“Assemblies” is an installation comprised of three elements that explore human intervention and habitation on Earth from different perspectives. Inspired by “archipelagic thinking” by Édouard Glissant, it investigates sustainable, ecologically, and socially informed urban planning and housing construction and broader considerations about how space is designed, experienced, shared, and lived.

The first one, a scale model of a part of the Barcelona Eixample neighborhood built from biodegradable materials, is inhabited by insects that transform and redesign the habitat to fulfill their needs, creating a metaphor related to human life in the city that will also contribute to generating the other components of the installation.

The second component, a 3D model of a city area in Barcelona that juxtaposes a Calatrava mega project against a historical farmhouse, is presented as a real-time modified hologram tracking the movement of the insects that inhabit the Eixample model. The hologram includes a 15th-century farmhouse, currently home to unhoused people, and the Pont de Bac de Roda, a bridge designed by Santiago Calatrava, arguably foisted on the neighborhood of Sant Andreu to alleviate issues around poverty and inequality.

In the third component, images from Menut, a Catalan nanosatellite, are decomposed and reconstructed as a projection through the lens of operational images using real-time data from temperature and humidity sensors placed on the Eixample representation. The Menut is a microsatellite launched by the Catalan Space Agency. Its mission is the observation of the Earth to improve spatial planning and to help control and combat the effects of the climate crisis.

The installation uses spatial sound as a compositional consideration, spatially distributed throughout the installation, composed of field recordings of Barcelona, contact recordings of the insects, playful artifacts, digital noise, and reverb. The sound moves through the space in an awkwardly placed array of speakers. Attendees are invited to consider perspective as they become aware of how their experience of sound changes depending on their location in the space.

The installation employs the relational metaphor of an island archipelago and the “sea of islands” by Epeli Hau’ofa in connecting people, space, and time. It rejects the colonial designation of “center” and “periphery” highlighting a global relationality of “dialogue” and “flow” in affirming the interconnectedness of islands in an archipelago, arguing against the drawing of boundaries central to colonialism. 

“Assemblies” affirms collaborative approaches and the traces of thinking and practices across time and space. It encourages attendees to imagine and demand radical initiatives to create equitable, liveable, and sustainable communities and environments.

Interactive Art Installation
Immensiva Art Residency
Espronceda Institute of Art and Culture
APR 25 – 26, 2024
Piece dimensions:
Width 4m × 4m × Height 5m

Gerard Valls Montaño
Rachel Heavey
Ryan Cherewaty

Supported by
Catalan Ministry of Culture
Spanish Ministry of Culture
Barcelona Cultura