Under-Mine is a series of interactive and non-interactive video art pieces that use generative and time-based techniques to consider the potential narratives of animals under threat from climate change. Under-Mine looks specifically at creatures whose sensory perceptions may be affected by climate change, making for a sense-oriented, rather than linear oriented form of storytelling that may or may not seem initially absurdist.
Climate change causes environmental disruptions that exaggerate extinction rates and force creatures to adapt or be left behind. Under-Mine is a series of five video art pieces, and one interactive projection, that use generative and time-based techniques to consider the potential narratives of animals under threat from climate change. This series of works particularly considers how the senses shape understandings of the world. For different species, vision, hearing, smell, the sense of vibrations, sensing the weather, or sensing magnetic fields, are just some of many things that cause each to experience the environment differently. And thus, we can begin to imagine how a shifting world feels different to different species, based on our current climate understandings.
This piece draws from scientific research into climate change and animal senses, but also the fields of generative art, data visualisation, electronic literature, outsider art, and the aesthetic of Internet Ugly. Each element within Under-Mine can be seen as an abstract narrative – a fragmented set of visual poems that attempt to document a rapidly shifting world. A combination of data-generated video and sound, frame-by-frame hand-drawn animation, and language as concrete poetry attempts to tell the same narrative for, and through, several very different sets of eyes.
How does one attempt to create narrative (since digital narrative is such a human construct) about an animal without inherent anthropomorphism? Under-Mine attempts to create a sense-oriented, rather than linear oriented, form of storytelling that may or may not seem, to the viewer, initially absurd. The writer’s metaphor and the artist’s aesthetic can be seen as inherently anthropomorphic: How does one create sentences and imagery about an Other without injecting at least something of the self? Thus Under-Mine attempts not to be openly anti-anthropomorphic, but to create a subject-object tether through art and language where experiences are shared across species divides, yet understood and felt differently.
To summon this theme, the artist draws on her work as a nocturnal mammal surveyor in Australia, her past research into somatic sense perceptions, as well as a recent artist’s residency at the Australian Government ‘EcoSciences Precinct’ where she worked with climate science data, air quality data, and biology sectors to produce generative video and audio. From this Alinta discerns that one way to tell a narrative of, or for, a non-human animal is to consider the senses that are stronger in other species than in humans, for example echolocation, magnetoreception, thingmokinesis, chemoreception, and possibly proprioception.
Alinta’s practice is multidisciplinary, but it is sometimes cited within the framework of electronic literature – a field of digital literature (story and poetry) that requires a combination of visual art, sound, and user interaction, in order to create a narrative made specifically for the technology through which it is shown. Scholars of electronic literature often cite a connection between the human body and the artwork as a story, as if it were a narrative specifically made for the body. However, how this field can be used to experiment with non-human sentient voices is not as prominent, and perhaps difficult to achieve. Alinta hopes that Under-Mine will contribute to experimentation in this area, and begin to lay a path for future electronic literature artists and researchers.
Alinta’s works are not so much physical manifestations of the sciences, but are derived from research and data in the sciences. While she identifies as a sciartist, her works don’t currently follow often-seen conventions of bio-art. Sciart is often presented as clean, neat, and perhaps somewhat cold – a beautiful and calm germ-less lab under a tungsten bulb. Under-Mine attempts to try something different. It acts as a raging toddler with a set of permanent markers who has been unleashed into a chemistry lab to draw on the walls, dog-ear zoology books, and stick her fingers in all the petri dishes.