The guests are scatter’d thro’ the land
For the eye altering alters all
The senses roll themselves in fear
And the flat earth becomes a ball

The stars sun moon all shrink away
A desert vast without a bound
And nothing left to eat or drink
And a dark desert all around

— Blake, The Mental Traveller

Engineers and scientists claim to “know” the planet in myriad ways. They count its biospheric populations, probe and measure its material fluxes. They build towers, dig holes, launch vessels and spacecraft, photographing the blue marble to be transmitted at hundreds of megabytes per second. Ecological and geographical sciences, long based in on-the-ground observation and counting operations, are complemented and corroborated with data-based models and extra-planetary pixel-vision, data-based models of climate, land use, vegetation cover and erosion.

During a week-long workshop, project researchers will visit Kilpisjärvi Biological Station of the University of Helsinki’s Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences to interact and observe experimentation and fieldwork at the site (June 10-16, 2018). Following these visits, the group will travel to Tromsø, Norway, the site of multiple incoherent scatter radar and synthetic aperture radar installations.

In Tromsø, public discussions, interventions and orientations will take place (June 17-20), as well as a collaborative exhibition with the Kurant Visningsrom. The group will explore, through questioning and making, the variances and (in)congruities between data gathered on the earth, and the images we make of it from space; bringing the satellites down to earth, rendering these images as physical and material objects.

Media, computation and communications have always been geological, entering into material cycles through extraction (mining, for example, copper), processing (for example, the reburial of copper and fiber optic cables in the earth) and representation (the images and models we use to plan and track planetary change). What is perhaps new, in the recent naming of the becoming-geological of humankind is the conjoined transformation and awareness of humans and their home planet as at once media and matter, information in communication and congruence.

The workshops are all public, by arrangement with the hosts. Please contact Kristin Tårnes (kristin.tarnes@gmail.com) to register you interest in participating in the public events in Tromsø.

The Shift Register art and research project investigates how technological and infrastructural activities have transformed the Earth into a mediated planetary laboratory. The project maps and activates local dynamics and the media and material shifts that take place between human, earthly and planetary bodies, temporalities and scales. Contemporary science and technology need to be shifted through other knowledge systems if we are to reconfigure our relations with planet Earth. http://shiftregister.info/