Jonathan Hefter

August 1st – 16th

Project: I’ll be creating 3D digital models of local flora using photogrammetry that others can then use in their own works. With any luck, I’ll have the Dinalab OpenScan device humming away, if it isn’t already.

Bio: I’m a New Yorker with a taste for going far off the beaten path. I’m also the founder of the edtech company, Neverware, and a former firefighter. I will be travelling the world to learn more about how technology is created, used, and disseminated in different communities. Dinacon will be my first destination, followed by Berlin, and then parts unknown. Collaborators and co-travelers welcome.

Grace Grothaus

Dates: Aug 25-31

Project: Future Seeding, a sculpture series inspired by Karel Capek: “the future is not in front of us, for it is here already in the shape of a germ (seed); already it is with us; and what is not with us will not be even in the future.” Onsite I will be continuing fieldwork in which I find, photograph, and create 3D models of seeds via photogrammetry. The lowland rainforests of Panama form a critical junction of North and South America and are so biodiverse they contain many tree species they even today are not yet part of the taxonomic system. Due to climate change, sea level rise, and anthropogenic habitat disturbances, many may even go extinct before they are scientifically known. Future seeding is an ongoing sculpture series created from the 3D models made in the field; attempted sculptural catalysts of discussion. Upon completion, each 3D printed seed sculpture will also contain a simple electronic circuit that activates an audio recording when touched. Audio artist and composer Felipe Rossi will be traveling to Dinacon with me, assisting in the field audio recording.

Bio: I am a visual artist working in physical computing and other forms to create immersive installations and performances as well as interactive paintings and sculptures. Engaging with themes of environment and technology, I produce my artworks towards the creation of moments of reflection about human agency and balance with the built and natural environment. Right now I am a MFA candidate at the University of California, San Diego where I reside with my dog and many plants.

Adam Zaretsky – Animal Enrichment Arts

August 8 – 21

Our major goal is to make art for a non-human audience. Our work is innovative as we intend to improve designs and methods of expressing art for non-humans by ethological, relational, experiential and aesthetic communication with trans-species in captivity. In particular, we are interested in those animals showing signs of behavioural disturbance, cultural alienation and neurotic personality disorders. The reasoning behind this emphasis is that we would like to underscore the similarities, differences, power relations and mutualisms between humans, non-humans and posthumans all read as particular cases of non-humans.

Conceptual Devices:

For free living non-humans

To give captive non-humans control

For other senses, not our own

MAKE devices intended to:

  • Elicit play
  • Simulate control of the environment by the animals
  • Reduce stress
  • Show animal individuality
  • Show animal group dynamics
  • Show animal problem solving
  • Show quality and integrity of animal consciousness
  • Show enrichment of a particular animal personality
  • Elicit sexual exuberance

The impetus of this lab is to insure the safety and emotionally therapeutic value of an enrichment device. By talking through some of our ideas and actions, we focus on the responsibility to research the beings to be enriched, before designing and actuating an enrichment device. We focus on various research methodologies towards comprehending another organism’s priorities, preferences and perceptions. After talking about concepts, we will discuss how our conceptual devices might be received by actual, non-anthropomorphized park beings.

See Below:

Form for Student’s Conceptual Designs, Team with Enrichment Specialists at the Bronx Zoo, 
Animal Enrichment and Art Studio, Creative Design for Animal Intelligence, Adam Zaretsky and 
Kathy High, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Fall 2003

Actual enrichment technology is not very developed as a practice. The concept is new and due to general underfunding, the administration of professional enrichment is usually spare, both technologically and aesthetically. This problem of “what to do” as a body, to a body, for a body and with a body in relation to the world of living beings is meant to be amplified and left hanging as an artistic production for the purpose of conveying a dilemma. [11] It is presumed that the stimulation of debate is based on the opening up of radical de-categorization. The lab is meant as a primer to open up the way we think about the lives of others, leaving those involved with more informed and wider questions than they had before the experience.


There are interdisciplinary possibilities between theoretical animal studies and the two pertinent science based studies of animal needs: ethology and wildlife habitat restoration. Interestingly “wildlife” is all-organismic and inclusive of anything but urban and suburban, non-human, eco-systemic organisms. But in actuality, the concept of wildness can be applied to all living, nesting and nibbling niches, as there is no habitat outside of the wild. And, in ethology, there seems to be a tacit agreement that the study of animal perceptual universe is not limited to animals. In this case, the term animal can include the study of the non-human if you are willing to research their behaviours, personalities and/or cultures.

