Water Inspiration

Session Number: 
Thursday, February 18, 2021
4pm Brisbane Session iCal: 
4pm Brussels Session iCal: 
4pm San Francisco Session iCal: 

Art Activating Water Awareness

Christel Stalpaert

Drawing on Félix Guattari's The Three Ecologies, Christel Stalpaert researches “the ethico-aesthetic aegis of an ecosophy” (2000: 41): a contraction of ecology and philosophy that connects the environmental with a reflection on the psychic production of subjectivity and social relations. As such, gender and postcolonial perspectives are an inherent part of her ecological research in the arts. This approach also meets with current paradigm shifts in ecological thinking, demanding new modes of activism to tackle the complexity of current ecological crises, such as climate change. Drawing on Bruno Latour’s notion of political ecology, Stalpaert investigates and participates in alternative art-science worldings (Haraway), moving beyond the practice of ecology movements that are still burdened by an ideal image of Nature. 

Christel Stalpaert is Full Professor Performing and Media Art Studies of the Art Studies Dept. at Ghent University (Belgium). She is co-director of the research centre S:PAM (Studies in Performing Arts and Media). Her main areas of research are theatre, performance, dance and media art (since 1890) at the meeting-point of philosophy.

In the context of her ecological research track, Stalpaert has published on the ecozoic spectator in Kris Verdonck's EXOTE (with Sofie Verdoodt in Performance Research, 2012); on the paradigm shift from ecocriticism to ecoperformance in The Ethics of Art. Ecological Turns in the Performing Arts (with Byttebier, Amsterdam: Valiz, 2014); on eco-artists as diplomat of dissensus (in Performancee Philosophy, 2015 and Emerging Affinities. Marlgorzata Sugiera, Mateusz Borowski, Mateusz Chaberski (eds.), forthcoming); on composite bodies of resistance in Crew’s O_REX and Nicole Beutler’s Antigone (in Performance Research, 2015); and on an ecology of agential realism in Maria Lucia Cruz Correia's Urban Action Clinic GARDEN (in Performance Research, 2018 and in The Routledge Companion to Theatre and Politics, Peter Eckersall and Helena Grehan (eds.), Routledge, 2019) and on new modes of knowledge production in art-science worldings (in Didaskalia, 2018 and Performance and Posthumanism, Palgrave MacMillan 2020). 

Water Gold Soil: The American River

Susannah Sayler & Ed Morris
UC Berkeley

In 2018-2019, Sayler & Morris were artists in residence at the Art+Science in-residence Programme at UC Berkeley with the project Water Gold Soil: the American River. The project is both a form of historiography and a form of allegory – using this swath of geography to investigate our present Age of Extraction. With Water Gold Soil, the artists examine this less visible, technological reality of California rivers by following a single flow of water – the South Fork of the American River – from its origin near Echo Summit in the Sierra Nevada mountains to its end use in the agricultural economy in California’s Central Valley. This is the flow of water where gold was first discovered in California, and the project explores how the state of California remains haunted by its violent and colonial beginnings of the state of California. The project consists of an ongoing assembly of original photographic and video works, archival images, writing, maps and other media. All of the elements are combined to produce installations that take the viewer through a series of conceptual frameworks. The diversity of form and materials in the project stems from an appreciation for the challenges of representing the nexus of relationships–ecological, political, and historical–that make up a river. A book of the project was published in spring 2019.

While at UCBerkeley, the artists investigated the way ideology informs the use of technology in water management and allocation. They researched technological innovations that help prepare California for future water shortages, particularly in light of climate change and increased demand. They researched what ways of seeing the world might lead to a more equitable and sustainable use of existing and emerging water technologies (e.g. the commons, indigenous philosophies, critiques of neo-liberalism, history of water law). They also prepared additional exhibitions of the work to follow the book, as well as a related made-for-TV documentary series that they produced along with Paul D. Miller (aka DJ Spooky) and director Stefan Schaefer.


In 2006, the artist duo Sayler and Morris created The Canary Project – a studio that produces visual media and artwork that deepen public understanding of climate change and other ecological issues. These artists’ research-intensive projects communicate the immediacy, the presence, and the reality of our current ecological climate. The initiative also brings together hundreds of artists, designers, scientists, writers and volunteers to engage and inspire public sentiment, which in turn can precipitate political change. 

