Abandon Normal Devices Festival - the UK's only roaming digital festival - resurfaces for 2021 taking you on an extraordinary journey reponding to the Manchester Ship Canal and River Mersey, taking place on docklands, on the water and through an expanded online programme of radical and disruptive artworks, film screenings, audioviisual performance, sound installation and talks. The programme follows the flows of shipping, energy and political power structures, from container ports on our doorsteps to the depths of the ocean floor; through ecosystems bound up with industrial chemicals, minerals and microplastics, to their effects on our planet, human and non-human bodies.
Plastic debris has spread to every corner of the earth through air and water currents. It breaks into ever-smaller bits that never fully disintegrate, and pass from environments into our bodies. In a year of pandemic, where pressure on food systems led to a worldwide public health crisis, contamination reminds us that our health is also inextricably entangled with the health of our ecosystems. Departing from the notion of shared contamination, Sissel Marie Tonn’s PLASTIC HYPERSEA is part science-fiction film, part eco-immunological environment experienced through many different audiovisual “pools” that “infect” one another. From two human bodies attempting to extend their sense of self to include the waters around them, to microscopic footage of cells ingesting microplastics, and 3D scans of an ancient shipwreck, Tonn prompts us to consider how we can shift our understanding of our individual health towards a more ecological world view.
One of three online artworks newly commissioned by ABANDON NORMAL DEVICES for TOXICITY’S REACH along with accompanying body of research, tracing how contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) exert agency over our lives in unexpected and lesser-known ways.
From micro-plastics to fertilizers, pharmaceuticals and personal care products, contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) are lively and leaky pollutants that contaminate waterways, eroding environmental and public health. Although invisible to the naked eye, micro-polluting chemicals are everywhere.
The River Mersey in Liverpool, England, is a prime example with a complex history of industrial pollution. In the 1970s, if someone had fallen into the river, locals would say that they would die of poisoning before they would drown. Today, despite highly effective clean up attempts tackling obvious ‘point sources’ of pollution, such as effluent and sewage, this renowned waterway has more microplastic in it than in the pacific garbage patch.
Sissel Marie Tonn is a Danish artist based in The Hague, The Netherlands. In her practice she explores the complex ways humans perceive, act upon and are entangled with their environments. Her work always returns to the question at the core of ecological thought: Where do we perceive our bodies to end, and the environment to begin?
In 2016 she was the recipient of the Theodora Niemeijer prize for emerging female artists, resulting in her first solo show at the Eye in Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven. Her work is frequently exhibited in The Netherlands and internationally, most recently in Istanbul Design Biennial (2018), Ballroom Marfa (2018) and Kikk Festival in Namur (2019).
Tonn also works as an arts and community organiser, with a focus on creating new modes of non-institutional learning and gathering through artistic research. Along with Jonathan Reus and Flora Reznik she is the co-founder of the artist initiative Platform for Thought in Motion, whose principal series The Reading Room was hosted at STROOM Den Haag before going nomadic in 2019. She is also one half of Sensory Cartographies, an artistic project that speculates on new forms of mapping through wearable technologies, techniques of observation and augmented attention.