'Out in the field' - CiCi Blumstein aka Agent Amphibian. Portrait by Dean Chalkley 2014.

TEDx Talk: CiCi Blumstein aka Agent Amphibian on the Art of Amphibian Conservation & How to be a Frog Collaborator

My TEDx Talk, live-recorded on the 31 October 2014 at Brighton Dome, has now been published on YouTube. Featuring urban backyard frogs & habitats, Mobile Swamp Trolley art & amphibian sound installations, North Norfolk frog dialects and mass croaking in the auditorium, plus Toughie, the loneliest frog in the world. The talk was part of a one-day TEDx conference and Ideas Lab held in Brighton. Now in its 4th year, the buzzing, hugely popular event organised by TEDxBrighton, was oversubscribed and sold out days in advance, with over 1000 audience attending.

Update:
The Lost Croak of Toughie, the Last Rabbs Fringe-Limbed Tree Frog on Earth

Good news can be hard to come by in the field of amphibian conservation, with over 40% of all 7000+ amphibian species directly threatened and facing a catastrophic global extinction crisis. Mainly due to the emergent infectious amphibian disease Chytridiomycosis, as well as other factors such as habitat loss and pollution, amphibians are disappearing from our planet faster than any other living creature. However, since speaking at TEDxBrighton on the 31 October 2014, I’ve had some fantastic news just in about Toughie, one of the frogs featured in my talk. He is the last known Rabb’s Fringe-Limbed Tree Frog (Ecnomiohyla rabborum) – a Panamanian species of gliding frog believed to be extinct in the wild – now remaining in captivity in a bio-secure frogPOD at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens.

At the time of my talk, Toughie had not croaked for nearly 10 years. As his call was never recorded and nobody could remember what it sounded like, it seemed his beautiful croak, along with his species, would be lost forever. But on 15th December 2014, Toughie the loneliest frog in the world started croaking again! In a wonderful stroke of luck, his keeper Mark Mandica happened to be in the frogPOD at the time, heard the unusual calls coming from Toughie’s tank and was able to make a recording.

Listen to Toughie’s croak recording and find further information here: http://bit.ly/ToughieCroaksAgain

Although this remains a sad, bitter-sweet story and it is probably too late for Toughie and his species, his croak is a call to action – to protect and conserve our amazing amphibians by any means possible, before they disappear forever.

Part of The Lucky Frog Log project. #AgentAmphibian  #croakorus

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Croaking Drain, Hidden Frog. CiCi Blumstein 2014

Croaking Drain, Hidden Frog @ Brighton Digital Festival ’14

It’s a fact: Amphibians are going extinct. That’s over 7000 species, disappearing from our planet faster than any other living creature. Even Sir David Attenborough is concerned and around the world, scientists are racing against time to stop the advance of a deadly, amphibian-killing fungus…

Meanwhile, all over the city of Brighton, stories are beginning to emerge: An extinct frog saved by its croak. Small, mysterious ladders appearing in gullypots around Tayside. A plague of frogs on an urban doorstep, yet there is no pond. The chaotic beauty and logic of a frog chorus, captured in an algorithm. A frog burnt into the circuit board of a boiler. A philosophical plumber. An unexplained amphibian mass die-off in Kildare… And there’s talk of a catastrophic global event, known as The Sixth Extinction – could this turn out even worse than the one that wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago?

It’s high time for Agent Amphibian to investigate and get under the semi-permeable skin of the matter…

Croaking Drain, Hidden Frog will be at the Brighton Digital Festival throughout September 2014. Find out more on my BDF events page here.

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Part of The Lucky Frog Log project.

The Broads, Norfolk - Dream Frog Views. Photo: CiCi Blumstein 2013

Amphibian Talk at Moksha Caffe as part of ‘Shine On London Road’ in Brighton

The Lucky Frog tells me he’s been busy working on his Leaptop [sic], preparing for his talk this Saturday 7th at 2pm at Moksha Caffe on London Road in Brighton. It’s entitled ‘Space Encoders: When Frogs Go Digital’ and he’ll talk about his artist residency at The FuseBox in New England House. Find out what happens when a Common Frog with an uncommon interest in installation art, choreography, artist film and urban planning – and with amphibian designs on human habitat & behaviour – moves into a working business environment. May contain croaks.

Further details about the Shine On event and artists talks here.

Croakorus #1: Lament in Memory of the Northern Pool Frog. Photo: CiCi Blumstein 2013

Croakorus #1: Lament in Memory of the Northern Pool Frog

Amphibians are disappearing before our very eyes. Only a few days ago, the extraordinary Northern Darwin’s Frog has been declared extinct. A beautiful frog sculpture and memorial ceremony was created by Persephone Pearl and friends at Whitehawk Community Food Project in Brighton on Saturday 30th November as part of International Remembrance Day for Lost Species.

