The Arctic is simultaneously a zone of crucial contemporary geopolitical controversy and a space with an opportunity for transnational, circumpolar, and intercultural cooperation and collaboration. In light of the effects of climate change, the indiscriminate economic exploitation of untapped reservoirs of energy and natural resources in the Polar Regions is increasingly feasible and inevitable. Unfortunately, because of vested geopolitical and economic interests, all of this is happening without taking into account that there are determined native cultures inhabiting the whole of the circumpolar territories. The Arctic Perspective Initiative (API), a transnational art, science, and culture work group, intends to direct attention to the global cultural and ecological significance of the Polar Regions. API aims to do this through the empowerment of the local citizens of the North via new communications, sensing, aggregation, transmission and information sharing through participatory and open technology methodologies.
API and the local stakeholders will create the framework conditions for collaborative projects between aboriginal cultures, artists, hunters, scientists, tactical media workers, and engineers in the Arctic within three broad topical fields: migration, climate, and telecommunications. In order to address these issues, API’s current activities include the development, installation, and deployment of mobile, sustainable, zero-impact modular research units, open-source Information and Communications Technology (ICT) literacy workshops, and presentation activities within the circumpolar regions. API’s mandate is to understand and address systems of migration, climate, and telecommunications; each sharing complex mathematics, a dynamic matrix, and global reach through scientific and poetic terms.
API is establishing an open, international call for the design of the first of the research systems. These systems are envisioned as mobile media-centric facilities and life support modules that will allow tactical media workers, local stakeholders, scientists, hunters, and community members to create, live and work collaboratively on the land, physically separated from the settlements yet connected through new communication technologies and sensor networks. This unit will serve as a model for sustainable, low-impact, yet high tech saturated creation and research in polar conditions.
In addition to the physical and technological systems, a key component of the project is the development of an open structure for the dissemination of content, research, and design results and a set of open data policy and participation guidelines. These guidelines can be extended for use by a variety of organizations and individuals within native, scientific, cultural, and academic projects and activities. Thus, with the establishment of an open communications infrastructure, the mobile, on-land media-centric units will serve as a model for an empowered mediated mobility for the Northern citizens, which is one of the primary long-term aims of the API.
Rather than giving a voice to popular science, the present project intends to strengthen the territory of artistic research which, in the context of this project, includes indigenous cultures and traditional knowledge. Both cultures, that of art as we describe it and that of science, value human curiosity, creativity, and the desire to understand and represent the unknown. The initiators of this project believe that precisely differing epistemologies and forms of knowledge production can be used effectively in the proposed collaborative matrix—primarily by also taking into account the geopolitical setting and the sociopolitical conditions that are to be encountered in the Polar Regions of the world and beyond.