State of the Arts Night
Friday, April 21, 2023
6:00 PM–10:30 PM
Hirshhorn Museum, Washington DC

Gediminas Urbonas, associate professor MIT
Nomeda Urbonas, MIT research affiliate

Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas and their Swamp Observatory App are featured at the State of the Arts Night at Hirshhorn Museum in Washington.

The European Union, in partnership with the Hirshhorn, presents “State of the Arts Night,” a special after-hours evening celebrating the importance of artistic expression in a post-pandemic society. This unique pop-up experience welcomes artists from 9 European Union member states to share their creative and philosophical responses to pressing issues of the post-COVID era. In addition to participating in a series of conversations on topics ranging from climate change to war to gender, artists will present recent work.

Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas (Urbonas Studio) are performing their recent project – Swamp Observatory AR App – which is a conceptual playground and a digital tool to augment the reality with the imaginaries of the future swamp – future time, materials and species.

Suggested as an instrumentarium to restore the swamps on Gotland Island of the Baltic sea, the AR app is developed in collaboration with the students and teachers at the Athene School, who during their art and music classes have contributed to creating eco-monsters that will cohabit the planned stormwater ponds in Northern Visborg.

This hybrid reality project proposes a new model for art in public space that sensorially engages communities and facilitates their bonds with the environment before the planning process has been realized. Aided by The Swamp Observatory, the future habitats of the Visborg wetland will arrive well before it is landscaped. In doing so it will support environmental citizenship of Visborg through a new climate commons created and maintained by local stakeholders and users.

Seagrasseassador, Cocomolko, Carboni, Tortotubus, Nucleo-Flocularia, Cementa, Udarnik, Foudge-Locus and others, all together twenty six eco-monsters, invite humans to engage with Nonhuman Intelligence and co-create Assemblies for future cohabitation and building of Commons.  Five compositions – Carbon Coral, Methane Cloud, Atom Ring, Sulfur Swarm, and Phosphorus Moss are accessible through QR codes for exploratory experience in the area of the future swamp, the former regimental site in Visborg, and also elsewhere in the world.

Swamp Observatory App is commissioned by Public Art Agency Sweden and Baltic Art Center.
Supported by Lithuanian Council for Culture and MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology.
Urbonas Studio’s presentation at the Hirshhorn Museum is supported by the Embassy of Lithuania to the U.S. and Lithuanian Culture Institute
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Related links

Swamp Observatory Gotland, a description 5 min. video (2020-2021)

Swamp Observatory Gotland, a documentation 3 min. video (2022)

More about Swamp Observatory Gotland