Session #2 – Changing environments

Sustainable agriculture / sustainable culture

Pat Badani

Abstract: The paper discusses “Al Grano,” a transdisipinary project-in-progress that examines the politics of food and GM technology using as lens: maize cultivation, technology, trade and border crossings at the intersection of ancient and contemporary sciences and technologies. The focus is on the livelihood struggles of maize growers in Mexico – center of origin, domestication and biodiversity of maize – and the balance/unbalance created by environmentally sustainable and exploitative agro-practices today.

Maize agriculture is seen as “culture” where unevenly shaped opinions and meanings are formed in engagement with wider economic and political structures in Mexico, the USA and Canada. The complex foundational issues and convoluted stakes derive from history, ethnology, sociology, biopolitics, law and intellectual property, agronomy, ecology, science, and technology of maize.

The “Al Grano” project delves into new structures for life for the 21st century, seeking to re-define ‘growth’ for a sustainable agriculture / sustainable culture. The intention is to set in motion receptivity by intertwining research methodologies used in ethnography into my new media artist’s tool-kit. These strategies allow the development of various narrative grounds about issues related to this contested grain and its contested spaces in North America.

Bio: Pat Badani is an internationally exhibiting artist, researcher, educator and writer. Her essays on new media and interculturality have been published in English and Spanish in books and in journals. Currently, she Editor in Chief of “Media-N, Journal of the New Media Caucus”.

Badani’s work and research have been showcased in venues such as ISEA (France, Ireland and Turkey); FILE – International Electronic Festival & Symposium (Brazil); Watershed Media Center (UK); MECAD Media Art Center (Spain); New Forms Festival (Canada); Espacio Fundación Telefónica (Argentina); The Tarble Art Center; and I space (USA); Canadian Cultural Center; and Maison de l’Amérique Latine (France).

In 2002 she was awarded a major one-year Canada Council Research Grant to develop her multi-sited new media project “Where are you from?_Stories”. Currently she is working on two projects involving transdisciplinary research and exchange. She is director of “Al-Grano” investigating biodiversity issues in Mexico, the USA and Canada (a feature article analyzing the project, written by Catherine Bédard, will be published in November 2011 in “Nouvelle Revue d’Esthétique”, Paris). Badani is also international network research partner in the collaborative project “RhyCycling – Esthetics of sustainability in the Basel border area”, funded by The Swiss National Science Foundation.

Badani has lectured and occupied full-time academic positions. She created and taught the first Integrated Media program in the School of Art at Illinois State University and was full time lecturer and Acting Director of the Interdisciplinary Media Arts MFA program at Columbia College in the USA.


Citizen Sensing in the Canadian North

Matthew Biederman

Abstract: The paper will discuss recent activities of the Arctic Perspective Initiative, a non-profit, international group of individuals and organizations, founded by Marko Peljhan and Matthew Biederman, whose goal is to promote the creation of open authoring, communications and dissemination infrastructures for the circumpolar region. Its aim is to work with, learn from, and empower the North and Arctic Peoples through open source technologies and applied education and training. By creating access to these technologies while promoting the creation of shared communications and data networks without costly overheads, continued and sustainable development of autonomous culture, traditional knowledge, science, technology and education opportunities for peoples in the North and Arctic regions is enabled.

In light of the current trends of ‘citizen sensing’, the paper will discuss the development of the Tatsipaaq environmental mesh network in the Foxe Basin area of Nunavut and its potential within communities facing pressures of climate change. Built from entirely open-source hardware and software, the Tatsipaaq has the ability to geo-locate environmental conditions, and augmenting the data with audio and visual material by recording voice, audio or images. The system propagates its data through open mapping toolsets, allowing for the free dissemination to the rest of the community. The network was designed and built by API through consultation with communities of Nunavut, and will be openly distributed as a toolset allowing for the local communities to direct their own ‘ambient’ research and data collection.

Bio: Matthew Biederman has been performing, installing and exhibiting works, which explore themes of perception, media saturation, and data systems since the mid nineties. Biederman was the recipient of the Bay Area Artist Award in Video by New Langton Arts in 1999, First Place in the Visual Arts category of Slovenia’s Break21 festival, and has served as artist-in-residence at the Center for Experimental Television on numerous occasions. He is a co-founder of Arctic Perspective Initiative, an international non-profit group of individuals and organizations whose goal is to promote the creation of open authoring, production, communications and dissemination infrastructures for the circumpolar region.