BIG CAT PIÑATAS: Baked Pig Piñata, Filled with Fresh Dead and Gutted Rabbits and fed to the Siberian Tigers, The Piñatas were paper mache’ (flour water and newspaper over cardboard boxes) sculptures in the form of animals.  These sculptures were then stuffed with safe and animal appropriate meat from the Zoo’s kitchen and then fed to the animals as BIG CAT PIñATAS. All of this was done with the advice of the San Fransisco Zoo Keepers and Animal Care Specialists. No harm was done in to any animals during the Big Cat Piñatas, Art and Biology, Animal Enrichment Class Collaboration Production. In fact Big Cats were Enriched! The Big Cat Piñatas were built as a part of: VivoArts: Art and Biology Studio, C.I.A. – Conceptual Information Arts, San Francisco State University, Taught by Adam Zaretsky with Teaching Assistance from: Julia Reodica + Meredith Evans and cooperative creation by all these artists: Eric Bemberress, Sean Brimer, Arlene Campbell, Carmel Crane, Kristina Hoeh, Yoshi Kawa, Trey Jackson, Josh Lon, Ryan Medel, Mayumi Ota, Michael Rich, Mike Symmetry, Nada, Samuel Tagulao, , Tommy Walker, Zack Wetzel, These documents wouldn’t be possible without the collaborative spirit of openess between San Francisco State University and San Francisco Zoo, 2001, Super Big Thanks to Prof. Steven Wilson, Head of C.I.A., R.I.P. The Zookeepers from the San Francisco Zoo: Eve Lyon and Lori K. and All the Volunteers.

Recent ethological studies have been using a variety of animal behavior analysis techniques to study insects, fungi and cephalopods under the rubric of ethology. Ethologists advise zookeepers on how to keep wild organisms in captivity with the widest breadth of behavioral authenticity available in a “natural” environment. Some ethologists even use animal behavior studies to assess human beings. It is assumed this is to encourage the widest breadth of behavioral authenticity available to humans in a “natural” environment of voluntary subservience, the wilds of domesticity.

BIG CAT PIÑATAS: Robot Cat Piñata, Filled with Fresh Dead and Gutted Rabbits and fed to the
Siberian Tigers, Photo Document: Adam Zaretsky, SFSU/SFZoo.

We can provide space for the large carnivores that Dave Foreman’s book, Rewilding North America: A Vision for Conservation in the 21st Century, refers to as “keystone species” (Foreman 2004: 119). Large and predatory non-human mammals are seen as keystone supports for any ecological renewal of future wildlands due to their sophisticated food chain balancing technics and their role as reminders of the awesomeness of large untamables loose on striated and fecund lines of flight. Continental scale conservation is the enlargement and broadening of all parks and future park planning. The Wildlands Project is being undertaken to connect parks with green corridors internationally across the US-Mexican border and across the US-Canadian border so large carnivores (e.g. wolves, bear, big cats, etc.) can have room for their habitat standards. This insistence on the international element is important for both the organisms who don’t know about mapped inventions of national space divisions and for the global fertile integrity which socially habituated imaginations often disrupt.

Currently in progress, the Wildlands Project is hoping to prevent further mass extinction and stabilize vast tracts of land by re-establishing carnivores to control the food chain. At present mostly gun-toting, human hunters who are left to control deer, moose and other game populations whereas Foreman suggests that this is actually the ecologically sound role we should re-relegate to keystone species. Forman is interested in strictly protected areas with low to no roads and minimal human access which conservation biologists call “core areas” (2004: 169). Resilient diversity spaces should be restored and maintained until the area is able to maintain itself

BIG CAT PIÑATAS: Rat with Cheese Piñata, The Rat with Cheese Piñata was filled with Raw Potted Horse 
Meat Food Product and fed to the Lion, Photo Document: Adam Zaretsky, SFSU/SFZoo.

Contemporary insight into enrichment practice is meant to veer our participants towards a decentering of human exceptionalism. Ranging from captive animals to transgenic experimental organisms to genetically modified human suburbanites… the cyborg, posthuman visionary question is: How can we enrich the lives of organisms living under patent and legally considered mere variables towards efficient industrial productivity? We can see that the decentered debate on design of enrichment devices for non-human alienation should include all Homo sapiens stuck outside or voluntarily resisting mind control states, corporations and NGOs. We are attempting to create enrichment devices that make reference for all human others yoked under the same rubrics of untamed disregard often given to wild animals: non-human, sub-human, prisoner, migrant, poor, insane, unemployed, revolutionary, dumb or just artist. 

Rewilding from the Urban Out meets Feeding War Planes to Animals

Making facsimiles of warplanes out of various edible raw foods and setting up a jungle surveillance system for capturing the footage of wildlife eating the warplanes represents a sort of symbolic magical undoing of the past, present and future of war machine cultural exploits. This is my personal mission for Dinacon and for the animals and all organisms living (AOL). I am willing to coach other people towards a more varied interpretation of the overarching goals.

Portions of this text are quotes or amalgamations from:

Adam Zaretsky. “Animal Enrichment and the The VivoArts School for Transgenic
Aesthetics Ltd
.” Inflexions 7, “Animating Biophilosophy” (March 2014). 218-245.
including the Image and Video Accompaniment and PDF here

Advanced Animal Specific AZA approved Enrichment Learning: The Shape of Enrichment

Dr Betty Sargeant from PluginHUMAN

Whilst at DiNaCon (August 14-20) I will collect unique fauna and water samples and take images of their microscopic biological structures. I will also record bio data, including audio, and the movement of gases and moisture, from inside trees and waterways. This data will be used to create PUL$E, a new digital art installation by PluginHUMAN (Betty Sargeant and Justin Dwyer).

