8 March 2024

Event name: How do the oceans feel our impact? Robertina Šebjanič in conversation with Tatiana Kourotchkina, on aqua_forensic 
Date: Friday, the 8th of March, 2024
Location: Sant Pau Art Nouveau Site, Pavilion of Sant Manuel. Carrer de Sant Antoni Maria Claret, 167, 08025 Barcelona
Time: 12:00-13:00

This event is free of charge, however due to limited capacity, and to access  Sant Pau Art Nouveau Site, reservation of a seat is necessary, and can be made by using this form.


In the conversation with Tatiana Kourochkina, the artist R. Šebjanič will discuss her work research that involves studying the anthropogenic presence in aquatic environments.

The subject of largely overlooked pollutants, such as partially digested pharmaceuticals, poses a significant threat to both human health and aquatic species across freshwater and marine ecosystems globally. Typically, humans process merely 20% of consumed drugs, with the rest being expelled and eventually polluting waters around the world.

Robertina Sebjanic’s work, aqua_forensic, which was developed in co-authorship with Gjino Šutić (Ur Institute, Dubrovnik)  merges science, art, and citizen science investigation on forensic oceanography to spotlight the unseen human-made contaminants in aquatic environments.

The frame of the artwork is anchored in practical research that fuses art, scientific inquiry, and citizen scientific methods to identify and analyze pollutants, referred to as "invisible monsters." These hidden chemical residues—including both legal and illegal substances like mood regulators, antibiotics, antifungals, analgesics, and hormonal medications—are remnants of human consumption that find their way into aquatic ecosystems. The investigation focused on two particular locations during a summer residency hosted by Ars Electronica 2018 (EMAP residency): the Danube River in Linz, Austria, and the Adriatic Sea near Dubrovnik, Croatia.

Such pollution initiates a destructive cycle that compromises the entire ecosystem in a pattern that grows increasingly harmful over time. This cycle, akin to the food chain, triggers a perpetual sequence of effects on the evolutionary trajectories of all forms of life, ranging from microorganisms like viruses and bacteria to the most significant beings in the seas.

We raise a vital question: How do the oceans feel our impact?

aqua_forensic serves as a reminder of the interconnectedness of human health and the health of our planet's waters, urging us to rethink the way we produce and consume medications. By raising awareness and fostering a dialogue on the "invisible monsters" in our oceans and rivers, this event aims to inspire both individuals and policymakers to consider sustainable practices and eco-friendly innovations in pharmaceutical development. 

Can we improve our interaction with the oceans to devise strategies for developing new pharmaceuticals that are effective yet free from detrimental side effects?


Aqua_forensic was realised within the framework of a European Media Art Platform (EMAP) residency at Ars Electronica, co-funded by the European Union. 

This presentation was co-funded by LABoral.