Collective Mapping of the Critical Zone

by Maria Particia Tinajero and Lisa Taliano

English | Spanish

A trans-disciplinary ecological art project that invites artists to map the activity and interactions of the living and non-living entities that jointly create the critical zone in their immediate surroundings.  The critical zone is the thin fragile skin, or biofilm, on the earths surface where all living organisms exist – everything we’ve ever known or experienced is in this tiny zone, spanning from the treetops to the bedrock, a few kilometers up and a few kilometers down. There is a great deal that we don’t know about the earth system, such as how soil is formed, or the role of microorganisms in producing the atmosphere that makes life possible.  It’s like landing on a different planet, and having to remap the earth from scratch, not in terms of fixed, homogenized, points of latitude and longitude, but in terms of dynamic heterogeneous processes, involving a new way of seeing the world, not as a framework or backdrop to human activity, but as having agency. The environment is not given, it is created, by all the living and non-living entities which are continually acting upon each other. The world has agency, as do all the entities in it, all of which participate in the activity of creating the CZ. This map will be a view of the world from the inside, as represented by internal processes, one which recognizes are enmeshed-ness and inability to step outside of the system, blurring the subject/object distinction.

The methodology includes an invitation to artists, philosophers, scientist, and activists to collaborate on collective representations of the world, as experienced from our immediate lived environment. Representations in the form of mappings that trace and record the multi-layer interaction, trajectories and overlapping activity of humans and non-humans, living and non-living beings, in making the critical zone.

There are two ways of participating in the project.

  1. You can create a visual, acoustic or descriptive map of the living and non-living entities that make the critical zone in which you live, and give a brief description of how you do this. 
  2. From the perspective of processes and relationships, create a representation of how you imagine the shape of the earth to be based on your experience in the critical zone

We encourage trans-disciplinary entries. Activists, scientists, and philosophers can participate by submitting a ten page paper.

We have compiled a list of critical zone related resources to help you situate the project, and offer the following link as a source of inspiration and research tool.


This is an experimental collaboration that begins in the middle. We will kick off the project with open conversations and installations of invited artists presenting their work. The submitted work for the open call participation will be added to the installation throughout the duration of the show with special events in which the participating artists have the opportunity to present their work.

To submit your work for consideration complete the form and upload files here Submission Form.

Casimir Effect 1022 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10021