Session 3 Paper Stream 1: Environmental Awareness in Urban Contexts Through Workshops and Sound and Media Art
Nina Czegledy: "DIY Water Sensing Workshop in an Urban Context"
Water decontamination is a central challenge in the 21st century. This applies not only to potable water but also to industrial process water, cooling water and swimming pools. The goal is environmentally sound disinfection that is also time-effective and cost efficient. We dispose of human and animal wastes and chemical substances into the environment at such a rate that even some of the largest lakes and river systems are seriously difficult to clean, to sustain life. Undoubtedly, this situation influenced the rise of many activist cultural and art projects linked to water & climate change. Several of these are presented outside the white cube of museum/gallery spaces.
Three of us (Nina Czegledy, Adriana Ieraci, Antonio Gomba-Bari,) chose an alternate participatory workshop approach to address this issue. In May 2013 we co-organized the DIY Water Sensing workshop at Subtle Technologies Festival in Toronto. Our aim was:
- to facilitate an activity fostering the discussion of environmental issues.
- to engage the community in experimental analysis and monitoring of water quality
- to engage participants in developing toolkits for testing
We began by posing the question: Have you ever wondered where the water you drink, cook with, or shower in comes from? In Toronto, Lake Ontario (representing 1% of the world's total surface freshwater supply) is the only source of drinking water. Although Lake Ontario is impressively clean, before reaching households, it is filtered. How effectively?
Following a thematic overview, David Lawrie of Citizen Scientists presented the volunteer group’s activities including ecological monitoring, environmental training and education. Ramon Guardans, pollution expert from Madrid, spoke on global water pollution. Participants brought water samples from their own homes and built take-home water kits to test chemical components in their water supply.
The goal was to create a more informed understanding of our climate and environment - hopefully effecting positive societal change. In summary, we aimed to improve the literacy of workshop participants through active participation in experimental water sensing. We remain convinced that such workshops will eventually contribute to grassroots participation in governmental policy-making.
Alan Dormer: "The Recontextualization of Urban Spaces Through Site-Specific Sonic Interventionism"
This paper attempts to highlight and address issues relating to site-specific urban sound art and its relationship with a ‘sense of place’. Through both a theoretical and artistic framework the paper explores concepts of topophilia, insidedness, ambiences, place and non-place and how these theories may be applied within the field of site-specific urban sound art.
Topophilia, as described by Tuan, “… is the affective bond between people and place or setting”. In what Auge describes as a world of super modernity, this bond - particularly within urban spaces - is disappearing, leaving what can be described as non-places, places that are void of meaning and definition acquired through human activity and social practice. “Place ignored, unseen, or unknown” (Lippard).
In many of our urban spaces a sense of place or ‘genius loci’ has been lost due to sensory overload; our sonic environments and soundscapes have become something we avoid rather than listen to. Dixon proclaims our evolution from hunter-gatherer: “learning though listening” to “learnt listening” has led to a “switching off, tuning out” attitude of urban users.
Site-specific sound installations allow for the reconceptualization of space through sonic relocation or interventionism. Within the spatial boundaries in which the work exists a new space is created. The transformation of sound into a spatio-temporal entity not only changes the way in which we experience the sonic material but also our relationship with the space of the work's existence through “sonic articulation” or the “conditioning of space” (Minard). The result is that the work becomes part of the space and restructures its organization both conceptually and perceptually (Serra).
Discussing urban artists from various fields, along with recent works by the author, the paper will highlight how a greater understanding of our relationship with the spaces and places we inhabit and traverse through can lead toward a better lived environment and social experience.