The Geopolitics of the Forest working group meets regularly to share their research on the geopolitics of the forest across art, architecture, political science and landscape ecology. The group are exploring how to develop holistic and interdisciplinary understandings of the human / forest relationship that can represent multiple, overlapping and conflicting interests. They aim to develop a shared critical space for new collaborative artistic research projects which deal with the ethical complexities of forestry in relation to the climate crisis, to reconsider the language and aesthetics of sustainability.

The meetings investigate multidisciplinary approaches to the human and nonhuman entanglements of the forest in Northern Sweden. Research questions investigate the ethical aesthetics of different kinds of woodlands and their material and geopolitical networks.

The Geopolitics of the Forest Working Group is chaired by Luis Berrios-Negron, UmArts Research Fellow in Art and Architecture. Members include: Gerd Aurell, artist; James B. Brown, architect; Sofia Johansson, curator; Toms Kokins, architect; Lars Östlund, forest historian; Edith Marie Pasquier, artist; Janina Priebe, political science; Moa Sandström, Sámi studies; Per Sandström, landscape ecologist, and many others who come to share their research, practices and ideas.

UmArts is leading research in Art, Architecture, Design and Artificial Intelligence (AI) at Umeå University in partnership with the Wallenberg AI, Autonomous Systems and Software Program – Humanities and Society (WASP-HS) and Umeå University’s Centre for Transdisciplinary AI (TAIGA). In 2023, curator Sarah Cook joined UmArts as the WASP-HS Guest Professor in Art and AI in partnership with Bildmuseet, Umeå School of Architecture (UMA), and Umeå Institute of Design (UID).

The Art and AI working is a group is chaired by Guest Professor Sarah Cook, and includes UmArts postdocs, mentors and artists in residence who are working with AI to share their research and develop new collaborative projects. The group considers how arts research can contribute to the social and ethical discourses of AI and machine learning, working in partnership with museums and galleries, artists and curators. The programme critically interrogates the aesthetics and politics of AI, collaborating with, and challenging the algorithmic logic underpinning hardware and software development. We are interested in how creative encounters can allow publics to experience and engage with the ethical considerations and societal shifts that widespread use of AI will bring and feeding that back into AI development.

The Octopus Club

The Octopus Club is open to all. It is a book club to close-read texts, artworks and films which investigate distributed intelligence and networked knowledge. Please email Emelie El-Habta UmArts Research Co-ordinator you would like to join.

The next text is ‘The Maniac’  by Benjamín Labatut about the life of John von Neumann nominated by Dimitri. This is contrasted with ‘Klara and the Bomb’ by artist Crystal Bennes, about Klara von Neumann who was married to John, nominated by Ele. This comparison will provide an interesting insight into the history of computing and AI from biographical and feminist artistic perspectives. We will have a short discussion about the books with tea and biscuits after the working group meeting and find a date for a full discussion in March/April. (Some of us are also reading Kazuo Ishiguro’s ‘Klara and the Sun’ for the full trio of titles!) next meeting to be confirmed for March.

Where does the wood for architectural construction come from? What are the different ways in which trees can be manufactured into ‘mass timber’ or ‘engineered timber’ for large buildings? And what is the effect of industrial forestry and wood production on the landscapes growing trees for tomorrow’s wood buildings? Over two years and thousands of kilometers, this project will follow Swedish trees through every step of industrial production from forest plantation to saw mill to building site.

Dr Tonia Carless will host the ‘Wide Load: the wholesale moving of buildings in Norrland‘ panel discussion at the Relate North 10 Symposium, Yukon School of Visual Arts, Canada, 27-28 January 2023. The panel expands on Tonia Carless’s Small Visionary Project ‘To the North’, investigating the social politics of house moving in northern Sweden. The project will also be exhibited in the form of an artist’s book as part of Symposium online exhibition from 27th January.

The Wide Load panel will question how a visual and spatial research can uncover the implications of technological and social change in Norrland. It will consider how political narratives of the region can be embedded in the space and propose new readings of cause, effect and values associated with relocation. 

The subject reflects an extraordinary moment of socio-spatial displacement, through capital investments, where multiple cultural layers are shifted across a landscape through the action of Husflyttningar (house relocation). The panel will bring together an interdisciplinary architectural, historical, visual and technical analysis to investigate the specific process of house moving. The research project also proposes to make a model of the space beneath a house move, using sloyd craft practices and to transport this as part of a public event.

The panel includes:

Dr James Benedict Brown, Associate Professor of Architecture at Umeå University

Magnus Martensson, AB Töre Husflyttningar 

Robin Serjeant, Independent Arctic Researcher