11. 11. 2021

Katedrala Hall

Focus: Robertina Šebjanič

Aquatocene and AquA(I)formings

a series of audiovisual performances

Despite the wide availability of recordings of popular aquatic sounds, human lacks the awareness that the subaquatic soundscape is as rich as that heard by terrestrial creatures above the water. With modest experience with the diverse subaquatic acoustics, man is not aware that human sound pollution is already changing the soundscape of water and even the communication of its inhabitants.

➤ Aquatocene / Subaquatic Quest for Serenity explores the phenomenon of subaquatic noise created by humanity in the seas and oceans. Since 2016, using hydrophones, a non-invasive way of interacting with marine life, the author has created a series of compositions of the subaquatic soundscape, which are a complex sound collection of aquatic atmosphere, human-generated noise and marine life bioacoustics created by shrimp, fish, sea urchins, etc. She recorded a series of sounds in the Aegean Sea, the Adriatic Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, the North Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea.

The artistic research into the subaquatic noise of the seas and oceans brings to the fore the sound pollution caused by human activity. The latter changes the sound image of the waters and also the communication of their inhabitants, whose sound is the main tool for communication, orientation and hunting. Technological interventions in the ocean soundscape with ships, sonar and sound cannons used in oil exploration disrupt the fragile marine habitats and are associated with a number of consequences, from disturbances in feeding habits, behavioral patterns, reproduction and migration routes, to the “Lombard effect”, where individual species themselves become louder to override background noise, thus gradually increasing the intensity of the entire habitat.

The sound compositions of the acoustic subaquatic landscape contribute to the reflection on the anthropogenic sound impact on the aquatic habitat and marine life, and seek to illuminate and emphasize the importance of maintaining a safe sound environment for the animals living in the oceans, seas, lakes and rivers.

The Aquatocene soundscape compositions were, among others, recorded at these locations:

Aquatocene – 38°26’24.7″N 27°07’12.9″E  _Aegean Sea – Izmir (TR)

Aquatocene – 42°38’26.5″N 18°06’20.4″E  _Adriatic Sea – Dubrovnik (HR)

Aquatocene –  42°57’31.62″N 17°8’12.08″E _Adriatic Sea – Korčula (HR)

Aquatocene – 45°32’54.9″N 13°42’20.1″E  _Adriatic Sea – Koper (SI)

Aquatocene – 48°43’38.2″N 3°59’33.4″W  _Atlantic Ocean – Roscoff (FR)

Aquatocene –  53°10’16.3″N 9°34’51.3″W  _North Atlantic Ocean – near Galway (IE)

Aquatocene – 53°19’37.3″N 5°07’18.5″E  _Wadden Sea – Vlieland (NL)

Aquatocene – 60°24’49.2″N 5°16’54.9″E  _North Sea – Bergen (NO)


Artist (development, sound and video recordings, sound editing): Robertina Šebjanič

Video editing: Matej Marinček

Production: Kino Šiška, 2021 (Project manager: Anja Zver)

Co-production: KUD Mreža/FriFormA\V!, 2021

➤ AquA(l)formings – Interweaving the Subaqueous

Utilising narrative-poetic reflection and backed by artificial intelligence (AI) technology, AquA(l)formings addresses the opportunity for the empathetic interspecies development of relationships with more-than-human entities. It explores the large-scale changes in the marine environment caused by human presence, and tries to imagine how the new conditions (rising sea levels and water temperatures, new chemical composition …) are reflected in its inhabitants. Seas and oceans record such environmental changes in biological or geological time as memories, either within individual organisms or as marked shifts in ecosystem structures.

In the theoretical core of the project, the artists lean on Donna Haraway’s writings, more specifically on her latest texts on tentacular thinking (Tentacular Thinking: Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Chthulucene, e-flux journal # 75, September 2016). Simply put, tentacular thinking is the ability to perceive the world by touching, feeling and experiencing things. Man could use it to gain new knowledge, understanding and experience of the Other and the unknown. In this respect, the authors approach the solving and analysis of issues from different perspectives in the first research phase of the project, e.g. from the point of view of the idea of an all-encompassing disintegration into the next singularity, where the line between our experiences and the Other will no longer be defined. To facilitate the idea of such and similar ideas based on visions from the perspective of unknown futures, the AquA(I)formings project uses AI technology.

