Languages

Sea Elegance & the Electromagic Commons. A vignette of two artworks onboard Seed Journey

Seed Journey crew arriving at the Morning Boat residency at Jersey Island. Photo: Amy Franceschini

An Electromagic Commons orbits Seed Journey. A sphere of analogies relating to farming and radiocommunication uncover media histories and currents. During our days on Jersey Island, we discovered a history of hand made cyrstal radio sets used during the German occupation of the island during WWII. Powered by the Jersey Royal potato, these devices of "passive resitance" were made using earphones from public phones and common objects like metal bedsteads as aerials. They were concealed behind small doors cut into staircases and inside woodburning stoves where the chimney's were used to hide the antennae.

Broadcasting refers etymologically to a sowing technique - scattering seeds - not one-to-many spreading seeds of information but circulating locally, in terms of circuits and citizens being present in the (Herzian) waves. Propagating, creating new plants from seeds, cuttings, bulbs..., is a term used for how radio waves travel one point to another, by the sun and the reflection on the ionosphere. Are you receiving us? Antenna's and voicing on different frequencies (am, fm, vhf, hf,...), signals the electromagnetic spectrum as a critical natural resource.1

Along the route of Seed Journey, the Electromagic Commons unfolded as an onboard pirate radio station, an open lab, and performative events. In each location Seed Journey stopped, different devices were made with locals that can be co-opted by grassroots citizen projects. Learning by making and strategies to commonize the electromagnetic spectrum were developed.

Soaring above deck in Santander, Spain, a networked weather baloon was used to map the area around the dock where Christiania was moored. Images taken from the baloon were transmitted via Slow Scan television (SSTV) - a picture transmission method used mainly by amateur radio operators, to transmit and receive static pictures via radio in monochrome or color.

Beneath the deck, microscopic waves of life are confirmed. Through this looking glass, we can see the bourgening life of C. Elegans or Caenorhabditis elegans, a free-living (not parasitic), transparent nematode (roundworm), about 1 mm in length, that lives in temperate soil environments and travels with us on board. We have named three after our captains; Carl Emil, Børre and Johan Petersen. These small dishes of life travel with us and serve as a mode of documenting the journey. Their memory is our hard drive to be later read by scientists in the future when we have the ability to "read" the brains of animals and humans. Will they forgive us?2

Alfonso works with the inconsistency of memory on the boat.- considering the boat as a lucid camera, a vessel of experiences where to imprint the ecology of living system. He will generate a latent image of the journey by means of using worms in the boat. One ecosystem will record the other one. The brain of this living technology will transform into electrical and chemical stimulus of the experience. The organ will become a container of this stimulus storing what science call memory. At the end of the journey the animals will have to be frozen cryogenically and sent to the Biological Centre in Barcelona. Once at the centre a group of neurologists working at the B.R.A.I.N. project will read the memories of this brain and translate into a report.

Abandoned WWII forts in North Sea used to broadcast pirate radio, host the unrecognised Principality of Sealand and house to cormorants. Photo: Amy Franceschini
Installing pirate radio apparatus on board Christiania. Antenna atop main mast. Photo: Amy Franceschini

1 — Excerpt from Electromagic Commons workshop description, an onboard artwork by bolwerK/ Marthe Van Dessel, Antwerp, Belgium.

Balloon Mapping Workshop at Botin Foundation, Santander, Spain. Photo by Martin Lundberg
Balloon Mapping Workshop at Botin Foundation, Santander, Spain. Photo by Martin Lundberg
Balloon Mapping Workshop leaving Botin Foundation, Santander, Spain Sent via SSTV - images sent over radio bands. Photo by Martin Lundberg
Balloon Mapping Workshop leaving Botin Foundation, Santander, Spain Sent via SSTV - images sent over radio bands. Photo by Martin Lundberg

2 — Alfonso Borragán's onboard artwork, Maybe Memory is a Process of Forgiveness.

Microscope view of C. Elegans. Assembly of microscope and viewing spearheaded by second mate, Synne Sofia Reksten. Photo: Audrey Snyder
Posted 27 June 2017
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