Forests as Environmental Media: Vegetalizing a Smart Forests Atlas – a workshop with Jennifer Gabrys

BEK 12.09.2023 13.09.2023


As part of the upcoming symposium “The Only Lasting Truth is Change 2023”, BEK invites artists, scholars and foresters to the workshop “Forests as Environmental Media: Vegetalizing a Smart Forests Atlas” led by researcher, writer, and practitioner Jennifer Gabrys.

Environmental digital technologies are now planetary in scope, monitoring oceans and farms, cities and atmospheres. Remote sensing satellites and in-situ sensors, Lidar and environmental robots are deployed to monitor, manage, and transform environments. In this context, forests have also become increasingly digitalized. Digitally monitored forests connect to expanded networks for documenting and managing a changing planet. Whether to prevent deforestation or enhance carbon storage, smart forest technologies are often programmed to optimize or augment forest services for addressing the climate crisis. 

While digital media are transforming forests, at the same time, forests are also environmental media. Environmental events course through them as they record longer durations of environmental change and sense seasonal variations in ways that offer a different form of analog computation. In this sense, forests perform computational functions. Yet they do this in complex and extended communities over vast stretches of time. In so doing, they rework the scope of what computation is and how it could operate in and on the world. 

This workshop will explore these different ways of engaging with computation across digital, organismal, and ecological processes. We will consider processes of computing forests and forests that compute by looking at the proliferation of digital technologies that monitor and manage forests while also asking how forests vegetalize technology. We will undertake a walk in the woodlands around Bergen to understand current forest land-use practices while discussing the role of technology and technics as they are co-constituted with environments. By engaging with the Smart Forests Atlas research infrastructure and network, we will collect, document, and propose different approaches to smart forests and vegetalized technologies through field observations, new collectives, and vegetal policies for flourishing forest environments.

The workshop will consist of two sessions taking place at BEK and forest areas around Bergen.

Time: 12 September 14:00–17:00 and 13 September 11:00–16:00
Location: BEK, C. Sundts gate 55 and forest areas.
Participation: Participation is in person only, and the workshop will be held in English.
Registration: Sign-up by e-mailing by 8 September. Limited places available. 
Fee for participation: Free


Jennifer Gabrys is Chair in Media, Culture and Environment in the Department of Sociology at the University of Cambridge. She leads the Planetary Praxis research group and is Principal Investigator on the ERC-funded project, Smart Forests: Transforming Environments into Social-Political Technologies. She is the author of Citizens of Worlds: Open-Air Toolkits for Environmental Struggle (2022); Program Earth: Environmental Sensing Technology and the Making of a Computational Planet (2016); and Digital Rubbish: A Natural History of Electronics (2011). She co-edits the “Planetarities” short-monograph series published through Goldsmiths Press. Her work can be found at and

The Only Lasting Truth is Change 

The Only Lasting Truth is Change is an expanded symposium investigating current and future configurations of art, technology, nature and power, taking place in Bergen and online 17-18 November, with satellite events throughout the autumn. See the detailed symposium programme here.

The symposium is organised by BEK with support from Norsk kulturråd, Fritt Ord, Bergen kommune, KORO, Bergesenstiftelsen, and in cooperation with Ekko, Østre. It is part of New Perspectives for Action – a project by Re-Imagine Europe, co-funded by the European Union.


BEK’s space unfortunately is not wheelchair accessible. Please send us an email at if you’re using a wheelchair, and we’ll do our best to facilitate your needs. Our space has all gender toilet facilities. Service dogs are welcome. We also provide the option of a quiet room.

Photos: Jennifer Gabrys