Kat Austen’s Stranger to the Trees is a new media project exploring the complementary coexistence of microplastics and trees as carbon sinks. How do trees and microplastics coexist in forests, capturing carbon in the time of the climate crisis? Stranger to the Trees’ two channels of video orient around a musical composition combining traditional instruments, hacked instruments and field recordings. One video, an analogue silhouette animation mixed with live-action video, explores the macro perspective of this coexistence. The other, incorporating results from a scientific experiment into the effect of microplastics on birch trees, explores the micro perspective. Together, they query the response of forest ecosystems to the ubiquitous and irrevocable dispersal of microplastics around the Earth.
Through a co-operation with innovative online gallery post-gallery.online curated by Kelli Gedvil and Kristen Rästas, the release of Stranger to the Trees is reconfigured, hybridised like the trees themselves, to allow the meaning and affordance of the two channels of video to be conveyed through online media fit for pandemic times.
Credits “The Work was realised within the framework of the European Media Art Platforms EMARE program at WRO Art Center with support of the Creative Europe Culture Programme of the European Union”.
Kat is delighted to be collaborating with choreographer Anders Duckworth on the Mapping Gender project, which brings together non-binary perspectives & stories to explore how society controls & shapes both landscapes and human bodies, through a residency at The Place, London.
Expanding the focus on scientific data which is common to discourse on the subject, UCL Anthropocene emphasises the causal links between the conditions of human experience and escalating ecological collapse. In this vein, this seminar will explore the potential of contemporary art practice in addressing the problems that the Anthropocene poses for our collective future.
Given the scope of the subject at hand, the format will be expansive and discursive. Each of the seven contributing UCL artists will give a short presentation (10-15 minutes) to introduce the significance of the notion of the Anthropocene within their practice and point towards ways in which contemporary art might effectively address the environmental crisis. Afterwards, these perspectives will be brought into dialogue through a 30-minute round table discussion, which will also be an opportunity to welcome questions from the audience.
Both the pandemic and the climate crisis are lessons on human hubris—our failure to recognize planetary interdependencies and that we’re not above but a part of the biosphere. Ecofeminist icon Donna Haraway reminds us that “if we appreciate the foolishness of human exceptionalism then we know that becoming is always becoming with, in a contact zone where the outcome, where who is in the world, is at stake.” Building more resilient futures will require a new multispecies perspective that is grounded in kinship and connection. We need to challenge delusions of separation and open up the frames of what matters to us, in part by recognizing what matters to others. But how do we expand our circle of empathy? How do we develop hybrid, embodied, and multi-sensorial languages to communicate across species boundaries? And how can we engage and mobilize the general public around issues of multispecies care and coexistence?
Kat is participating at this year’s Embodiment Conference:
How do you recognise your friend in the street? How do I know how to ride a bike? How come some people have savoir-faire and others are clueless? How does intuition work? The short answer is embodied knowledge. Even though you’ve probably never heard of it, embodied knowledge underpins something like 95% of your thinking (Lakoff and Johnson, 1999). This Panel brings together Dr. K F Austen FRSA, Prof. Shogo Tanaka, Prof. Hui Wilcox and Dr. Adrian Harris to explore this fascinating topic.
October 23rd 3 pm at The Embodiment Conference. Watch the session live by following the link
Kat explores the human relationship with water using artistic research techniques that meld together embodied explorations with those mediated by sensing equipment. Led and facilitated by Kat, this workshop introduces participants to two of these artistic research methods that make use of scientific equipment and embodied techniques to connect with water, and facilitates the exploration of local water using these methods.
Contribution to the database for freely accessible to anyone who wants to take part in the project. You can choose between German, English and Sorbian. The collected audio files can be uploaded independently in the formats wav, mp3, mp4 and ogg.
Do you live in Lusatia? Contribute sounds that are important to you. This can be the sound of wind turbines, the splash of pebbles thrown into the new lake, the creak of your shed door, the judder of tyres over cobblestones or asphalt, or the call of the woodpecker living in your garden: Whatever sounds really connect you to the place. The website also includes tips for listening exercises, and on how to record and upload recordings.
The recordings that people contribute to the Sounds of Lusatia website and through the workshop will be used in a sound composition accompanied by a video installation that Kat will create as her researches come to an end. Contributors can choose whether to be credited or not. For more information visit https://lausitzklang.katausten.com.
Follow the links to open a press release as a pdf in a new tab in English and in German.
Kat’s work focusses on including multiple perspectives, narratives and knowledges to discover new ways of understanding our place in the world. What’s your big plan for change? What can we achieve by working together? Have your say by participating in the STUDIOTOPIA Panel Discussion where Kat is welcoming her Scientists in Residence of Studio Austen at Ars Electronica 2020 on Saturday 12th September 2020 at 1:00pm