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Amsterdam, Artis, 20151102


Machine Wilderness: new ecosystems where environment & technology co-exist, in which humans are less central


Theun Karelse

  • ISEA 2012 (Andrea Polli) - Ron Horvath in the 1960 (cultural geographer) - wrote about machines in a negative way: machines are dumb, wilderness is a mess. this event - more positive approach
  • design from an environment - machine not easy to distinguish from its environment, integrated

Augmented ecology augmented @augmentedeco: 1. how to transform GPS tags on animals to make much richer meanings (Microsoft: Technology for nature - individuals and groups; facebook for herds, anchor point for drones - hybrid ecology)

  • danger - cyberpoaching - panna-211 (panna tiger in a reserve in india), don’t share photos from safaris, poachers can track the animals
  • gps tags → epizoic media (libraries of signatures)
  • harvesting fields → harvesting data
  • IOT → internet of organisms and ecosystems

2. Ecological Robotics

  • Daan van Dijk Darpa 2013, COTSBot (management of invasive starfish), Robird (management - scares birds away from Schiphol), TumbleWeed bot (based on plant movement - drifts, blows through the desert and collects environmental data), SwarmFarming (using robots for agriculture)
  • Biocarbon engineering 0 planting 1mil trees per year using robotic drones
  • Rainforest connect - conservation using 2nd hand phones - they listen for the sound of chainsaws, and report - monitoring
  • MyBionicBird
  • Compostable Drones - how do we deal with lifespan of tech in landscapes
  • AI: mind (thinking machines) + bodies (acting machines) + environment = behaviour


  • starting from processes in the environment, beyond objects,
  • starting from local habitats
  • diverse knowledge systems

Designing towards cohabitation & intimacy

—> get slides from theun!

Erik de Jong

Prof at the UVA & Artis

“Natura Artis Magistra” (1838) - Nature is the teacher of art & science (Royal Zoological Society); → What does it mean for the future to connect art, science, nature…

  • e.g. exhibition of microbes & micro-organisms
  • Het Groote Museum first museum in NL (1852) - in the future, a museum, a workplace for the antropocene (started in 1600 - colonialism, 1900 - industrialisation…), for man and nature, platform for discussion & exchange; where do we stand as humans on the earth; galleries on nature, science and technology, biomimicry, the future (cyborgs, replacements of nature…); laboratory nature - nature managed by man (manipulating genetics, etc.)
  • E. Wilson “the artificial new environment into which technology has catapulted humanity” - what does this mean? (e.g. natural disasters, infrastructure failures (New York blackout in the storm in 2012))
  • wilderness = 1st nature, cultural landscape (agriculture) - 2nd nature, designed nature (gardens, urban environments) - 3rd nature
  • Louis le Roy, Turn off nature / turn on nature (1973) - not dominating but co-operating with nature - still dualistic thinking - machine ↔ nature
  • we need a new language to describe interactions between machines and environments
    • the etymology of the word machine = “device”, “instruments”, “apparatus”, “machine a habiter”…
    • “wilderness” = “community of life untrammeled by man where man himself is a visitor, not to remain” - this changes in the antropocene
  • city as metabolism - a new relationship between town and landscape - hybrid landscapes - deserted industrial locations, landfill reclamation…
  • avoid confusions with pre-modern and mechanistic views
  • finding a way to talk about hybrids, co-operation between technology and nature - a common vitality in reclaiming aesthetics as a process and not an object in the tangle of tech and nature - including philosophy, ethics, morals - responsibility of human nature towards non human nature

Petran Kockelkoren

Technological Disclosure of Landscapes

How technologies opened up our experience of landscapes?

