Laure Vigna


Silently Recording: Reading Chemical Occupation on the Rosneath Peninsula is an open group, of observers or experts, invited to engage with the memories stored in landscape and to share their observations surrounding the interactions between macro and micro species with the invisible pollutants. These pollutants are leading, among other things, to loss of habitats on the Rosneath Peninsula and transforming shorelines and organisms.

Microbes, invisible to the naked eye, are the most prevalent organisms performing most of metabolic processes on Earth. Leaving their imprints wherever they thrive, they inhabit a variety of substrates, from rock surfaces to plant tissues, animal organs or human glands and play a critical role as chemists in our ecosystems. Silently Recording will explore how microbial communities interact with inert matter such as sediments, or morph and adapt into invisible pollutants stemming from local water and soil exploitation and the exhaustion caused, for example, by heavy industrial practices, fish farming practices (e.g. pesticides, hormones, antibiotics), military occupation (e.g. radioactivity and the use of Cobalt 60, Plutonium, Chlorine and other agents) or historical events such as the slave trade which led to the exploitation of bodies and the displacement of plants and other species.

This event will also ask what chemical residues remain active and how they affect these microbial communities, potentially causing genetic alterations and mutations; what species can thrive in pollution or bioremediate it; can we assess environmental thresholds of the microscopic world using non-traditional scientific methods such as direct observation and data collection? Together, we will examine several sites along the shoreline of the Rosneath Peninsula, identifying and documenting the flora — including bio-indicator plants — insects, molluscs and other species coexisting with sediment microbial communities, noting the transformations that occurred and revealing the memory buried by material flows.

This project, designed by artist and Cove Park resident Laure Vigna, is not designed as a monitoring programme but as a collaborative effort to observe the impact of the invisible flowing fluids in organisms and habitats. Microbes are the matrix of all living matter and help us reconfigure the codependency of human and non- human bodies with their toxic surroundings. This research imagines a community of microscopic allies, exploring the archival function of bacteria in sediments. It will involve the infinitesimal shifts between the microbiological, the micro-political, the micro-economical and the microscopic distance induced by the intimacy of the micro-scale.

Photo credit: Alan Dimmick