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Wandering Snail

This project takes as its base a shared interest in a creature, Radix balthica, the wandering snail. Widespread throughout north western Europe, it was first identified as a type by Linnaeus, who collected it on the Swedish island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea. Linnaeus first named it Helix balthica, but it has undergone several re-classifications since. It inhabits a wide diversity of habitat types, including temporary ponds and ditches and brackish waters, where sea and fresh waters collide, crossover and mingle. No-one quite knows how this creature disperses. It has been surmised it travels on the feet of birds, an involuntary arriviste, a directionless nomad, with a tolerance for temporary dryness. Resilient and adaptive, it becomes common, overlooked and local.

The installation is an improvised rigging of laboratory vessels and technology developed with support from laboratory technicians skilled in researching and constructing variouslaboratory setups. The application of data (lab and field) has been developed through the work – investigating the control of lighting, sonification and physical vibration of elements in the installation. One aspect of the data explored is the connection of the name “Radixbalthica”, the snail, and “Radix Sort” a computer science based sorting algorithm. We are interested in the interplay between a snail (a messy biological entity under scientific

observation and the subject of experimentation) and an algorithm (dating back to 1887 and the development of tabulating machines) that sorts and orders data sets.