Sayler and Morris have exhibited internationally at many venues, including both science and art museums. Some past exhibitions have featured at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, the Harvard Museum of Natural History, the Nevada Museum of Art, the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, the North Carolina Museum of Art, the Kunsthal in Rotterdam, the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. They have been awarded the David Brower Center’s Art / Act Award (2016), the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Residency (2015), the Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship (2014) the Loeb Fellowship at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design (2009). They are currently teaching in the Transmedia Department at Syracuse University, where they co-founded The Canary Lab. Their archives are collected by the Nevada Museum of Art / Reno, Center for Art and Environment.

Water Bell

Greg O. Niemeyer
UC Berkeley

Water Bell (2018) is a sonification of three related streams of data. The work is site-specific. For any given city, the Water Bell seeks a years’ worth of data from, the nearest IOC sea water level monitoring station, the city’s sewage output, and the city’s daily rainfall. These three data sets describe aspects of local water circulation. All three feed a virtual carillon, which plays bells to reflect the patterns and levels of the three flows of water. Converting the data into music establishes a poetic view of the data. It may not stop the next flood or drought, but it emphasizes the interconnectedness of too much and too little. The Water Bell was presented at the Riddoch Gallery in Mt. Gambier, Australia [2018], at Data Beers in Malaga[2018], at San Jose State University, CA [2019], and at Bowdoin College, MA [2019].


Greg O. Niemeyer is a data artist and professor of media onnovation at UV Berkeley since 2001. Niemeyer co-founded the Berkeley Center for New Media, focusing on the critical analysis of the impact of new media on human experiences.

Greg Niemeyer’s work focuses on mediations between individuals, communities and environments. These mediations rely on data manifestations. Data manifestations are materializations of abstract data in the way people can feel. Sea water levels can become compositions for Carillons. Climate data stored in the Vostok Ice Core can become an audio tour. The myriad ways in which nodes in networks can connect to define emergent ways of life can become a gallery exhibit or a multimedia concert. Niemeyer's work includes collaborations across disciplines and media from gravure to VR, always with an eye for the poetic foundations and social implications of technical protocols.

Selected projects include Gravity (Cooper Union, NYC, 1997), PING (SFMOMA, 2001), Oxygen Flute (SJMA, 2002), Ping 2.0 (Paris, La Villette Numerique, 2004), Organum Playtest (BAMPFA 2005),  Good Morning Flowers (SFIFF 2006, Townhouse Gallery, Cairo, Egypt, 2006), Maldives Pavillion (Venice Biennale, 2013), gnosisong (CCD Mexico City, 2015), //supraliminal (ZKM, Karlsruhe, 2017), Sonic Web (ZKM, Karlsruhe, 2018) blackcloud.org, sevenairs.org, polartide.org, gifcollider.com, tsarbell.com and radioflux.org.

Common Dreams: Flotation School

Maria Lucia Cruz Correia

Common Dreams: Flotation School is a mobile prototype for a survival climate school that can travel and adapt to other cities in collaborative alliances with local universities, art institutions and sustainable organizations. The school is designed around a collective process in accordance to the four elements (air-water-earth-fire), as an attempt to rethink our notions of survival in relation to geopolitical earthly resources. The approach is a transdiciplinare collaborative process in dialogue with art students and/ or with experts from the fields of political ecology, sustainability, economy, agriculture, holism, activism, science and architecture. As a methodology, we propose a critical reflection on what “ pedagogy in arts” means today and can do for us, and how this approach can influence the climate political emergency.The main topics are : education- ecology-shelter- sustainability-social-economy- resources- cosmologies. Every edition of the school has different format depending on the location and collaboration, it can be in the format of a floating raft on the lake, or a tent in the forest, or it can simply be an intervention in public space, a lecture or a debate.

Presentations were at CIFAS, Brussels / production Wpzimmer; far° festival des arts vivants Nyon and HEAD – Genève / production HIROS (2020/2021); Contour Biennale 9, "Coltan as Cotton”; Straathoekwerk Mechelen and Klimaatneutraal Mechelen and in collaboration with Piraten van de Dijle, Mechelen (2019); Kunstencentrum Vooruit, City of Gent, Kask School of Arts, MEDS Network- "urban haven" (DE DOKKEN), Gent (2018).

