Ken and I have been discussing how we can move beyond me describing my science and he then representing it artistically, as we both agree this would not be an “honest” collaboration. So, we have been working really hard to brainstorm ideas that are a combination of both of our skills. After some discussion on the topic, our aim is to create art in a way that can also produce scientific data. Having this goal in mind has made me really excited to work on our collaboration because I feel like we can both get something out of it professionally, and then I get to work in a realm of science that is new and exciting and hopefully more publically accessible. I think a lot about how to get people excited about science – and encouraging the emotional connections that can promote learning. It again strikes me that with all of the emotional input that artists provide to their work, that this is a very powerful way to help people connect to science issues. Ken mentioned that he wants to help people “feel” the data – and I am super excited to try to figure out how to do that!
We discussed a really interesting concept that I had not heard of before, called ecological art – see this article here. In short, the article encourages artists to think beyond using static art, like sculptures in a park etc, to represent important ecological issues, but instead create art that also solves ecological problems. The article provides examples of artists like Agnes Denes, who created the artistic “Tree Mountain”, where she artistically arranged trees that will also help re-forest an area and store carbon. Or, artist Mel Chin, who created artistic designs with plants on a superfund site, where the plants would inspire an interest in cleaning up the heavy metal contamination in the soil, and his plant-art creations would actually do just that! I am SUPER interested in this idea, and had never even considered this before. Maybe there are ways to do the experiments we have been doing in science forever to solve ecological problems, in an artistic way that also encourages more audiences to become interested in also solving these problems! I look forward to more ideation with Ken about how we can do create ecological art that is also ecological science!
PS: I have been thinking a lot about blogging – it is not something I have ever done before, and sort of struggle with a bit as it is weirdly personal (I am obviously not an artist). I figure I need to find my “voice”, and have been fighting the urge to start every blog with “Dear Diary, this week Ken and I have been very busy…” So instead I’m going to give you all an insight into the music that is helping me focus my thoughts on our awesome science/art collaboration!
Blogged while listening to Charles Bradley
This week, Lauren and I spent time sending images and articles to each other as a way to share things in our field that interest us but are not necessarily our focus. Working with Lauren and her focus as an ecologist, the conversation naturally pointed to a direction in which art and environment combined. This made me recall a few artists that influenced my work and thinking, specifically Earthworks artists such as Walter De Maria and James Turrell.
“Roden Crater”- James Turrell (please see a video on Vimeo of this on- going project here)
Clearly not located in galleries or museums these works require the viewer to trek to far off locations and allow the viewer to focus on an aspect of nature specific to that site. As observatories, of sorts, the works frame phenomena. This concept always stayed with me. The artist is not limited to always making the entirety of the art (such as an object like a painting or sculpture) but the artist could provide the viewer with the unique opportunity to witness firsthand something in the real world that may have been unnoticed.
A recent article in Hyperallergic that Lauren and I discussed– “How Can Ecological Artists Move Beyond Aesthetic Gestures?” nuanced this conversation about land and art. The article provides another direction for art in landscape. Separate from framing a natural event (geological or astrological time scale) an artwork in nature could engage with how people of today interact with the environment and/or conceptualize our relationship to it. Mentioned in the article were two artists that made work in the environment but engaged with larger concepts of ecology, stewardship, community and science.
This seemed interesting considering Lauren’s efforts of gathering data from the field, educational outreach and bringing understanding to the mechanisms and intricacies of seed dispersal- processes that continually takes place around us but often goes overlooked. Lauren explained how she studies this through data collection, wind tunnel seed aerodynamics (some pretty cool videos that I really want to make paintings of!) pattern extrapolation, and even randomness. The concept of randomness, and chaos theory, was particularly interesting to us. Maybe some potential there as well.
With this we decided to create a list of general concepts we might want to research with the hope of narrowing down as we move forward. We feel challenge is to find a project that is equally of interest to us both. Rather than segregating the collaboration into two parts (Lauren provides the data and I provide a visualization) we found we are interested in blurring this divide. We both want to be actively invested in both aspects and want to learn from the science and the art of the project.