Inter-State embodies ‘re-futuring’ practices by integrating concepts of art, science and futural thinking through two related works: a large-scale backlit print depicting a re-imagined scientific periodic table of elements, and a scientifically-arcane microfiche viewer and headphone soundscape. Viewers can examine the imagery as a whole, or in forensic close up, by instigating slow scans across groups of ‘elements’ on the microfiche reader.

Inter-State re-conceptualises the ‘periodic table’ as a relational mesh of forms, contrasting its elemental reduction and tabular characteristics with Wu Xing’s circular, interrelated five phases and their ‘generating’ and ‘overcoming’ relationships. The table becomes a deeply related collection of codes, quotes, thoughts and pictorial impressions of non-linear processes and philosophies, inspired by Tony Fry’s deeply relational re-futuring theories. The 1970’s vintage reader draws attention to the ‘necessary obsolescence’ that permeates contemporary design thinking.

The soundtrack’s five passages are inspired by the Wu Xing’s ‘generative’ cycle of Wood-Fire-Earth-Metal-Water. Each involves the sonification of a group of elements from the original periodic table, using their atomic numbers to control an audio synthesis process that morphs into a ‘noisy sound cloud’, thereby controlling energies within a frequency band defined by the group’s atomic numbers.


Keith Armstrong is an experimental artist profoundly motivated by issues of social and ecological justice. His engaged, participative practices provoke audiences to comprehend, envisage and imagine collective pathways towards sustainable futures. For over twenty years he has specialised in collaborative, experimental practices with emphasis upon innovative performance forms, site-specific electronic arts, networked interactive installations, alternative interfaces, art-science collaborations and socially and ecologically engaged practices.

Keith’s research asks how insights drawn from scientific and philosophical ecologies can help us to better invent and direct experimental art forms, by understanding that art practitioners are powerful change agents, provocateurs and social catalysts. Through inventing radical research methodologies and processes he has led and created over sixty major art works and process-based projects, which have been shown extensively in Australia and overseas, and supported by numerous grants from the public and private sectors.

Inter-State 2016
Microfiche, microfiche reader, LED signboard, transparent print, headphone sound.
200 cm x 300 cm x 200 cm

Sound: Roger Dean
Original Imagery: Stuart LawsonQuotes from Tony Fry’s refuturing philosophies
Keith Armstrong – Associate Director of QUT’s Creative Lab Research Centre.

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.