research narratives in artistic ecology
Connect the Plots was carried out as a creative exercise with environmental engineering students from the Institute for Ecology, Berlin University of Technology during a field excursion. Three different sites were analyzed around the Bieselfließ area north west of Berlin. Then, the natural and social history of a forest, agricultural field, and moor were discussed and evaluated in a playful embodiment, showing the relationships between students and soils in ecological, socio-political, and personal perspectives. From these field observations students were asked to communicate their discoveries using diverse media such as sculpting, sound, theatre play, storytelling, and illustration. In small groups students acted as soil particles that get squashed by tractors and soil compaction; performed the path of a water particle in simple gestures; painted a weather station with soil; enacted a poem about landscape; magnified molecules in a jar; and filmed themselves as human boring rods getting hammered into the ground. The exercise was one of the liveliest field excursions in years and served to instill a longer-lasting, emotional, and creative connection to the subject of soil ecology through embodied knowledge.
Here are some impressions from the field and classroom. Thanks to artistic collaborator, Myriel Milicevic, and to Gerd Wessolek and the Dept. of Soil Protection: Björn Kluge, Andre Peters, Michael Faklam, Moritz Werkenthin, Reinhild Schwartengräber, and participating environmental engineering students of the TU Berlin.