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With Salt and Rocks in Our Veins

A project being developed in the framework of Resonances IV on NaturArchy.    

Project description

With Salt and Rocks in Our Veins video still for postcard
Image credits: Penelope Cain 

With Salt and Rocks in Our Veins - part of the The Entanglement of Desert Water Project -centres around the rights for water, between nature and humans. In particular, poorly-understood ground water, in a remote and unique location, the oldest and driest desert in the world – the Atacama desert. The complexity of this water issue is unique but critical in the current green energy transition, and a storytelling that stands in for so many water based conflicts between environmental needs and human demands. 

The artistic outcome is a gamified digital twin of a series of real-world remote small natural lagoons in the Atacama desert. Connected to a webcrawler programmed to search for internet sites, documents and terms associated with lithium power and the green energy transition. As the number of webcrawler hits increases the virtual world changes and degrates in response to ground water loss from the natural system. Speculating on the impact of these unique real world saline water bodies, through imagined changes in the landscape; where the salt and rocks move in resistance to the degradation of the lands.

This work proposes a dialogue and a storytelling that bridges these sites of knowledge and production; JRC policy and science expertise, water management, biodiversity and economics and the microbes and water in the desert of Atacama.

The Entanglement of Desert Water Project is benefiting from the generous support of the Stimuleringsfonds / Creative Industries Fund NL.

Logo for creative industries fund NL

Penelope Cain is an artist with a research science back-ground. Her art practice is located interstitially between scientific knowledge and unearthing connective untold narratives in the world. Alan Belward is head of the Food Security Unit in the Directorate for Sustainable Resources in the JRC. Graziano Ceddia is working at the interface between social and environmental sciences, with a strong focus on agricultural expansion and deforestation in the Global South. First meetings took place at the Summer School on NaturArchy (June 2022 at the JRC), and a deeper research collaboration was established over the summer.

Programing and worldbuilding: Nathan Marcus