Transnature Is Here was an art and science project curated by HAT Center (Agnieszka Jelewska, Michal Krawczak) on Malta Festival 2013.
We begin a stroll on a sunny day before a flowering meadow in which insects buzz and butterflies flutter, and we make a bubble around each of the animals living in the meadow. The bubble represents each animal’s environment and contains all the features accessible to the subject. As soon as we enter into one such bubble, the previous surroundings of the subject are completely reconfigured. Many qualities of the colourful meadow vanish completely, others lose their coherence with one another, and new connections are created A new world arises in each bubble.
(Jakob von Uexküll, A Foray into the Worlds of Animals and Humans: with A Theory of Meaning)
In 1930s Jakob von Uexküll, the pioneer in such fields as biosemiotics, zoosemiotics and bioacoustics, described the world as a network of connected microspheres which are created by every organism inhabiting the planet. An ongoing, dynamic communication takes place between the spheres – bubbles. Uexküll believed that every organism generates in its natural environment an individual audiosphere, which interacts with others, transforming every time the whole environment – this metaphor has become the point of departure for the project TransnatureIs Here.
Artists, musicians, engineers and IT specialists, invited to the project, belong to the generation of digital natives, they are technological autochthons for whom programming and technical tools are the underlying means of expression. Therefore, many of the works are based on designing microspheres which enable the co-existence of nature and technology; biochemical or electromagnetic stimuli generated by living organisms are processed through digital algorithms and, thus, understanding the molecular structures of life is closely related to creative programming. Transnature has been portrayed as suiting the modern definition of life, which interacts on different planes with specialised technology, which in turn no longer is only a set of tools external to the organisms, but is ever more often linked with them, not so much by being their extension as by interfering in their structure.
Jakob von Uexküll wrote that signs and impulses sent between organisms can be deciphered in a far older language than speech – on a prelinguistic and preverbal level. Organisms in an environment gain orientation not only through sensory experiences, but also through functional tones – bio-vibrations which they use to generate specific stimuli necessary to survive. In a way, organisms are instruments which create individual, overlapping audiospheres, from which people can hear only a small number of tones.
The exhibited works fall into the realm of the so-called cyber-ecology. Sometimes they have an ironic character, causing an intended distance towards the topic of technological interference into nature, while on other occasions treat seriously of the utopian vision of biosemiotic communitas. These extreme approaches pose an opportunity for the audience to arrive at their own definitions of the new reality. TransnatureIs Here gives a chance, even if for a while, to step out of your anthropocentric position in the framework of a bio-technological cycle. Every work from the TransnatureIs Here series designs a different kind of affective experience. Every one of them requires the audience’s interactive involvement and willingness to establish contact. Likewise, they all avoid explicit wording, maintaining an impression-based sphere, attempting solely to cause the clash between individual bubbles-microspheres of everyone of us and the experiences of transnature that are often not realized and unnamed. Eventually, each work expands human perception, modifying it with the technological interface and allowing it, through media, to function in the cycle with nature.
Agnieszka Jelewska, Michał Krawczak
Artists: Przemyslaw Jasielski, Rafal Zapala, Marek Straszak, Tomasz Gestwicki, Patryk Lichota, Szymon Kaliski