In Conversation with Steve Kurtz
Presented by InterAccess Electronic Media Arts Centre
When: Saturday, January 15, 2005; 7:30pm (doors open at
Where: Centre for Computing and Engineering, Ryerson
University, 243 Church Street (at Gould), Toronto
InterAccess Electronic Media Arts Centre presents a lecture
by Buffalo-based artist and professor Dr. Steven Kurtz in
his first public appearance of 2005. The presentation follows
eight months of investigation by the FBI and US Joint Terrorism
Task force for bioterrorism-related offenses.
Kurtz is a founding member of Critical Art Ensemble (CAE),
an art collective interested in exploring the intersections
of art, technology and science. CAE's artistic projects
and writings intend to provide the public with information
and performances pertaining to biotechnology research. CAE's
most recent project includes a mobile DNA extraction laboratory
for testing food products for the presence of genetically
On May 11, 2004, Kurtz called 911 after discovering that
his wife had suffered a cardiac arrest in her sleep and
died. The police arrived and, after stumbling across test
tubes and petri dishes Kurtz was using in a current artwork,
called in the Joint Terrorism Task Force.
Soon agents from the Task Force and FBI detained Kurtz,
cordoned off the entire block around his house and impounded
Kurtz's computers, manuscripts, books, equipment and even
his wife's body for further analysis. The Buffalo Health
Department condemned the house as a health risk.
The Commissioner of Public Health for New York State tested
samples from the home and announced there was no public
While most observers assumed the Task Force would realize
that its initial investigation of Kurtz was a terrible mistake,
the Task Force has continued its investigation and changed
the charges from bioterrorism to mail and wire fraud. Also
indicted in this case is Dr. Robert Ferrell, professor of
Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh, for providing
the innocuous organisms to Kurtz. Both men face a maximum
sentence of twenty years in prison. Artists and scientists
worldwide have rallied around Kurtz during his investigation.
Kurtz's appearance in Toronto offers the public the opportunity
to converse with Kurtz and Gregg Bordowitz, spokesperson
for the CAE Defense Fund. They will speak about the work
of CAE and the importance of creative freedom and privacy
rights to educating the public about the effects of "militarized"
biotechnology practices. A moderated discussion period will
follow Kurtz's talk.
InterAccess is pleased to present this talk and discussion
with Kurtz as a fundraiser for the CAE Defense Fund. Admission
is pay what you can (suggested donation of $5) and ninety
percent of all proceeds will go to the defense fund. The
remaining monies will be used to offset costs of the speaking
engagement. InterAccess thanks the New Media faculty at
Ryerson University for their support of this event.
For more information and discussion on this case, visit
InterAccess Electronic Media Arts Centre is a not-for-profit
artist-run production centre and gallery that enables artists
and the general public to explore the intersections of art
and technology. Through artist talks, exhibitions, workshops
and other events, InterAccess aims to expand the cultural
space of technology.
Media inquiries: Heather Corcoran, (416) 599-7206, ext.
30 or heather at interaccess.org
Event inquiries: Jessica Fung, (416) 599-7206, ext. 21 or
jessica at interaccess.org
Media Arts Centre
401 Richmond Street West, Suite 444
Toronto (Ontario) M5V 3A8
Tel.: (416) 599-7206
Fax: (416) 599-7015
office at interaccess.org