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Image: Swamp Game: Eat Me. Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas in collaboration with Nikola Bojić, Kristupas Sabolius and Indrė Umbrasaitė (MIT Climate Visions), Web design and development: ungroup.group and NODE Berlin Oslo.

The Swamp Observatory: an instrumentarium for change of perspective

With the project, The Swamp Observatory: an instrumentarium for change of perspective, by Nomeda and Gediminas Urbonas, the artists focus on a wetland – a series of planned stormwater ponds on north Visborg. As we know from human history, wetlands have been repressed and drained in order to conquer nature, bring order to it, plan the environment and develop settlements. With the rising sea levels and the extreme draughts of the climate crisis, the return of the swamp could force us to change habits of thought. But how can we change the perspective from human to ”more-than-human”?

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 .”

Urbonas Studio was founded by artists and educators Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Vilnius, Lithuania. Urbonas Studio is an interdisciplinary research practice that facilitates exchange amongst diverse nodes of knowledge production and artistic practice in pursuit of projects that transform civic spaces and collective imaginaries. Urbonas are researching and teaching at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA.

Image: Swamp Game: Eat Me. Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas in collaboration with Nikola Bojić, Kristupas Sabolius and Indrė Umbrasaitė (MIT Climate Visions), Web design and development: ungroup.group and NODE Berlin Oslo.

Art in Urban Development Project Visborg

Region Gotland is planning for a new city district in the former regimental area Visborg, south of Visby.

Art in Urban Development Project Visborg is part of the Public Art Agency’s scheme Art in Urban Development and is carried out in cooperation between Public Art Agency Sweden, Region Gotland and BAC.
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Links

Public Art Agency Sweden

Region Gotland

Urbonas Studio

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