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POND: Co-Making a Living Aquatic Sensor & Light Network

Giving natural waterway ecosystems a voice.

What if water had a voice? One we could understand? Plants and animals in natural waterway ecosystems are adapting to environmental conditions that have changed as a result of human activity, such as climate change and pollution. However, observing and interpreting more-than-human changing behavior and relating this to the consequences of human action requires skills and knowledge that the majority of us do not possess. In order to be understood, more-than-humans can translate the environmental details that form their lived experience into a language that humans can understand. In this way, more-than-humans can transform from environmental protection stakeholders powerless to effect change to become an integral part of environmental monitoring and protection.

“POND depends on the natural ecosystem and is independent of humans.”
Agoston

Nova Innova aims to develop an innovative sensor network (POND) to measure water quality. In this unique approach, the data-gathering sensors harness the energy available in the the natural environment by capturing electrons from bacteria decomposing organic material in the sediment. The sensor network communicates the water quality by changing the colour of domes floating on the water surface.

“As a metaphor, POND is a translator between natural ecosystems and humans.”
Agoston

In this way, POND creates a novel way for humans to see the health of their natural environment. The sensor system empowers bacteria living in these bodies of water to communicate with the living ecosystem they are a part of, including humans. By showing humans environmental details they can't normally perceive, the bacteria initiate a dialogue between humans and the natural world, enabling changes to human practices affecting water quality.

With an aesthetic language of living, dynamic water, using floating lights informed by bacteria, these bacteria can 'speak' to the world. The resulting dialogue connects and educates humans and non-humans through a partnership of mutual interpretation through a shared lived experience. A more-than-human debate naturally develops around who decides the health of the water and whose expertise we can and should rely on to understand the environment.

“Through designing with the bacteria, I have learned to empathize with them. Empathy comes through shared lived experience and the resulting understanding.”
Agoston

Contacts

  • -
    Agoston Walter
  • -
    Ermi van Oers
  • -
    Guido Puijk
  • -
    Marco van Noord
  • -
    Nick van de Ronde

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