Interdisciplinary Conference


in Art & Science

26-28 November 2020, University of Applied Arts Vienna/Online

165. TeleAgriCulture: Augmenting Ecological Aesthetics
Session: Session "ORF3a / Medulla"
Speakers: Julian Stadon

This paper offers an overview of over fifteen years of artistic research in the fields of Augmentation and Ecological Aesthetics, along with an introduction to the recently developed TeleAgriCulture Platform, and the subsequent projects that were developed using it. Its thesis argues that, through the convergence of both Augmentation+Ecological Aesthetics and biological+digital systems in Art, we can better understand our complex and multi-scalar relationships within these systems and therefore plan our Post-Anthropocenic futures more appropriately. Following an overview of Augmentation and Ecological Aesthetics, the paper will introduce several recent projects that situate in these liminal, yet traversing fields, including a mixed reality organ trade network that includes biometric scanning and DIY organ farming, a video surveillance based real time tracking system for both protozoan cells and people that presents itself in mixed reality social settings, set to a musical score, a photosynthetic t-shirt developed for Stella McCartney, an ongoing collaboration, that uses remote atmospheric data hubs for post-anthropocenic algorave performance, and most recently, the TeleAgriCulture platform. 

The TeleAgriCulture Platform is a crowd/cloud data ecosystem for small to large scale agricultural systems, be they soil based, hydroponic, aeroponic or aquaponic. Primarily, it allows artists to access environmental data from discrete living ecosystems while also encouraging them to participate in agricultural practices with a focus on the ecological aspects to food production. Conceived during the MIT Community Bio-Summit in 2018, the project was developed at both Cultivamos Culture and V2_ Lab in 2019 and was nominated for both the S.T.A.R.T.S Prize and the Digital Communities Golden Nica in 2020. One particular project, TeleAgriCulture_Rhizomatic Bias was exhibited concurrently last September, at the Ars Electronica Festival, at V2_Lab and SWST 48x6 UNFINISHED. This project aims to explore how bias grows in machine learning and intelligent systems, in juxtaposition with historical traditions in food production, supply and consumption. 

Along with this project, several invited artists in residence also developed projects using the TeleAgriCulture platform and these will also be introduced and discussed, in relation to Augmentation and Ecological Aesthetics. Finally, this paper will provide overview of current TeleAgriCulture projects in progress, including new e-aquaponics system being developed on residency at 3erH0f Kulturverein and The Eleanore boat on the River Traun in Linz, that use low energy/low bandwidth solutions to data streaming, followed by concluding remarks and reflections. 

Through the presentation of these projects, this paper will argue that transdisciplinary artistic practice requires a departure from merely articulating ecological issues and presenting, discussing, or speculating on them, towards a situation where we are more actively developing solutions for these issues and embedding these in everyday scenarios, beyond galleries and traditional modes of artistic presentation. Furthermore, that Augmentation Aesthetics can, through participation in embodied bio-digital systems, merge with Ecological Aesthetics, to allow for wider audiences to gain deeper understandings and therefore more empathetic responses to these issues.

Julian Stadon

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