Plenary Session: ECODATA Thematic Panel and Featured Project

The Pfynwald forest in the Valais, southwest Switzerland, is unique for both its state of crisis caused by the local aluminum industry and by its drought intensified by climate change. It has been under close surveillance of natural-scientists for more than 25 years. In close cooperation with The Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research, the artists-researchers Marcus Maeder, Rasa Smite and Aline Veillat develop aesthetic projects related to this alpine forest. What kind of experiences are possible if a forest, the soil, the air turns out to be a contingent and relational techno-organism, dependent of various actors? And what happens, if the audience is not anymore human only, but interspecies-correlated?
Proposing a new techno-ecological theory, project initiator Yvonne Volkart investigates technoscientific methods based on registering, collecting and interpreting data in the arts. How do the data affect us? Do they trigger care, solidarity, and empathy?
During the Un/Green Conference, the Ecodata team will open up a discussion in what sense data monitoring, visualisation, sonification, critical mapping or maker-culture might enhance participation and raise awareness of the ecological.

Dr. Yvonne Volkart teaches art theory at the Academy of Art and Design FHNW Basel. Since 2017 she has led the Swiss National Science Foundation research project ‘Ecodata – Ecomedia –Ecoesthetics’ for which she is preparing the exhibition Eco_Visionaries in collaboration with Karin Ohlenschläger (LABoral, Gijon) and Sabine Himmelsbach (HeK, Basel). As of the end of 2017 she has been a contributor to the research project “The Internet of Other People’s Things“ at Woosong University, Korea. Completed research projects include: ‘Times of Waste’ (2015–2018) and ‘RhyCycling. Esthetics of Sustainability in the Basel Border Area’ (2010–2012). From 2009 to 2012 Volkart was curator, together with Anke Hoffmann, at the Shedhalle Zürich. Recent publication: “From Trash to Waste. On Art’s Media Geology”, in: Texte zur Kunst, Dec. 2017.
https://www.fhnw.ch/de/personen/yvonne-volkart http://times-of-waste.ch

Dr. Rasa Smite is artist and researcher, working with science and emerging technologies. She is founding director of RIXC Center for New Media Culture in Riga, Latvia (http://rixc.org), curator of annual RIXC’s Art and Science festivals, and a chief-editor of Acoustic Space, peer-reviewed publication series (acousticspacejournal.com). She holds a PhD; her book (dissertation) – “Creative Networks. In the Rear-View Mirror of Eastern European History”, was published by Amsterdam Institute for Network Culture (2012). She is professor in New Media Art at Liepaja University, and artist-researcher in “Ecodata” project at The Institute of Aesthetic Practices, The University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland in Basel (2017-2020). She also is visiting lecturer at MIT Art, Culture and Technology Program in Boston, USA (since 2018), and a guest professor at HfG-Karlsruhe, Germany. In her artistic practice, Rasa Smite works together with Raitis Smits creating networked, visionary, and innovative artworks. Their pioneering internet project – Xchange Net.Radio Network was awarded with PRIX Ars Electronica (1998). More recent artworks Talk to Me – human plant communication project, and Biotricity – real-time data visualization and multi-channel sound installation exploring a poetics of green energy, have been exhibited in HeK (Basel, Switzerland), Ars Electronica, National Science and Technology Museum in Stockholm, Van Abbe Museum for Modern and Contemporary Arts (The Netherlands), ZKM, Venice Architecture Biennial.

Dr. Aline Veillat Independent artist researcher Interest: ecosystem as systems of interactions between organic and inorganic agencies, transforming the world and producing signs. Since 2016: involved in three art&sciences research projects on ecological issues – Eco-data Basel Academy of Art and Design and Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (CH) – Culture and memories of flood Mulhouse Research Centre for Economies, Societies, Arts and Techniques (FR) – Thinking from the bottom up, when the soil yields its secrets Aix-Marseille Mediterranean Institute of Marine and Terrestrial Biodiversity and Ecology (FR). Grants art&sciences residencies: – Research Institute of Mountain Hazard and Environment, Chengdu (CN) – International Institute of Tropical Forestry, Puerto-Rico (USA) – IméRA Institute for Advanced Study, Marseille (FR). Art works exhibited in Europe, USA, and China.