1. MzTEK at the Brighton Mini Maker Faire!

    This Saturday the Mini Maker Faire is coming to Brighton and for the first time we’re going to be part of it, showcasing some pieces from Chi-TEK!

    Chi-TEK is a tea inspired showcase of technologically modified teapots by internationally acclaimed women interaction designers, sound artists, bio artists, architects, and performance artists.

    Chi-TEK, based on the acronym for Computer Human Interaction, celebrates the talent and innovation that women bring to arts and technology. The exhibition of technologically modified teapots first showcased at the V&A Sackler Centre, and in the V&A John Madejski Garden as part of London Design Festival 2011, in the playful guise of a tea party. Almost a year on from the Chi-TEK tea party MzTEK brings a selection of the Chi-TEK hacked teapots to the Brighton Mini Maker Faire.

    The showcase of playful, witty and thought provoking work explores themes of ritual, nostalgia and sociopolitical contexts surrounding tea and tea making. Some women embraced and embellished the rituals, some women rejected them, while others reinvented the teapot. Chi-TEK challenges the cultural association between masculinity and technology, whilst providing a tongue-in-cheek take on what women really get up to around the kitchen table.

    The interactive art works at the Brighton Mini Maker Faire by Mouna Andraos & Melissa Mongiat, Tine Bech and Artemis Papageorgiou, are a selection of the 15 amazing hacked teapots by leading women artists and designers commissioned for Chi-TEK with the support of ACE Grants for the Arts.

    This Is Not A Teapot by Artemis Papageorgiou

    LightPot by Tine Bech

    On The Difficulty of Serving Tea by Mouna Andraos and Melissa Mongiat

    The details for the Brighton Mini Maker Faire are as follows:


    Corn Exchange and Dome Foyer Bar
    Brighton Dome
    12a Pavilion Buildings
    Castle Square
    BN1 1EE


    Saturday 8th September, 10am – 5pm

    For more info about the Maker Faire please visit the website, and for any further information about Chi-TEK please email us at info@mztek.org


  2. FLOSSIE! Women in Open Source Soft & Hardware

    MzTEK will be taking part in the women’s open source conference  FLOSSIE this Friday 25 and Saturday 26 May at Queen Mary University.

    On Friday at 3.50pm we will be presenting our amazing Chi-TEK tea party project we delivered last year in the V&A garden. For more details on the project click on the teapot on the left (or here).

    On Saturday, 2.30pm, we will join up with Embroidered Digital Commons to contribute some soft circuits to the epic collective embroidering of the text from ‘A Concise Lexicon of/for the Digital Commons’.

    We invite women to come and join us and learn some of the basics to soft circuits, adding switches and lights to your embroidered patches. This is a free workshop, but your embroidery work will become part of the collective Embroidered Digital Commons project.

    FLOSSIE is a free conference, so sign up and spend the day with a bunch of like minded women, and attend workshops in Arduino, soft circuits, and learn about Free/Libre Open-source Software (FLOSS).


    Conference venue at Queen Mary University, Mile End – in the maths building.

    Check out the programme here.

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  3. Chi-TEK Workshop Festival for Women

    A day of introductory techy workshops for women

    MzTEK has teamed up with our friends at School of Everything to bring you a day of techy tinkering.

    Workshops include Shiver My Tea Cups, Make-a-Mic & Soft Circuit Ghosts. The day will be structured for you to chose 3x 1hour 30mins workshops to attend throughout day. Spend the day picking up skills in Arduino, soldering, noise making, sensors & more!

    No experience necessary – just enthusiasm for tech, and tea!

    This workshop is part of the MzTEK project Chi-TEK, a celebration of women working in arts and technology, and offers a tongue in cheek take on what women can really achieve around a kitchen table.


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  4. The Chi-TEK Tea Party Showcase

    This week, we’re very excited to unveil the Chi-TEK Tea Party showcase in the V&A Sackler Centre.

    The Tea Party is a fun, surprising showcase of tea pots specially hacked, modified, and redesigned by 20 leading women designers, artists, and technologists.  Read more about the artists.

    Then, join us on 24 & 25 September during London Design Festival and Digital Weekend at the Victoria & Albert Museum, where we will throw a very unusual type of tea party in the gardens.  More details on that to come.

    Meantime, checkout a destructive teapot  from designer Mika Satomi (of KOBAKANT).  Then head on over to artist Rain Ashford’s Flickr for a sneak peek at TeaPotty.

    We can’t wait to set these up this week for display!

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  5. Chi-TEK Teapot: A Biohacked Tea Cosy by Anna Dumitriu

    Post by Anna Dumitriu (www.normalflora.co.uk)

    Bio Hacked Teacosy

    I struggled long and hard with the issue of what to do with the plain, white and highly uninspiring teapot I received in the post from MzTEK several months ago, mulling a series of scenarios in my head over and over again. I am very supporting of MzTEK and their aims and was really happy to be involved. But when I opened up the parcel my heart slightly sank.

