Incident call for works: ‘Pollution’ – deadline 31 October 2009

thematic project by

INCIDENT’s Call for Participation on the theme: POLLUTION.

Please send us by email incident [at]
– A description of your work
– A short biography
– Your work (or its url)
Nota bene: only the works using technology (interactivity, generativity, networks, etc.) will be selected.
incident [at]


In recent years, concerns about the environment have reached the forefront of human concerns. Pollution, a result of the intense human activity which has accelerated in the last 50 years, is at the origin of the environmental changes that currently put in danger the global ecosystem.

In the contemporary media universe, the notion of pollution becomes apparent in the alteration of messages or signals, by transforming or impeding their reception. At the same time, pollution also appears as a transformation which operates on the message, revealing the over-polished nature of the contemporary media stream. In the physical environment, pollution indicates excess and (over)saturation, acting as an indicator and a warning for greater consideration of the ecosystem.

Pollution’s significance dates back to the industrial revolution. Likewise its appropriation and representation by the artists is also a relatively recent phenomenon. If we can find visually representations in the work of William Turner (whose pieces are today used by scientists to model climate change), it is particularly with the expressionists that the concept of pollution as excess appears in all its strength of representation: Georg Grosz’s urban paintings, and the violent deconstructions of the Cubists are indeed clear signs of the urban cacophony at the end of the 19th century.

If pollution sends us back instinctively to a visual static represented by the smoke produced by the new heavy industries of the 19th century, it is also the appearance the new saturated noise environment that speaks to the significant transformation of the living space of the human being in the era. Irrespective of the generally passive response to this plague, Luigi Russollo is inspired in “The Art of Noises” by the appearance of new sound forms that he and his contemporaries did not delay appropriating. New forms such as his are a clear sign of a sensitized, often urbanized society, where the pollution by machines became and integral part of the people’s environment.

The very purpose of new technologies of communication is to transpose one form of media into signals, into other codes, modifying and degrading the information, and thus in a sense polluting it. Pollution is in the end a corollary for our daily work of using electricity and digital technology, modifying our works of the mind by transforming them.

Pollution is not always realized through a visible change of our environment: other forms of pollution appear, sometimes invisible, and which have repercussions which we still have difficultly measuring. For example: electromagnetic pollution made audible by Robin Rimbaud in his sound project “To scan”, the cognitive saturations in the informative flow of the Internet, and the transformation of the regard in the face of the endless flow of digital images degraded by their transmission.

Between visible destruction and the impact microscopic effects, the question of pollution impacts at every level our relationship to our environment, especially in our daily interactions with machines where visible innocuousness often hides strong repercussions for the transformation of the human race.