Nature, Human, Machine

Towards a New Symbiosis in the Mexican Environment: Art & Science by Reynaldo Thompson and Juan Angel Mejia/ Suzumushi: a silent future by Gavin Sade/ botanoadopt by Haike Rausch and Torsten Grosch/ Interaction With Nature Through Performance Utilizing Pico-projection in a Forest and Kaumana Cave on the Big Island of Hawai'i by Laura Lee Coles and Philippe Pasquier/ Paying One’s Respect to a Mountain by Astrid C Almkhlaafy
Saturday, 17 September, 2011 - 14:45 - 16:45
Chair Person: 
Caroline Wilkinson
Reynaldo Thompson
Juan Angel Mejia
Gavin Sade
Laura Lee Coles
Philippe Pasquier
Astrid Almkhlaafy

Towards a New Symbiosis in the Mexican Environment: Art & Science

by Reynaldo Thompson and Juan Angel Mejia

Contemporary art has taken different directions, the most recent artwork of the Mexican artist Gilberto Esparza deals mostly with microorganisms, environment issues and electronic media focused on different kinds of transformations and implications. In his last project entitled Plantas Nómadas (Nomadic Plants), up to date technological developments are integrated into his artwork that navigates the everyday life proposing a new urban ecosystem.  His work is based on the recycling of consumption technology, human wastes and a robotic mechanism that survives from served waters and solar energy.  The complex system obtains the nutrients from bacteria contained in polluted water, those bacteria are temporarily lodged in a micro biotic chamber of the robot and together with two flexible solar cells provide the necessary energy to keep the machine moving and feeding a green plant.  The hybrid machine-nature ecosystem tries to adapt itself to an altered state of nature.  The fourth and last step of the riveting project that is under development at the University of Guanajuato in Mexico can be seen in the web page:

Suzumushi: a silent future

by Gavin Sade

This artist paper discusses the conceptual, aesthetic and technical aspects of the work Suzumushi: the silent swarm, which is proposed for inclusion in ISEA 2011. (See art proposal.)  The paper provides an outline of the creative work and draws together the range of ideas that influenced the works form, the conceptual material and interaction design.  These influences include acoustic ecology, emergence, synchronicity and spontaneous order, as well as memes and network theory.  The work also continues the artists’ interest in the relationship between human society and the natural world, and specifically other species.

 In Suzumushi these concepts are embodied in a swarm of stylized crickets constructed from stainless steel, plastic and electronics. The crickets in this work are hypothetical creatures that have evolved to survive in a noisy human environment.  This speculative species replaces auditory calls with onomatopoeia cricket calls and memes drawn from selected real time data sources. This content is displayed on small LCD screens within each cricket. The crickets use radio frequency chirps to communicate these memes with other crickets forming an unorganized social network, from which emerges patterns of synchronicity out of noise. 

The paper also provides an insight into the artists approach to practice led research, considering the relationship between creative activity of the hand and the associated thinking. Through the practice of creating Suzumushi the combination of practice and thinking about practice raised critical questions about both practice and the conceptual material explored in the work.  As a result this artist paper is to be presented along side the creative work, acting as a form of exposition of and counter point to Suzumushi, the silent swarm. 


by Haike Rausch and Torsten Grosch

botanoadopt is a participatory interdisciplinary art project at the interface of art, science and social commitment, defines plants as independent beings and offers them for adoption on the internet. A plants-hatch is available for the anonymous local handover for plants. The adoption contract requires adopters to send botanoadopt photos of their fosterlings. These photos are then published at, where they offer insight into the socio-cultural environments of the plants.

The humorous contextual displacement makes it possible, to question one’s own definition of nature, and the adoption process establishes links with the theme of responsibility. Artistic thesis is, that plants are beeings with their own perception.

botanoadopt draws on alternative economic models of exchange and donation; questions raised regarding ecological actions are investigated via models surpassing the boundaries of art.

The Internet presence is visited worldwide. This site announce plants with an individual biography and personality for adoption. Every plant is posted with phot. Adopting persons have to collect the plants from the former owners by themselves. In this way, people from different contexts are brought into contact with each other - regardless of age, education, occupation, ethnic origin or religion. The biographys are dealing with facts and fiction in a way, that they shift perspectives. They are concerning to actual themes too.

The aim of the project is - simply described - using artistic activities and intervention in everyday life to question and redefine ones definition of nature.

The internetplatform furthermore offers a wide range of articles and useful knowlegde around the themes of plants, nature and biodiversity (Fakten).

The unveiling of the world's first “Pflanzenklappe” - a babyhatch for plants in Schöppingen brought within one week to about 99,000 entries in google. The Bannwald-Migration (avalanche forest migration) saved 33 trees from the area of the new rhein-main-airport which were planted in Schöppingen/Germany. This artistic work in form of a small forest is called "Bannwald" (avalanche forest).

botanoadopt is noncommercial. Every adopting person has to sign a contract. Adopted plants are living around Germany and all over Europe.

Interaction With Nature Through Performance Utilizing Pico-projection in a Forest and Kaumana Cave on the Big Island of Hawai'i

by Laura Lee Coles and Philippe Pasquier,PhD

This paper seeks to further a dialogue regarding human use and perception of digital technology in the natural environment through the use of miniature digital mobile projection. We question whether the human experience of sensorial awareness of "nature" can be perceived and possibly changed through the experience of using digital mobile projection technology in outdoor settings.  Initial research studied the use digital Liquid Crystal on Silicon (LCoS) pico projection technology in the production of two live technology-mediated experiments in a coastal forest setting and the Kaumana Cave on the Big Island of Hawai’i.  We argue that pico projection studied in atypical ways may provide further understanding of the human relationship to digital technology.   We report on the audience experience, as well as the issues and challenges faced by artist-users.  We further posit that this research may be of importance in the study of locative mobile projection because it assists in understanding the human relationship to digital technology, which consequently inform their design.

Paying One’s Respect to a Mountain

by Astrid C Almkhlaafy

Over the last three years I’ve climbed and mapped sacred mountains in Asia, as well as man-made monuments that refer directly to the cosmological Mt. Meru and Mt. Sumeru of Buddhist and Hindu tradition. As an artist I fuse archaeology, legend, history and the site specific pilgrimage together — exploring on foot — while documenting with video, photography and GPS and react to the location through performance.

The mountain pilgrimage has become my lens into deciphering aspects of my new home. To share I create participatory art that attempts to poetically embody and translate my own experience to new audiences.

In this artist talk, I will introduce my mountain treks in China, Indonesia and Cambodia and also discuss the challenges and successes I encountered in translating these site specific projects and performances into installation pieces.