  • Nature is thought to be a healing experience, while cities and technologies are thought of as being alienating - inherited from the romantic era (??)
  • “Nature and memory”. The term “landscape” is originally dutch - the landcape painters of the Golden Age; usually without any technology (even thought the Dutch landcape was riddled with technology), “Nature as sublime” (19th ct.), “Technology is alienating” - loss of nature (Heidegger, etc.), 21st ct - the dualism begins to change - technology can re-connect humans to nature
  • 19th ct - transport technology (train, etc.) - a revolution of how we experienced landscapes;
    • “railway spine” - cultural pathology resulting from incorporation of technology - health claims related to train journeys; problem for insurance companies - learning to cope with the phenomenon of speed and technology which hasn’t been integrated into daily life; 19th ct - hysteria, 20th ct. alien abductions, multiple personality disorders - symptoms are real, causes uncertain
    • fairground attraction - simulation of a train/boat experience, fair ground as exercise ground, immersive simulation, to learn to cope with the experience of speed - landscapes moving - things nearby flash by fast, further away things move slower - you have to change the way you perceive things around you - people are unsettled
    • Victor Hugo - description of his train journeys “flowers are no longer flowers but colourful streaks…”
    • Futurists - depicting speed and velocity, buildings start to dance, people flashing by, 'streaks - signs of speed'
  • 20ct - car, monument to a car race - it alienated people from the central, static perspective, not so much from landscape
    • Ballard - attempting to change perspective and coin new imaginaries for speed - we needed to re-normalise our senses - images and sounds help us cope with the new experiences…
    • pop-art - streaks in comics - speeding cars
    • zootrope - suggesting movement, children’s toys, artistic expression, scientific simulation of birds in flight (Max Ernst) - disclosing the world by means of technology changes our perception and sensory experience
    • Muybridge - horses galloping - are they ever free from the ground (yes)
    • Stereoscope - photograph with two different focus points - the world available in stereo - photographers began experimenting with focal points (depth, 'enhanced stereos' - issue with veracity); Bishop - if God wanted us to see this depth, he would have given us eyes further apart…; Scientific photo of the moon - very difficult (distance, etc.), but there is a wobble in the moon (the photos were taken 3 weeks apart) - “a step out of and beyond nature” - but it disclosed the possibility to view the moon much more intimately - a mediated view of nature, with a more intimate and immersive knowledge - a breakthrough in the view of technology
  • Tintin - “destination Moon” - actual rockets and clothing inspired by Herge’ comic; project Tintin insterstellar nanosat mission to alpha centauri - Alan Bean (astronaut) - “the only artist who has been to the moon”, painting with moon-dust
  • Andrea Polli (tracking data of hurricane Bob → “Atmospheric Weatherworks” acoustic artwork to understand nature on its own terms, complex rhythms and melodies of nature on human scale) & Gavin Starks (translated data from telescope images into sounds - soothing synth sounds - a deception; but the image itself is mediated already (radiowaves translated into image)) discussion at DEAF 2004 - we are always embedded in cultural and historical incorporations of technology - nature is always a mediated event
  • Husserl “an experience of nature is always artificial” - documentaries - mediated, staged, interpreted events
  • Esther Polak - GPS traces through the city “Amsterdam Real Time” (2002) - the mediated event - sky-drawing, “Milk”, fishing boats - different stories emerge than when we look at photographs - new positioning of artists in the field, just breaking ground
  • 3D projections in cinemas, art galleries - contemporary fairgrounds to exercise new perceptions

Anouk Visser & Reinier Kop

Creating Technology for nature conservation, in game reserves and agricultural mapping, Dutch UAS

  • primarily drones
  • motivation:
    • rhino poaching, the anti-poaching drones need to be cheap and simple for the rangers to use
    • game counting (compulsory)
    • elevation/photographic maps and 3D models
  • where to:
    • object detection/recognition - reduces time needed to go through the images, towards 100% accuracy
    • AI counting tool - automatic reporting of current states and changes over time
    • expand to other sensors (multispectral/thermal) for precision agriculture and crop monitoring
    • Earth Observation Platform - gathering analysing and visualisation of data - for any environment
  • “surveillance company for nature” - military algorithms not open sourced

Xavier San Giorgi

Relationships between technology and food forestry

Reading technology or reading nature?