I took part in the event together with the Lucky Frog. We told the story of the disappearance of the Northern Pool Frog, and how the Frog Merchant lost a species and a letter, and thus became the Fog Merchant – Purveyor of Fine Fogs, Marvellous Mists & Thin Air.

We gathered a human frog chorus around the fire and sang Croakorus #1: Lament in Memory of the Northern Pool Frog. Later that night, another frog chorus came together further along the coast in Saltdean and joined us for a second performance.

I preserved the Croakorus sound recordings in a jar of remembrance, ready to be added to a new amphibian sound & performance installation coming up in 2014.

Space Encoders: Scope explorers - First Contact. Photo: CiCi Blumstein 2013

Space Encoders: When Frogs Go Digital – a group of Scope explorers touch, move & create

Last week the Lucky Frog and I welcomed a group of explorers [and their carers] from the Scope Sharon Collins Resource Centre, Brighton to our Space Encoders installations here at the Fusebox. Lydia, who is one of the carers at the centre and had organized the visit, said: “Thank you so much for yesterday, it was a lovely session …” We loved it too and can’t wait to do lots more in the future – see you soon!

Touching …

 

Space Encoders: Scope explorers - First Contact. Photo: CiCi Blumstein 2013

Space Encoders: Scope explorers – First Contact. Photo: CiCi Blumstein 2013

Moving …

 

Space Encoders: Scope explorers - Escape from The Measuring Room. Photo: CiCi Blumstein 2013

Space Encoders: Scope explorers – Escape from The Measuring Room. Photo: CiCi Blumstein 2013

Creating …

Space Encoders: Scope explorers - Heart to Heart. Photo: CiCi Blumstein 2013

Space Encoders: Scope explorers – Heart to Heart. Photo: CiCi Blumstein 2013

 

Space Encoders: Scope explorers - Smorgasbord. Photo CiCi Blumstein 2013

Space Encoders: Scope explorers – Smorgasbord. Photo CiCi Blumstein 2013


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'Big Inch' backyard froglet with tape measure. Photo by CiCi Blumstein 2013. Big beauty by the frog.

Space Encoders: When Frogs Go Digital – talk at Pecha Kucha Vol.19

Coming up this Wednesday 18 September at 20:00 – The Lucky Frog and I are presenting a talk about our collaboration on Space Encoders: When Frogs Go Digital at Pecha Kucha Night Vol.19. Venue: The Old Market, Brighton. Further program details & speaker line-up here and here … it will be a fantastic night!

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Space Encoders: When Frogs Go Digital installations open at Brighton Digital Festival 2013

For full details and bookings for Space Encoders: When Frogs Go Digital go to my BDF 2012 events page – see you soon!

The Lucky Frog Log - lucky frog in his temporary habitat. Photo by CiCi Blumstein 2013. Smile by the frog.

The Lucky Frog Log – lucky frog in his temporary habitat. Photo by CiCi Blumstein 2013. Smile by the frog.

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Space Encoders: When Frogs Go Digital project featured on Wired Sussex guest blog

“It’s a cold afternoon in December 2012, just before the frost sets in. I open the backyard door and shake out a dusty rug, blinking into the white winter sunlight. At the edge of my vision, I catch an extra sparkle, watery and rhythmic – waves in a deep bucket.

A frog.

Skinny and golden, a small jewel set in dark blue plastic. I scoop the frog up and out of the icy water, its smooth, delicate body so light, I’m not sure it’s really there, nestling in my hand, exhausted yet fiercely alive. As if under a spell, I turn from the barren winter yard and step through the door with my treasure, knowing exactly what to do next. I’ve never looked back …”

Read full post here

CiCi’s FlowerFuse. Portrait © Ollie Gapper Photography 2013

CiCi’s FlowerFuse. Portrait © Ollie Gapper Photography 2013

 

Space Encoders: When Frogs Go Digital wins Brighton Digital Festival 2013 micro grant

My series of interactive installation works, currently in residence at the Fusebox and entitled Space Encoders: When Frogs Go Digital, has just won a micro grant from the BDF grassroots fund and will take part in the Brighton Digital Festival 2013. Watch this space for details of the month-long event which will run throughout September …

Thanks BDF 2013 grassroots fund!

Thanks BDF 2013 grassroots fund!

Space Encoders: The Measuring Room moves into the Fusebox

Installed with the help of my long-time collaborators and angel engineers extra-ordinaire, Aerotrope.

Before …

Space Encoders: The Measuring Room - before ... Photo: CiCi Blumstein 2013

Space Encoders: The Measuring Room – before … Photo: CiCi Blumstein 2013

… and after:

Space Encoders: The Measuring Room - after ... Photo: CiCi Blumstein 2013

Space Encoders: The Measuring Room – after … Photo: CiCi Blumstein 2013