Exploding Stars, Small Pleasures, and the Humble Oyster

main holding oysters

Drama and academia fuse in the production Art + Information: Exploding Stars, Small Pleasures, and the Humble Oyster. Three leading University of Sydney scholars, in collaboration with distinctive and daring independent theatre director, Kate Gaul, draw on the art of live performance to present their cutting-edge research in radical new ways.

Tara Murphy – Astrophysicist and Scholar/ Performer for ‘Exploding Stars’

“Scientific discovery is a slow and incremental process. But occasionally, we’re lucky enough to observe something truly new, that nobody has seen before. This was the case in 2017, when my team detected radio emission from a neutron star merger called GW170817.

The feeling when this happens elevates us beyond the everyday. But it also brings challenges. A battle between self-confidence and doubt. It also leads to deeper questions – how do we trust our observations when what we are detecting is far beyond the capability of our human senses?

In Art + Information, I tell the story of scientific discovery in the hunt to detect radio emission from two neutron stars as they merged in a cataclysmic explosion that had never been seen before.”

Professor Tara Murphy

Beth Yahp – Author, Creative Writing Lecturer, and Scholar/ Performer for ‘Small Pleasures’

“Creativity is central to my academic work, which consists of teaching and practising creative writing, so for me the fusion of art and academia is the norm!

I believe scholarship anchors art in both subtle and overt ways, just as art can loosen up and breathe life into the more rigid structures of academia – encourage it to let its hair down.

My Small Pleasures project isn’t so much about fusing art and academia as it is about stealing time from the busyness of admin, teaching, or any of the myriad daily distractions keeping creativity at bay. I mean stealing time from productivity, to daydream or do nothing. By nothing I’m referring to something like ‘negative space’ – ma in Japanese – which is never empty, but full of relationships, memories, possibilities. I feel both lucky and cursed that anything at all can become useful research – insects in the bathroom, a visit to the physio, scratchy underpants.”

Dr Beth Yahp

Mitchell Gibbs – Geoscientist and Scholar/ Performer for ‘The Humble Oyster’

Art + Information is a platform for me to tell my story, from growing up and learning from Indigenous Elders to going through schooling, into university, and through a PhD.

In my current research on shellfish, coastal management, and climate change, I listen to the oral and lived histories of Traditional Owners and Elders of nations, and demonstrate the importance of the practices carried out by these communities for thousands of years. 

I look at how these practices have shaped the environment and how Indigenous methods of harvesting and cultivation are made as sustainable as possible to ensure resources can replenish and renew.

I think it’s important to recognise that while having a PhD within western academia is seen as a big accomplishment, there are people who live in our Indigenous communities with more knowledge than what is considered in a PhD. 

These people need to be recognised and acknowledged as experts in their fields, with their knowledge the culmination of thousands of years of living within these environments and recognising patterns between all things.”

Dr Mitchell Gibbs

Art + Information: Exploding Stars, Small Pleasures, and the Humble Oyster
Presented by the Seymour Centre and the University of Sydney’s Discipline of Theatre & Performance
When: 17 to 26 November 2022
Where: Seymour Centre, Chippendale NSW
More information and bookings: Art + Information