Panel One: Contesting the relations of landscape, art and environment

Anthropocene has established itself as the key hot topic in East European art in particular. A range of new exhibitions and projects are coming up which entails many great perspectives and potentials, but also challenges. The panel addresses the following themes: How to find and define the advantages of artistic and curatorial practices for addressing the Anthropocene?  How to develop collaboration with environmental and life scientists, activists, communities? What does curatorial and artistic activism mean in the context of the Anthropocene and environmental degradation/ruination?

The panel would capitalise on the increasing attention on the topic of Anthropocene in Estonian art scene and involve contributions from practicing local artists and curators.

Keynote speakers

Sensing Environments. Artistic Practices and Methodologies Revealing the Eco-Systematic Relations

Our senses have always been “mediated”, but with more recent enhancements of various ‘immersive’ technologies, our ‘sensoriums’ have intensified and become more mediated than ever before. Environmental monitoring sensors and remote sensing tools used in environmental sciences and landscape research are extending our knowledge, perception and experiences. Yet, we ask, which practices, tools, technologies may help us better to ‘sense’ the environment? What are the methodologies for creating the meaningful relations (with it)? And – what art can do? If the ‘constructivist’ approach has been used to a large extent in environmental research and other fields, ‘experiential’ capabilities such as sensual and immersive properties of the environment have been mainly used in art practices that create immersive interaction through experience, reflection and speculation.

We will introduce our artistic practices of exploring various environments, real and virtual, sonic and visible, as well as invisible – from pioneering internet radio experiments pushing the boundaries of an “acoustic cyberspace” and artistic investigations in electromagnetic spectrum, to more recent ‘techno-ecological’ art projects exploring the landscapes using sensing technologies, data sonification and visualizations to reveal the invisible activity in nature ecosystems.  such as bacteria activity happening in the swamp ecosystems or volatile emissions of the pine trees in the forest and atmosphere.

To create “Pond Battery” (2014-2015) and “Swamp Radio” (2018) artworks of “Biotricity” series, we performed artistic interventions installing “bacteria batteries”, sensors and transmitting devices in ponds, swamps and other wetlands in North Europe and North America. Environmental data were collected, sonified and visualized making visible the invisible activities in nature such as bacteria living in a pond or swamp sediments producing electricity.
Our recent artwork “Atmospheric Forest” (2021), an immersive VR environment is created using remote scanned 3D forest environment, and visualizes the data of the fragrant emissions of pine trees, revealing complex patterns of relations between climate change, forest emissions and the atmosphere.

By showcasing how sensing technologies and immersive tools used in artistic practice are well suited to reveal our interdependence of living organisms on each other and their environment, we would like to discuss future strategies, tools and methodologies for establishing two (or multi) directional link with our environment. Moreover, we argue that focusing our attention on “terrestrial co-existence” (Latour) and combining both ‘constructivist’ and ‘experiential’ approaches may help us to find less hazardous routes into the future and to create interactive relations with ‘more than human’ environments.