Mediated Landscapes

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Mediated (micro)Landscapes
This is a masters thesis work in progress, exploration of the bioreporters in the context of the Anthropocene.
Abstract poetry and storytelling with cybernetics, diy machines and bioengineered organisms. Workmaster at HEAD in collaboration with BIODESIGN.
Tutors: Daniel Sciboz and Sachiko Hirosue.
Student: Vanessa Lorenzo.

Motivation of the Project / Background Information

In the age of the Anthropocene, we have a selective cultural ignorance - of the effects of the social, political, economical activities on the environment. “Micro-landscapes, meta-communities” is a research and ethno-fictional narrative knitted among kingdoms of living beings to bring visible the invisible: Over the time, a flux of culture, competition and colonization trade - offs between microbes and humans has materialized across the Alps. Its water flows are shaped by the rhythms of progress and witness a mutation of landscapes by virtue of the social imaginary. How can a bio-media approach help shape minds about the understanding of the Anthropocene?

This work focuses on environmental events that generated social impact and economic development but revealed the vulnerability and adaptability of its communities. As a case study, the project concentrates on data from the region of Valais in Switzerland. A diverse cultural region where there was a deep industrial development that restructured landscapes, communities and social values.

Mediated (micro)Landscapes is a fiction storytelling that presents an interior view of a world in which an array of cybernetic data coming from DIY devices, nature and bioengineered bacteria will spot the traces of our anxieties of progress and rising of awareness. They appear as a multifunctional tool for the investigation and communication amongst people, it's soil and its water. Like in a diegesis, the details about the world itself, its events and the experiences of its characters are revealed through a narrative. Could a collection of samples or evidence about the biological modifications in the environment caused by human activity be part of the history of a region – like are photographs or texts?

Extract of the film Pleasantville, a 90's teenager gets stuck in the diegesis of a 50's sitcom. Source: Haunted Media

Ski Aquatique Rhône Source: Mediatheque Martigny

Gletsch Source: Mediatheque Martigny

Affiche exposition Museé cantonal d'histoire naturelle, Sion, 1999. Source: Mediatheque Martigny

Lonza gate, Visp, 2014. Source: Mediatheque Martigny

Les Nez-noirs, Haut-Valais, Source: WikiValais


The aim is to bring visible the invisible, perceptible the imperceptible, and approach the environmental issues with media and the way it shapes the local history. It also explores the interactions between media and biology to map the biodiversity within a technosphere. The result would be an alternative mapping of living data, micro-landscapes made out of microbes, audiovisual recordings, interviews and history (media archives). An interactive installation with water as a common thread of the ethno-fiction.
Can the biomedia approach help shape minds about the understanding of the Anthropocene?¨
Could a collection of samples or evidence about the biological modifications in the environment caused by human activity be part of the history of a region – like are photographs or texts ?
Do we have to store / show this data ?
Or are the samples just for statistics and politics ?
What role would these DIY devices play in terms of community awareness and collaboration?
Could nature become the storyteller of our history?


Citizen science is the involvement of the public in scientific research – whether community-driven research or global investigations. Artistic and design approaches to this area of knowledge are still a field of exploration. The first heavy industry of Rhône Valley, the economic and social motor of Valais region, is an interesting starting point from which observe an landscape in constant change.


The use of media to approach the environment (electronic media, biomedia, sonic media, cybernetics, etc.)
Data gathering: soil, water sampling, fish calling and sound registering in precise GPS coordinates.
Data analysis: observation, dissection, bioassay. Participative community: Biodesign, Hackuarium, local community
Mapping: Open street maps, goole street map + edition tools
[1] Open Street Map

For whom?

Environment, community & citizens of the area. They become storytellers. Memories of the land
Citizen science practitioners

Materials: Camera Photo & Video Zoom H4n Hydrophone Fish Caller Bottles&Containers for water and soil Notebook and GPS / MAPBOX

Materials and Methods

  • Audiovisual documentation / archives des annees 1960 - 1980 / high pollution period

In contact with mediatheque valais/wallis

  • History about industry and region

Mediatheque Martigny (first 50 years of the company (french)) [2] Des Nez-noirs blancs comme neige (Trailer)

  • Bioreporter prototype

  • Bioassay eGFP

Plating and dropping test, photos below.

