Eminent Domain continues Bik Van der Pol's investigation on the ways that human activity in the globalized age has a direct effect on (ecological) systems. The title references the concept coined by author Hugo Grotius in 1625. Eminent domain is understood as the power that the State may exercise over land within its territory, whereby the government or one of its agencies has the right to expropriate private property for public use through payment or compensation. By foregrounding this concept, Bik Van der Pol’s project alludes to the increasing privatization of previously public goods including territory, property and the public domain at large.
Using mirrored panels that follow the architecture of the space and reflect the texts woven into the carpet on the floor, Bik Van der Pol have conceived of an environment in the gallery that makes it possible to grasp the overwhelming collection of data related to ecology and species extinction figures. These data are derived from the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, more specifically the archived list of extinct species as counted from the year 1500.
Bik van der Pol collaborated with soundscape ecologist Dr. Bernie Krause, who contributes to the installation with a selection of sounds from his archive, more specifically those produced in the 1990s in previously healthy habitats in Borneo, Costa Rica, Sumatra and Zimbabwe. Since their original recordings, each of these habitats has changed drastically as a direct result of human intervention and natural disasters.1) Krause’s soundscapes coupled with figures affected by ecological changes results in a project that moves collections of data from abstraction to experience. By physically situating and mirroring the viewers amidst these statistics, they shift from spectator to immersed participant.