PUL$E places audiences in the centre of a multi-sensory experience that’s controlled by the life force of trees. Through this project we aim to forge deep connections between people and our natural environment, raising questions around ecological conservation in the age of economic rationalism. The development of PUL$E is being fed by a wide range of field trips (to the Amazon, Panama, Taiwan, remote Australia etc) where PluginHUMAN are collecting data from significant local trees and waterways.

The PUL$E installation will feature the internal microscopic structure of significant international trees. This data will be enlarged and printed onto acrylic sculptural forms. The printed acrylic sculptures will be lit by full-colour programmable LED lights. The light show will be controlled by bio data collected from the significant international trees. This bio data will reflect the gas, movement, moisture and sounds from inside the trees. Audiences will be surrounded by environment-controlled audio, visuals and aromas in an immersive art encounter.

More info at:

Connect via Instagram: @PluginHUMAN

Connect on Facebook: @PluginHUMAN

Tully Arnot

23-31 August

I’m an Australian visual artist, working with kinetic sculpture (cheap servos, Arduino, pretty low tech) , video, performance, photography etc. My practice deals with how people interact with both the environment and technology, especially at the intersections of these. I work a lot with simulations of nature.

Recent work has been documentary based, I hope to explore the jungle and speak with a lot of researchers, and build some kind of speculative narrative about interactions with the environment. Also keen on some en plain air electronics tinkering 🙂

Stuff online at

Susan Booher

Dates: 04/8-10/8

Project: Susan will be recording her travels to and around Gamboa, Panama as well as the local flora and fauna (on land, in the air, and along the river) with a 360-degree camera to deliver an immersive experience in virtual reality to aging and/or disabled people through technology and digital recordings.

Bio: I’m a graduate student in Design Research and Development with a specialization in Aging at the Ohio State University. I practiced commercial interior design for 13 years before returning to academia to pursue an MFA. I’d like to continue with a career that supports the aging population and dementia. It’d be a dream to create an experience that can benefit the cognitive and emotional health of older adults who can no longer travel.

Jason Bond

Attending August 2nd—16th 2019

I’m a digital interactive media (“videogame”) artist with a special interest in our relationship with nature. I’ll be at Dinacon for 2 weeks and will probably make a videogame or something!

Attaching some of my past work below:

A wee prototype game I made where you roam the city of Toronto (re-created via map data) as the local wildlife! Animal models from MalberS Animation, city built using Wrld3D, music by Everloop. I assembled the pieces into a 4-player sandbox game.
A cute all-ages game I co-created with Colin Sanders, wherein one nurtures planets back to health by growing and maintaining a space garden. Features ecosystem simulation and code-generated plants (each unique). I co-designed, did most of the code base, and created the visuals.

Joel Murphy

Hi, I’m Joel. I will be at Dinacon from the 3rd to the 18th.

These are the things/ideas that I want to explore

  • How technology can survive in the jungle
  • Sounds from the canal V Sounds from the jungle
  • Parasitism
  • Symbiosis
  • Cybernetics
  • Zip lines

I know a lot of things, and I don’t know a lot of things. I look forward to helping and learning with all the Dinasaurs!

Translating Nature into Art

As an artist, I see myself less so as creator and more so as a translator. I take my direction from the biggest source of  inspiration there is, nature, and try to turn what I see into images that can foster in others just a little bit awe for the natural world. Generally, I work at translating natural design into tattoo design. I am interested in how one can simplify the complexities of natural elements into simple lines, forms, and patterns.  

Before I arrived at Dinacon, I was inspired by photos being posted on the Dinacon social media platforms. I saw photos of plankton collected on the Divamarine lab and I was moved to start translating translucent microscopic creatures into black and white 2-D designs– to make visible the invisible. Once on the island, it was the specimens I encountered there (sometimes literally at my door step) that I drew from. Since Dinacon, I have continued creating designs based on the local flora and fauna of Thailand that touch me with their beauty. 

Below are some tattoo designs (plus one pen and ink sketch and one watercolor drawing) that were motivated by projects of other Dinacon participants as well as the unique outdoor experience of the convention.

-Mari Crook

View of Koh Lon from the Diva marine learning lab

starfish larva

crab larva

jellyfish larva

crab larva

ink and watercolor drawing of specimen found at Dinacon

drawn from a common tree frog found on the walls of the Dinacon lab and maker space

drawn from a common tree frog found on the walls of the Dinacon lab and maker space

baby king cobra



Hannah Wolfe


Dates: 06/26/2018-07/07/2018

Project: Island Caterpillar

Bio:  Hannah Wolfe is a media artist and PhD candidate in Media Arts and Technology at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  She earned a B.A. in Visual Arts from Bennington College (2009) and both an M.S. in Media Arts and Technology (2016) and an M.S. in Computer Science (2017) from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her work has been shown at international art exhibitions and published in academic journals.  Her artwork focuses on the relationship between body and technology, giving computers and robots biological qualities. Her research interests include human robot interaction, affective computing, virtual reality, and computational creativity.