From June 1 – June 2, 2023, practitioners in environmental science, digital environmental humanities, and artistic research met for the workshop, “Whose Reality? Sensation, Representation, and Poetics of ‘extended’ environments via Artistic Research” at Kungliga Konsthögskolan in Stockholm (KKH), Sweden. Organized by Jesse Peterson (LiU) and Benjamin Gerdes (KKH), we spent the two days discussing and reflecting upon the intersections between our respective efforts occurring through research subjects (e.g., sense, cognition, and human relations to environment and technology), methods (e.g., field work, data collection and mediation), and technologies, with special attention upon digitisation advancements in video and sound that produce “extended” realities. Such extended reality (XR) technologies—such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR), 360° video and sound—are becoming more and more commonplace in artistic and scholarly methods, either as tools for data collection or as vehicles for digitized representations. Thus, discussions around the conceptualization and implementation of these tools across disciplines invites critical reflections and discussion. Within this, one particular point of emphasis concerned the possibility of developing a mutually beneficial dialogue between researchers interested in communicating about extended fieldwork and/or large data set acquisition with extra-academic audiences, on the one hand, and artistic researchers’ considerations of formal mediation and audience encounter on the other.
Spurring these discussions, we created and were led through an algorithmic composition process for immersive music at KKH’s listening room, a specially engineered space designed to dampen noise and laced with cutting edge audio equipment. We explored the sounds of the human circulatory and digestive systems and discussed the discourse around arctic “silence” as commodity, resource, and auditory politics. We also were introduced to multiple ways environmental science works to produce numbers and how these numbers come to mean in wider society, the difficulties in translating research data into artistic data, and the ways by which the environment as media aids us in understanding environmental aesthetic forms and political values. To wrap up day one, we discussed the overlaps between disciplines and how thinking through XR mediums may help to forge and develop into alternative aims that transcend scientific and artistic production.
On the second day of this workshop, we explored how virtual spaces require “dirt” for their representation of reality to become convincing and how power and narrative take shape in the relation between program and user through a VR underwater excursion as part of the annual student exhibition at KKH. Through films dealing with Svalbard—the experience of this place in bodily and formalistic ways—we discussed how imaginaries become embedded in audiovisual materials and how technologies shape the sorts of worlds they come to represent. Also, we looked at the use of plants in the offices of digital platform companies, meteorological data and its ability to represent place, and VR performances to highlight how theory, methodology, and art can challenge future visions.
Beyond the presentations and discussions, we also engaged with XR through a guided tour of the Laurie Anderson exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm and an ethnographic VR session that explored the uptake and implementation of VR for and by public audiences. We wish to thank the guides who led us in these excursions into these different realities.
As a result of this workshop, we agreed to develop these conversations through a series of informal discussions to take place in the future. If you are interested in participating, please join us by sending your information to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Acknowledgement: This workshop is the second of three workshops supported through the networking project “Extending Realities: Pioneering Visual, Acoustic and Sensory Technologies in Transdisciplinary Research” and funded by The Joint Committee for Nordic Research Councils in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NOS-HS), which aims to build networks among scholars in the Nordic countries.
Dear ocean lovers, here is a tip on an online event (in English) with the Göteborg museum of natural history – register for 8 June 18.00 hrs CEST. I believe the film sounds so promising, so perhaps you dont want to miss out on this?
About Deep in The Eye and The Belly …In the present day, a story is unearthed of a whale body that became a world of dinner parties, clandestine sex and mayoral speeches. In a possible future, a group of those-who-were-left-behind (or, those-who-chose-to-stay) have made a home inside the body of a whale. They find themselves contemplating this new world and speculating on the state of things outside – a world ravaged by a climate crisis which they survived by turning to the ocean. At a crossing between the present day and this potential future, a lone figure sings a lament for the body of the world’s last whale… Join us, on World Ocean Day, for a talk with artist Sam Williams and marine biologist Kennet Lundin, where we explore the deep seas through art and biology.
About the participants Sam Williams is an artist with a multidisciplinary practice, working across moving-image, collage, choreography and text. Sam is based in London where he is a resident at Somerset House Studios. He has exhibited and screened work at institutions including Arnolfini, Baltic39, Siobhan Davies Dance, Somerset House, Tate Britain, Studio Voltaire and South Kiosk (UK), She Will (Norway); Kino Arsenal, Akademie der Kunst, Tanzhalle Wisenberg and B3 Biennale (Germany).
His ongoing research focuses on multispecies entanglements, ecological systems, bodies-as-worlds and folk mythologies and how they can inspire ideas for present and future ways of non-human-centric living.
Kennet Lundin is a marine biologist, author and researcher. He is based at the Gothenburg Natural History Museum in Sweden where he manages the marine collection, is involved in working with the museum’s exhibition and outreach. He has authored many scientific articles, several popular scientific books on marine animals, and recently also a book on how to cook and eat them.
Practical info Register your participation by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. One week before the event you will be sent a link and a password to the film. Watch it when you want to, and then join us for the talk. There will be time for questions and discussions.