His installations have been exhibited in the US, South America, and Europe, in a variety of festivals and venues such as 7 ATA Festival Internacional (Lima, Peru) As a film and video maker, his works have been included in the FILE festival (Sao Paulo), New Forms Festival (Vancouver), the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Paris/Berlin International Meetings, and the Chicago Underground Film Festival. His public works have been shown at the ZeroOne2006 Festival, the SCAPE Biennial in New Zealand.


Wild Weather

Damian Castaldi

Abstract: My paper presents the prototype for the installation of a networked public sound sculpture planned for the Australian, Newcastle CBD. It includes five light weight transparent acrylic resonators, (approx 2200mm high X 110mm in outside diameter) suspended side by side and mechanically controlled to oscillate in response to the file transfer of media (audio & text files) from a website to the sculpture’s interface. The public installation will provide a transmission interface for the general public to privately reflect on their experiences and relationships with their local weather environment and where possible share meaningful content that might describe the social and physical impact of weather on their communities. The project sits at the intersection of sonic art, networked media, human ecology and remote user interaction. It addresses the intense and dangerous relationship Australians have with the weather and focuses on the recent and devastating affects of floods and storms on our environment and it’s population. One of the ecological concerns central to this work is described by Professor of natural hazards at James Cook University, Cyclone chaser Jonathan Nott who this year warned that, “town planners have become “very, very complacent” about the dangers of wild weather which is likely to increase during La Nina weather patterns and a shift in the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, which will warm the east Pacific ocean and possibly fuel severe cyclones.” (Bita 2011).

Bio: Damian Castaldi is an independent sound and digital media artist based in Sydney, Australia. He works in the areas of sound design, installation and electronic music production and has an interest in gestural and sculptural interfaces for sound synthesis. He currently lectures in the Bachelor of Audio Production program at the SAE Institute and has previously lectured at the University of Technology Sydney in Media Art Production (MAP) and the University of Newcastle in Foundations of Media Art Production. Recently Damian co-directed Loop Space, which ran as a Sound & Digital media artspace as part of the Renew Newcastle project.


Floating Land – Cultural Change through Multidisciplinary Collaboration

Jessie Roberts

Abstract: Floating Land is an ongoing conversation about creativity, culture and the environment pivoting on a dynamic ten-day event in the UNESCO listed Biosphere of Noosa on the Sunshine Coast of Australia. Conceived in 2001 as an outdoor sculpture exhibition, Floating Land is now solidified as one of Australia’s most significant green art events sparking the imagination of artists, scientists, politicians and conservationists globally. The biannual project is framed around a thematic site-specific artist residency and offers a platform for creative responses, provocations and interactive experiences that can underpin new ways of thinking and inspire change. The diverse creative responses of Floating Land become embedded in a rich program of community workshops, forums and interactive labs designed to confront and challenge a spectrum of environmental issues across disciplines. The event delivers engaging experiences for the local community, and harnesses the energy of these conversations, ideas and visions across virtual platforms that explore new paradigms for our collective future.

The 2011 Floating Land theme ‘Water Culture’ saw collaborative projects deliver multi-sensory ephemeral installations, incorporating projection, light and sound in the natural environment. Artists worked alongside scientists engaging with and drawing upon the community.

This paper presents Floating Land as a methodology for cultural change through deeply engrained community processes and multi-disciplinary collaborations. Floating Land 2013 is drawing its thematic framework from Biomimicry; bringing the science of nature and the scientific mindset deeply into the conversation and providing a platform for the creative industries, science, technology and culture to enter the conversation simultaneously.

Bio: Jessie Roberts is a dynamic sustainability strategist, biotechnologist, educator and arts manager who has worked in a diversity of positions across Australia and Spain. Most recently, she has held the position of Project Manager for Floating Land (2009 – 2011); one of Australia’s leading Green Art events. Previous project include investigating sustainable water technologies that resulted in successfully building a water efficiency consultancy that serviced the drought effected areas of South East Queensland, Australia in 2005 to 2007. Jessie played a key role in the development and research for the Edgeware Creative Entrepreneurship program and through her current position of Educational Designer and Facilitator at the QUT Innovation Space, within Queensland’s University of Technology, she is conducting action research into alternative educational models and platforms/environments that facilitate interdisciplinary collaborations. Jessie is the co-founder of InterRhythm, a dynamic interdisciplinary company dedicated to facilitating innovative projects for a sustainable future and she is currently working on the thematic development for Floating Land 2013 through her position on the curatorial board.