Artistic Research

Scientific images have always served as a valuable source for climate and geo-risk research, education and dissemination purposes for academic and non-academic audiences. In most of the cases, however, audiovisual media are still unfamiliar tools for most geoscientists and film usually plays a role only at the very end of research – for illustrating theories for classroom teaching or for popularising geoscience. These are important elements of using film, but the medium has a much bigger translational potential to respond to novel methodological requirements: In the light of the close entanglement of social and environmental, material and immaterial processes, dominant disciplinary paradigms and dualistic worldviews are increasingly questioned, and a novel responsibility is placed on scientists’ shoulders regarding the sustainability and the social dimension of their communication attempts. Major international frameworks such as the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 (SFDRR), the 2015 COP21 Agreement in Paris, or the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) point out the necessity of more integrated, participatory, and solution-oriented methodologies with a focus on prevention, adaptation, and the role of technological advances. In order to make these frameworks effectual, a more critical use of film as a key science communication medium and method plays an important role.

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Towards a Visual Geology (Literature Review accompanied by Video Work)


The aim of this interdisciplinary literature review is to help to rethink the current use of audiovisual media in geology, given the methodological challenges of science communication in the Anthropocene. After an evaluation of key literature on on the current use of film in geology, it will introduce literature from other research fields, such as visual anthropology, film geography, climate and environmental communication, or risk communication, that have gained a broad experience in using film as a method and medium for different engagements. In addition to theoretical considerations over audiovisual media, these encompass practice-based explorations of representational issues, the use of film within inter- and transdisciplinary formats, or the exploration of the phenomenological, artistic qualities of film. It will then synthesise how these insights could help to reassess the geology´s relationship with audiovisual media and outline potential research avenues and practical applications that could help drawing the contours of a “Visual Geology”.


Earthquake Risk Communication as Dialogue – Video-Based Insights from a Workshop in Istanbul´s Urban Renewal Neighbourhoods

Journal: NHESS/HESS inter-journal SI
Special Issue: Effective Science Communication and Education in Hydrology and Natural Hazards
Published in January 2016
An important paradox of hazard communication is that the more effectively a potential physical threat is made public by the scientist, the more readily the scientific message becomes normalised into the daily discourses of ordinary life. As a result, a heightened risk awareness does not necessarily motivate personal or collective preparedness. If geoscientists are to help at-risk communities adopt meaningful measures to protect themselves, new strategies are needed for public communication and community engagement. This paper outlines an attempt to develop a novel approach to train geoscientists, using early career researchers in an EU integrated training network studying tectonic processes and geohazards in Turkey. An urban field visit to seismically-vulnerable neighbourhoods in Istanbul allowed the researchers to meet with local residents facing the seismic threat. Those meetings exposed the complex social, political and cultural concerns among Istanbul’s at-risk urban communities. These concerns were used to provoke subsequent focus group discussions among the group of geoscientists about roles, responsibilities and methods of communicating hazard information to the public. Through the direct testimony of local residents and geoscientists, we explore the form that new strategies for public communication and community engagement might take.
Link to the Article:


From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern

An ARC GIS STORY MAP on the Istanbul Earthquake Risk 

Picture Transtech Website_Johanna

Istanbul has one of the highest seismic vulnerabilities in the world. However, citizens often perceive the earthquake risk as spatially and temporally remote and there is a significant lack of citizen seismic preparedness. Many non-specialists, who are affected by the disaster risk and its likely future consequences have little or no contact with academic publications often rely on media-based information, to form and guide opinion. Academic risk information is usually very technical, difficult to access, and does only insufficiently incorporate a sociocultural dimension of risk, or important local parameters relevant for inhabitants to take preparedness actions in their neighbourhood. Media coverage usually follows a fear-based approach and often provides scientifically inaccurate information. In addition, public risk maps, for example, published by the Istanbul municipality, are often seen as an instrument for urban planning and prone to be manipulated because of economic or political interests. Hazard scientists are thus faced with a highly politicised societal context, complicating their ability to effectively communicate to the public. It is, therefore, promising to portray independent scientific results derived from specialist research in ways that make them not only understandable for a non-specialized audience but also to develop modes of information diffusion that essentially democratise the understanding gained, given the politicised context of seismic risk communication in Istanbul. An ARC GIS story map on the Istanbul earthquake risk, so the assumption of this article, has the potential to counter some of the barriers of communication.


From Scientific Literacy to Transformative Literacy

An Evaluation of Video-based Science Communication Training Tools
Current science communication courses mainly focus on skill development related to being more effective in explaining scientific phenomena, but very few support skills to meaningfully engage with members of the public. This article argues that the use of audiovisual methods can be a promising tool that allows scientists to be active participants in translating the scientific and human dimension of their research to the public. Through the process of filmmaking, scientists can gain important insights into their work, its impact and their intentions. However, the use of film in science communication training is still an under-researched activity.
This article provides an in-depth evaluation of 2 film-based science communication workshops for geoscientists. It analyses the different film-based exercises in terms of how they helped participants to find their key messages, audiences and storytelling techniques. It also follows the question if and how the exercises helped the participants to develop skills that are often “overlooked” by conventional science communication courses:
Critical reflexivity on methods and disciplinary paradigms, empathy and active listening skills, media literacy, as well as creativity are nowadays prerequisites for an effective science communication that can be enhanced through audiovisual methods.



The present studies and the associated doctoral research were generously funded as part of the Marie Curie Integrated Training Network on ‘Anatolian pLateau climatE and Tectonic hazards’ (ALErT). I express my gratitude to the ALErT doctoral and postdoctoral students for their active participation in the workshop, and especially to Prof. Iain Stewart and Prof. Alison Anderson for their excellent supervision. I am indebted for the advisory contribution from Dr. Martha Blassnigg, whose untimely death during the study was a major loss, and for the wider transdisciplinary science community.