Rocket Grants support will help fund the creation of the software and hardware needed for Jarrett Mellenbruch to build a prototype sensor device for placement in a beehive sculpture. The development of the Haven Hive Monitor will allow internal hive readings, such as temperature, humidity and audio to be taken at individual hives and automatically transmitted via wireless network to Haven’s website.
The real time data stream from the monitoring device will track colony activity and facilitate the accumulation of data points needed to discover trends and patterns in wild honeybee colony health as they emerge. These will be tracked as historical layers on a map that can be analyzed against local environmental conditions. In this way, Haven will become a powerful resource in the quest to understand the continued decline of the honeybee population.
The custom designed device will include: sensors, a Raspberry Pi computer board, a photovoltaic power supply and a wireless transmitter. Additionally, the funding will help cover the cost of the web development needed to receive and translate the transmitted data into an accessible graphic format that can be integrated into Haven’s website.
The first Haven hive that will incorporate this prototype monitoring system will be installed at the Kansas City Zoo. With the help of zoo staff, a highly visible location for the hive has been chosen, allowing it to be viewable by thousands of visitors each year. The addition of the monitoring system will fit in well with the zoo’s educational and research mission and further extend a fine art project into the realm of the general public. With such a large number of regional visitors seeing Haven, this will be a direct way to inform visitors of what is going on with the honeybees and how art and technology can help to investigate the decimation of the worlds most important pollinator species.
Jarrett Mellenbruch’s practice involves a broad range of approaches to art, often taking place at the nexus of scientific research, transdisciplinary collaboration, and public participation. His Haven project (2011-ongoing) is a network of functional beehive sculptures that provide optimal habitat for honeybees, focuses public attention to their ecological plight and functions as a research tool investigating the causes of their recent demise. Haven is working at the deCordova Sculpture Park in Lincoln, Massachusetts, the Kauffman Memorial Gardens, the Kauffman Foundation, Johnson County Community College, 18Broadway Urban Garden, and Hyde Park, as well as in numerous private collections.
Mellenbruch’s Float, a social practice intervention in which hammocks activated the large lawn between the Kansas City Convention Center and the Kauffman Performing Arts Center, was enthusiastically embraced by the public, tweeted by Mayor Sly James, and named a Best of 2012 by The Kansas City Star and The Pitch. A Summer 2014 iteration of Float was subsequently commissioned by the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art.
Mellenbruch’s current projects also include Virtual Vector Laboratory, a collaboration with researchers at Kansas University mapping the insect vector of Chagas disease in Latin America, and the Kansas City Tool Library, a large-scale intervention set in the Historic Northeast neighborhood of Kansas City that will explore social capital as a mechanism for community growth. KCTL is being developed in partnership with the Hardesty Renaissance Development Corporation (where Mellenbruch is an artist in residence) and the Kansas City Art Institute. As an integrated artist working on the East Ninth Street Project in Lawrence Kansas, Mellenbruch is currently developing a community-building, site-specific intervention funded by an ArtPlace America grant.
An adjunct teacher at The Kansas City Art Institute, Mellenbruch earned his BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and MFA from the Maine College of Art.