In a time marked by instability, threats of war and environmental collapse, The Swamp Observatory illuminates the urgency of human cohabitation with other forms of life. The swamp offers the ideal conditions to test the idea of sympoiesis. This means creating and becoming together, to find a new ethos of coexistence, and the poetical power of the ecologies surrounding us. The swamp is both a biological concept and a milieu that enables us to scale planetary issues down, allowing us to perceive them within our closest reach. In a swamp community, every member is part of every other member’s environment, as well as necessary for the survival of the whole.
Within the framework of The Swamp Observatory project the artists propose the development of an experimental practice where a merger of artistic methods, scientific instruments and urban development may help to articulate approaches and technologies that shift the discussion on ”public space” towards one on “critical zones”, such as the swamp. By focusing on the role of fiction in production of the new environmentalism, this project questions the logic of the scientific “instrumentarium” developed for sensing and viewing the environment.
As part of the project the artists suggest a development of sentient technologies along with the planning process through a series of pedagogical engagements. Realised as public interfaces such as workshops and hackathons, the project would engage communities on Visborg, researchers of campus Gotland and local experts. The Swamp Observatory will experiment with the probing of alternative perspectives, each informed by research on a number of local species like plants, fungi, bacteria, insects and amphibians. The project will test the understanding and mapping of ecological wholes, so called holobionts.
Gediminas & Nomeda Urbonas:
“The project aims to develop a new grammar and aesthetics for planning, as well as contributing to the citizens sensing of their environment. By offering users an exploration of imaginary and alternative perspectives, the Swamp Observatory will focus on symbio-poietics as a metaphor to be tested – that the truly new emerges from radical collaboration between humans and nonhumans .”