Test Sites: Assembly

Arts Catalyst presents Test Sites: Assembly, an exhibition and co-inquiry asking how we can respond collectively to social and environmental challenges.

We invite people from art, science, academia, activism and various communities to come together to explore methodologies for developing cross-disciplinary research and building community resilience. In doing so, we introduce and open up Test Sites, Arts Catalyst’s ongoing programme of environmental co-inquiries around the UK. 
The major challenges facing us today intertwine environmental, social, political and psychological factors. Challenges such as flooding, species loss, and pollution, and complex health issues like diabetes, mental illness and cancer, interweave large-scale global forces with the small-scale and the personal, and are inextricable from the social and political systems in which they unfold. Realising that empirical science on its own is not enough faced with these complex systems, many scientists and thinkers are calling for transdisciplinary approaches and for fresh thinking about conducting science and research in new ways. Critically, we need to involve those whose lives are directly affected – not just make assumptions about the causes, the impact, and what might be the best paths towards resistance and resilience. 
The term Assembly indicates the intention of our programme, which is to gather tactics, practices and theory to create “commoning tools”, creating social and cooperative alternatives for co-producing knowledge and taking control. Through workshops, study days, field trips, reading groups, talks and discussions, we will examine, practice and discuss possible approaches to ecology and society that centre on collaboration and co-creating knowledge, highlighting radical and progressive practices from the UK and internationally. 
An exhibition of works-in-progress by Test Sites artists Ruth Levene and Neal White will be shown at Arts Catalyst’s Centre, drawing on their research in the Calder Valley and Poole Harbour. Ruth Levene presents Working Waters, an installation of maps and models created from her investigations into the flows and stewardship of water in the Calder Valley. Neal White meanwhile presents Brownsea: An Imaginary Island (An Island of the Imaginary), comprising a vivarium containing fauna and flora of an island in Poole Harbour alongside an archive of local knowledge, interrupted by industrial frequencies.
The programme will introduce and focus on issues, concepts and methodologies in a format that blurs the divides between expert and non-expert, those who make decisions and those who are affected by them. We will explore a set of approaches that include active citizenship, planetary commoning practices, co-inquiry processes, and collective governance and policy making, as well as making tactical use of concepts such as the negative commons. These terms are defined further down.
Confirmed programme participants include architect Godofredo Pereira, complexity scientist Sylvia Nagl, social anthropologist Megan Clinch, public science expert Tom Wakeford, interactive theatre company Coney, artist Tom James, artist Luigi Coppola, theorist and editor Shela Sheikh, artist Åsa Sonjasdotter, sustainability expert Rokiah Yaman and artists Ruth Levene and Neal White.
Active Citizenship - a philosophy that people have a responsibility to their society and the environment that encourages participation in local communities and democracy at all levels. We extend this to participation in research and environmental monitoring.
Planetary Commoning Practices - tactical actions towards asserting, enabling, connecting and networking local commoning practices relating to the use or stewardship of common-pool resources within transnational and extraterritorial spaces and natural resource domains, such as the atmosphere, biodiversity, the Arctic, the electromagnetic spectrum, outer space, the lithosphere, and the oceans (Triscott, 2017).
Co-inquiry Processes - Arts Catalyst has been developing a curatorial model of critical and transdisciplinary co-inquiry. The key principles of our model include focusing the inquiry on a shared “matter of concern”, the intentional co-production of knowledge - including artistic, scientific and situated - that is context-specific, and fostering an ecology practices that is sensitive to how particular practices relate to and impact on other practices.
Collective Governance and Policy Making - aimed at shifting the balance of power away from the regimes of commerce and strategic interests that seek to enclose the commons, and instead towards networked grassroots movements working for increased equity and environmental justice.
Negative Commons - the waste of capitalism’s operation, such as debt, epidemics, industrial wastes, and pollution including radiation, which becomes the burden of society once it is of no further value to commerce (Kohso, 2012).
Test Sites is Arts Catalyst’s series of inquiries into matters of concern relating to environmental issues, such as flooding, pollution, and species loss, and their impact on local culture and the health of ecosystems and communities. Initially taking place in three sites around the UK, we are inviting local people and groups to be part of art-centred co-inquiries, working with artists, scientists and other experts. Test Sites represents a significant step in Arts Catalyst’s curatorial model of transdisciplinary co-inquiry
Ruth Levene is an artist based in Sheffield, Yorkshire working in video, performance, events, digital drawings, walks, installations and participatory work. Curious and concerned by the complex systems we live by, she is currently exploring water systems, farming and market driven developments of the countryside. Recent projects have included a research residency in the Faculty of Engineering, University of Sheffield, engaging with engineers about urban water systems; and A Field of Wheat with Anne-Marie Culhane, a 42-person strong collective and a Lincolnshire farmer, growing a 22-acre field of wheat. She is currently completing a collaborative work alongside Ian Nesbitt entitled Precarious Landscapes commissioned by In Certain Places. Recent exhibitions include Everything Flows at the Millennium Gallery, Sheffield and Formations, curated by Site Gallery as part of Abandon Normal Devices Festival, Castleton. Ruth was known by her nickname Bob Levene until 2015. 
For over 20 years, Neal White's work has critically explored art in relation to new ideas, forms and technologies. As part of many collaborative endeavours – he has been developing projects, research and artworks, publications, archives, fieldworks, critical excursions as bus tours and exhibitions with academics, architects and activists. His current work explores situated practices and knowledge - drawing together environmental and ecological matters of concern with marine biologists, ecologists, coders, architects and volunteers in Poole Harbour and Brownsea Island, Dorset for Test Sites. Neal White is a Professor at University of Westminster, where he also directs the Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media (CREAM), a UK leader in research in art, design and media.
Test Sites is supported by Wellcome Trust, University of Westminster, Bournemouth University, Canal and River Trust, and Arts Council England.
Tuesday 27 March, 6:30 – 8pm
Arts Catalyst Centre
£5, booking essential
Tuesday 10 April, 4 – 7pm
Arts Catalyst Centre
Free, booking essential
Thursday 12 April, 4 – 6pm
Arts Catalyst Centre
Free, booking essential
Thursday 19 April, 4 – 8pm
Arts Catalyst Centre
Free, booking essential
Friday 20 April, 4 – 8pm
R-Urban, Poplar
Free, booking essential
Monday 23 April, time TBC
Arts Catalyst Centre
Free, booking essential
Wednesday 25 April, 2 – 6pm
Calthorpe Project, King’s Cross
Free, booking essential
Saturday 28 April, 10am – 6pm
University of Westminster, Regent Street
£5, booking essential
Tuesday 1 May, 6 - 8pm
Arts Catalyst Centre
Free, booking essential
Tuesday 8 May, 6:30 - 8:30pm
Arts Catalyst Centre
£3, booking essential
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Nuclear Energy and the Commons – A Workshop

