'Wrecked on The Intertidal Zone', was an art and citizen science collective inquiry that has uncovered and highlighted local knowledge about the changing ecology, society and industry of the Thames estuary. The project was conceived by artists YoHa, Critical Art Ensemble, Andy Freeman, Fran Gallardo, and arts organisation Arts Catalyst, and developed in partnership with local people in Southend and Leigh-on-Sea.
The Thames estuary is a complex collection of objects, atmospheres and flows that cannot readily be reduced to scientific methods and models. The estuary is changing rapidly with new industrial infrastructure in construction, including the largest container port in the UK. The estuary's sea marshes, tidal flats and muddy waters are critical wilderness zones for biodiversity conservation and species migration. Simultaneously, they are also zones for leisure and tourism, fishing grounds and the sites of historic wrecks.
This exploratory project, led by YoHa and Arts Catalyst, brings together a network of local people with artists and technologists to explore how local "situated" knowledge of the estuary can be combined with artistic investigations and citizen science techniques to explore and respond to a changing contested estuary.
Through a series of participatory workshops, public realm art projects and activities, which began in Summer 2014 and will continue at least to Summer 2016, Wrecked on the Intertidal Zone will profile ways of structuring information from situated knowledge (bird watchers, fishermen, mud walkers, amateur ecologists) and verifiable methods (monitoring networks and ambient sensors).
By fostering an ecology of practices, Wrecked on the Intertidal Zone aims to generate a critical interest in the complex influences governing these delicate environments.
The project resulted in a public art commission and 'anti-monument' Graveyard of Lost Species, a series of citizen science workshops and public 'tastings' of the thames and a recipe book (see below).
YoHa (English translation 'aftermath') is a partnership between artists Graham Harwood and Matsuko Yokokoji, formed in 1994. YoHa's graphic vision and technical tinkering, has powered several celebrated collaborations, establishing an international reputation for pioneering critical arts projects. Harwood and Yokokoji co-founded the artists group Mongrel (1996-2007) and established the MediaShed a free-media lab (2005-2008). In 2008 they joined Richard Wright to produce Tantalum Memorial shown in nine countries and 15 cities over four years. In 2010 YoHa produced Coal Fired Computers before embarking on a series of works about the lived logics of database machinery including Invisible Airs (2011) and Endless War (2012).
Critical Art Ensemble (CAE) is a collective of five tactical media practitioners of various specialisations including computer graphics and web design, film/video, photography, text art, book art and performance. Formed in 1987, CAE's focus has been on the exploration of the intersections between art, critical theory, technology and political activism. The group has exhibited and performed at diverse venues internationally, ranging from the street, to the museum, to the internet. Museum exhibitions include the Whitney Museum and the New Museum in NYC, Corcoran Museum in Washington D.C., ICA in London, MCA in Chicago, Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt and the Natural History Museum in London.
Andy Freeman is an artist, educator, technologist and former oyster farmer. Andy has worked with software and community arts projects and was founder member of the Australian Network for Arts and Technology. Based on his arts practice and his teaching at Goldsmiths College, Andy has developed a practice that involves the combination of open data tactics and community engagement. In 2015, he lead citizen science workshops alongside Fran Gallardo, YoHa and Arts Catalyst on the project Wrecked on the Intertidal Zone. Andy has been invited to partake in a research residency in 2016, as part of Arts Catalyst's multi-faceted project Notes from the Field: Commoning Practices in Art and Science.
Fran Gallardo’s background is in systems engineering. He is a member of the Environmental Art Activism movement. Fran's work explores interfaces for culture in technology and ecology. In 2015, he lead the Arts Catalyst project Talking Dirty! Tongue First: Experiments at the Mouth of the Thames. This was a series of public events including citizen science workshops, involving local foods, their source, preparation and consumption.
Warren Harper is a curator and researcher whose approach to working with artists is mainly collaborative, developing long-term projects and outcomes. Recent curatorial projects include Migrating Origins (2014) with James Ravinet, Digital Voices (2015) with Jonathan Weston, MORNING (2016) with artist Shaun C. Badham and the curation of the ESSEX Architecture Weekend talks programme in September 2016 with Stephanie Sutton. He has undertaken research for YoHa, Critical Art Ensemble and the Arts Catalyst for Wrecked on the Intertidal Zone and on Modernist architecture for the Radical Essex programme, led by Focal Point Gallery. He is currently working on a project with artist James Ravinet on Nuclear Culture. Warren is a former Assistant Director of TAP (Temporary Arts Project) in Southend-on-Sea, Essex.
James Ravinet is an artist and curator interested in the method of working collectively, across disciplines, and destabilising the understanding of authorship. Having graduated from the Royal College of Art Moving Image programme in 2016, recent shows include The Old Waterworks (2016); Royal College of Art, London (2016); Jerwood Space, London (2016); Firstsite, Colchester (2015); Dyson Gallery, London (2015); Light Eye Mind, London (2013). Curatorial projects have also included Migrating Origins (2014) with Warren Harper. He is currently Assistant Curator for Offsite Projects at Focal Point Gallery, Southend-on-Sea. His independent practice is comprised of a long-term project with Warren Harper on Nuclear Culture in Essex
Graveyard of Lost Species by YoHa and Critical Art Ensemble
Talking Dirty by Fran Gallardo
Citizen Science workshops by Andy Freeman
Films were produced as a series of collaborative video documentations by James Ravinet, Jim Smith, Zander Mavor and Alistair Oldham: