Exploring Ecological and Material Sensitivity through Craft Practice in the Context of the Venice Lagoon
Riikka Latva-Somppi, Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture
Maarit Mäkelä, Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture
This article discusses multisensorial aesthetic experience of environmental materiality via a craft process. The locally situated study investigates the interrelations of humans and environment through soil.
In focus is how craft practitioners use their material sensitivity to reflect the idea of interdependency in the context of the contemporary environmental discourse. This is done through presenting an artistic research project in which craft is used to explore the human imprint in a particular geological environment, the Venice Lagoon.
The case study Traces from the Anthropocene: Working with Soil combines environmental research methods of contaminated soil and artistic research in the field of ceramic art. Craft making provides an embodied way to engage with the local environment.
The cultural value and environmental disruption of the lagoon area forms a context for reflecting the aesthetic experience to better understand how we are active participants, in continuous flux with our material environment.
Ecology is a holistic principle that regards the environment and its organisms as interdependent systems.
The research was conducted by a group of artist-researchers from Aalto University, who work in the realm of craft research. The project involved collaboration with experts on contaminated soil from the Finnish Environment Institute.
The study was realized in the form of a research laboratory in the Research Pavilion that took place in the context of the Venice Biennale in the summer of 2019.
Science offers statements that present the nature of facts. In a study done on interdisciplinary research across art and science Groth et al. (2019: 4) explain that, unlike in science, in the realm of arts and artistic research alternative thinking, politics and societal issues can be raised through subjective positioning. They explicate that in art, the immediate connection between experience and conceptualization can be presented through linguistic, material or conceptual metaphors.
In this research, the sensitivity of the craft practitioners is used to closely perceive the mate-rials in nature, using their physical, temporal and symbolic qualities to weave together an under-standing of cultural and natural materialities.