Sabu Kohso, political and social critic, scholar and activist, and Arts Catalyst’s artistic director and founder, Nicola Triscott, lead this workshop examining nuclear waste as an ultimate form of “negative commons”, discussing this in relation to the planetary commons and nuclear capitalism. Questions explored included: In what way can radioactive waste be understood as a commons displaced from its proper place? What is the uneven impact of that waste on communities? How has nuclear capitalism endured in Japan after such an expansive disaster? How has the image of a “safe Fukushima” been fabricated? How can such forces be questioned, contested and opposed?

Researchers, students, artists and activists with interests in the politics and social context of nuclear energy or the management of the commons were invited to join the workshop.

Reading of interest

Mutation of the Triad: Totalitarianism, Fascism, and Nationalism in Japan, Sabu Kohso, eflux, 2014
The Global Nuclear Regime, Sabu Kohso, The Indypendent, 2011
Radiation and Revolution, Sabu Kohso, borderlands, 2012

Workshop leaders

Sabu Kohso is a political and social critic, translator, scholar, and a long-time activist in the global and anti-capitalist struggle. A native of Okayama, Japan, Sabu has lived in New York City since 1980. He has published several books on urban space and struggle in Japan and Korea, and has translated books by Kojin Karatani and David Graeber. He has written extensively on the Fukushima disaster from the perspective of global anticapitalist struggles.

