Aliveness machines, shadows and undercurrents: experimental data-activated sculptural works
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The concept of the 'Aliveness Machines' emerged from a landscape-based artist residency, conducted by Lyons and Pigott throughout 2012, within the North Devon UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Tasked with working in and around the River Torridge (including involvement of local schools and communities), we slowly familiarised ourselves with this place and its ecological character. Our primary aim was to harness environmental data to enable a meaningful portrayal of some of the hidden zones - the 'shadows and undercurrents' - in the landscape. Specifically, we monitored the situation of bats (the shadows), and the aquatic environment of the ecologically important, but seriously declining, salmon and freshwater mussel populations (the undercurrents). The 'Aliveness Machines' are kinetic sculptural works which are activated by environmental data – both live and recorded. With the assistance of the iDAT unit based at the University of Plymouth, we installed wireless micro-sensors at a number of sites in the river catchment area. Finally, within an off-site gallery setting, we translated or exposed the largely hidden activity (hidden at least to our human senses). Through kinetic sculptural animation, sound effects, light and shadow, we are attempting to ‘give voice’ to the changing levels, and complexity, of the 'aliveness' of these non-human ecosystem realms. The audience experience is multi-sensorial and holistically immersive; a deliberate avoidance of screen-based visualisations and texts. In this respect, our approach involves a form of 'intimate science', as described by Roger Malina (2009) “helping to make science intimate, sensual, intuitive”. In this presentation, we offer a snapshot of the evolving project, using photographic, video and sonic documentation.
RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2014;
Lyons, A. & Pigott, J. (2014) 'Aliveness machines, shadows and undercurrents: experimental data-activated sculptural works', RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2014, 26-29th August 2014. London: Royal Geographical Society
This paper was presented at RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2014