Palermo, a meditative installation to listen to the Oreto River. U-DATInos is born.

An “info-aesthetic” artwork will be installed at the mouth of the Oreto River in Palermo: between data, sensors and workshops, U-DATInos was born from the desire to take care of a territory (the southeastern coast of Palermo), to question the future of the Oreto River (long in a state of neglect, pollution and degradation, now the subject of initiatives to recover it and return it to the community) and to investigate the relationship with the environment, experimenting with new ways to connect to it through data.

The project is carried out by the artist/researcher duo Iaconesi-Persico, winner of the Creative Living Lab II edition call for proposals, and promoted by the MiBACT Directorate General for Contemporary Creativity; it involves the citizens of Palermo, as it is ameditative installation aimed at “listening” to the water of the Oreto River.

A participatory artistic act where data, conceived as an existential question and space of expression, becomes a shared and accessible experience to get in touch with environmental issues, such as the state of a city’s water.

The project is divided into four key moments:

- THE WORKSHOPS: Fifteen people, including citizens and Academy students, will become Palermo’s “water keepers.” Equipped with sensors, they will learn how to collect data on the state of water, transmit and communicate them.

- DATA GENERATION: Participants will carry out participatory data collection on the waters of the Oreto River.

- THE WORK: powered by the data from the collection, a “generative” artwork will come alive with sound and light, giving voice to the city’s waters, informing, with continuous updates, on the condition of the waters based on the data that emerged.

- THE MEETING: The presentation of the artwork to the public will be an opportunity for residents, researchers, students and institutions to discuss how data, art and computation can be useful in addressing issues such as pollution, climate change or pandemic, with an eye toward the future of the Oreto River.

On Friday, Oct. 23 from 3 p.m., there will be a Facebook live broadcast on the Ecomuseo Mare Memoria Viva and HER pages, where the U-DATInos team will talk about the meaning of the project and upcoming actions.

For students of Palermo’s academies, citizens, associations, activists, arts, technology and environment enthusiasts, two free workshops with mandatory registration, on Nov. 14 and Nov. 21 at Ecomuseo Mare Memoria Viva. For info: or write to

“The project starts with people and empowering them to generate data, but also to take care of it, critique it and enjoy it,” state artists Iaconesi and Persico. “The fifteen workshop participants will be given sensors to learn how to collect data not as an extractive practice, but as a generative practice that arises in reciprocity and collaboration. The work will feed on this process: on the mouth of the Oreto we will try to experiment with new rituals that connect us to the waters of Palermo, to become sensitive to the environment and imagine new alliances between human and non-human actors, art and science, innovation and society. This can be summarized in two words: social imagination. An imagination of the possible that we cannot give up, that affects us all, in which data and research finally live in the midst of society.”

“The Ecomuseum is located right next to the mouth of the Oreto River,” added Cristina Alga, U-DATInos project manager and coordinator of the Mare Memoria Viva team. “The river is something that concerns us, it’s presence: we know how much biodiversity there is and how much movement flows between concrete, reeds, migratory birds and garbage. Iaconesi/Persico’s artistic proposal perfectly interprets what Mare Memoria Viva Ecomuseum wants to be and do for the river, the waters, the territory. Being ”custodians“ does not mean preserving in isolation, it means becoming facilitators, opening to possibilities for life, making known, making understood, making felt. For three years there has been a committee of citizens of different ages, political views and backgrounds that, relying only on perseverance and self-organization, has succeeded in bringing attention and love back to the river, involved institutions and obtained funding for regeneration. The ecomuseum, as a collective and participatory space, dedicates this project to all the water-sensitive citizens who in recent years have not stopped fighting so that the Oreto River would not stop flowing.” “When we started conceiving the project it was June 2018,” recalls the curator, Arianna Forte. "At this historical moment, U-DATInos becomes an even more important and urgent project. In U-DATInos, the artistic practice of the Persico/Iaconesi duo becomes the means for the communities activated by Mare Memoria Viva to ’act’, through collaborative data collection, on an issue of collective importance such as pollution. At the conclusion of this process, in January 2021, the work will be unveiled: a “datapoetic” installation that, in line with the artists’ previous research, will allow people to get in touch with the data through a synaesthetic combination of light and sound, so that they can “feel” the flow of information collected."

Palermo, a meditative installation to listen to the Oreto River. U-DATInos is born.
Palermo, a meditative installation to listen to the Oreto River. U-DATInos is born.

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