a proposition for the FIELDS exhibition in riga

Fields starts from the assumption that the changing role of art in society is one where it becomes a critical interloper in patterns of social, scientific, and technological transformations. The range of practices which were once subsumed under terms such as media art, digital art, art and technology, art and science have experienced such growth and diversification that no single term can work as a signpost any more. Fields is about mapping those expanded fields of artistic practices which are contextual seedbeds for ideas and practices aiming at overcoming the crisis of the present, inventing new avenues for future developments by bringing together traditionally separated domains. Fields is about new ecological and transversal trends in art, outlining potential future trajectories for multifarious types of activities that merge politics, technology, ecology, gender, semiology.

proposal dd. may 2012

sketches for an installation

Since 2009 I am studying the co-evolution between city honeybees and urban ecosystems. Bee colonies are threatened in all industrialized nations. Given that the survival of bees is crucial for human sustainability, there is a great urgency to improve by all means the ways in which colonies could thrive. To study the optimal conditions for survival I raised 2 urban agriculture testfields which are linked by the foraging areas of the honeybees. Besides the monitoring of the environmental elements on the fields, the research program proposes to built Intelligent Beehives. These are hives that have been enhanced with sensors, processing power and telecommunication facilities in order to monitor the health of the colony without interference by humans. The hives are distributed in an urban guerilla beekeeping network. Because bees are recognized as important biomarkers, the Intelligent Beehive is augmented with sensory processing algorithms that analyse the quality of pollen and propolis as well as the behavior of the bees in order to monitor the state of the ecology in the surrounding areas.

Guerilla Beehives (Helianthum annuum and Calendula officinalis, a mix of dried herbs and seeds, recycled paper and wood) with sensorbox
LCD screens with bees (inside the hive) and data monitoring

more info:
- on SEM nanophotography a series of photographs made with the high-end SEM microscope. During 2 months I was invited to work at the chemical engineering laboratory of the Vrije Universiteit Brussels (VUB) to carry out research on city honeybees and their relation to the urban environment. As well the honeybees, as the pollen grains the bees were bringing back from their foraging flights, were closely inspected under the SEM microscope.
- on pollen analysis: Palynology is the study of pollen grains and other spores. Determination of the pollen, brought by the bees to the hive, can help us to map the foraging areas of the bees. It can give us useful information on the environment, for a wide range of purposes.
- honey analysis Urban ArtFarm, Brussels - 2013: the results of the honey-samples analysis done by Cari (University Louvain la Neuve).The main component in the honey are pollen from bigger trees as the chestunut and lime trees in Brussels city center.
research on shapes for intelligent beehives
research 2 on shapes for intelligent beehives

harvest from the foraging fields

Brussel's canal zone (UAF-okno-Kaai-thurn&taxis) - pollen harvest from the foraging fields
flower samples for pollen determination: Helianthum annuus, Borago officinalis, Trefolium pratense, Calendula officinalis

the Urban ArtFarm (UAF), a 700m2 rooftop garden and apiary in brussels' city center

It is remarkable to see how a bee population functions and evolves very much in accordance to the human activities we are developing around them: gardening and urban agriculture. The production of honey is different related to the flowers we grow, the plants we like, the garbage or pollution we produce. Bees are very responsive to the different biotopes that we share.
The Brussel's Canal zone is a diverse area where a lot of activities, from accidental nature to collective and community gardening and urban agriculture, develop between the industrial buildings, office zones and living areas.
With this project, in which city honeybees play the leading role, we want to research how the sustainability of cities can be increased in the future. We attempt to uncover the eco-political control of empty spaces (as rooftops) and food sovereignty.
The research into the survival of the honeybees construct an open discursive framework to tease out a range of issues in relation to our environment, seed sovereignty and food urbanism.
The different green nodes design an ecological corridor through the city. The cultivation methods vary between urban agriculture, guerilla gardening, ecological management and social anthropology. The corridor is monitored with avant-garde technologies, so that it becomes an experiment on the edge of art, science and technology. The corridors is seen as an art work that contributes to social cohesion and sustainability by raising awareness on the current state of our urban habitats.

more info on the relation beehives/environment:
- urban corridors
- urban art farm 2012 and urban art farm 2013

DIY computer customized for multi-screen video playback

practical : set-up

  • wall with simplified map of brussels canal-zone (wall painted black, map drawn with white paint or tape) representing 4 locations with urban agriculture + beehives (UAF, okno, Kaai. T&T)
  • written notes on blackboard complement environmental info on the locations (e.g. agriculture, wild plants, pollen/honey)
  • nano-photography of pollen and bee-parts collected on the locations
  • network of 4 guerilla beehives, representing the beehives on the 4 locations (biomimetic sculptures, made from recycled and natural materials)
  • every beehive has its own sensorbox (temperature, humidity, Co2, webcam, sound)
  • 4 small LCD screens mounted on the sculptures represent video (from inside the beehive) and data information (sensors)
  • DIY computer for video playback
  • publication: urban corridors
foraging_fields.txt · Last modified: 2016/01/13 18:48 (external edit)
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