  • Sound recording

  • Dragonfly (libellules) observation


  • Daphnia, a natureal bioreporter


[6] DIY hydrophone

  • Microbial culturing


Water pump [7]

Obstacles / What needs to be done / Where we need help

  • Get data set pollution (Visp, Valais)
  • Contact Locals
  • What do fish find sexy as frequency

Schedule / Timeline

Mars 16, 1st meeting with tutors Daniel Sciboz and Sachiko Hirosue and master student Vanessa Lorenzo at EPFL 18:30pm.
Mars 22, 1st crit with Daniel, Camille and Felicien --> Acceptable concept, rethink or think about multiple possibilities of "data gathering" apart from sound recording. Make it real. Truthfulness.
April 4, informal meeting Sachiko.
April 7, Bioreporter prototype 4.0 construction.
April 8, Bioassay with Sachiko
April 13, 2nd meeting Daniel, Sachiko, Vanessa at Hackuarium 18:30 pm.
April 27, First prototype (connected with data?), second crit and troubleshooting.
April 19, 3rd Meeting Daniel
April 25, 4rd meeting Sascha Pohflepp
April 26, 3rd Crit with Sascha Pohflepp and Camille Scherrer
April 28, Visit to La Maison de la Riviere with Hammerdirt
April 29 - 30, Data gathering in Valais (Rhône Valley and Lotschental Valley)
May 3 - 5, Data analysis.
May 4 and 18 - meeting with tutors
May 18 - Documentation photo fungi et GPS location. May 19 - 28 - Black box, Geneva Cam contruction May 25 - 30 - Water pump connection with Arsenic/Mercury detection prototipe May 26 - Black Box completed
May 31 - Pre-presentation1 June 7 - Pre-presentation2 June 8 Tournage en Valais
June 14 - 15 - Soutenances June 16 - 17 - Exhibition

Graphic documentation


  • Citizen Science

Citoyenne Capteur [8]
Koganecho_Bazaar [9] [10] [11] [12] [13]
Antonyhall [14] [15]

  • Digital Archeology
The New digital Archeologist

"By using digital techniques to map and preserve monuments and other aspects of shared human history, we are able to ensure that nobody can deny history or dictate that their narrative or ideology stands above the shared story of all humanity and our shared aspiration to live together in harmony." [16]

"Rumours say that NASA is buying used floppy drives off ebay in order to read their own data that was collected in the 70s/80s. The question is: What will remain of our digital lives in five hundred or a thousand years time and will anyone be able to read the memory from ancient hardwares and file formats. The New Digital Archaeologists are a group of individuals, dedicated to the idea to preserve and develop digital culture and knowledge for future civilizations. They explore new/alternative approaches to handling our own digital remains and how they will or should remain into the future. Looking at our current state of reality, we see an intertwined environment that consists of many different physical as well as digital layers. We have access to those digital layers (social media, gps, augmented realities,...) through the interfaces of physical devices. Smartphones, laptops and even ATMs allow us to access and navigate a complexity and amount of information that has never existed before. The rapid development of these technologies during the last century, as experienced by the researchers of NASA, raises the question whether new digital technologies live long enough to create artifacts still accessible in the future. While the lifespan of specific technologies is decreasing, the potential density of information is rapidly growing. Is this evolution occurring so fast that most of our digital content may get lost entirely?" [17] [18]

  • Mapping


Some projects by Andrea Polli can be inspiring:
[21] [22] [23] [24] [25]

Beatriz Da Costa’s Pigeon Blog

  • Information design / aesthetics of data / installation:

Bill Viola, He weeps for you, 1976 «Viola demonstrates the physical principle behind the work: each drop of water acts as a lens.» [26]

Michal Rovner [29] [30] Data Zone, Cultures Tables, 2003

  • Installation

[31] Hella Jongerius Interactive Team uses retroprojectors to answer a design research questions "Beyond the new" (Why design in a world of plenty?)

From shared archive Hella Jongerius, Milan Exhibition 2016

Media:Vetrine 8 Duomo BP 8160.jpg

LABoral Centro de Arte Exhibition

Teacup Tools

  • Design interactions

META devices [32]
Who owns Artic [33] Rotifer landscape [34] Pools LA [35] Atlas connectivity [36] The new digital archeologist [37]

  • Fenomena: Diegesis

Diegesis is a style of fiction storytelling that presents an interior view of a world in which: Details about the world itself and the experiences of its characters are revealed explicitly through narrative the story is told or recounted, as opposed to shown or enacted.[1] In diegesis the narrator tells the story. The narrator presents the actions (and sometimes thoughts) of the characters to the readers or audience. [38]
Pleasantville Trailer HD - Original [39]
MakeUp [40]

