Site Under Construction

Telematic Rivers

Installation and Performance

in collaboration with Diana Salcedo & Jeana Chesnik

Occupy Earth, University of Aalto, Helsinki, Finland

How does a body of water embody the body politics?  

We explore the ways non-humans can take part in deciding their fates collectively with humans, how they are protected. Telematic Rivers is an installation that provides a technological communication platform and interface where rivers can speak through to voice their concerns about their survival. This experience is meant to reimagine a conference room setting where human and non-human entities are represented.

Within this conference room you will see seats at a table representing a meeting of multiple parties. In real time you will see two streaming videos – one of the Seine River in Paris and the second of the East River in New York City – simulating that they are occupying a seat at the table as if another human being was present.

This experience is meant to ask the viewer, if non-human entities had a voice equal to humans, would the discussions around climate change be approached in a different way as it is approached today?

Similar to legal precedents like the Rights of Nature in Ecuador or those granted to New Zealand’s Whanganui River, we are removing the notion that Nature is a human resource but rather a living entity with rights, similar to those of humans. By placing a telematic experience of two rivers, the Seine and the East River in a conference room with a table, chairs, paper and pens, we pose the question, how will these human agreements impact non-humans? We believe these rivers deserve the same attention Whanganui River is accomplishing to challenge the current process of representing and protecting natural elements.

Project Documentation:
© Erica Kermani 2023