Correia's artistic work speaks her deep engagement for ecological crises and climate emergency. She reacts to the environemtal crimes of our times by bringing audiences into participatory laboratories that connects the artistic with the voices of scientists, activists and lawyers. Correia’s visual installations, performances and participatory laboratories talks from the idea of a complex ecological community, incorporating humans and non-humans, as a reality in which audiences are triggered to connected to a ‘more-than-human-world. While proposing temporary and autonomous platforms, Correia's proposes contemporary discourses on the an- thropocene, nature colonization and climate emergency. Most of her projects are resilient tools to propose utopian public services as alternatives for the current capitalistic system. From 2013-19, Correia was an artist in residency in Vooruitkunstcentrum and her work has been supported by Imagine 2020. In 2017 she received the Roel Verniers Prijs at the Theaterfestival with her first theater piece Voice of nature: the trial. And in 2020 her new project Kinstitute was shortlisted for COAL prize.

Parliament of Things – Urging Radical Forms of Political Representation

Peter Aers & Lotte van den Berg
Building Conversation - Art Centre Vooruit, Gent

With their diverse Parliaments of Things, the theatre collective Building Conversation makes a case for the rights of objects. They are inspired by Bruno Latour, who argues that modern man refuses to recognise the rights, autonomy and agency of objects. He argues for a vision of the world in which the value (not the worth) of objects and other entities plays an active role. In developing this form of conversation, Building Conversation distances itself from anthropocentric thinking, which places man in the centre of the universe, and investigates the relation between ourselves and things. Can we speak on behalf of things? Building Conversation develops the Parliament of Things in close collaboration with Partizan Publik, a campaign bureau in Amsterdam that’s also inspired by the work of Bruno Latour and founded the Embassy of The North Sea. 

On 24 November 2020, Bruno Latour was awarded the Spinozalens prize in Amsterdam. In the runup to this presentation ceremony, the Embassy of the North Sea is organising the educational- and public programme Welcome to the Parliament of Things together with the International Spinozaprijs Foundation. Part of the programme is a programme for senior secondary general and pre-university education (havo and vwo) in collaboration with Building Conversation.


Peter Aers is a performance artist. He obtained a M.A. in Philosophy at Ghent University and Geneva, and studied the Jacques Lecoq method of acting in Brussels. He has developed 'Everything Depends on How a Thing is Thought', a series of conversational performances which deal with pain, the future, and crime and punishment. Central to his process of creation as well as the performances themselves, are the people who take part, how they choose to communicate, and the relationship between these individuals and the community they are part of.

He is part of Building Conversation. Inspired by conversation techniques from all over the world they execute and perform different conversation formats together with participants in cities all over Europe. Doing so, the collective explores, together with everybody who wants to join, how we talk and how we could talk with each other.

The conversational performances have been performed at art festivals, art institutions and prisons, schools, psychiatric hospitals, etcetera. The Pain of Others was selected for Het TheaterFestival 2019.


Lotte van den Berg has won several awards, amongst which the Erik Vos prize and the Charlotte Kohler prize. Her work can be seen at various renowned European theatre festivals and her work is also performed in America, Canada and Africa. Her visual language is sober, bare. Images, movements and scenes are, through a dedicated attention for detail, condensed to their essence. Van den Berg moves between the worlds of dance, theatre and film, creating thus an open and very personal style, which invites the audience to contemplate different perspectives and angles. She works with professionals but also with people and amateurs, on location and in theatres and she chooses to be inspired by what surrounds us, what takes place in everyday life. In fact, someone wrote: ‘Van den Berg blows a bubble round the ordinary to grasp its naked essence.’

(UIT: In 2014 Lotte van den Berg founded Third Space, a small and very flexibel organization with which she currently creates her work, based in Amsterdam.) Lotte is part of Building Conversation, a platform for dialogical art. Florian Malzacher writes about it: “What is left of theater when we reduce it to its core? For the Dutch director Lotte van den Berg, theater is first and foremost an agreement to communicate with certain, often very different rules. No small talk, but – inspired by the political philosopher Chantal Mouffe – an agonistic negotiation of different opinions: To share a conflict without entirely resolving it. Over the years, Lotte van den Berg in her work step by step got closer to that core. Now, with “Building Conversation“, she took the last, logical step. Together with the visual artist Daan ’t Sas, they free theater from all As If and realize it as what it is: A place of communication, of meeting each other, a room where conflicts are shown and experienced.” Inspired by communication techniques from all over the world, models and frames for dialogue are developed in collaboration with different artist, all related to the question: how do we talk about the future. 



Brisbane session (AEST): 
Thursday, February 18, 2021 - 07:00
Brussels Session (CET): 
Thursday, February 18, 2021 - 16:00
San Francisco Session (PST): 
Friday, February 19, 2021 - 01:00