Matterlurgy: Sensitives Stream

Algae Clouds, Underwater Film Still
Algae Clouds, Underwater Film Still, Matterlurgy 2021
River Organisms, Underwater Film Still
River Organisms, Underwater Film Still, 2021; courtesy Matterlurgy
Caddis Fly Larvae, Underwater Film Still
Caddis Fly Larvae, Underwater Film Still, Matterlurgy, 2021
Weeping Willow, Underwater Film Still, Matterlurgy, 2021
Engineered Flow, Film Still
Engineered Flow, Film Still, Matterlurgy, 2021
Thresholds, Underwater Film Still
Thresholds, Underwater Film Still, Matterlurgy, 2021

Arts Catalyst presents an online project by Matterlurgy that highlights the importance of river dwelling organisms.

How do water organisms register and reveal complex meaning in relation to river health? How can environmental data be both sensible and sensuous? What fieldwork is required when you cannot access, see or hold that which is being studied?

Sensitives Stream is an online project by Matterlurgy (Helena Hunter and Mark Peter Wright) that shares research and practice from their residency with Arts Catalyst as part of Test Sites. The project highlights the importance of river dwelling organisms and how their presence or absence indicates broader stories in relation to ecosystems, environmental stress and human activity. Located along the waterways of the River Calder and Aire in Castleford, West Yorkshire (UK), the website unfolds materials from the residency as an online encounter, combining elements of site-based and remote fieldwork, watery media and critical poetics.
The website offers three distinct journeys: you are invited to (1) dive into the river with two organisms, Caddisfly Larva and Sludge Worm; (2) flow with a collection of text scores; and (3) dwell by listening to audio chapters about the process of cross-disciplinary fieldwork.
The project reveals river organisms as both sensitive indicators of change and world-making actors that perform sentience and knowledge in ways that exceed the human. Topics relating to art and science methods, the production and analysis of data, as well as industrial pasts and chemical futures, interlink throughout the site. 
Matterlurgy worked with environmental scientists Prof. Philip Warren and Prof. Lorraine Maltby, from the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences at the University of Sheffield to understand how river ecosystems are studied. This collaboration involved sharing research methods and approaches, fieldwork and data interpretation.
The digital site was co-developed with Neo-Metabolism, a planetary research and design practice. In collaboration, immersive raw media feeds were adapted into various formats, so that the project can be streamed through many channels.
Sensitives Stream has been commissioned as part of Arts Catalyst’s Test Sites co-inquiry, through which, since 2017, Arts Catalyst has been working with artists, anthropologists and stakeholders from the Calder region to collectively examine water governance and its relationship with health, wellbeing and the resilience of communities and environments. You can find out more about the residency via Arts Catalyst’s website here.

To access the platform visit Sensitives Stream.

Living Rivers, a conversation with Matterlurgy and Prof Veronica Strang
Thursday 27 May, 6 – 7:30pm
Join us online on Thursday 27 May for a conversation between artist duo Matterlurgy (Helena Hunter and Mark Peter Wright) and Professor Veronica Strang.
Taking as a starting point the artists’ inquiry into ways of engaging with what lives in water and the role of such organisms in constituting a common planet, the event will explore how human and non-human relations can be collectively re-imagined within river catchments.
The event forms part of Matterlurgy’s residency as part of Test Sites: Calder, Arts Catalyst’s ongoing inquiry into water governance and its relationship with health, wellbeing and the resilience of communities and environments. 
Professor Veronica Strang is a cultural anthropologist and Director of Durham University’s Institute of Advanced Study. Her research focuses on human-environmental relations and, in particular, people’s engagements with water. She has conducted ethnographic research in Australia, the UK and New Zealand. In 2000 she received a Royal Anthropological Institute Urgent Anthropology Fellowship, and in 2007 she was awarded an international water prize by UNESCO. Key publications include Uncommon Ground: cultural landscapes and environmental values (1997); The Meaning of Water (2004); Gardening the World: agency, identity and the ownership of water (2009); Ownership and Appropriation (2010); Water: nature and culture (2015); and From the Lighthouse: interdisciplinary reflections on light (2018). She is currently completing a major comparative text about culturally and historically diverse water deities, such as Rainbow Serpents in Australia, and feathered serpents in Central America, focusing on how they reveal diverse societal trajectories in human-environmental relationships. For more information visit
Matterlurgy is a collaborative practice between London based artists Helena Hunter and Mark Peter Wright. They investigate the critical ecologies of environmental change, across disciplines and media, combining the production of artworks with co-constructed events and live performance. They have produced projects about air pollution, river ecosystems, waste, flooding and climate modelling. Artworks have been made with sites including a hydropower station, disused steelworks, a laboratory for ice simulation, an abandoned copper mine, and galleries and museum collections. They have collaborated with scientists at The University of Cambridge, University College London, University of Sheffield, King’s College London, and Royal Holloway University of London. Their work has been commissioned and exhibited across international venues and partners including: Delfina Foundation, Tate Modern, Raven Row Gallery, Gazelli Art House, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, ICA, The Showroom Gallery, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (MIMA), UK Green Film Festival (UK), Bòlit Contemporary Arts Centre (Spain), Mains d’Œuvres (France), ONOMA (Finland), Dalane Kulturfestival (Norway), HIAP Frontiers of Retreat (Helsinki). Find out more via
Test Sites is supported by Wellcome Trust, University of Westminster, Bournemouth University, Canal and River Trust, and Arts Council England.