For those of you interested, consider submitting your work for this upcoming conference. Here are the details as provided by the organisers:
Narrating the Multispecies World. Stories in Times of Crises, Loss, Hope August 3 to 5, 2023, University of Würzburg An interdisciplinary, hybrid conference,organized by the Chair of European Ethnology
We are living in a multispecies world. Although the world is constantly changing, this change has accelerated extraordinarily in recent years, bringing forth substantial and manifold crises. Essentially caused by the capitalist pervasion of almost every part of our everyday, we are currently experiencing an increasing loss of diversity, particularly in the more-than-human world: due to changing circumstances in their original habitats, numerous living beings such as plants, insects, and mammals (including humans) migrate all over the world; some of them become extinct, and others are forced to adapt to new ecologies.
Narrating is a powerful practice. It allows us to understand what happens, and it enables us to shape the world, particularly in times of crises. Storytelling can also be seen as a practice of other-than-humans, as anthropologists Deborah Bird Rose and Thom van Dooren remind us of in their work. What are the stories of our multispecies world today? Which observations, needs, desires, dreams, nightmares, aspirations, and ethics are shared by narrating? Who is narrating which stories for whom, where, when? What is the role of the past, and which parts of our narrative heritage do we still maintain? What is the role of multispecies temporalities in narratives? What are the new powerful stories developing possibilities for a peaceful cohabitation in the multispecies world?
We are looking for critical scholarly studies and artistic projects focusing on narratives dealing with the effects of the current crises on the more-than-human world, particularly those involving more than one single species. The scope of possible topics is wide and ranges from the extinction of species, the loss of bio-diversity in the everyday lives, memories of former ecologies, historical experiences with extinction to present-day narratives about the returns of species and stories of the living together in emergent ecologies. We will work with a broad concept of narrative culture to encompass, in addition to verbal art, diverse forms, genres, and media such as everyday narrations, films, fictional texts, multimodal artefacts, photographs, art installations, collages, inscription into landscapes etc. We invite scholars of any career level (including students) from different fields such as
Cultural and Social Anthropology, European Ethnology, Visual Anthropology etc.
We can offer up to ten stipends of 500,00 Euros each to cover the cost for travel and accommodation of accepted speakers. Please inform us whether you are interested to apply for one of the grants when submitting your proposal. For those who will participate in person, we request a conference fee of 40,00 Euros for lunches and the conference dinner, and 20,00 Euros for the optional excursion, for which registration is needed.
Online Lecture series: Sculpture on a Burning Planet Academy of Fine Arts, University of the Arts, Helsinki
Our planet is literally burning, and our present-day Neros are certainly fiddling. Distracted by war and egotistical power struggles, our leaders do nothing to effectively slow climate change. Energy shortages caused by the war in Ukraine lead to renewed exploitation of fossil fuel reserves. Weather systems have become more extreme and destructive – and not just in the usual “hurricane belt” – Europe, China, and Northern America have all seen extreme drought and flooding again this last year. These “once in a hundred years” phenomena are now the new normal. Exploration and mining for rare-earth elements for so-called “clean energy” puts increasing pressure on pristine wilderness and indigenous people’s lands. How do artists and the art world react to these developments? The international art world itself is driven by carbon-hungry practices, in the production, presentation, and marketing of artists and artworks. In this lecture series, four renowned experts (philosophers, artists, and researchers) present hopeful possibilities for future artistic practise in this age of environmental crisis.
Wednesday 21 September Elisa Aaltola: Philosophy of Love and the Nonhuman World Wednesday 5 October Pia Lindman: Chill Survive Network Wednesday 26 October mirko nikolić: After Extractivism in the Semi-periphery Wednesday 16 November Maarit Mäkelä: Working with Soil
The series is presented by Professor Andy Best, Academy of Fine Arts, University of the Arts, Helsinki All lectures start at 17.00 (GMT +2) and are held online using the Zoom platform. They are free and open to all. The language of presentation is English. Please remember to use the passcode to access the meeting, and keep your mic muted unless asking a question. Wednesday 21 September 2022, 17.00 – 19.00 (GMT +2, Helsinki) https://uniarts.zoom.us/j/65689597891 Passcode: 422930
Elisa Aaltola: Philosophy of Love and the Nonhuman World Discussions concerning the climate crisis often ignore nonhuman viewpoints. Yet, it is predominantly nonhuman animals, who suffer most from a warming climate, whether by undergoing agonizing deaths in forest fires, struggling due to loss of habitat or by facing species extinction. The lecture focuses on how moral love holds the potential of reminding us of other-than-human perpectives. Two philosophical definitions of love (by Plato and Iris Murdoch) will be introduced, and the role of art in evoking love toward animals will be mapped out. Can art make us fall in love with the nonhuman world? Elisa Aaltola, PhD, works as a senior researcher and adjunct professor in philosophy at the University of Turku, Finland. Her research has focused on animal philosophy and normative moral psychology. Aaltola has published 12 books on these topics, including Esseitä eläimistä (Into 2022), Varieties of Empathy: Moral Psychology and Animal Ethics (Rowman & Littlefield 2018) and Animal Suffering: Philosophy and Culture (Palgrave MacMillan 2012). In 2021 she was awarded the Pro Animalia Prize for her life’s work for animals, and in 2022 she was awarded the Reformer of the Year Prize by Maailman Kuvalehti. https://www.utu.fi/en/people/elisa-aaltola https://fi.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elisa_Aaltola Wednesday 5 October 2022, 17.00 – 19.00 (GMT +2, Helsinki)
