Entanglements of Time and Tide | THE NON HUMAN TOUCH

“As contamination changes world-making projects, mutual worlds—and new directions—may emerge.” – Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing

‘In the Anthropocene, noticing and observing microbial worlds is more essential than ever. Human bodies are ‘nested’ ecosystems and should no longer be perceived as fortresses to shield and defend against microbial onslaught.’ In her latest film, Sonia Mehra Chawla advocates for live-able collaborations, and rethinking bacteria as partners in health, endurance and survival of all living beings.

The narrative story consists of a chain of events, experiences and encounters presented in seven chapters, that centre around the artist’s engagement with the more-than-human life forms that inhabit the desolate and mysterious tidal island of Cramond, one of several islands in the Firth of Forth and a Scottish defence site from World War II. ‘The ruin is at one level an object, at another a process or an action. Nature has now made it her own. The concrete ruins are consumed, engulfed and appropriate creatures revel.‘ Living material is collected from diverse environments of the island which is referred to as ‘the Zone‘. At the ASCUS laboratory in Edinburgh, the artist constructs devices for culturing a large diversity of microorganisms, unique miniature microbial ecosystems or microbial gardens. As the microbes in the soil photo-synthesize pigments, we are exposed to the processes of growth and decay of various species of bacteria within this ecosystem.

‘What constitutes life? What does cohabitation mean in an era of many urgencies and biological annihilation with accelerating rates of species extinctions? What does it mean to have agency and ownership over another’s life? What are the possibilities and limitations of working with other-than-human lives? What is the relation between capitalist destruction, contaminated diversity, and collaborative survival within multispecies landscape?’ What does it mean to be at risk with each other?

The film ‘The Non-Human Touch’ by Sonia Mehra Chawla is the result of an intensive International Art & Science residency (in 2019) and a long-term collaboration with ASCUS Art & Science Edinburgh.

The film has been realized within the framework of ‘Entanglements of Time & Tide’, a research based art-science engagement project by Sonia Mehra Chawla that explores the North Sea and its tidal zones in their ecological, cultural, political, economic, and poetic capacity. ‘Entanglements of Time & Tide’ is supported by Edinburgh printmakers, Marine Scotland, Marine Laboratory of the Scottish Government in Aberdeen, ASCUS Art & Science, Edinburgh and Creative Scotland.

Entanglements of Time and Tide, is an artistic engagement, by India based artist Sonia Mehra Chawla, with the North Sea and its tidal zones, presented by ASCUS Art & Science as part of the 2021 Edinburgh Science Festival.

The film ‘The Non-Human Touch’ presented here is the result of an intensive International Art & Science residency (in 2019) in ASCUS Lab and a long-term collaboration with ASCUS Art & Science Edinburgh. Through this film Sonia Mehra Chawla advocates for live-able collaborations, and rethinking bacteria as partners in health, endurance and survival of all living beings.

This project with Sonia is part of a broader programme of work which aims to highlight lab based science and artistic approaches as a lens through which to explore and investigate, the interconnectedness of all living things both human and non human.

Read more about Entanglements of Time and Tide here

Images courtesy of Sonia Mehra Chawla

THE NON HUMAN TOUCH

WHAT VALUES CAN EMERGE FROM RUINED LANDSCAPE?

Film in high definition with sound, single channel

Duration: 45 minutes
2020-21

“As contamination changes world-making projects, mutual worlds—and new directions—may emerge.” – Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing

‘In the Anthropocene, noticing and observing microbial worlds is more essential than ever. Human bodies are ‘nested’ ecosystems and should no longer be perceived as fortresses to shield and defend against microbial onslaught.’ In her latest film, Sonia Mehra Chawla advocates for live-able collaborations, and rethinking bacteria as partners in health, endurance and survival of all living beings.

Watch Film Online

 

The Non-Human Touch | In Conversation Event

When: Wednesday 30th June, 6:00-7:00pm
Where: Online via Zoom
Tickets: FREE, donations welcome, booking essential
Audience: Ages 14+

This event is a live screening of the film teaser, followed by a conversation between the artist and Miriam Walsh, ASCUS managing director and curator, and a live Q&A. Join us as we delve into the process of the making of these films, and unpick the different questions underpinning Sonia’s work. Hear from the artist herself as she asks ‘What constitutes life? Who gets to determine what lives are created and grown, which are saved, exploited or destroyed and what are the possibilities and limitations of working with other-than-human lives?

Speaker Bios

Sonia Mehra Chawla
Visual Artist and Researcher

Sonia Mehra Chawla is a visual artist and researcher based in New Delhi, India. She received her BFA (2001) and MFA (2004) in Fine Arts from Delhi University’s College of Art in New Delhi/India. Mehra Chawla has an interdisciplinary practice as an artist, photographer and researcher.

She works at the intersection of art, science and technology and her artistic practice explores notions of selfhood, nature, ecology, sustainability and conservation. Sonia’s practice is inextricably linked to an ethic, even a politics of multi-species co-existence and co-habitation. The artistic research could itself be seen as a political act, in which she has collaborated with several climate-change scientists, ecologists, oceanologists, microbiologists, as well as fishermen, farmers and indigenous people who speak from their deep reserves of their knowledge systems and traditional wisdom.

Miriam Walsh
ASCUS Art & Science, Managing Director

Drawing from over a decade of professional experience within the arts and interdisciplinary practice, her research interests lie in the interface between art, society, the environment, health, and science. She joined ASCUS Art & Science in 2014, before which she curated a series of independent curatorial projects in Scotland and Ireland. As an interdisciplinary creative facilitator and producer with a background in site specific visual arts projects, Miriam has a special interest in non-traditional delivery of the arts within both gallery and non-gallery settings.

She has a background in creative learning programme development and practices, including a multitude of art-science crossover projects within her role at ASCUS Art & Science, spanning diverse creative and scientific themes and topics. Collaboration is central to her methodologies as a creative facilitator and producer, encouraging and supporting inclusive out of the box thinking and discourse throughout the all stages of design, development and delivery.

‘Entanglements of Time & Tide’, is a research based art-science engagement project by Sonia Mehra Chawla that explores the North Sea and its tidal zones in their ecological, cultural, political, economic, and poetic capacity. ‘Entanglements of Time & Tide’ is supported by Edinburgh printmakers, Marine Scotland, Marine Laboratory of the Scottish Government in Aberdeen, ASCUS Art & Science, Edinburgh and Creative Scotland.

 

Check Also

Syncrasy | E-NUMBERS V2.0 | Exhibition

Syncrasy is a contemporary art exhibition co-curated by Summerhall and ASCUS Art & Science. E-Numbers …