In the project, the authors follow the silk-like byssus threads of the noble pen shell (Pinna nobilis) and adopt it as a visual synonym for both the Other and the individual marine inhabitant, who is and still arouses the curiosity of scientific and artistic researchers of marine habitats, seaside residents and ancient merchants. Today, however, the noble pen shell has succumbed to disease caused by environmental change. By including the story of the noble pen shell, the authors also primed the project for research into the use and development of new biological materials that do not interfere invasively with the habitats of selected organisms or their general existence.

Using AI technologies helps to invent ideas about the future of, for example, the noble pen shell and the vast underwater meadows of the Posidonia oceanica seagrass in the northern Adriatic Sea. Using AI technologies in multi-layered modes of artistic activity in the AquA(I)formings project, the authors ask themselves a few ethical questions:

Is AI as an artistic practice suitable for and allows bridging the gap between man and other species in a way that man has so far been unable to use on his own?

Does using AI affect our expert view of nature?

With the AquA(I)formings project, the authors extensively researched these and other issues and the sensory experiences they create with the project, and linked their research to the northern Adriatic Sea and the marine life there.

Robertina Šebjanič (SI) based in Ljubljana. Her art – research focus is since several years into cultural, (bio)political, chemical and biological realities of aquatic environments, which serves as a starting point to investigate and tackle the philosophical questions on the intersection of art, technology and science.Her ideas and concepts are often realized in collaboration with others, through interdisciplinary and informal integration in her work. She was awarded with Honorary Mention @Prix Ars Electronica 2016, STARTS2020 and  STARTS2016 nomination and nomination for the White Aphroid award. Robertina was SHAPE platform 2017 artist. 2018 she was a resident artist at Ars Electronica (EMARE / EMAP). Her art work Aurelia 1+Hz / proto viva generator (artist proof) is since 2019 part of the the BEEP Electronic Art Collection, Spain.

Sofia Crespo is an artist with a major interest in biology-inspired technologies. One of her main focuses is the way organic life uses artificial mechanisms to simulate itself and evolve, implying that technologies are a biased product of the organic life that created them and not a completely separate object. Her work questions the potential of artificial intelligence in artistic practice and its ability to reshape our understanding of creativity.

Entangled Others is the shared studio practice of artists Feileacan McCormick and Sofia Crespo. Their work focuses on ecology, nature, and generative arts, with an emphasis on providing the new, more-than-human forms with a presence and life in digital space. This involves exploring questions of relationship, biodiversity and awareness through biology-inspired technologies. In turn, they highlight how through conscious efforts, new technology can be used to bring attention and awareness to the unseen, with which we are tightly interwoven.


Artists: Robertina Šebjanič, Sofia Crespo, Feileacan McCormick

Consultancy: Matjaž Ličer, Marko Vivoda, Rok Pahor

Mechanical part development: Scenart, Ljubljana

Special thanks: Alan Ixba, Manja Rogelja & Aquarium Piran and Borut Jerman

Production: PiNA, 2021

Post-production: Kino Šiška, 2021 (Project manager: Anja Zver)

The spatial installation (without performance) AquA(I)formings will be also on view on 12th November, 2021, between 15.00 and 21.00.


Ticket (performance Aquatocene and AquA(I)formings (both 11. 11.)): 7 eur

Ticket (performance Atlantic Tales (18. 11.)): 7 eur

Combined Ticket (11. in 18. 11.): 11 eur

Ticket (spatial installation AquA(I)formings (12. 11.)): 4 eur

Ticket (spatial installation Atlantic Tales (19. 11.)): 4 eur

Tickets can also be purchased with the BON21 voucher at the Kino Šiška box office from Monday to Friday between 3 and 8 PM or on the day of the event. You can read more about the requirements for using the voucher on the Financial Administration of the Republic of Slovenia website.

When entering the venue during public cultural events, applicable public health regulations must be observed, including presenting required proof of recovery, vaccination or negative test result and valid ID document. As proof of compliance with the requirement, an EU digital COVID Certificate in digital or paper form, equipped with a QR code (text messages are not valid), may be submitted, or another certificate or proof in accordance with regulations, which the competent person shall verify by inspecting the submitted certificate or proof.

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