Open Call: Digitising Ecologies

Contemporary, digital technologies are deployed by cultural practitioners to augment perceptions of time, space and process at immediate and remote locations. Devices might aim to increase a user’s awareness of more-than-human environments, or connect people to conditions framing a chosen social, historical or ecological aspect of location. Technology has also shown to produce and reinforce citizen-led alternatives to hegemonic practices; it for example enables more immediate collection of data on natural phenomena by people directly implicated by these conditions, such as farmers. Environmental charities and lobbying organizations eagerly employ technicians and programmers to develop applications that interpret our environment and engage an audience with environmental causes. Yet these technologies are implicated more deeply and subtly in changes wrought upon us and our entangled worlds. With the gradual surge of these practices we call upon artists, theorists, practitioners, and other researchers to critically reflect on the use and implications of digital technologies and their advocacy in the field of ecology, nature conservation, geography, environmental education, and rural and sustainable development.

We seek proposals responding to the following lines of enquiry.

Digital technologies are often understood and critiqued as acting ‘between’ people and their natural environment. Does the digitisation of landscapes and natural phenomena produce an enhanced relationship between humans and their environment, forging and deepening our experience of elusive and dynamic conditions? Or does it create what Baudillard (1994) calls hyperreality, in which the digital representation of reality becomes more real and attractive than an ‘authentic’ world? Do such technologies contribute to an extinction of experience (Pyle 2011), whereby we lose the ability to meaningfully engage without a digital interface? How might we reframe technology’s role in the correlation between humans and non-human world? Digital media have become an intricate part of all levels and areas of our society. We are masters of the technologies that we create, and their uses change our social and geopolitical environments. But not always in ways that we expect. Given ecological crises, how can we decide on the function and appropriateness of new interfaces and applications? Can technologies increase our resilience in the face of system collapses, responding in agile ways to unanticipated catastrophes and current socio-environmental challenges? Or are real-world, human and natural phenomena inherently uncontrollable? Do they allow the emergence of more sustainable practices by for example increasing the dissemination, preservation and adoption of traditional practices that have less negative impacts on the environment? How does this change our understanding of the world? How might we better negotiate the shifting boundaries between the planned and the contingent, the solid and the fluid, between tradition and progress?

Geohack: two-day exploration of the interface between digital media and our (natural) environment

We call on artists, gamers, geographers, historians, performance-makers, seafarers, landlubbers, the flooded and the landlocked interested in devising immersive, locative and interactive strategies that connect people to the socio-environmental conditions of contemporary landscapes. Challenged by James Mariott (Platform London), and mentored by Duncan Speakman (Circumstance), Tassos Stevens (Coney) and Jay Kerry (Mercurial Wrestler) participants will collectively create new bodies of work in response to the nautical landscape of Falmouth. They will work in tall ships, on ferries, at sea, or on the shore to collaboratively create pieces for one of these locations or the journeys between. We will provide a range of creative means: kayaks, wetsuits, fishing nets and snorkels, as well as digital media. The products will be showcased as part of the Fascinate Conference that takes place August 30th and 31st. Places are limited! Apply by August 15th at Geohack Final Proof

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