Nicola Triscott is a cultural producer, curator and writer, specialising in the intersections between art, science, technology and society. She is the founder and Director of Arts Catalyst, for which she has curated many exhibitions and events. Nicola lectures and publishes internationally, including books on art and technology in the Arctic, art and space, and ecological art. She blogs at www.nicolatriscott.org on the critical inter-relationships between the arts, humanities and our technoscientific society.

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A Public Hearing – How to Speak

As part of Arts Catalyst's current programme A Public Hearing, MA students from the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, host a workshop exploring different ways of speaking in public with vocal coach Christopher Holt and local Kings Cross barrister Ousman Noor

Drawing on procedural documents from public hearings* as a starting point, this workshop, organised by students from the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, looks at the conditions and protocols under which public speaking is conducted. Beginning with a review of speaking in formalized settings – such as court, council chambers or in parliament – we will then look to different, informal, modes of speaking – such as gossiping, complaining, whispering – and invite participants to draw up an alternate set of instruction manuals that give priority to such forms of speech. The latter part of the workshop will review how formal instructions are registered and performed, revealing the impact this has on what gets said and who gets heard, and how architecture changes the register of sound, affecting the ways speech is delivered and supported.

*Public hearings originated from the process of the enclosure of public lands in Britain in the 18th and 19th centuries. They were held in order to create a petition to parliament to enclose the land, and then later to hear objections to the act created by Parliament. Today, public hearings are still used when dealing with both public lands and private properties.

This workshop is aimed at residents and workers of the Kings Cross Area. Open to all ages but 16+ preferred unless accompanied by an adult.

Event Schedule

1pm Lunch (Free)
2pm Workshop (Free)
Vocal exercises, discussion and rewriting manuals plus an introduction on court procedures. 


Christopher Holt is an actor, a theatre director, a lecturer, a voice coach and a disability arts practitioner, and he has a 20 years experience in teaching, training and developing singing and speaking voices. Holt has lead vocal workshops and taught voice for professional actors, singers and dancers, students of theatre and groups of senior citizens.

Ousman Noor is a Barrister with extensive experience in representing individuals in immigration detention, making bail applications in Immigration Tribunals on their behalf. This experience led to a strong conviction that immigration detention was often performed unlawfully with insufficient transparency or accountability to the rule of law. In 2014 he set up The Habeas Corpus Project, a non-profit organisation that provides pro-bono legal representation in challenging unlawful detention of individuals in the UK.

Arts Catalyst's Centre will be open to the public for A Public Hearing as part of Everyday Urbanism: Architecture as Social Process
Thursday 2 June – Friday 24 June 2016
Thursdays & Fridays, 12noon – 6pm



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KOSMICA Mexico 2015

KOSMICA is an international festival for earth-bound artists, space engineers, performers, astronomers, musicians and anyone interested in space

KOSMICA Mexico 2015 addressed a central theme of war and peace in space, and ethical issues facing space exploration. The program included more than 15 international guests to reflect upon these issues through workshops, performances, cinema, music and talks.

Kosmica Mexico 2015 is presented thanks to the support of: British Council México, Año Dual UK – Mexico, Fundación Telefónica, INBA / Laboratorio Arte Alameda. Associates: Arts Catalyst, Laboratorio Arte Alameda, Agencia Espacial Mexicana, Cine Tonalá, Otoño en Hiroshima, Ovnibus, ITACCUS and Ambulante. Media associates: Vice – The Creators Project, El Fanzine, Pijamasurf.

Programme of events

Thu 17 September, 7pm – 11pm

Chris Welch (GB) – Talk
Enrique Jezik (AR) – Performance
Aleksandra Mir (SE) – Talk
Music by: Alias 616, Radiador (MX)
Fri 18 September, 7pm – 12am
Jon Bonfiglio (GB) – Talk
Agencia Espacial Mexicana (MX) – Round table
Louise K Wilson (GB) – Talk
Music by: Rob Anaya + guest, Dolphin Star Temple, Monairem
Sat 19 September, 7pm – 11pm
Lizzie Wade (EUA) – Talk
Arcángel Constantini (MX) and 220 (MX) – Performance
Miguel Ángel Fernández Delgado (MX) – Talk
Music by: Isaac Soto, Un rêve
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A remedy for the City?

