Walking piece details
The fast pace of environmental change in the Anthropocene requires the development of a new suite of tools for measuring ecosystem dynamics. People have long observed animals for signs of threatening hazards or evidence of impending environmental threats. These species, called sentinel species, are of great importance not only in “perceiving and bringing” the first signs and symptoms of the “climate crisis”, but also in “anticipating” it as sentinels (Keck et al., 2020). Plants and other living organisms have also been used for these purposes.
Sentinel species can provide insight into ecosystem function, identify hidden risks to human health, and predict future change. The terms primarily apply in the context of environmental hazards rather than those from other sources. Some animals can act as sentinels because they may be more susceptible or have greater exposure to a particular hazard than humans in the same environment. The use of animals as sentinels for human health threats, or of humans as sentinels for animal disease risk, dates back at least to the era when coal miners brought caged canaries into mines to provide early warning of toxic gases. Early coal mines did not feature ventilation systems, so they would bring caged canaries into new coal seams. Canaries are especially sensitive to methane and carbon monoxide, which made them ideal for detecting any dangerous gas build-ups. As long as the bird kept singing, the miners knew their air supply was safe.
In the context of the proposed walking encounter entitled Sentinel Species for Prespa International Walking Arts Encounters/Conference I used 100 yellow colored clothing items referencing the color of canaries (sentinel species) but also of Sulphur (mining). In a walking performance participants transferred these human related objects and meticulously placed them in Ayios Achillios, to implement a staged/theatrical enigmatic experiment. The objective of the work is to reverse the sentinel roles of humans and birds. Humans will enact the role of sentinels for the endangered bird species living in the area. Choosing Prespa as a location for the proposed Performance/Installation is no coincidence as Prespa is an environmentally protected area. The rich flora and fauna and the impressive variety of the natural environment in general, had as a result the proclamation of the area as a National Park.
A collaboration of
kilowArt International Productions
Cut Contemporary Fine Arts Lab
Video Production and Editing: George Lazoglou