This paper details the technical and conceptual background for the developing art project Waveform
. This project is a creative-critical meditation on the role of digital sensors in monitoring and representing environmental change. It explores the origins and functioning of the global sensory architectures used to detect and assess these changes, deconstructing the connotations of omniscience, abstraction, and control associated with the ‘top-down’, data-driven mappings they generate. In so doing, Waveform
enacts a speculative instance of how digital sensors can highlight the ambiguities and tensions of life in an increasingly damaged ecology. This experimental aspect involves capturing images of coastal shorelines using an airborne camera drone, and then analysing these using software that maps the outlines of incoming waves. The resulting data is then processed by software that generates text resembling free-verse poetry. These steps are not autonomous, and are subject to human intervention at each stage, with the generated poems being curated so as to engage themes concerning coast, a changing climate, and scientific knowledge-making. The outcome is an assemblage of artefacts, processes, and representations that can suggest alternative narratives of sensing and sense-making, so as to better apprehend the complexities of the present moment.
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