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Environment, Data, Contamination

Collaborative artistic research studio that engages with the themes of environmental data, sensing, and contamination.

(Image Credits: Abelardo Gil-Fournier and Jussi Parikka / Seed, Image, Ground – 2020, http://abelardogfournier.org/works/seedimageground.html)

K-JI11_22A Theme Seminar: Ecological Thinking 2022-2023 (with Aarhus U (DK), Uniarts Helsinki Research Pavilion & Helsinki Biennial 2023)

This course works as a year-long collaborative artistic research studio that engages with the themes of environmental data, sensing, and contamination. By employing theoretical discourses pertaining to the Anthropocene, environmental justice, and digital culture, as well as artistic methods the aim is to produce a rigorous set of positions about landscapes of environmental data and contamination in the Finnish context and with a special focus on the capital region. We hope to facilitate collaborative projects and artworks that will offer hybrid models and systems of artistic research that address climate justice and sustainability. Especially, we will explore different registers of visibility and invisiblity of environmental conditions (such as maritime habitats, impacts of merchant shipping, species depletion, weather patterns, submarine infrastructures, energy grid, cyanobacteria etc.) that impact the Helsinki archipelago and the Baltic Sea in general. Methodologies of artistic research with environmental data are highlighted, that are derived from satellite imagery, biological, chemical, air-quality, bathymetric, and energetic measurements. By these methods and resulting outcomes, a final exhibition will present fresh perspectives on the relationships between the human and the environment, on space and data.

The course is organized in collaboration by University of the Arts Helsinki with Aarhus University (Design and Aesthetics for Environmental Data research group (https://cc.au.dk/en/dafed/), and the Uniarts Helsinki Research Pavilion 2023 (https://www.uniarts.fi/en/research-pavilion-4-helsinki/) It functions under the auspices of the Helsinki Biennial 2023, contextualizing its themes in relation to the curatorial take of the Biennial.

The course is led by Dr. Samir Bhowmik (Uniarts, FI) and Professor Jussi Parikka (Aarhus U, DK) and includes also guest speakers and practitioners. 

Helsinki Biennial is an international art event that brings outstanding contemporary art to maritime Helsinki. The second edition of Helsinki Biennial is curated by Joasia Krysa and takes place from 12 June to 17 September 2023 (https://helsinkibiennaali.fi/en/). As it unfolds, the biennial introduces three main conceptual threads –– contamination, regeneration, and agency –– not as themes but intersectional vectors through which artworks and discussions convene. It activates practices and conversations to reflect on the big issues of our time that are locally situated and at the same time universal; ecological and climate damage, political conflict and nationalisms, automation and the effects of big tech. HAM Helsinki Art Museum is responsible for producing the biennial.

Founded in 2015, the Uniarts Helsinki Research Pavilion is an international and cross-institutional platform for processes, discussions, and collaborations in the field of artistic research. Read more about the background of the Research Pavilion project: https://www.uniarts.fi/en/projects/research-pavilion-project/. The fifth Uniarts Research Pavilion involves residency periods for artists and artist-researchers during the spring 2023, and culminates in a public event at the Augusta Gallery in Suomenlinna as well as at the Helsinki Music Centre between 5 and 25 June 2023. The tagline for the Research Pavilion #5 is “Puzzled Together”, framed by the current global challenges: the ecological sustainability crisis, post-pandemic reconstruction and geopolitical tensions.

Completion methods

  • Theory & Practice: The course consists of theoretical sessions (10) of 2 hours and practical sessions (10) of 2 hours each. The theory sessions comprise of lectures and discussions of the assigned readings, and the practice sessions involve group participation in artistic studio practice around the themes of the course. Field Visits may also be organized during the practice sessions. All theory sessions are held at the Academy of Fine Arts building complex at Sörnäistenrantatie 19, 00530 Helsinki.
  • Exhibition: Students prepare in teams for joint artworks for exhibition in June 2023 as part of Uniarts Helsinki Research Pavilion 2023 and Helsinki Biennial 2023. The exhibition takes place in the Academy of Fine Arts ‘Mylly’ exhibition hall (smaller gallery) on the street level at Sörnäistenrantatie 19, 00530 Helsinki, opening on Week 23, 2023.
  • Writing: Students are required to write short articles to be posted on the course blog over the year:https://blogit.uniarts.fi/en/blogs/ecological-thinking/    leading up to final texts for a publication in April 2023.

Implementation: On-site (in-person) sessions and virtual participation (via Zoom). Fully virtual sessions considered in case of official Uniarts restrictions and exceptional circumstances. The emphasis is on in-person participation and hands-on practice. 

Assessment & Awarding of Credits: 6 Cr – Attendance and completion of all requirements (class discussion, writing and artworks) through the year (Autumn & Spring)  

Schedule of Sessions: Theory Sessions: 16.00 – 18.00 (EET) and  Studio Sessions: 18.00 – 20.00 (EET) same day. First Day of Classes: 12.9. 2022. Full Schedule will be published in the Study Guide: https://opinto-opas.uniarts.fi/fi/opintojakso/K-JI11_22A/14409

Target group and selection criteria for participants (if not in registration order): Doctoral Candidates (KuvA), Masters students (KuvA), Doctoral Candidates (Uniarts), Masters Students (Uniarts), Others. 

Selection Criteria: Interested participants must submit a motivation letter and a maximum of a 3-project portfolio (webpages/links only) to the Study Coordinator Elina Raitasalo:  elina.raitasalo@uniarts.fi. Please include in the ‘Subject’ field of the email: “Submission to Ecological Thinking Seminar 2022-23, and mention whether you intend to attend in-person or virtual.

The deadline for submissions is August 31, 2022.

Accepted participants will be informed by 9 September 2022, and thereafter must register online to the course. 

If you have any questions about the research studio, please contact Dr. Samir Bhowmik (samir.bhowmik@uniarts.fi).

Ecological Thinking

This is the course blog for K-JI-11-22A – Ecological Thinking. Topics of discussion include artistic research dealing with the Anthropocene, Extraction Histories, Extractive and Contaminated Landscapes, Media Ecologies, Environmental Data, and Artificial Intelligence.

Header image credit: “Salar de Atacama, Chile” by Coordenação-Geral de Observação da Terra / INPE / CC BY-SA 2.0.

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