Reimagining Resilience: Walking Indigenous Waterways

Reimagining Resilience is a workshop that utilizes walking as a medium to create a sensory experience that reimagines urban geography. Beneath the Phoenix Metropolitan area exist the remnants of a complex canal system that sustained a desert society for approximately 1,500 years.  At its apex, the canal system consisted of over 500 miles of canals supplying over 100,000 acres of farmland with water.  Today this legacy of sustainable desert living is concealed by a postindustrial landscape of asphalt parking lots, roadways, and suburban, residential and commercial developments.

This project intends to recognize and honor the ancient waterways and the indigenous ecologies that thrived in the pre-Columbian southwest of North America. Participants will be led on a walking tour along the paths of ancient Huhugam canals that once traveled through the area where the Arizona State University Campus and the City of Tempe now rest. They will be guided through a tour using their wireless mobile devices, allowing them to imagine and visualize layers of infrastructure and recover lost knowledge.

Workshop participants will collect GPS data, photographs and video, using their mobile handheld devices. Utilizing a collective process, we will brainstorm creative uses of this data, such as explorations of mapping, placemaking, wayfinding and geocaching interventions in public space. Participants will also construct a series of situations, real and virtual, which will inform a mediated guide that will be available to Balance-Unbalance attendees for the duration of the conference.

The guide will allow the public to visualize the past while considering how ancient master water engineers, the Huhugam, can inform a discussion about building resilient communities in the desert today. This is also a project that will continue beyond the conference. Participants will be asked to contribute to a collaborative photo essay that will be exhibited at a local gallery following the conference. The outcomes of the workshop will also be used to inform the development future projects involving Huhugam history, technology and culture, such as interactive installations and mobile augmented reality experiences. The long-term goal will be to further draw from Oasisamerican culture in order to construct an ecological and historical portrait of this region that combines quantitative and subjective characteristics of past and present ecologies and landscapes. In essence, constructing virtual ecologies and landscapes that can inform discussions surrounding resilient practices in response to climate change and ecological disruption.

This will be a 2-day workshop. Each daily workshop will be approximately 5 hours. Below is a tentative schedule:

Day 1: Short lecture on the history of the Huhugam canals and overview of their cultural and ecological practices. Tutorial on GPS, mapping, etc. Preliminary walking tour. Project brainstorming session.

Day 2: Main walking tour and data collection expedition. Sorting and cataloging of the data. Brainstorming and design of situations, mediated guide, etc.

Number of participants: 5-10 Method of registration: e-mail

Workshop times: 2-7pm, March 25 and March 26

The first day of our workshop will be at the Pueblo Grande Museum.  There is a $4.80 entrance fee


Workshops Leaders

Matt Garcia is an interdisciplinary artist maintaining a socially engaged practice exploring the intersection of technology and society. Much of Garcia’s work investigates the subjectivity of dry land ecology, place and visual culture. In 2009, Garcia founded DesertArtLAB, a social art initiative engaging systems of community and ecology in US desert regions. desertArtLAb projects have been exhibited, screened and presented widely nationally and internationally.

Carlos Castellanos is an interdisciplinary artist and researcher with a wide array of interests such as embodiment, cybernetics, ecology, phenomenology, artificial intelligence and art- science collaboration. He has received a National Science Foundation IGERT Fellowship in Interactive Digital Multimedia and was a California State University Sally Casanova Pre- Doctoral Scholar. His artworks have been exhibited at local, national and international events such the International Symposium of Electronic Art (ISEA), SIGGRAPH & ZERO1 San Jose. He is also a founding member ofDPrime Research, an art-science nonprofit research organization.

Castellanos is Assistant Professor in the Department of Art, Kansas State University. He holds a Ph.D. from the School of Interactive Arts and Technology (SIAT), Simon Fraser University and an MFA from the CADRE Laboratory for New Media, San Jose State University.

April Bojorquez has worked in the museum field nationally/internationally as an educator, curator, and researcher. Influenced by participatory practice, social sculpture, and relational aesthetics.  Bojorquez employs diverse strategies to produce immersive and interactive learning environments. Her scholarship exploring museum practice and food practice has lead to the production of numerous exhibits, symposia, and public programs.

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