Dimitri Launder has been invited to contribute to Notes from the Field: Commoning Practices in Art and Science, as a resident researcher, speaker and workshop leader.

Dimitri’s projects as Artist Gardener offer a gentle provocation to an apocalyptic view of urban ecological sustainability. His work often explores the liminal issues between public and private use of space, aspiring towards transformative urban propagation. Launder’s project Apothecary Arboretum is featured in Arte Util’s archive the aim was to create a garden both medicinal and edible, in a concrete neighbourhood. From this living eco-system of vertical, apothecary sculpture: prototype 1.0, he discusses his approach to his merging medicinal, historical, social knowledge in an urban context.

Over March 2016, Dimitri, along with Calthorpe Project (community garden) will investigate growing natural remedies in 'living pills' of ingredients - Kokedama. They will question the liable and liminal practices of home grown and foraged remedies and its challenges in our age of commercial medicine and whether the diseases of our city relate to medicinal plants in our locality? Together they will investigate and record stories of the traditional use of plants from members of the community whilst planting medicinal moss-balls.

Dimitri's experience in this grafted practice has developed over 15 years expertise as a garden designer and as an artist with inherent interests in ecology and socially engaged practices.

Notes from the Field: Commoning Practices in Art and Science is multi-faceted project that investigates the notion of art as a tool or tactic for action with communities, with a focus on projects involving science and technology or driven by ecological concerns.

This workshop is fully booked.

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Notes from the Field: Commoning Practices in Art and Science

Arts Catalyst launches its Centre for Art, Science and Technology with Notes from the Field: Commoning Practices in Art and Science

This multi-faceted project investigates the notion of art as a tool or tactic for action with communities, with a focus on projects involving science and technology or driven by ecological concerns.

Notes from the Field… presents aspects of Arts Catalyst’s ongoing art and citizen science project Wrecked! on the Intertidal Zone with lead artists YoHa, Critical Art Ensemble, Andy Freeman and Fran Gallardo, who are working with communities on the Thames estuary. Alongside this, it presents the Arte Útil archive, a project initiated by artist Tania Bruguera, which chronicles a history of art projects that create tactics to change how we act in society.

In an archive room designed by Collective Works and ConstructLab, housing physical copies of selected Arte Útil case studies, and through exploratory workshops and discussion events, visitors will be able to speak with invited resident guests, undertake their own research, or propose new Arte Útil case studies. Contributing artists, scientists and experts to Notes from the Field… include Alistair Hudson, Dimitri Launder, Lisa Ma, Sylvia Nagl, Graham Harwood and Veronica Ranner.

More information about the 2016 programme can be found on the Arts Catalyst Centre launch press release.



Event Listings; Talks, Workshops and Seminars

Wed 27 January
Introducing Notes from the Field - Alistair Hudson and Graham Harwood in conversation, chaired by Nicola Triscott
Fully Booked

Fri 29 January
Assembly on Useful Art, Science and Technology – with Veronica Ranner, Kit Jones (Centre for Alternative Technology), Dimitri Launder, Graham Harwood, Sylvia Nagl, Jonathan Rosenhead (British Society for Social Responsibility in Science), Gemma Medina Estupiñan, Alec Steadman and Nicola Triscott.
Booking details

Thu 4 February
Socialising Activism - a talk with Lisa Ma
Booking details

Sat 6 February
Sketch a Bioluddite - a science and activism workshop with Lisa Ma
Booking details

Thu 18 February
Inter-species Technologies for Peripheral Contexts (the Bionic Sheep project) - a workshop with Fernando Garcia Dory
Booking details

Thu 18 February
Agroecology a New Kind of Neo Pastorialism - a talk with Fernando Garcia Dory
Booking details

