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HOME > SLIPSTREAM KONZA
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Slipstreamkonza transposes, or ‘slipstreams’ the invisible and inaudible processes of carbon photosynthesis into sound and image, around the possible  'carbon sink', in native virgin and disturbed grasslands ecosystems. Carbon absorption and release data at ground level (up to 3 meters) on the tallgrass prairie in eastern Kansas recasts as data sonification and visualization. The breathing of the prairie, as carbon absorption and release, on a diurnal pattern, changes throughout the year, depending on many factors, including wind and sunlight, the latter varying dramatically with the change of seasons. The huge data sets ( up to 6 million numbers per day)  involved in microclimate studies suggest a sublime condition -- we approach nature through the veil of data, themselves artifacts of our hypotheses.  One may take measure not of the prairie itself but of our frustrated and inexorable desire to comprehensively understand it. Ironically I thought it would be productive to apply Fluxus techniques (algorithmic strategies) to mashing both datasets from the prairie and straight photography and audio site recordings, into a slipstream, so in a way you’re combining the game-like plays of instructions inside a site-system of numbers. Whether or not the prairie really sequesters carbon in a way that could be productive for humans and their economies of excess is up for grabs. But the project has the advantage of letting the ‘presencing’ of the data transpositions happen in an open, precariously variable field.

Slipsteamkonza includes sonification/animation, medium format photography, and digital photomontage.

In this project,  I've worked with environmental physicist Dr. Jay Ham at Rannells Ranch, a research site maintained by Kansas State University, next to the Konza Prairie Biological Research Station, a World Heritage site.  I've been working on creating various  playful interpretations, Fluxus riffs, using the spreadsheet values on photosynthesis (carbon absorption and release) data overall change from summer to winter on the prairie.  As the project has developed  I have invited artists including Nick Fox-Gieg and Henry Warwick to join me in playing with the values.  As Jay notes, his research goal is to measure the net exchange (i.e., movement) of atmospheric carbon dioxide between the prairie and the atmosphere. "We want to determine how different land management factors (burning, grazing, forestation) might affect the carbon balance of the ecosystem. This is of great interest because the land surface may have the potential to sequester some of the excess CO2 were are adding to the atmosphere via fossil fuel combustion" (Jay Ham, personal communication, email 2003).

TEXTS:
Slipstreamkonza Semiotics >>
Scale_vol_6-7.pdf

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Slipstreaming the Cyborg
CTHEORY Interview with Christina McPhee May 2005 online CTHEORY
Christina McPhee in conversation with Francesca De Nicolò
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