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  1. 2023 | Winter Demo Day/

Sound Design in Art and Science - Case Study: The Rabarba - Branching Realities Project

Master's Thesis

Edit Blaumann, Marija Sumarac, Sólja Holm Mortensen - Rabarba

Rabarba is an exploration in the field of speculative design presented through a spatial sound installation. Rabarba, a network of European Maker communities, has created an innovative solution that involves the use of soft robotic sand worms, known as Wÿrms. In this future world, the primary focus of the economy is on recovery and addressing the consequences of the twentieth century. However, there is a lack of large-scale, coordinated efforts to safeguard the global environment, resulting in patchwork solutions to combat the impact of climate change, of which Rabarba has developed a unique approach to tackling drought, the Wÿrms.

These tiny robots have been designed to protect underground water reserves by utilising sensors, hosted by the local communities, to monitor the moisture content of soil and other environmental factors. Orchestrated by AI, the Wÿrms use algorithms fine-tuned by local hackers to locate areas with high water retention potential and create small underground reservoirs to store water for later use. By biomimicking the branch structures found in nature, Wÿrms help redistribute water during periods of low rainfall.

The world of Rabarba offers a fascinating glimpse into what the future could hold, where humans and machines can coexist inspired by nature and empowered by technology. This techno-organic world where power is no longer concentrated in centralised institutions, but rather in smaller, more agile actors that operate on a local level.