Sat 27 February
Walking and Sensing in the City – a citizen science workshop with Andy Freeman
Booking details

Across March
A Remedy for the City – a workshop with Dimitri Launder
Fully booked

Thu 3 March
Planting in Concrete – A talk with Dimitri Launder
Booking details

Thu 17 March
Invasive Ecology – a working group with Fran Gallardo
Booking details

Sat 19 March  
Explore the Thames Estuary with your Tongue – with Fran Gallardo
Drop in no booking required


YoHa is a partnership between UK artists Graham Harwood and Matsuko Yokokoji, which has established an international reputation for pioneering critical arts projects, including Tantalum Memorial, Coal Fired Computers, Invisible Airs and Endless War. Critical Art Ensemble is an acclaimed US-based collective of tactical media practitioners, focused on the exploration of the intersections between art, critical theory, technology and political activism. Their work has been shown in major museums and biennales internationally.

Fran Gallardo is an artist and engineer, whose background includes studies in biochemistry, computing and space systems engineering. He is an active member of the Environmental Art Activism movement.

Andy Freeman is an artist, educator, technologist and former oyster farmer, whose practice that involves the combination of open data tactics and community engagement.

Tania Bruguera is a Cuban installation and performance artist. Her work pivots around issues of power and control. Several of her works interrogate and re-present events in Cuban history. On 2 January 2015, she was freed having had three back-to-back detentions in three days, and after over a thousand artists worldwide signed an open letter to Raúl Castro calling for her release.


This project is supported by The Arts Council England, with in-kind support from The Block.


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Living Assemblies - Design Your Silken Self

‘Living Assemblies’ is a hands-on workshop, led by designer and researcher Veronica Ranner, investigating the coupling of the biological material silk with digital technologies. 

This workshop is organised in partnership with The Arts Catalyst and in cooperation with Furtherfield.

We invite participants (experts in their own field – artists, designers, scientists, writers, technologists, academics, and activists) to join a weekend-long workshop, in which we will experiment with silk and a range of transient materials to imagine potential future applications for combining biological and digital media.

Traditional methods of crafting silk have barely changed in 5000 years, but recent explorations by scientists are uncovering extraordinary new potential uses for this material.  Reverse engineered silk is one of the few biomaterials not rejected by the human body. Rather, able to be fully absorbed by human tissue, it allows for a range of applications within and interacting with the body, including human bone and tissue replacements, biosensors and biodegradable electronics opening the potential to imagine new wearables and imlantables with a range of functions.

During this two-day workshop, participants will collaboratively explore the potential of reverse engineered silk, currently confined to laboratories. Taking the body as the first site for investigation, Veronica Ranner will ask participants to consider themselves as living assemblies that can be hacked, enhanced and patched into through using bio-digital materials. Activities will involve material experiments combined with a narrative design process to speculate on silk's possible future use in the world.

Workshop details

Day 1

With Veronica Ranner, Clemens Winkler and Luke Franzke, participants will be introduced to transient materials — such as reversed engineered silk — through hands-on experimentation with a range of materials, including agar-agar, gelatine, fibroin, glucose and silk-fibres. They will use digital methods and circuits and combine them with silken materials, to then begin forming their own ideas into speculative objects and artworks.

Day 2

Innovator, scientist and intermedia artist, Gjino Sutic will introduce the concept of ‘bio-tweaking’: improving and hacking living organisms, for example through metabolism hacking, neuro-tweaking, tissue engineering and organ growing. Participants will work together with science writer Frank Swain to construct narratives around their work. In the final session, participants will map out their ideas in discussion with the group.