  • Food forest - farming like the forest - perennial plants, complete diet farmed all year around, systems approach - design science from a holistic perspective; robotics can help with monitoring of feedback loops
    • more biodiversity, more biomass, more yield, more lushness
    • low maintenance system
    • Layers of the forest (overstory, understory, shrubs, herbs, ground-cover, root, climber
    • biodiversity - including plants, animals, insects, microbes… - in an equilibrium; if not - more work!
    • healthy soil (springiness of forest soil)
  • Too often we design agricultural spaces in order to adapt to machinery we use
  • Yeoman’s Keyline Scale of permanence (change effort - energy / relative permanence - time)
  • Food forests exist more in tropical/subtropical gardens
  • How do you design a food forest for a city scape? In recreation areas, plants that aren’t commercially viable, that are difficult to harvest industrially

Tech requirements:

  • touch earth lightly
  • broaden our senses, be aware it shapes the way we behave
  • help ppl reconnect to nature
  • be amazed with and learn about the environment, give it meaning
  • not a substitution, it’s always more layered - to design more complex agricultures

Paul Roncke

at Wageningen University

Landscape Machines

  • Deep Longing to own a piece of land
  • Urban agriculture is not going to solve the food problem, but it points to a DIY approach - hands, heart & head, food (consumption), playfulness, fantasy (arcadia)
  • Relationship between food and landscape
  • Olmsted, Frederick Law - landscape architecture (19th ct), Ian McHarg (1970s) - “Design with nature” (1967) (water ecological system of great complexity & ritual)
  • dutch way of making land - engineers, farmers, politicians, NOT landscape architects

Landscape Machines

  • complex systems including the landscape and technology - yes we intervene, but the ecosystem responds to it with more vividness
  • post doomsday landscapes
  • “Venice in the desert”, icebergs cooling cities…
  • “beautiful landscapes, small scale, green (garden) / “sublime landscapes” grand, red, giant, phatasmagoric… (landscape)
  • technology in a landscape - should be sublime - regeneration, over-access of power - energetic vision of landscapes (usually without human beings…)
  • (“any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from nature” schroeder)
  • fluctuating results, hidden technology, embodied experience - with “Fremdkörper” in the centre (the ecological body has to work harder to process) - in a constant dynamic environment - continuous adaptation
  • flexible/responsive morphology - designers introduce fremdkörper, the ecosystem responds - is this co-evolution or manipulation?
  • Karim van Wonderen + Sophia Molpheta “De Zeeuwse Tong Project” - “ont-poldering” - nature + agriculture - “saline landscapes”, transition between sea and the land, more biodiversity + more fish yield

Spela Petric

Reified Nature / Natured Technology

in projects like & Miserable Machines, Voyager 140 AU (2013) - metabolic algorithm in interaction with the environment; PSX consultancy 2014, sex toys for plants; Skotopoiesis (2015) confronting the vegetal otherness - how we comprehend the environment, biosemiosis; Naval Gazing

Naval Gazing (is navel gazing)

  • test facility seaweed centre on Tessel
  • nutrients from the Rhine can sustain substantial primary production in the north sea - could it be converted in seaweed biomass? - growing brown seaweed in the winter - it can clean up the ocean, useful in cosmetics… in springtime other organisms would take over… a theory at this point
  • how to make a sea garden? a system where humans and nature co-exist
  • BUT: it isn’t easy to cultivate seaweed in the north sea… - the north sea is a very hostile environment…
  • Rachel Carson “The sea around us” (1951) - cybernetics and ecosystems - interconnectedness of things
  • Harvesting the sea - started in the romantic period
  • Knowing more about strange environments - also allows to exploit it better (for entertainment, extraction…)
  • Inspirations: Strandbeest (Theo Janssens) and others
  • Habiton - Man-made future habitat moved by the wind - it tumbles through the ocean and collects organisms/biomass, eventually it sinks to the bottom; human made object appropriated by nature

Miserable Machines

  • Differences between technology and living organisms -
  • “Soot-o-mat” Mussel muscle - ultimate sacrifice of living tissue for the production of 'excess' - soot-o-mat
  • Hybridity is a slippery slope - sometimes things should be respected for what they are rather than being forced to 'hybridise'
  • machine_wilderness_symposium.1446467279.txt.gz
  • Last modified: 2015-11-02 12:27
  • by maja