Teacup Tools is an array of cybernetic teacups, adapting themselves to the realm of climate-related sciences. The work appears as a multifunctional tool for the investigation of micro clouds above tea, for communication and for tea drinking. The tea and its clouds are made from anything falling from the sky: aerosols, residues, rain and data computation. It is literally boiled by the calculations of the massive amount of collected data. The sculptures have a nomadic quality. Like parasites they can be found next to aerosolˡ measurement stations, in parks, on streets, on roofs or in the neighborhood of research laboratories. The Global Teacup Network draws attention to the investigation of the invisible and borderless air and its aerosolsˡ—tiny particles of organic and inorganic matter, with a major impact on cloud formation, crucial to weather and climate.
ˡAerosol =“solution of particles in air (ancient Greek “a-er” = “air”; Latin “solutus” = “dissolved”).
Based on the observation that a tea does not give off steam in clean air as it lacks the aerosols, I developed a tool and method for instant aerosol visualization and communication. It started simply by Having Tea with a Tree and the invitation to scientists to do so as well. (TreeTeaTable Hyytiälä, 2013). The method grew into a cybernetic sculpture, which will develop into a Global Teacup Network. The first functioning Teacup Tool prototype was tested and installed at the SMEAR forest research station (Station for Measuring Ecosystem Atmosphere Relations) in Hyytiälä Finland. It was placed between aerosol collectors and other instruments to measure air quality and chamber measurements to measure emissions of trees, tree trunks, forest soil and leaves.
What Is a Teacup Tool?
The Teacup Tool is a multifunctional tool for the investigation of micro clouds above tea, for communication and for tea drinking. It consists of a table and machinery for raising two or more teacups individually. Various measuring instruments are built in and onto the tea cups, measuring the environment of the cup. The energy produced by these instruments heats the inside of the cups and brews tea from rainwater and the residues that have fallen into it. This tea produces a little cloud that contains the essence of the local air. The cloud again feeds back into the system as a subject of investigation by the tools connected to the cup. The teacups move up and down individually, according to certain aspects related to the collected data and environmental processes, dancing an endless choreography determined by raindrops and clouds, particles, measurements and tea drinking. Using a mobile phone one can log into the local Teacup Tool Wifi to look at the real-time data and curve written by the dancing teacups, listen to a Data Tango, and get more information on the Global Teacup Network and its climates.
Based on this prototype the project aims at the development of a global network of Teacup Tools. These tools and tables would be set up at various places, near aerosol measurement stations, in parks, on streets, on roofs or in the neighborhood of research laboratories. The tea and its clouds will be made from whatever the environment provides. In a field of science where the things measured show up as digits that are subject to interpretation, the sculptures interrupt the routines and circumstances science is built on. Being placed among other machines that execute scientific tasks, the public can stumble upon these sculptures and wonder what this is about. Everybody can enjoy a tea, log in locally or globally and find out more about this strange network of dancing teacups and the climate they are built for and, last but not least, change the climate by interacting.
Agnes Meyer-Brandis (DE), born in 1973, studied mineralogy for a year, then transferred to the Art Academy in Maastricht, the Düsseldorf Art Academy and the Cologne Media Art Academy. She comes from a background of both sculpture and new media art. Her work, awarded and exhibited worldwide, is at the experimental edge of art and science, exploring the zone between fact and fiction. Agnes Meyer-Brandis is the founder of the Forschungsfloss FFUR / Research Raft for Subterranean Reefology, a small institute whose chief aim is to explore and confirm subterranean phenomena and unknown life-forms. Since 2007 her focus of investigation has moved to higher altitude with its associated realities. She realized an artistic experiment in weightlessness in cooperation with the German Space Agency DLR. In 2011 she started breeding Moon Geese in Italy.
The project was developed at the SMEAR forest research station (Station for Measuring Ecosystem Atmosphere Relations) in Hyytiälä Finland, in the scope of the Climate Whirl Project, a collaboration between the Department of Forest Sciences, the Department of Physics (University of Helsinki), Simosol Oy and Capsula. Supported by Kone Foundation, University of Helsinki and Aalto Biofilia.
Hyytiälä Forest Station Team
Software/hardware: Ralf Baecker
Practical assistance: Kat Clear
TSI images: US Department of Energy Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program (US DOE ARM Program)
Violin: Aino Korrensalo