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Ahead of Future Network Shorts #4 technologist Adam Sadiq writes about his research and practice with e2

Rome land cover 1970 – 2014

Social-ecologies refers to the interdependence and interconnection of social and ecological entities that exist in continuous space across the surface of the Earth. Sentience implies entities which have the quality of perception and response to their subjective state.

Over lockdown my practice focussed on starting the platform e2 (ecosystem 2) in collaboration with several artists, scientists and programmers to explore the relationship between cultural awareness and the subjective act of sensing the climate breakdown. This work takes place in gallery spaces but more frequently in classrooms and community spaces.

Over several years my practice has evolved from designing urban farms to working with mediums such as IoT sensors, programming, data visualisation and digital manufacturing to create some form of emotive or perceptual encounter with the climate breakdown that engenders a conversation around intervention.

A collaborative workshop between e2 and ZoneSound exploring the sonification of open data on global climate and emissions 

Sensing can occur through our own perceptions and can also be mediated through technologies such as sensors and satellites that offer us a way to gather and present different perspectives of how our environments affect the 15km of breathable atmosphere in motion above them. 

24 hours of traffic in Rome 2018

Perspective plays a big part in this process as we try to look at the relationships between the view from above presented by satellite and aerial imagery and the relationships to our surroundings provided by our bodily senses, our knowledge as agents in diverse environments, bottom up politics and through technologies such as environmental sensors. 

By making sensing experiences and conversations about action more widely available we hope that we can be a part of giving a fairer share of power to those who are most affected by the climate crisis – young people, climate refugees and those already living in socio-ecological breakdown – whilst providing opportunities for activists and practitioners of all backgrounds to share their experiences of intervention through mitigation and adaptation.

Signal and Noise

The recent images taken by the Aura (NASA) and Sentinel-5 (ESA) satellites, which have shown falling nitrogen dioxide levels in the Troposphere over major cities during the pandemic have shown what is possible if we mitigate our effect on the atmosphere.

ESA air pollution data from the Sentinel 5 satellite over Europe January – March 2020

Social-ecologies that develop in the next decade must work towards some shared idea of ‘signal’ – the idea that we are moving towards a course of action that is reacting to climate and cultural injustices. If this issue stems from the dynamic between land-based cultures, the atmosphere in motion above them and solar energy from space then how do we intervene and change it?

Young people around the planet are increasingly mounting pressure for political change (credit Socialist Appeal flickr)

Art, science and learning activities can present different aspects of experience and conversation based on listening to a wider set of human and non-human voices in social-ecological space, in turn providing chances to explore the cosmologies that could result. Gathering data from sensors and satellites, producing spatial interventions and finding ways to interact with sense data outside of purely curriculum-based settings might help knowledge find its way out of traditional spheres of influence and into the new and more lateral networks of community-based agencies that are needed.

Sentient Socio-Ecologies