learning the signals – Bonavista

On-site documentation: Photo: Brian Ricks, courtesy of the Bonavista Biennale.

Learning the Signals/Change is Coming
Participatory project, website (fore-cast.ca), handmade seed packs (recycled polypropylene, organic cotton, Yarrow and Harebell seeds, instructions), Flag (polyester). Christina Battle, 2021.

Made for the 2021 Bonavista Biennale:The Tonic of Wildness,” Learning the Signals/Change is Coming considers strategies for anticipating the summer(s) to come in Newfoundland/Labrador. Translating observations from research into the region: especially its weather patterns and changing climate, the project began with an attempt to learn how to predict the weather. Part of the larger series FORECAST, which considers the entanglement between environmental, social, political, and economic challenges facing the current moment, this new work looks more directly to the weather itself as a tool to help sense and predict the trajectory we are heading toward.

Unable to travel to Newfoundland for the project, I wondered how to gain a better sense of the place: I wondered how the region smelled, tasted, and generally seemed this summer. I’m grateful to those, from across the region, who shared their readings of the weather via an online survey across two weeks in June 2021. Through the survey, participants shared their experiences of the day, and from this data an overall sense of the region was formed. From these shared observations, along with research into known strategies for anticipating shifts in the weather, a sort of (human) algorithm was developed in an attempt to forecast weather for the region.

One of the most common responses shared from the survey was the smell of flowers, which became a central focus of the remaining work. I wondered: how might we will this smell to dominate next summer as well?

At the site of the exhibition, visitors to Pat Murphy’s Meadow in King’s Cove were offered a handmade seed pack with a mix of Yarrow and Harebell to plant and spread outward as they travelled across the Biennale. Both natural to the region, each plant also provides the hardy resilience required for the future which is expected to be impacted greatly by climate change. I look forward to visiting Newfoundland & Labrador one day and to having a chance to smell the flowers.

Observations from the data gathered can be viewed online.

Learning the Signals / Change is Coming is a part of the ongoing series FORECAST

See also, Learning the Signals/Change is Coming (DesignTO edition) (2023)

seed packs (recycled polypropylene, organic cotton, Yarrow and Harebell seeds, instructions)