Animated Landscapes:lilipods,2010,Medialab-Prado, Madrid, Spain

What would you like to sense in your landscape?
The AnimatedLandscape project seeks ways to understand the delicate balances in natural and urban settings through designing and building sensory instruments and systems within an artistic framework of critical playfulness. While scientists have sophisticated equipment and highly specialized training to help them collect and understand “data” - the rest of us, often find ourselves standing at the sidelines waiting to be told what is happening. Aniscape is an attempt to open up the field of the natural sciences to activated individuals who are curious about local habitats. The project works to facilitate different relationships to the landscape by bringing together design, art, technology (electronic and analogue) with collaborative discussion to design DIY instruments that can sense, measure and communicate relevant data that is unique to each physical site and collective inquiry.
Emergent Representations of Data

Through workshops and residencies it is possible collaboratively design instruments to be used for environmental and physical monitoring in tandem with bioremediation1 techniques - these instruments have the capacity to test for specific parameters at different sites and communicate this data live through mobile applications - data is illustrated in emergent or evolving image-based animations versus representation of information in numbers or text. For example, the application developed for water
remediation featured a lily pad that grew a flower each cycle, illustrating duration, ripples in the water that illustrated pH, waves and debris in the water could be used with an oxygen sensor, and color that was correlated to temperature. The animation used simple hand-drawn illustrations.
Creative Instruments
The project began with a prototype designed for water monitoring and remediation (using bio-filters and beneficial bacteria) during Medialab-Prados Interactivos?!10 workshop in June 2010, Madrid, Spain. The project will continue to expand with the design of a series of different tools for sites - land/air/soil/ domestic/wearable - future exhibitions will demonstrate the design tools to the public and workshops will include opportunities for intensive discussion, testing of prototypes, tutorials on simple programming of applications and hardware/sensors. The long term goals of the project are to form an international
working group that designs, prototypes and distributes the animated, networked objects and concepts through open source and various social media. These objects will consist of creative instruments that could be used for community activism, education and stewardship in regards to caring for and remediating local sites that have been disrupted or unbalanced.
What kinds of sensory information can be translated into data?
In November 2010 the initial concept and documentation from the founding residency at thevNeighborhood Science workshop was exhibited at the “Hack Space”, University of Toronto Art Centre, Toronto, Canada, during the DIY Citizenship conference (exhibited were images of the networked water sensor, bioremediation system, a water sampling/testing wearable for field work with GPS). A wall drawing was installed in the gallery and visitors were asked to contribute their ideas to the question -
“What would you like to sense in the landscape?” From the suggestions collected, for example rainbow sensors, animal pathway trackers or pollen detectors, a new series of designs are currently in development that will result in a number of sensory inventions/interventions for collecting or expressing data. In addition, the project asks us to consider the spectrum of information that can be considered data - from objective measurements (temperature, mass, number of particles) to more subjective and even ephemeral types of information such as color, behaviors and personal interpretation. I want to explore what data can be as well as diverse tactics to transform “data” into actions using art, communication strategies, education, political pressure and bioremediation. The sensory instruments or systems will combine functional design with wonder, magic and playfulness to produce a range of tools to engage people with their environments in both fun and serious ways. Collaborators Saoirse Higgins (Dublin, Ireland) Reza Safavi (Washington State, US/Canada) Max Kazemzadeh (Washington DC, US) Links