This week Cara and I had a long call discussing possible ideas for what a physical collaborative piece might look like. She discussed with me a recurring vision that she has had for our potential piece. I wrote down a few of the key words / phrases:
Cara structure description key words:
I thought it would be interesting to try and translate this via drawing or model with the limited characteristics described. As an artist, I draw in a sketchbook very quickly (and poorly) and generally utilize 3D modeling as a means to realize what larger projects will ultimately look like. Below is a model (I had no idea how to render the top so I did not attempt that yet). I started with rendering out this “labyrinth type area” might look like by sketching it on the computer, extruding, and rendering it from there.
As Cara was describing her structure I began thinking of what materials are considered “scientific-like” to humans. They are generally plastics, clear, tubing, metal, things that are impenetrable, “leak” proof, escape proof, rectilinear. I began thinking about a small aluminum cast of an Ant colony structure that I have in my house which couldn't be more dissimilar from the way I have constructed habitats for insects in the past and how scientists build structures to look at insect habits. I wonder why we as humans have the urge to construct viewing containers that replicate structures that we inhabit? I wonder about the possibility of creating things that allow insects to inhabit in a way, a space that can be a mirror of both worlds. I described a piece to Cara that I have had in mind for a number of years where cities are constructed out of various materials (for example CNC wood block and termites) and insects will eat against their structure forming their own societal system in contrast with a human conceived design. We discussed drawing each others ideas for this week to see what happens when a verbal descriptions span the online and must be translated in some way.
Ant Colony cast example (not the one from my house):
Other notes / Ideas from our conversation:
- In terms of construction our conversation brought me back to thinking about artist Hubert Duprat, who collaborated with cadisflys by giving them human valued materials (gold, pearls, gem stones) to construct their cocoons
- Large excavation of ant colony filled with concrete
- Life inside a colony, my favorite!:
This week we talked about artistic visions that have followed us around for various lengths of time – that same way that some dreams seem to bubble up unwaveringly during waking hours. I decided to sketch Brittany’s World. I loved the idea of her milled wooden city being consumed by termites within a friendly snow globe setting.
We talked about how to make our final piece more palatable to a wider audience. I thought of how it might change the outcome if we pre-fabricated sound bytes, and created sketches for fun merchandise to be sold at Big Box stores. People buy this kind of thing after all:
These items are scorpion- or spider-shaped, but actual scorpions and spiders have exoskeletons; not skulls nor ribs.
Here is a time lapse of a spider shedding its exoskeleton:
A very different kind of renewal, eh?
Happy Diwali / Hallowe’en / All Saints & All Souls’ Days everyone!
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Brittany Ransom is an award-winning artist, technologist, and assistant professor of Sculpture and New Genres at California State University, Long Beach.
Cara Gibson is a graphic designer, director of Science Communications, and Assistant Professor at the University of Arizona in Tucson.