Workshop Leader

Veronica Ranner is a designer, artist and researcher living and working in London. She researches the burgeoning domain of the bio–digital — a converging knowledge space where digitality and computational thinking meet biological matter. She dissects and creates tangible and immaterial manifestations of such collisions, examining hereby the polyphonic potential of alternative technological futures. Her current doctoral work explores paradigm shifts in reality perception by coupling speculative (bio)material strategies and information experience through design research. Veronica holds a degree in Industrial Design from Pforzheim University, a Masters in Design Interactions (RCA), and has worked trans-disciplinary with a variety of science institutions and biomedical companies, and she teaches and lectures internationally. Her work is exhibited internationally, including at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem (2012), Science Gallery, Dublin (2012), China Technology Museum, Beijing (2012), Ventura Lambrate, Milan (2013) and French Design Biennale, St. Etienne (2013). She is currently pursuing a PhD at the Royal College of Art’s Information Experience Design programme and is interested in complex networked cycles, emerging (bio-) technologies and biological fabrication, systems design, material futures and new roles for designers.

Co- facilitators

Clemens Winkler, designer and researcher at the Zurich University of the Arts, Switzerland.
Luke Franzke, designer and researcher at the Zurich University of the Arts, Switzerland.
Frank Swain, science writer and journalist.
Gjino Sutic, innovator, scientist and artist; Director of the Universal Institute in Zagreb, Croatia.
Other experts joining discussions during the workshops will be Bio-informatician Dr Derek Huntley (Imperial College).

Partners & Support

The project is a collaboration between The Creative Exchange Hub at the Royal College of Art, Tufts University (Boston, MA), The Arts Catalyst (London), and Imperial College (London), and hosted and in collaboration with Furtherfield (London). The project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

The Creative Exchange is a national initiative that brings together the best creative and digital minds from leading universities with dynamic and entrepreneurial companies, to create innovative new digital products and services. The Creative Exchange is led by Lancaster University, Newcastle University and the Royal College of Art; funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Find out more at www.thecreativeexchange.org 

Furtherfield is the UK's leading organisation for arts, technology and social change. Since 1997 Furtherfield has created online and physical spaces and places for people to come together to develop and create critical and experimental art and digital technologies on their own terms.

Resources & readings:

[1] Primo Levi (1984), Periodic Table, New York: Schocken Books Inc. (http://www.amazon.com/The-Periodic-Table-Primo-Levi/dp/0805210415)
[2] High Low tech instructions for circuits (http://highlowtech.org/?p=1372)
[3] Floridi, L. (2009). Against Digital Ontology in Synthèse,168(1): pp. 151-178. Available at: http://www.philosophyofinformation.net/publications/pdf/ado.pdf
[4] Hu, T. ; Brenckle, M. A., Yan, M. et al. (2012). Silk-Based Conformal, Adhesive, Edible Food Sensors in Advanced Materials, vol 24, nr 8, 1067-1072. DOI: 10.1002/adma.201103814.
[5] Hwang, S-W., Tao, H., Kim, D.-H., et al. (2012), A Physically Transient Form of Silicon Electronics. In Science 337(6102): 1640–1644. DOI:10.1126/science.1226325.          
[6] Transient Electronics (2012), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NnmHZXvJhlk
[7] Fiorenzo Omenetto: Silk, the ancient material of the future (2011), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqqWw3xkMzA
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Wild eating amongst the rubble and chip wrappers

Wild eating amongst the rubble and chip wrappers with YoHa, the last of three workshops presented as Fruits of the Thames, part of Wrecked on the Intertidal Zone, a series of investigations into the Thames Estuary with YoHa.

YoHa will guide you through the potential hazards of eating wild herbs, plants and fruits of the former landfill site of Two Tree Island. We will meet you at the Leigh-on-Sea station and go for walk and collect edible plants along the way. After the walk we will move to Fisherman’s Chapel in Leigh where we will make some lunch out of what we harvest in the morning and taste them.

Protective clothing and equipment
To take part in this workshop you will need comfort clothing and rainwear and walking shoes. Bring a small sharp knife or secateurs and a plastic container for harvesting edibles.

Free workshop, light refreshments will be provided.  Please bring a packed lunch or plan to buy your lunch in Old Leigh, where we will be at lunchtime and you can enjoy the local Fruits of the Thames, Maldon Oysters for just 75p each.


