The Amazon Rainforest: an important „Critical Zone“ of the Earth

21. Juli 2020
Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry teamed up with Brazilian filmmaker Barbara Marcel, who embarked on an adventure to capture different exchanges in the Amazon Rainforest. She visited the joint Brazilian-German research station ATTO with local communicators and activists caring about their environment. You can now see what they experienced in a video installation called “Ciné-Cipó - Cine Liana” as part of the exhibition "Critical Zones - Observatories for Earthly Politics" by the ZKM (Zentrum für Kunst und Medien) Karlsruhe.

Together with the two Amazonian local activists Natalina do Carmo and Milena Raquel Tupinambá from Tapajos, filmmaker Barbara Marcel and her team travelled to our ATTO research station last year. The activists wanted to learn about the daily lives of the scientists working at this observatory in the remote Amazon. But they also wanted to know what the aim of the tower is, and what benefit it brings to the local communities and indigenous people. While our research at ATTO is all about the exchange between the forest, atmosphere and soil, this visit was about the exchange between the scientists, who study the forest, and the communities who call the forest their home: an exchange fueled by curiosity and mutual respect.

The videos will take you on an exciting journey of discovery. You can witness Natalina and Milena telling the international scientists about the healing properties and sacral meaning of the trees studied at ATTO. In return ecologists explain to them how indigenous communities have inadvertently domesticated the forest for centuries. Go along for the ride as the activists climb the ATTO tall tower to broadcast their community radio, sharing what they have learned on the trip of a lifetime while overlooking the rainforest.

The project “ciné-cipó - cine liana” consists of six videos featuring different episodes of the activists’ journey. It was commissioned by the ZKM Karlsruhe, with additional funding from Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry and the Instituto Serrapilheira, and with support from the INPA-National Institute of Amazonas Research and Goethe-Institut São Paulo. Many of our ATTO scientists, as well as lots of colleagues from the INPA were involved – look out for them when you watch! In addition to the episodes, you can enjoy a 7-minute trailer on YouTube introducing into the journey.

The exhibition “Critical Zones - Observatories for Earthly Politics” keeps our ATTO films online in the virtual exhibition until the end of July. They will be shown in a physical space at the ZKM in Karlsruhe, Germany on July 24, 2020 and will be open to the public until February 2021. Due to the Corona pandemic, the exhibition had to be postponed from its original May opening, and has been moved temporarily into an online space.

Conceived as an “exhibition of ideas”, the project works with artists, researchers and activists to explore the concept of “critical zones” which is used in geochemistry, biology, and ecology. “Critical zones” describes the thin layer of the Earth in which living organisms, soil and water mutually impact one another. The exhibition is available in its virtual space here:
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