[ISEA2014] Paper: Flavia Caviezel – RhyCycling: Fluid Borderland


The river Rhine as a flowing border area defines the municipal, cantonal and national boundaries and is utilised in different ways. It is a microcosm with a great ecological and socio‑economic diversity.     The research and exhibition project RhyCycling examined the border region of Switzerland‑Germany‑France along the Rhine and focused on how the non/human environment is connected.

An interdisciplinary team conducted the audiovisual research based mostly on methods from Visual Anthropology by observing and talking to different “agents” at locations along the river. The team cooperated with partners from the local government, NGOs, universities or evaluation offices involved in topics of sustainable development and ecology. The emphasis was on fish fauna, energy and the utilization of the riverbank. The goal of the project was to provide insight into the network, the interdependencies and un/balances of this ecological microcosm. (1)

The edited research material – videos, sound essays, texts, graphics – was brought together in an interactive computer platform containing a complex search structure, visualizing the interdependencies of content, places and keywords. Users build their own “dramaturgy” and create their own storylines while clicking through the material – an involvement which could lead to a (re‑)considering, a reflection of the personal lifestyle.

The conference paper aims to give an inside view into the situation created with the interactive computer platform during the exhibition and other public presentations and the different „modes“ of knowledge creation. Generally the presentation and publication of research results and knowledge takes place in textual formats although Science Studies described an interest of the sciences on alternative forms of knowledge presentation. Authors like Hans‑Peter Rheinberger or Karin Knorr Cetina (2) argued that knowledge is constituted through experimental systems itself as well through the formats in which it is presented. Therefore knowledge is not only inscribed in language and text. Media‑based presentations of research results and processes of cognition are interdependent. These circumstances have influenced the debates in research communities of Sciences and Arts, especially since the involvement of the Arts into research since the 1990ies. Inter‑ and transdisciplinary teams are working encreased with “open” research concepts. They focus on how, where and with whom knowledge is produced trying to involve non/academic experts in a non‑hierarchical way into the process of knowledge production. How the presentation format is influencing the reception respectively how the interplay between the medium and the knowledge formation looks like is of interest especially because of the aim to include the public into the process. And following the thoughts of Gabriele Brandstetter who considers research as to be an “ongoing process of rethinking” (3) – of the achieved steps respectively the created (forms of)   knowledge – a public presentation as for instance an exhibition, a performative event etc. wouldn’t be the final result but a “starting point” of an ongoing process which would be evaluated.

  1. ) See Bruno Latour. Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory. Oxford 2005; Latour on „political ecology“: Wir sind nie modern gewesen. Versuch einer symmetrischen Anthropologie. Aus dem Französischen von Gustav Rossler. Frankfurt a. Main [1991], 2008; Das Parlament der Dinge: Für eine politische Ökologie. Frankfurt a. Main [2001], 2009 / Sabine Himmelsbach, Yvonne Volkart (Eds.). Ökomedien. Ökologische Strategien in der Kunst heute. Ostfildern 2007.
  2. ) Karin Knorr Cetina. Die Fabrikation von Erkenntnis. Zur Anthropologie der Naturwissenschaft. Frankfurt am Main [1984] 2002 / Hans-Jörg Rheinberger. Experimentalsysteme und epistemische Dinge: Eine Geschichte der Proteinsynthese im Reagenzglas. Göttingen 2001; on the research about means and media of knowledge production see Rheinberger quoted in Bernhard J. Dotzler, Henning Schmidgen (Eds.). Parasiten und Sirenen. Zwischenräume als Orte der materiellen Wissensproduktion. Bielefeld 2008, p. 8-9.
  3. ) Gabriele Brandstetter. “On research“. Forschung in Kunst und Wissenschaft – Herausforderungen an Diskurse und Systeme des Wissens. In: Sibylle Peters (Ed.). Das Forschen aller: Artistic Research als Wissensproduktion zwischen Kunst, Wissenschaft und Gesellschaft. Transcript 2013, p. 63-71.
  • Flavia Caviezel, University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland, CH: Ethnologist – Videast – Film Scientist. Studies of Cultural Anthropology (specialisation in Visual Anthropology), Film and Constitutional Law at the Universities of Bern and Zurich, Switzerland. Video formation at the School of Art Berne.

Full text (PDF) p. 76-82