a larger investigation into pattern formation, this experiment is part of body of work that will compare what patterns (social or aesthetic) will emerge when different groups of people make a drawing together within a similar set of parameters. Exhibiting as part of Experimenta Make Sense: International Triennial of Media Art, video documentation of each drawing will be presented over a three-year period, across regional Australia. In parallel with this one day experiment, members of the public are also invited to contribute to a separate drawing, based on the same rules. This will evolve on a drop-in basis over the course of the main exhibition.

Drawing on Complexity (The Experimenta Series) is based on a concept created by Australian artist Briony Barr in collaboration with physicist Andrew Melatos – The University of Melbourne. Previous drawing experiments have taken place at both science and art institutions including at The National Art School in Sydney, Museum Victoria (Scienceworks), The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Korea and the Santa Fe Institute in USA.

Click here to view Briony’s Experimenta Make Sense artwork.


Thursday 24 May 2018, 9:30am – 4:30pm


Plimsoll Gallery, School of Creative Arts, UTAS,Hunter St, Hobart, Tasmania



FREE. Booking essential.


About the Artist

Briony Barr is a conceptual artist whose work explores pattern-formation and emergence. Comprising rule-based drawing, participatory installation and scientific experimentation, Briony regularly collaborates with fellow artists, scientists (typically microbiologists and physicists) and often, large groups of people. She has staged collaborative drawing experiments at galleries, schools, universities, science institutions, art museums, civic art studios and conferences, involving the general public, artists, primary and secondary students, physicists and astronomers. Through the application of different rules and boundaries (often designed in collaboration with physicist, Andrew Melatos), these artworks have explored scientific ideas such as complex adaptive systems and self-organisation, sociological themes such as group dynamics and cooperation and artistic themes such as playfulness, risk- taking and innovation. Sometimes, all at the same time.

Briony earned her BA (English) from The University of Queensland, BFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York City and MFA from the Victorian College of Arts in Melbourne. She has exhibited in solo and group shows in Australia, Mexico, America and South Korea and is an honorary fellow of The University of Melbourne’s School of Physics. Briony is also co-founder of art-science collective and publisher, Scale Free Network.

Briony Barr, ‘Drawing on Complexity (The Experimenta Series)’, RMIT University Workshop (October 2017). Photo courtesy of the artist.