Joint workshop with Digital Housing Hub project in association with South Essex Homes


Mud walking June 2014 http://vimeo.com/101228535

Interview at the workshop "Eating and Smoking the Flowers of the Thames" on Leigh maritime festival July 2014 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5DJPqsImvs

YoHa website about this project http://yoha.co.uk/wrecked

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Digital Mapping, Introduction to Citizen Science

The second of three workshops presented as Fruits of the Thames, part of Wrecked on the Intertidal Zone, a series of investigations into the Thames Estuary with YoHa.

Digital Mapping, Introduction to Citizen Science with Andy Freeman

With GPS enabled camera phones and free online tools its now easier than ever to make useful, fun and beautiful maps that can show anything from your holiday snaps to the distribution of edible plants in polluted soil.

Andy Freeman will introduce a range of techniques for making and sharing maps using simple digital methods. The workshop includes a walking tour of Two Tree Island where participants will learn how to collect geo-tagged images and data using either their mobile phone or equipment supplied on the day. Data we hope to collect and map on the day includes:

  • aerial photography using a drone and/or kite (weather dependent)
  • geo-tagged photos
  • air quality
  • sampling water for pollutants
  • ambient sounds
  • ambient electromagnetism
  • background radiation
  • the blueness of the sky (using a cyanometer)

Participants will get a chance to add their data, images and observations to online open maps produced on the day or produce their own map. The workshop runs from 10am-4pm and includes light refreshments. Participants are welcome to bring their own laptops, tablets and cameras to build their own maps as wi-fi will be available, but this is not a requirement of participation.

Protective clothing and equipment

To take part in this workshop you will need comfort clothing, walking shoes and rainwear. You can also bring smartphones, laptops, tablets and cameras as wi-fi will be available for the indoor parts, but this is not a requirement for participation in the workshop.

Free workshop, light refreshments will be provided.  Please bring a packed lunch or plan to buy your lunch in Old Leigh, where we will be at lunchtime and you can enjoy the local Fruits of the Thames, Maldon Oysters for just 75p each.

Supported by

Dave Black from BlackWing Services http://blackwingservices.com/

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Mud Larks among the Eel grass

The first of three workshops presented as Fruits of the Thames, part of Wrecked on the Intertidal Zone, a series of investigations into the Thames Estuary with YoHa.

Mud Larks among the Eel grass with Paul Huxster

Using geo-locating devices such as smartphones, geo-tagging photo-cameras and GPS devices we will assist amateur biologist and gardener Paul Huxster studying Eelgrass and Cordgrass spatial fluctuations across Leigh’s tidelands. Local micro and macro biodiversity depends of these two plant species.

In the 19th century various Cordgrass species were introduced to the tidelands of Two Tree Island, as a low-end land reclamation experiment to expand Old Leigh's public land for grazing sheep. It proved a resounding failure for the positivist minds of land speculation. Today Cordgrass is an attractive nutrient for invasive grazers as they migrate toward the Estuary’s warming waters. And both Cordgrass and grazing animals are steadily establishing in the area. However, siltation processes are also altering the local environment, and as sea temperature rises, Eelgrass species are being pushed from Essex shorelines northwards, affecting in turn many other the breeding, feeding and migration of other species.

Images will be compiled using the hashtag: #mudwalkingleight. An interactive map and extensive documentation will be produced to help Paul Huxster to track this complex yet contentious process in which science oughtn’t have the only say. We want to reflect upon what constitutes native or non-native ecology and what defines novel versus historical ecosystems in an age in which human activity constitutes the main force driving ecosystems’ change. And, above all, contemplate the cultural systems we use to value them.

The tide on the day will be early, so we need to start walking by 9am. Participants should bear on mind that the event is demanding physically; appropriate gear (listed below) is essential, especially tight wellies and a strong stick for walking. It will take about 2-2.5 hours to walk the mud, then after little rest and light refreshment, participants will get a chance to add their data, images and observations to online maps produced on the day or produce their own map. 

Protective clothing and equipment

To take part in this workshop you will need comfort clothing and rainwear, tight-fitting wellies and strong walking stick (boots and stick are critical for walking on the estuary). Smartphones or GPS devices are welcome but please bring a plastic bag to keep the dry.

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