Ecosystem and Environmental monitoring

This study group/cluster of learning opportunities relates to ecosystem theory, sensors and environmental monitoring, and citizen/participatory science, in the context of open data: how to support and develop the activities that are already going on in institutions at a more grassroot level. These activities mostly take the form of local workshops led by various individuals. This theme was inspired in dialogue with Erich Berger from Finnish Bioart Society.



Under the umbrella ‘The Art of Gathering Environmental Data’, the Finnish Bioart Society and Pixelversity organise a series of events and workshops concerned with collecting, publishing and using environmental data in art&science practice. In recent years artists, activists and laymen have been starting to produce, publish and use realtime environmental sensor data. Artistic practices of sonification and data visualisation became popular ways of data interaction. Platforms like the physical computing environment
Arduino, or the realtime data publishing network Pachube have led to a wide distribution of amateur knowledge and skills. This theme will be investigated with an unconference theme in Camp Pixelache on 12th May; a dedicated ‘Best Practices’ discussion-workshop between artists, scientists and at University of Helsinki’s Think Corner from 5-7th June; and a practical hands-on workshop in October by Marko Peljhan and Matthew Biederman from the Arctic Perspective Initiative, hosted by Aalto Media Factory.


This peer-learning initiative aims to develop and study and gather knowledge on appropriate agriculture technologies, organic nutrient processing and hydroculture systems, powered with renewable energy sources. Initiated by Mikko Laajola, the activity focuses on common, recycled and scrap materials, guerilla gardening and reclaimed urban sites, as well as greenhouse or indoors technologies. Laajola has based his activities in Pasila at Dodo’s Kääntöpöytä. According to the participants and the emerging projects, there will be many smaller meetings and workshops in groups. The following projects have been proposed: Windmill pumps for hydroponics and guerilla gardening watering systems, ram pump, compost tea brewing for hydroculture, vermicomposting, ‘barrelponics’ or similar modular hydroponics system and DIY-aeroponics. The knowledge learned from the projects is documented and shared online. Latest inspirations and information via Facebook group and etherpad page.


In Spring both Andrew Paterson, Albert Laine and Kristina Laine (all FI) and Signe Pucena & Ugis Pucens of SERDE (LV) will investigate the potential for collecting birch sap in their respective local neighbourhoods of Malminkartano (Helsinki) and Aizpute (Kurzeme), and their findings shared during Camp Pixelache on 12th May. This is the initial research for a future participatory art project engaged with cultural heritage and nature traditions related to birch sap.Observation and monitoring will indicate where and when is the right time to ‘tap’ the trees.


This focus takes place in collaboration with RIXC (Riga) and SERDE (Aizpute) in Latvia, focused on creative transdisciplinary approaches to apples and their use after harvest. From 13-15th September, the creative camp “Applethink” in Aizpute focuses on creative trans-disciplinary approaches to apples and their diverse use after harvest, and is organised by RIXC Centre for New Media Culture. The camp programme schedule includes presentations and discussions by artists, curators, science researchers, and community activists who will be discussing different survival strategies ranging from the concepts of ‘downshifting’ and ‘withdrawal’, to the approach of ‘resilience’ and a ‘techno-ecologies’ perspective. The camp will end on the Saturday with a local outdoor market together with local farmers, where the artefacts created during the creative camp will be put out for symbolic sale-exhibition. They will also explore the phenomena of apple – starting with the traditional fermenting, brewing, juicing, preserving and ending up with experimenting – can an apple be a transmitter of energy? Can we make an apple-based solar battery? The camp will end with local outdoor market together with local farmers where the artefacts created will be put out for symbolic sale/exhibition.

If you can’t make it to Kurzeme, Latvia (!) and are inspired, the second notice is to encourage you to join the Orchard Harvest Picnic in Malminkartano suburb, Saturday 15.9. from 12.00-16.00, address: Kartanonkaari 29, Helsinki. This event is organised byHelsinki City Public Works in collaboration with Malminkartano Residents Association and Uudenmaan Martat. The wide range of species cultivated there is a legacy from the days when the orchard was part of the University of Helsinki’s agricultural research unit.


Joel Rosenberg (Dodo) will continue his urban foraging cycle tours in the Autumn after several years of guiding Helsinki residents round the various publically-accessible fruit trees and berry bushes of the city. On sunday 16th September he will lead a cycle tour for Pixelversity. Join the facebook event page!

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