Pia Lindman: Chill Survive Network https://uniarts.zoom.us/j/65300671383 Passcode: 024187 Chill Survive Network is a platform for mutual exchange and collaboration between researchers, curators, artists, and institutions in the North-beyond-the-global-North. We engage in human and nonhuman entanglements and the development of new strategies, tactics, methodology and language that speak to our present ecological crisis. The objective is to explore, learn, mediate, cope with the future transformations in the Arctic. The network consists of several physical and online meetings including seminars and workshops. Pia Lindman as artist and researcher works with performance art, healing-as-art, installation, microbes, architecture, painting, and sculpture. In “Nose, Ears, Eyes“ (Sao Paulo Biennale, 2016) Lindman gave treatments to members of the audience and made paintings based on the visions she saw during these treatments. As Professor of Environmental Art at Aalto University from 2013 to 2018, Lindman initiated the art/science network Chill Survive focusing on the Arctic and organised the first global Radical Relevances Conference (2018). Since 2017, Lindman is doctoral candidate at the program of Nordic Cultures and Environmental Politics at Lapland University researching her concept of the subsensorial. A result of many years of investigation into the body and its place within the cultural space, Lindman’s work now moves beyond the human body proper to multiple realms of organic and inorganic life. http://pialindman.com/ https://chillsurvive.org/ Wednesday 26 October 2022, 17.00 – 19.00 (GMT +2, Helsinki) https://uniarts.zoom.us/j/62121956520 Passcode: 813978
mirko nikolić: After Extractivism in the Semi-periphery As the climate and ecological crises escalate, the metal mining sector is attempting to position itself as a fundamental provider of materials for the “energy transition.” Never before seen quantities of minerals are projected to substitute fossil fuels in the quest for lower-carbon and cleaner energy, transport and infrastructure technologies. While possibly reducing the carbon footprint of material use, the effects of mining on water, air, human and more-than-human communities are less visible in the technocratic discourses and calculations. Well documented are mining industry’s deep relations with colonialism, imperialism and related social engineering techniques of militarisation, policing, racism and sexism. Mining as part of a larger set of strategies of large- and long-term use of “natural resources” coagulates in the logics of extractivism. The concept and discussion was born in Latin America, but has since travelled across fields and geographies to tell many histories and illuminate a multitude of alternative world-making projects. In the discussion we will explore how the evolving notions of extractivism and alternatives relate to our life, work and being. mirko nikolić (Institute for Culture & Society, Linköping University) works through text, place-based performance and organising, often in different collaborative constellations and collectives, in solidarity with climate and environmental justice efforts. Since 2015, the principal focus of activity has been tracing the impacts of “mining booms” in North and South-East Europe, and non-extractivist alternatives from below. https://minoritarianecologi.es/ https://www.hiap.fi/resident/mirko-nikolic/ https://liu.se/en/employee/mirni99 Wednesday 16 November 2022, 17.00 – 19.00 (GMT +2, Helsinki) https://uniarts.zoom.us/j/62423118318 Passcode: 576714
Maarit Mäkelä: Working with Soil Recently I spent one year in New-Zealand. Because of its volcanic nature, the place offered diverse raw materials that were suitable for ceramics making. The core of my creative practice became the natural environment and the earth samples – sand, stones, and clay – I gathered during my walks. The materials were processed further in the studio and then used as raw materials for ceramics. The lecture presents this ‘seed’ project with four interrelated projects where these practices are used in urban context. Three of the projects were conducted together with Working with soil group: first took place in Research Pavilion #3 in the context of Venice Biennale 2019; second in Design Museum Helsinki 202 0-2021; third in Espoo Museum of Modern Art EMMA 2021-2022. All the projects discuss the entangled relationship between human and soil from different perspective. The fourth project is ongoing research with the aim of learning how to use geopolymers to work with soil matters with the result of construction that would not need firing. Doctor of Arts Maarit Mäkelä is an Associate Professor of Practice-led Design Research at Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Finland, where she is leading EMPIRICA research group and Contemporary Design master programme. Her own creative practice locates in the context of contemporary ceramics. She uses her own ceramics making as an embodied, slow practice through which to (re)consider the entangled relationship between human and non-human realms in the context of soil. Her current research interest lies in collaborative creative processes, especially how craft-based practices can be used for raising critical discourse around the stage of the environment. She has published and exhibited widely in international arenas. https://www.maaritmakela.com/ https://empirica.aalto.fi/traces-from-the-anthropocene