Microplastic and Medusae

“Microplastic & Medusae”

The concept of the interdisciplinary project „Microplastic & Medusae – Expeditions into H₂O“ has been elaborated by Roman Kroke during several research-travels in spring 2017. The project is located at the intersection of art, science, philosophy and pedagogy. During his travels through Germany and France, he met up with scientists from various institutes currently involved in research on microplastics, such as: Prof. Dr. Jérôme Cachot, Florane Le Bihanic (University of Bordeaux/France, Institute of Ecotoxicology); Dr. Annika Jahnke, Dr. Dana Kühnel, Christoph Rummel (Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, Leipzig/Germany); Dr. Marie-Laure Bégout (IFREMER, French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea, La Rochelle/France); Dr. Annegret Potthoff (Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS, Dresden/Germany); Dr. Fabienne Lagarde (University of Maine, Institute for Molecules and Materials, Le Mans/France).  Roman Kroke also visited the Aquarium La Rochelle (FR) where the biologist Pierre Morinière introduced him to the beauty and fragility of marine life. Finally, he exchanged with philosophers, currently working on topics related to “sustainable development”, “environmental protection” and “notions of citizenship” (Prof. Dr. Jean-Philippe Pierron, Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3/France, director of the philosophical faculty; Dr. Abdennour Bidar, French philosopher). For the pilot-project in Germany Roman Kroke was able to win 12 scientific institutes pioneering in research on microplastic. This pilot-project (see below) is located on university level directed towards students of artistic and scientific faculties. What kind of new artistic language with respect to form and methodology may students discover when they depart from their art studios, rehearsal rooms, stages, and venture into the laboratories of scientists? Conversely, will scientists be able to derive new impulses for their thinking processes by transferring artistic perspectives to scientific challenges? What kind of genuine artistic knowledge may be produced by exploring the materiality of plastics and water (plastic as a “chameleonesque” material, water as a “knowledge-archive”, …)? And what role may art play within the socio-political discourse when it comes to raising awareness for a responsible and sustainable interaction with nature while integrating the fruitful dynamics of technological progress? Roman Kroke will henceforth propose this project concept also to other European Universities and adapt it for interdisciplinary projects on school level (art, biology, chemistry, physics, philosophy).

Pilot-project: UdK & TU Berlin (Oct.-2017-June 2018)

Together with Henning Wehmeyer (project coordinator, research assistant at the Institute for Music Pedagogy, UdK) and Prof. Dr. Ulrich Szewzyk (Dean of the department „Environmental Microbiology“, TU Berlin) Roman Kroke will realise the pilot project in the winter semester 2017/2018 for students of the Berlin University oft he Arts (UdK) and the Technical University of Berlin (TU). The project is supported by the Hybrid Plattform which is the cross-disciplinary project platform of the UdK and the TU Berlin where artists, scientists and experts collaborate beyond their individual disciplines and universities, investigating future-oriented topics and issues. In the first phase of the seminar, the students visited the magic underwater world of the medusae during a behind the scenes tour of the Berlin Aquarium guided by the director Rainer Kaiser. In this context they will encounter various philosophical questions linked to topics of “Sustainable Development”: the relationship between “Vulnerability and Responsibility”, “Man and Material”, as well as the evolving polarity between the “Natural and the Artificial”. Subsequently, the students will travel to different German research institutes where they will dive, together with the scientists, into the current laboratory practice on “microplastics”. In the second part of the seminar, the students will be faced with the task of transforming their experiences into an artistic-scientific concept. They may choose freely from a wide variety of forms of artistic presentation (sound collage, scenic reading, sculpture, photography, poem, performance, etc.). In order to foster a broader public discourse on the topic of microplastic, the project concept as well as the created artworks will be documented in a publication by the Berlin University of the Arts and presented in conferences and exhibitions. The first conference, on which the project was presented, took place in Barcelona (10./11. October 2017), at the “Act-Utopia-Lab”, a forum of dialogue between art, science and technology.