  • Economics

Bill Phillips, hydro-mechanical analogue computer, which used the movement of water around a system of tanks and channels to represent the stocks and flows of a national economy. [41]


(1) Le Grand Canal 11, 1845 Noville, Suisse Latitude : 46.399722 | Longitude : 6.886239 Altitude : 371 mètres

(2)Le Grand Canal 14, 1845 Noville, Suisse Latitude : 46.395489 | Longitude : 6.888814 Altitude : 373 mètres

(3) Alte Talstrasse, 3940 Steg-Hohtenn, Suisse Latitude : 46.321252 | Longitude : 7.743859 Altitude : 654 mètres

(4) Eymatt 6, 3930 Visp, Suisse Latitude : 46.299549 | Longitude : 7.878622 Altitude : 646 mètres

(5) Rosenweg 2, 3930 Visp, Suisse Latitude : 46.301087 | Longitude : 7.871608 Altitude : 646 mètres

(6) Rottustrasse 15, 3942 Niedergesteln, Suisse Latitude : 46.306205 | Longitude : 7.778143 Altitude : 633 mètres

(7) Fafleralp, 3919 Blatten, Suisse

Latitude : 46.425013 | Longitude : 7.831846 Altitude : 1585 mètres

(8) Zudannazstrasse 56, 3970 Salgesch, Suisse Latitude : 46.311278 | Longitude : 7.592298 Altitude : 562 mètres

(9) Zudannazstrasse, 3953 Varen, Suisse Latitude : 46.3107 | Longitude : 7.5977 Altitude : 565 mètres

(10) Quai des Vernets 8, 1227 Les Acacias, Suisse Latitude : 46.193794 | Longitude : 6.138203 Altitude : 369 mètres

(11) Sentier des Saules 27, 1205 Genève, Suisse Latitude : 46.201681 | Longitude : 6.12329 Altitude : 369 mètres

first results with lab equipment where not relevant, troubleshooting in progress the results with the prototype are not done yet.


  • Diverse fungi


  • Eutrophication

Zudannazstrasse 56, 3970 Salgesch, Suisse Latitude : 46.311278 | Longitude : 7.592298 Altitude : 562 mètres


Literature and References

  • Crutzen (2002): Geology of Mankind. Nature 415, p. 23.
  • Haunted Media: Jeffrey Sconce
  • Speculative Everything, Dunne & Raby.
  • Kahn (2013): Earth Sound Earth Signal. Energies and Earth Magnitude in the Arts.^
  • University of California Press; Chapters: Introduction & Collaborating Objects Radiating

Environments, p. 124 & 227236.

  • Fuller (2005): Media Ecologies. Materialist Energies in Art and Technoculture. MIT

Press; Chapters: Introduction & The R, the A, the D, the I, the O: The Media Ecology of Pirate Radio, p.153.

  • Desalpes: les Alpes, aujourd'hui et demain [43]
  • Les Archives de l'Etat du Valais publient le 29e volume des Cahiers de Vallesia. Intitulé Le Rhône, entre nature et société
  • Minamata [44]
  • "Ecoscope: Mercure, le poison brillant"


  • RTS[46]
  • Kanton Wallis [47]
  • "Natural resources in Switzerland"> Environmental report for 2015

Dossier: Environmental data for politicians and the public > Scientific data collection is necessary to protect the environment > Forward-thinking monitoring methods

  • De nouvelles zones touchées par la pollution au mercure en Valais (Nov 2014)

| 200px | thumb | left | La pollution au suos-sol, Le Confèdèrè 1960

  • (Waiting for acces...)

Rappaz, Christian, 1955- Titre La guerre du mercure ne fait que commencer : qui, de la Lonza, de l'Etat du Valais ou des communes assumera les responsabilités du désastre de la pollution au mercure dans le Haut-Valais? / texte Christian Rappaz Cet exemplaire ne peut pas être demandé à distance. Voir le statut ci-dessous. BCV CJ 2015 VS MV SION/Dépôt 4

  • Paul Feigelfeld

Media Archaeology Out of Nature: An Interview with Jussi Parikka [48]

  • Le Confédéré ( le plus ancien journal d'opinion valaisan)


From Rero Public Archives, Le Confèdère 1960



Vanessa Lorenzo Sachiko Hirosue Biodesign team You?