1 Jan — 1 Dec 2021


TICK TALKs is a series of conversations by artists Laura Beloff and Kira O'Reilly with experts from the biosciences and the humanities concerning ticks, the pathogens they carry and the implications for humans and non-humans within changing environments.

TICK TALKs is part of Biofriction, a European collaboration project committed to supporting bioart and biohacking practices. Biofriction project is co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union. 

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During recent decades there has been a notable increase in tick populations, the expansion of tick-infested areas is attributed to the increased warming of our climate. With this has come a heightened awareness of ticks and tick-borne diseases that can be contracted by humans.
That we need to learn to live with this pervasive proximity to increasing numbers of ticks is evident, and that this will require new attitudes and adaptations from us that will potentially change our behaviours and everyday routines.
From the perspective of the arts there has been very little activity concerning ticks and the complex systems they operate within as vectors of multiple pathogens. Since 2019 Helsinki based artists Laura Beloff and Kira O’Reilly have been exploring these issues with the Finnish context in their project TICK ACT which was funded by Kone Foundation in 2019. 

This short series of conversations functions as both as a collection of reflections and as an archive in which Beloff and O’Reilly pause and reflect on some of the most pressing and intriguing research and areas of enquiry they have encountered.

There are multiple points at which these topics and expert positions connect, which the listener can navigate in any order they wish whilst considering the implications and potential meanings of these accumulated perspectives. We feel this is especially apposite as we hold these conversations within early 2021, as we approach the northern hemisphere’s spring within the unpredictable conditions of a global pandemic with its attendant concerns of infection, containment and its impact on our mobility. 

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TICK TALKs: The Blind and Deaf Highway Woman

In TICK TALKs:  The Blind and Deaf Highway Woman, we hear from Dr Undine Sellbach from the University of Dundee about her research and writing on the biologist Jakob von Uexküll, including his writing on ticks in which he presents the tick as a subject. The shared foray explores the tick in our contemporary world and our heightened awareness of the tick as a pathogenic vector active within the complexities of its extended ecologies and environmental instabilities.

TICK TALKs: Synanthropic Intimacies

In TICK TALKs: Synanthropic Intimacies, Tuomas Aivelo discusses with Beloff and O'Reilly the complexities of the interactions between ticks and their microbiota and host bodies. The conversation moves across geographical scales and temporal ones, following the tick as it travels great distances, and the crucial implications in respect to its microbial communities. The conversation extends to evolutionary biology and the implications of human movement and diet in respect to parasites and contemporary human immune systems. 

TICK TALKs: Questing Ticks

In TICK TALKs: Questing Ticks, Beloff and O'Reilly discuss with researcher Jani Sormunen about his research into tick populations - both urban and rural and the pathogens they are host to against the changing environment impacted by climate change. They discuss some of the methods of tick population fieldwork and its history in the Finnish context.

Start listening and read more here TICK TALKs