Inter-species technologies for peripheral contexts (the Bionic Sheep project)

Fernando García-Dory, Bionic Sheep, 2006
Fernando García-Dory, Bionic Sheep, 2006
Artist, Fernando García-Dory, has been invited to contribute to Notes from the Field: Commoning Practices in Art and Science to present his Bionic Sheep project, part of the Arte Util Archive with a workshop and talk.  Join Fernando and guests for a discussion and workshop on his concept how art can connect with territories, native cultures and other species, and about the specific system shepherd-sheep-wolf today . In this workshop there will be the chance to draft models for a 21st century shepherds hut and learn the inner workings of the ultrasonic Flock Protection System for sheep, as well as gain insight into the behaviour of wolves.
Fernando will be joined by specialists Sue Hull (Co-Director of the UK Wolf Conservation Trust) an expert in animal behaviour and Paolo Cavagnolo, a hacker and electronic engineer who will dissect the technical details of the Bionic Sheep prototype.
The wolf has captured imaginations for as long as humans have been living in settled communities, appearing in different guises in folk tales and peasant songs as a wily predator and a fiendish seducer. Today they are seen by urban societies as a paradigm of wholeness and freedom. In recent years there has been a growing emphasis on protecting wolves and other predator species and even re-introducing them into certain rural areas. This is creating an increased conflict between what is left of the pastoralist cultures and domesticated animals and this wild species.
Since 2006, artist Fernando Garcia Dory has produced various prototypes of 'Bionic Sheep', In collaboration with shepherds and engineers. The 'Bionic Sheep' project is a portable, solar-powered, ultrasonic flock protection system for sheep. The system provides a technological and creative solution to the age-old pastoral rivalry of the shepherd and the wolf so that wildlife and farmers can co-exist in harmony.
Fernando’s work engages specifically with the relationship between culture and nature now, as manifested in multiple contexts, from landscape and the rural, to desires and expectations concerned with identity, through to (global) crisis, utopia and the potential for social change.
As the artist states; "From the frozen tundra where Sami reindeers graze, to German prairies to Portuguese remote mountains, the war between wolf and shepherd is increasing, with it, worldviews and ecosophies's clash. There is a gulf between the re-wilding ideology and deep ecology, on the one hand, and social ecology and agroecology ideas on how to solve culture-nature frictions, on the other."
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.
Advance tickets are £5. Booking is essential as space is limited.
Paolo Cavagnolo is a maker, freelance, based in Torino. He studied nuclear engineer and after the bachelor's degree he opened a social company with some friends. The company last three years and helped the making of TechLab, the makerspace of Chieri that he currently manages and helps developing.  Inside TechLab Paolo helps the local community understand the evolution of technology: organizing workshop, lectures, and enabling accessibility to tools, desk and machines, both analog and digitals. He also takes part of the Chieri Innovation Board, an open consultant team for the develop of the municipality.
He is current working on hacking the educational Italian system, designing a laboratory to prototype new form of teaching and learning method, with a team of educators and psychologist, in order to helps the comprehensive school renew itself. 
Sue Hull originally did a degree in Geology before finally succumbing to her passion for animals. In 1985 she set up the Wolf Society of Great Britain, only the third such organisation in Europe, dedicated to wolf conservation. Eventually this inspired a number of offshoots amongst which was the UK Wolf Conservation Trust of which she is now a Director. In addition to her interest in wolves, Sue has owned and raced Sled Dogs for over thirty years and also gained an MSc in Animal Behaviour from the University of Southampton which led to her running a Companion Animal Behaviour practice for a number of years. She currently lives with her husband, 3 Siberian Huskies and 2 Wolfdogs.
The Bionic Sheep 2nd prototype is funded by the National Park of Picos de Europa.