Curated by ASCUS Art & Science, Edinburgh and Summerhall, Edinburgh. In collaboration with ASCUS, Ray Interactive UK, Summerhall, Edinburgh and Edinburgh Science Festival 2022.

Supported by 'Driving the Human', Germany and MSSRF India.

Presented on the occasion of Edinburgh Science Festival 2022 with the theme of 'Revolutions'
War Memorial and Sciennes Galleries I & II, Summerhall
April-June 2022
'The Rooted Sea: Halophytic Futures', is an immersive solo exhibition and interdisciplinary project in collaboration with ASCUS Art & Science and Ray Interactive. Opening to audiences on 8th April at Summerhall, Edinburgh's iconic and historic multi-arts venue, presented as part of Edinburgh Science Festival 2022.

Co-curated by Summerhall and ASCUS Art & Science Edinburgh and presented across The War Memorial Gallery and Sciennes Galleries I & II at Summerhall, The Rooted Sea: Halophytic Futures is part of BIOVERSE, a series of three contemporary art exhibitions specially curated for the latest edition of Edinburgh Science Festival with the theme of 'Revolutions'. Working across the fields of art, science and technology, linking the changing global landscapes of our planet, the exhibition builds a stronger understanding of the role halophytic plants, micro-organisms and carbon sinks play, as part of the climate change story.

'The Rooted Sea: Halophytic Futures' has been supported by 'Driving the Human' as part of the 21 selected concepts from across the globe for eco-social renewal. Driving the Human is a joint initiative of ZKM | Museum & Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, Forecast Berlin, acatech - National Academy of Science and Engineering Germany, and Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design, Germany.

The Rooted Sea: Halophytic Futures is an ongoing interdisciplinary inquiry into the fragile and endangered coastal ecosystems and wetland habitats of India and Scotland, and their vital role in building resilience to climate change. The project is led by multidisciplinary artist and researcher Sonia Mehra Chawla and creative producer, Miriam Walsh (ASCUS Art & Science) in collaboration with UK based creative technologists Ray Interactive.

The project stems from two incongruent yet interwoven futuristic imageries of anthropogenic impact on the planet: the desiccated planet and the submerged world. By mapping these two contrasting scenarios (droughts and floods), this project brings into focus the organisms and technologies that inhabit these spaces, while exploring the intertwined ecologies of human and nonhuman lives through entanglements of nature, culture, politics, industry, and economics.

The Rooted Sea alerts us to the need to subject our visions of anthropocentric, nature-depletive notions of progress and development, to critique. In bearing witness to an unprecedented moment in the history of the planet, the exhibition brings together a multiplicity of impulses, observations and responses ranging from trans-media installations, microbial cultures and 'living' sculptures, photomicrography, and technologies such as 3D scanning and 3D reconstruction, to documentary cinematic studies of marginalised groups whose eco-sensitive occupations have suffered as a result of the decline in their environment. How can we leverage the power of science, technology, and the arts in a transdisciplinary and collaborative approach to help give coastal wetlands and their microbial worlds a warming, collective voice? How can we build a system that puts care-based labour at the core of an entangled more-than-human biosphere? How can we connect conceptual changes in science with broader changes in worldview and values in society? How can we inhabit our world in new, non-toxic ways?

BIOVERSE is a visual arts exhibition that works across the fields of art, science and technology. Co-curated by Summerhall and ASCUS Art & Science, this series of exhibitions explores the dynamic biological revolutions within our natural world, with a particular focus on healthcare systems, coastal wetlands and our intertwined relationships with the microbial world.

Bioverse | Summerhall Exhibition

Bioverse is a contemporary visual arts exhibition co-curated by Summerhall and ASCUS Art & Science. Experience the work of visual artists Emily Fong and Sonia Mehra Chawla, and curator Louise Mackenzie through a series of solo exhibitions that explore and make visible the dynamic biological revolutions within our natural world.

Featured exhibitions focus on interactions between microbes, humans and the biodiversity of our internal and external ecosystems. Follow the journey depicting how behind the scenes human to human collaborations are vital to our healthcare systems and the scientific research involved in treating and better understanding disease. Immersive installations bring into focus the unseen microbes and plant life that our invaluable coastal wetlands rely on to continue their vital function as carbon sinks, while a range of themes including co-existence, collaboration, regeneration and our deeply intertwined relationship with the microbial world are explored in a series of films by artists, animators, filmmakers and scientists.
In the year that sees the 75th anniversary of Edinburgh's birth as a world leading festival city, we're delighted to get back to doing what we love most - delivering live events. This includes a return to our family hub at City Art Centre and two major new interactive exhibitions, DataSphere and Consumed, alongside a vibrant and varied programme of other events for audiences of all ages in collaboration with our network of amazing partners.

Focusing on everything from personal to planetary health - and with an unashamed emphasis on the urgency of tackling the climate crisis - the 2022 Festival will explore lifeforms, lifecycles, revolutionary ideas and solutions to global challenges. Revolutions in science and ideas have given us the scientific, industrial and now climate and data revolutions, each increasing our understanding of the Universe and our place in it.

This year's Festival acts as a heartfelt call for a truly radical shift in the attitudes and behaviours of individuals, organisations and nations to combat the climate crisis and protect the delicately interconnected lifecycles of our planet. Join us for what promises to be a joyful celebration of the role that science and technology and festivals play in our lives - bringing people together, creating new experiences, sharing the joy of discovery, shedding fresh light on the key issues shaping that future and celebrating the human spirit.
This project has been supported by The M.S.Swaminathan Research Foundation, India and 'Driving the Human', a joint initiative of ZKM | Museum & Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, Forecast Berlin, acatech - National Academy of Science and Engineering Germany and Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design, Germany.

Important Links for 'The Rooted Sea' at the 'Driving the Human' Festival:

The Rooted Sea Prototype
Project Concept
Participants, 21 prototypes for eco-social renewal
Driving the Human Festival Berlin, October 2021
See the festival videos here

Driving the Human Festival - October 15-17, 2021
Panel Talk in Berlin: 'From Bacteria to Ecosystems' with Anne-Sofie Belling, Bea Delgado Corrales, Romy Kaiser, Paula Nerlich (Human-Bacteria Interfaces), Sonia Mehra Chawla, Miriam Walsh (The Rooted Sea: Halophytic Futures), Clara Acioli (RUM_A: Multispecies Urban Refuge in Cluster)
Moderated by Julia Ihls (Bio Design Lab)
(Click here)
© sonia mehra chawla