THE ART OF CITIZEN SCIENCE: MONITORING A CLIMATE CRISIS WITH ARTIST MARTINA O’BRIEN

Geography Seminar, 28 November 2019, 4-5:30pm

IONTAS Second Floor Seminar Room,
North Campus, Maynooth University

A conversation with Kildare Co. Weather Observers, artist Martina O’Brien, Dr Catherine O’Connell, Irish Peatlands Conservation Council, Dr Lisa Orme, Co-Director MSc Climate Change, Geography & ICARUS), Prof Karen Till, Geography, and Lucina Russell, Arts Officer, Kildare Co. Council Arts Service

Weather observers play a significant, often unrecognised role, as citizen-scientists who collect important data that lead to new understandings weather and the formation of climate change models, all of which have been influential in affecting recent international and national policy. The Weather Observation Network in County Kildare is comprised of seven people who collect daily data for Met Éireann from privately installed Rainfall Stations on an ongoing basis, and whose members participated in a project with artist Martina O’Brien over the past two years.

Tracing these hidden subjects and systems embedded within the landscape, O’Brien’s seven-channel video artwork Quotidian explores the cross-temporal and spatial relations of planetary scale centres of climate calculation, local off-grid and offline voluntary Weather Observers, as connected through embodied practices, computational technologies and copper.

Special guest speaker is Dr Catherine O’Connell, Chief Executive of the Irish Peatland Conservation Council. Joining her will be: artist Martina O’Brien, Dr Lisa Orme, Co-Director MSc Climate Change, MU Geography and ICARUS, Lucina Russell, Arts Office of the Kildare County Council Arts Service, and Professor Karen Till, MU Geography and Director of the MA in Spatial Justice. As part of an extended international celebration of Science and GeoWeeks in November 2019, Kildare County’s Weather Observers will informally meet to discuss their work with undergraduate and postgraduate students in Geography.

Seminar followed by exhibition launch of Quotidian, which runs

28 November 2019 – 29 January 2020 at MU Illuminations Gallery.

The symposium and exhibition launch is open to the public.

Exhibition: Quotidian

28th November 2019 – 29th January 2020

Illumination Gallery, Maynooth University

Quotidian is a seven-channel video installation by visual artist Martina O’Brien. This new series of work is developed through engagement with seven people based in Co. Kildare who partake in the national Weather Observation Network. On a daily and ongoing basis, these off-grid & offline volunteers collect data for Met Éireann from privately installed rainfall stations. Quotidian looks at the volunteers’ systematic record-keeping as a personal rhythm tied to the body and considers their long-term role in the face of computational technologies and eventual automation.

The exhibition considers institutional systems of weather recording, meteorology and the planetary climate, in addition to local social systems embedded within communities such as the people who operate the Weather Observation Network. Tracing these hidden subjects and systems, the artwork looks to enquire into ideas of location, ritual, and living archives.

Biography: Martina O’Brien

Martina O’Brien’s interdisciplinary practice stems from her intrinsic interest in perceptions of time, the earth sciences, futurology and divination. Over the last number of years her work has frequently examined measurement technologies and data-driven practices of quantification such as climate modelling and, as an extension of this, considered how ways of describing the world through computational structures affect the possibilities for our being, acting and thinking in the world. O’Brien is a member of Temple Bar Gallery + Studios 2019/2020 and holds an MA in Visual Arts Practice from Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology.

O’Brien was recently commissioned by the European Commission to collaborate with Earth scientists at the Joint Research Centre’s Crisis Management Laboratory, Italy in 2019. The outcome of this project was exhibited at Datami Resonance III Festival, Ispra, Italy and will be exhibited in BOZAR, Centre for Fine Arts, Brussels, 2019/2020.

O’Brien was an invited artist on the Monitoring Change in Submarine Coral Habitats Marine Expedition, North East Atlantic Ocean, in association with Parity Studios, UCD & The Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geosciences, Dublin, in 2019.

Solo exhibitions include At Some Distance in the Direction Indicated, Butler Gallery, Kilkenny in 2018. Recent awards include an Arts Council of Ireland Visual Arts Bursary Award 2019; Arts Council of Ireland Travel & Training Award 2019 and 2017; Creative Ireland Bursary Award 2018; Kildare County Council Arts Act Awards 2019, 2017 and 2016; and an Arts Council of Ireland Project Award 2017.