Alejandro Valencia-Tobon

PhD, artist, biologist, anthropologist

Kuva: RI Velez-Ruiz

Based on artistic, biological and anthropological evidence gathered throughout previous interdisciplinary projects in rainforest ecosystems in Colombia, during this residency programme, I aim to reveal that bioacoustic data, sound recordings and participatory art can offer a way to enact the multiplicity of relations between humans and non-humans as multispecies entanglement, while at the same time translating scientific knowledge into the public domain. The main product of the residency will be a series of public art strategies (textual, sonic and visual) that simultaneously reveal biological, social and artistic perspectives to encourage creative dialogues and appreciations of biodiversity.

I believe that simultaneously promoting academic, cultural and artistic research is key to drive social change. The Saari Residence is an excellent opportunity for me to develop bold initiatives around new critical and aesthetic engagements with nature. I aim to show how, in disciplinary terms ‘biodiversity, ‘public art’ or ‘bioacoustics’ are inherently valuable. Still, when combined, in the context of a bio-rich, post-conflict-landscape Colombia, they can produce new relations, expertise and development opportunities.

I deploy multi-modal practices of participatory sound recording and process-based art to translate science methods of tracing, sampling, recording and analysing species into sensory ‘ways of knowing’ to address the threats to biodiversity. For example, at the moment, I coordinate the work of Cucusonic (WWW.CUCUSONIC.NET), a multidisciplinary network interested in exploring how acoustic and ultrasonic vocalisation records can be used to promote change in people to appreciate animals like frogs and bats as living beings with extraordinary capabilities, rather than simply seeing them as despised animals.

I work at the intersection of public art and biological science, drawing on a combination of participatory methods and sonic and visual (film) modes of representation to translate urgent questions about the natural world into social action. I conceptualise public art and participatory strategies for understanding the diversity of relation between humans and non-humans. With a background in biological sciences at the University of Antioquia (Medellin, Colombia), I received a Master of Arts degree in Visual Anthropology with Sensory Media in 2012 and a PhD in Social Anthropology with Visual Media in 2016, both from the University of Manchester (UK).