    I considered taking a Pico projector apart and trying to get the teapot to project tea pouring from the spout when tilted (cool but too expensive considering the risk of breaking the projector), turning the teapot into a piece of lab equipment (nice but would that work within the constraints of a ‘tea party’ and what would it do?), smashing it and rebuilding it as a bionic version or simply strapping it to a robot chassis so it would roll up and down the table. None of these ideas really convinced me though. It felt like a backwards way of working. Usually the overall concept and the final artwork are intrinsically linked for me from the very start. This constraint of the teapot felt exceptionally restricting, like I was back at school working on a project with a brief. If I was a designer then it might have made sense, but I am not, I’d probably describe myself as a kind of ‘conceptual artist’, I often make tangible objects but they are always very much ideas led.

    My art practice is really centred on two main areas of very much linked research. I work with microbiology, I am currently Leverhulme Artist is Residence on the Modernising Medical Microbiology Project, University of Oxford who are looking at how transmission of pathogenic bacteria operates, what (near) real-time whole genome mapping of bacteria can tell us and also with robotics, working in partnership with the University of Hertfordshire’s Adaptive Systems Group. The themes that reoccur in my work are the microbiological life, artificial life, ethics and public engagement in science (which I view as a political issue considering how much misinformation is put out by the media). I make installations, interventions and performances using a range of digital, biological and traditional media including live bacteria, interactive technologies and textiles.

    Finally I started to think deeply about tea itself and its properties. Since the beginning of the year I have been experimenting with dyeing embroidery silks with natural and man-made antibiotics: from turmeric to Vancomycin. My recent work the “MRSA Quilt” uses the tools we have against this well-known hospital pathogen in combination with fabric stained with actual MRSA bacteria (grown on chromogenic agar). For instance the polka dots on the quilt fabric are made with Vancomycin susceptibility disks (the way they can tell in the lab if a bacterium can be treated with that drug). I remembered that green tea is a natural antibiotic and an effective dye and started to think about that.

    I began to try to culture a green tea resistant bacterium and to use it as a stain. I had previously developed an embroidery using green tea stained thread and it occurred to me that I could use kitchen/lab technology to create a textile piece that was stained with bacteria (sourced from tea, biscuits and cake) in interplay with the green tea’s antibiotic effects. Additional later embroidery is impregnated with negligible amounts of Vancomycin. The bacterial culture medium (Dr Simon Park’s “Park’s Kitchen Agar”) was created from supermarket ingredients and lab equipment was sourced from the local pound shop (and ebay). I had a failed attempt trying to culture Lactobacillus when I discovered they are microaerophiles and not likely to grow in air and at one point I went crazy and crumbled a chocolate biscuit on it. After 2 days I had signs of life and then went away for the weekend. Upon my return I had even more of signs of life and moulds had started to take over, sending their filaments deep into the cloth. Finally I made it safe and killed off all that life. Taking no chances I used surgical spirit, boiling water, mould killer and pasteurization, so that should do the trick. Pasteurization (originally developed by pioneering microbiologist Louis Pasteur to stop wine from spoiling) should be enough in itself but the mould killer will do for any spores remaining after rinsing. The risk of culturing anything nasty was also severely limited by the fact that all the bacteria were sourced from tea and biscuits and cultured at around 20 degrees Celsius (much less than the human body temperature).

    The embroidery shows my first attempt at ‘Cutwork’, which is a technique, where in portions of cloth are cut away and the resulting ‘hole’ is reinforced and filled with embroidery. I wanted to do this as I have also embedded a video screen in the work, showing my processes. I was quite intimidated in many ways to think my embroidery would be shown in the V & A Museum, alongside so many of the world’s best textile works. But for me working in embroidery is a conceptual choice rather than a demonstration of my craft skills.

    Around the time of the enlightenment the perversely difficult practice of whitework embroidery was considered to be one of the highest levels of achievement for a woman. They would sew in the evenings by candlelight straining their eyes to see the tiny stitches, hunched over their embroidery hoops, their bodies twisted and constricted by tight corsetry, one pinprick of blood meaning the whole piece would be ruined. This coincided with the period in which many of their male counterparts started to become ‘gentleman scientists’ beginning to rigorously study the world around them ‘scientifically’. This was the time when the scientific method was developed and disciplinary boundaries were drawn between art and science. I’ve made several large whitework embroidered pieces inspired by these ideas which for me is a way to consider paradigmatic changes in the process of research and current moves towards transdisciplinarity, alongside a consideration of what ‘feminine’ approaches to science and technology might mean.

    Finally the textile pieces were stitched together to create what I am guessing is the first ever bio-hacked tea cosy/video installation!

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