Rachel E. Clarke, Open Lab, Newcastle University, United Kingdom
Paper available at the ACM digital library
The Ministry of Multispecies Communications includes a participatory performative masked walk and a photographic visual essay to explore imaginative reflection and embodied play on data, communication technologies
and future urban multispecies relations. These different presentation formats act as socio-material comparisons between different creative acts of more-than-human experimentation. Led by a fictional agency, the Ministry
of Multispecies Communications, groups are recruited as trainees to interrogate urban spaces conducive for the well-being of different species. The visual essay and performative walk draws together insights on situated
anticipatory narratives, personalization through making and brand identity to support articulation of both meaningful and conflictual dialogue that draws attention to the sometimes uncomfortable interdependencies of
being with each other in more-than-human urban worlds.
Inductions to the Ministry of Multispecies Communications training programme at headquarters in Hasselt, Belgium. Each of the group chose a mask of a different species to represent on the walk. Photo Credit:
Different species masks were chosen by each of the group and headed for a walk in the centre of Hasselt, Belgium. Photo Credit: Sara Heitlinger.
The Ministry training group stops at a local cathedral in Hasselt to discuss how the space does or doesn’t fit their needs and how they would like to improve it for their creatures. This requires some negotiation
as some proposed changes beneficial to one species are considered harmful to others. Photo Credit: Sara Heitlinger.
During the walk in Hasselt city centre, the Ministry training group are invited to look around the busy shopping high street to reflect on how their species might cope in such environments. Photo Credit:
After the group have stopped and reflected they are invited to draw or write down thoughts on how the space might be changed. Hasselt, Belgium. Photo Credit: Seray Ibrahim.
Individual ideas that have been drawn are then discussed with the rest of the group. Hasselt, Belgium. Photo Credit: Seray Ibrahim.
In London residents on a local street made masks prior to attending the walk and extended the senses of the animals by adapting the masks with imaginary new communication technologies such as extra antenna.
Photo Credit: Sara Heitlinger.
Residents in London also took part in a summoning ritual on their street to commune with the animal spirits before going on a walk in their neighbourhood using their additional technological adaptations.
2019. Photo Credit: Sara Heitlinger.
Residents in London were given a hand drawn map and asked to stop in three locations they felt could be improved for their species and invited them to draw their ideas on the map. Photo Credit: Sara Heitlinger.
Residents in London stopping to discuss their ideas for improving concrete gardens for foxes and bees. Photo Credit: Sara Heitlinger.
Children in London investigating wild flowers and their benefit to different urban wildlife during the walk. Photo Credit: Sara Heitlinger.
Children taking part in the walk in London worked in partnership with adults to help support their drawing of ideas. Photo Credit: Sara Heitlinger.