Iteration II

A scalable system of exchange of seed mixture and a way to conceive a vernacular technology open source

Collaborating with Biotechnology researchers, we investigated the relation between seed breeding and food quality (i.e. modern varieties of wheat and gluten intolerances) and we draw infographics to illustrate, in the most basic way, some of the core issues which struggle to be public acknowledged.  

Mapping the functioning of both traditional and industrial systems, we started to outline a third one: a hybrid alternative that makes use of seedbanks, in fact, many of them are public in Italy and struggle to get funded. Through tools that monitor food quality and a system that certificates the use of  local landraces, we imagined a completely different food production, which bypasses many of the current issues of unsustainability and provides a development model for third world countries.

Thanks to: 
Giovanni Dinelli; Salvatore Ceccarelli, Giuseppe Li Rosi.

Iteration I

Intervention to build a bottom-up understanding of genetics, engaging farmers through the language of folk-crafts

Nowaday most of us live in cities, far from food production and agricultural landscape. This could be a good sign, as it means that our society is advanced enough to feed everyone with the work of few, on the other hand this gap is the fertile soil for the proliferation of an image which has more to do with commercials’ and cultural suggestions, rather than with any present and past reality.

We started a visual inquiry in rural areas in the north of Italy to address the other stories, the ones that do not fit into this romanticized image of the countryside, but that are today crucial to define our relation with the environment.

We aim to question the actual situation in which those who inhabits the land are excluded from the technological innovation and to create a common ground for alternatives.

Tools currently used to interpret and mold natural environment have detached us from its very functioning. The countryside, that in the common imagery represents abundance, is stricken with such poverty that it can keep producing only if it is constantly filled with resources - material, chemical, genetic, normative resources - derived from the urban/industrial space.

Farmers aren’t anymore the beholder of the knowledge which is contained in the tools they use.

In order to introduce a different understanding of technological tools, we searched for those practices which shape the perception of the territory and the identity of people living there.
Folk crafts represent  vernacular technology, some of them, in different ways, survived till today, sometimes losing their meaning or becoming folklore. Nevertheless, folk crafts are the means of knowledge exchange with those people inhabiting the landscape.

In order to upset the language of crafts and to make them play again a social role, we focused on the struggle that farmers face to access new layers of technology: Mechanical, Chemical and Genomic ones.

Communities are involved through their capabilities creating their own language with embroidery, in dialogue with researchers they can appropriate and interpret their reality. The speculative thought of genetic innovations confront with the people at the end of the chain, multiplying perspectives and offering other solutions.

After a field research to outline local varieties and the relation with the soil ecosystem, we will start a collective production process with embroiderers and local artisans: soil analysis, farming technologies and methods will be collectively recounted in textile by themselves.

Using Embroidery and folk crafts to engage in a dialogue on current issues, means to short circuit technological thinking. Through an interaction with those people who still holds the knowledge of a different culture, a more and more marginal one, in which we can trace the roots of our culture as well as the possibility of a different one.

Thanks to:
Istituto di Genetica e Sperimentazione Agraria N. Strampelli; Salvatore Ceccarelli; Farmers and embroiderers - Celestina, Teresa, Marcello; Geoponika - Federico Sanbonifacio; Rete Semi Rurali; Civiltà Contadina; Genuino Clandestino; Biomalavolta.

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Iteration 0

In "iteration 0" the imaginary of the countryside has been taken from a critical perspective, addressing what is hidden but vital for those who inhabits the land. Speculation, dumps, chemicals are common topics among farmers, during the interviews to numerous farmers in the North-east of  Italy another image of the countryside emerged.

The rural territory, that in the popular imaginary represents abundance, is stricken with such poverty that it can only keep producing only if it is constantly filled with material, normative and intellectual resources derived from the urban-industrial space. 

For this reason we decided to listen to the request of many farmers, who where asking me nothing but a way to have stronger pesticides and fertilizers. A DIY guide to the most common and ancient fungicide was the outcome that, as a provocation, stressed the paradox of their demands and twisted the research toward more long term perspectives.

Seeds and their genetics were then the core topic to be discussed, to enpower farmers to reproduced their own seeds I designed a seed divider which is actioned by a normal vacuum cleaner.

The seed divider is actioned by the air flow a normal vacuum cleaner. It creates a vortex that leaves stones and other impurities filtering only the seeds which, going through different meshes are separeted in order to reseed only the bigger ones.

↓ Below: Photographic research on the italian farmland in trasition toward industralizaition and fallow land