2017 in review: our favourite Guerilla Science moments
December 31, 2017 by KyleMarian
From a canapé of delectable crickets, a cabaret of intergalactic proportions, busking in Times Square, and more. The Guerilla Science team share some of our favourite moments from the past year as we ready ourselves for our tenth year of bringing science to unusual spaces.
2017 has been another year packed with Guerilla Science adventures on both sides of the Atlantic. In no particular order, here are some our year’s highlights that stood out to our UK and US team members.
GRACE SAVAGE, MC ZANI AND HOBBIT BEATBOXING WITH THE FIRE ORGAN AT BREAKIN’ CONVENTION
Jen Wong, UK Director: I can think of a couple of favourite moments of 2017. One in particular was our partnership with Breakin’ Convention and Sadlers Wells where we were able to feature amazing beatbox talent while showcasing the science of sound on the Fire Organ.
ENTOMOPHATRON: BUG DINER
Mark Rosin, US Director: Designer Trina Chiasson and insect scientist James Ricci created the Entomophatron, a 1950s style diner that explored bugs as a future food. Guerilla Science brought the Entomophatron (along with 9 other installations) to Oregon Eclipse festival, a 30,000 person music and arts festival. Cheering crowds watched on for cockroach racing and feasted on a range of bug edibles, challenging the stigma of eating bugs while educating festival goers on a range of tasty, sustainable recipes.
AN OFFER TO DRINK MY OWN URINE IN AN IMMERSIVE PLAY ABOUT WATER SCARCITY
Olivia Koski, Head of Operations: It’s been a packed year of adventures. We started 2017 by launching a free Space VR app and toured the US promoting the Vacation Guide to the Solar System. Among my many favorite and surprising Guerilla Science memories of 2017 has got to be standing in a darkened bathroom at 3LD Art and Technology Center during the immersive play (NOT) WATER and being offered the opportunity to drink my own urine! It was an intimate and poignant moment with actress Carmen M. Herlihy who played a water scientist that created technology with her husband to extract potable water from urine.
BRINGING OUR RENEGADE BRAND OF SCIENCE EXPERIENCES TO SHOREDITCH
Guerilla Science was born in a music and arts festival and we have always offered a diverse range of programming at these spaces. Unfortunately, there isn’t always time to bring events out of the festival and into other spaces. This year, however, we had the chance to bring some of our festival favourites into the heart of Shoreditch, London thanks to the Superculture Residency. Led by Guerilla Science Head of Experience, Pigalle Tavakkoli, we brought Sensory Speed Dating to the Queen of Hoxton, explored the science of nightmares and lucid dreaming for a Halloween special at the Book Club, and discussed the psychology of fake news and conspiracies with a Fake News Pub Quiz.
Rachel Karpf, US Producer: Many people have heard of miracle berries, which we use in the Flavor Feast. They temporarily change the taste receptors in your tongue so that sour things taste very sweet — lemons, for example, become delicious treats.
But my favorite moment of 2017 was a sneaky surprise at the end of our Sweet Shoppe installation where we did the exact opposite to our guests. Using a tea brewed from the plant gymnema sylvestre provided by collaborating scientist Casey Trimmer, we blocked the sweet receptors on our guests’ tongues and temporarily took away their ability to taste sugar. Sugar cubes tasted like nothing but sand, Starbursts like sour salty mush, and no one could quite believe their tongues!
What happens when miracle berries and our special tea are combined? Stay tuned for 2018…
MAKING NEW FRIENDS AND CONVERSATION AT BURNING MAN
Romie Littrell, US Producer: At Burning Man this year we had an amazing collaboration with Phage Camp, a group full of scientists who contribute to spreading science through talks and installations. I’m typically hyperfocused on the experience of the guests at our events, so much so that it’s easy to forget that the scientists and artists we bring as facilitators aren’t always there for long hours talking to passing crowds. With Phage we had the unique opportunity to give scientists — some who would normally feel most at home as creators behind the scenes — a role talking to passing guests in our Flavor Feast booth. When a facilitator puts on our pink hat for the first time, it reminds me that the experiences we create are just a context for a conversation between folks from very different backgrounds, brought together by shared curiosity.
BUSKING IN TIMES SQUARE
Kyle Marian Viterbo, Social Media: Nothing says ‘Guerilla Science’ quite like an impromptu busking session in the heart of Times Square. To promote the release of the Intergalactic Travel Bureau’s Space Vacation VR app, I pitched an idea that could have easily gone very wrong — getting random tourists and passersby to test out the app and see their raw, genuine reactions. It turned out to be a really fun and unexpected day out.
OUR INCREDIBLE FESTIVAL CREW AND COLLABORATORS
Marissa Chazan, UK Producer: My highlight of 2017 was after we closed our tent for the final time at Secret Garden Party – instead of running off to check out the final acts of the music festival, our crew and lots of collaborators stuck around to take part in our last group debrief. Together we cracked open beers, celebrated our collaborative achievement, and topped it all off with our very own private mini-zoo session featuring snakes and chameleons!
After months of pulling the festival programmes together, it was so lovely to see all the happy faces. Here’s a MASSIVE THANK YOU to our festival crew and collaborators for all the hard work and awesomeness that you bring to Guerilla Science every summer – we couldn’t do it without you.
There was so much more to remember. As always, we are grateful to our collaborators, partners, and the generous support of the Wellcome Trust, UK Space Agency, the Simons Foundation, and the National Science Foundation. As we say goodbye a fantastic 2017, we hope you will join us for our 10th year. Make sure to sign up for our newsletter and follow us on social media to see what we’re cooking up for 2018!
Happy New Year!