Field Station e.V. Manifesto | 10.01.2016 Berlin, Germany


The impetus to found a new non-profit organization named Field Station is based on a number of past, current and speculative events, thoughts, and discussions generated by an increasing sense of irritation within our communities across the planet, where growing external forces[1] dictate local conditions, shattering well established systems. The Anthropocene is the new era where nature is governed by humanity, and the world we inhabit is engineered without design. This new geological strata records our industrial emissions and waste, industrial-scale crop pollens, desertification, urban sprawl and the extinction of species. The Anthropocene is scientifically proven fact, but its shape and meaning are open questions for politics, economics, science, art, etc.; addressing these questions may assist us in overcoming the discrepancies between scientific demonstration and the cultural domain in order to regain their balances and symmetries.

How can we save The World from its current course?

The question is a provocation, a call to address the shapes and meanings of the Anthropocene. Are there models and methods to shift the status quo? If yes, then what tools are available or required to shape and define them?

The Status Quo

The contemporary discourse in politics on globalization and climate related issues seems bound to fail[2], our tools are obsolete and our politicians continue projecting nature as: “pulling strings to change props”, satisfying their moods, polls and swinging people's opinions and emotions. Latour points out, our newspaper headlines are frightening (coastal flooding, famine, deforestation, etc.), the media coins them “ecological crises”. Latour is quick to note “the term crisis is too reassuring; it suggests it will sometime pass”[3]. The emerging realities are beyond our imagination.

The internet, social networks and smartphones, etc., of the Information Age lead to a “democratization” of information, enabling us to act differently today than we could a few years ago. We are now a knowledge-based society. This is apparent in informal collective actions, such as: flash mobbing, crowd funding, crowd sourcing, mass customization, internet of things, etc. These changes threaten bureaucratic establishments, effectively by-passing them and rendering them obsolete. The current refugee “crisis” in Europe exemplifies how multi-agent systems self-organize, sharing information to find gateways before our large bureaucratic authorities and municipalities agree on procedures addressing their flows[4]. This phenomenon is similar to ant and bee colonies, passing information forwards and backwards along their networks by trial and error, as a means of effectively finding breakthroughs, while avoiding redundancy[5]. Similar systems playing out in the Middle East (the wars) and in the streets of Europe (the terrorism) demonstrate the power of spontaneous group action and public craft[6] locally at play, underlining the role of media agency in channeling events globally. Here we witness digital media put to use by the “good” and the “bad”. These game changers are reshaping our world. To curb these effects governments censor information, we see this happening around the planet, and as far out as our space satellites and probes; our privacy, freedom and liberties are at risk.

These are just a few of the current events in our world urging us to reevaluate our outdated modes of thinking and operating.

Field Station

Field Station conceives agency of natural phenomena, social phenomena, spatial phenomena and their discourse as: hybrids made by, and scrutinized by public interaction of people, things and concepts[7]. The premise is organisms, tools, artifacts, deities, spirits, and technical procedures be no longer regarded as environmental resources, limiting factors or working tools; but rather as: habitats, media, actors and agents interacting in given situations with people[8]. In essence we claim all things are interconnected, that humans are not a superior species, instead they are members of complexly organized and balanced ecosystems. The purpose of Field Station is to comparatively observe, address and create awareness of the Anthropocene with new questions, tools, models and strategies framed by an informal transparent secure democratic self-organized multi-agent hybrid synaptic open source network.

The primary question is: how do the systems work; how can we document and capture systemic nature-human relations? Secondly, how can this information assist developing new methods and media for intercommunication between actors and agents? Lastly how can we consciously act within the systems?

Member field stations go “through the looking glass”[9] of their local habitats to discover what is found there. The network is a gradient, a “net that we throw out at sea without knowing what it will catch”[10]. Each member field station is self organized (site, team and agenda) by on-site field agents and local actors to operate and to pursue active field studies; member field stations may be new establishments or existing ones i.e.: there are many existing field stations around the world with established research programs; however the missing link between them is a public network interconnecting, comparing and contrasting them. Member field stations are part of the Field Station network which lies at the core of the project; it is a playing field where member field stations can store and share information to shape and define the network as it grows and adapts. Field Station assists member station agents manage and disseminate information; helping local actors (environments, citizens, governments, researchers, industry, etc.) adapt within the network context and evaluate their strategic options. Field Station guides member stations to obtain tools and information to document their studies: field books, prototypes, applications, privacy and security, networks, contacts, conferences, workshops, seminars, publications, etc.

Field Station allows users to profile their connected environment and create logical connections between field stations, field agents, field sensors and devices, and the Field Station network. Field Station enables field agents to consolidate their connected field sensors into one application. Through data correlation and adaptive learning, field agents are able to see all their connected devices data in one chronological data stream, obtaining meaningful insights about their environment. Field Station mediates data correlation and interoperability between member field stations.