The Art of Gathering Environmental Data

The 2012 version of Pixelache took place as “Camp Pixelache” from 11-12 May at Arbis in Helsinki. The main theme for the unconference was “Do It With Others” (D.I.W.O), and addresses practices of co-production and collaboration. Some of the speakers for this event include Marc Garrett of Furtherfield, Owen Kelly, and Pedro Soler.

The Finnish Bioart Society, together with Pixelache, organized an unconference from 11-12 May 2012. One of the day’s themes, “The Art of Gathering Environmental Data” at Camp Pixelache 2012, focused on ecosystem theory, environmental monitoring, related art & science projects, and citizen science in the context of open data.

As part of this event, I presented a plenary lecture on “The Art of Gathering Environmental Data,” and facilitated a workshop on this same topic. Several exciting presentations were made by practitioners working in this area.

An abstract of my plenary lecture follows:
The topic of environmental data is often seen as an area of scientific concern. Empirical study produces observations and measurements that enter data infrastructures, which are the basis for scientific understanding and policy decisions. Yet an increasing number of creative practitioners are working with data, not just to visualize or sonify data in the context of arts-sciences collaborations, but also to question what constitutes data, to experiment with how data are produced, and to recast the relationships that are articulated through data. In a complementary approach, researchers working within science and technology studies have suggested there is a greater need to attend to “data diversity,” and to think through the contexts that make data relevant and meaningful.

From citizen science projects to animals that are tagged to gather and relay environmental sense data, and from material transformations of data that generate new political encounters with environmental issues, as well as alternative practices, devices and platforms for harvesting data, this presentation will focus on the ways in which creative practitioners are generating diverse approaches to gathering environmental data. These projects raise questions about who or what data are for, which interpretive practices are productive of data, and the new collectives that data might mobilize.

While participating in Camp Pixelache, I also gave a talk on my recent work on electronic waste, Digital Rubbish: A Natural History of Electronics, as part of Trashlab, 10 May 2012.