Investigator: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Michael Wagreich, University Vienna
Co-Principal Investigator: Univ.-Ass. Mag.art. Katrin
Hornek, University of Applied Arts Vienna, Dept Site-Specific Art
Team members: Kira Lappé, Maria Meszar MSc, University
Duration of project: 01.01.2018 - 31.12.2021
Cooperation partners: Municipal Dept 29 Foundation Engineering
– Christine Jawecki, City Archaeology Vienna – Martin Mosser, Geological Survey of Austria – Clemens Porpaczy, University
of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna – Erich Draganits, Matt Edgeworth (Department of Archaeology & Anthropology,
University of Cambridge)
Funding: WWTF, Emerging Field Grant (Faculty of Earth Sciences, Geography and Astronomy)
The term Anthropocene is widely used today, and has become the epitome for human-driven
global change. In the geosciences, it stands for human intervention in geological processes and the traces left by humans
in sediment records. From the perspective of the humanities and the arts, current (post-)anthropocene debates question changing
narratives and relations of terms like “culture“ and “nature“.
On this basis, researchers of both the University
of Vienna and the University of Applied Arts Vienna, under the direction of the sedimentologist Michael Wagreich, are mapping,
quantifying and contextualising Vienna’s anthropogenic layers of rubble, and thus contributing to the current debate regarding
a new geological era.
The interdisciplinary research project works with different methods from various fields.
On the one hand, the spatial and chronological development of the Anthropocene from the ancient Romans until today is implemented
into a GIS (geographical information system) and reconstructed as a three-dimensional model using historical maps and existing
databases such as drill core data, respectively data from the Viennese Urban Archaeology Division. One challenge here lies
in how to render blind spots through spatial interpolation methods, where no real data is available.
On the other hand, the
increase in anthropogenic influence is investigated by geochemical methods. To characterise and differentiate the layers in
the sedimentation archive, samples are examined for their heavy metal content to be able to draw material-based time horizons.
Parallel to this, the visual artist Katrin Hornek is working on an essay film that maps the fabric of Vienna’s anthropogenic
underground in terms of space, time, mass, sprawl, history and accumulation rates of both the physical strata and their digital
representative. As a result, the digitalisation process of Vienna’s sub-surface is followed into a geo-referenced landscape
modeled in 3D — from the physical sample to its data record, from terrestrial body to avatar, from location to geo-location.
Points of contact between the analog and digital domains are analysed in order to trace potential correlations and proliferating
networks they may have formed.