The ecoartspace blog will feature artist profiles and reviews of exhibitions, as well as writings on ecological systems. We are interested in presenting work that artists are making in collaboration with scientists, and poetics including spoken word, opera, and performative work. Painting, sculpture, ceramics, photography, drawing, and printmaking are all welcome media. Speculative architecture and public art are also encourage. Submissions for posts can be sent to We look forward to hearing from you!

You can access the previous ecoartspace blog HERE (2008-2019)

ecoartspace, LLC

Mailing address: PO Box 5211 Santa Fe, New Mexico 87502
  • Friday, October 01, 2021 1:32 PM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    Art and Science: Portraits of Interconnectedness  interview with collaborators David Paul Bayles and Fred Swanson

    Olivia Ann Carye Hallstein 

    David Paul Bayles, photographer, and Fred Swanson, forest ecologist, are artists and science collaborators whose ongoing project portraying the ecological ramifications of human influence on Oregon trees creates both scientifically useful and hauntingly crafted portraits. In this work, art tells the story of the ongoing climate-related influences of the old-growth forest, and science provides factual information for making sound decisions. The most recent part of their series “Standing, Still,” presents the charred exteriors of trees after a forest fire. In conversation, they provide both warning and hope in the face of a blazing summer in the North-West of the United States.

    David, Fred, thank you so much for discussing your work with me! Let's dig right in.

    This summer’s fires have been shocking, and you have been extremely responsive in your collaborative work to portray the effects of forest fires in Oregon. These fires are the reality of what is right past your back doors and daily work. Working intricately with the forests for many years, were there signs that there would be this kind of a disaster prior to it happening? And how have you responded?

    FS: As an earth scientist working in a forest ecology world, I’ve been very attentive to “disturbance” events for a long time—fire, flood, volcanic eruption, logging, forest policy conflicts. From a geological perspective, the  natural processes in this list are frequent and integral parts of the regional landscape. I like to be as close to the action as possible to learn what’s happening in geophysical and ecological terms while also being attentive to human interactions. The extreme fire events in western Oregon in Sept 2020 were unprecedented in the period of European occupation (beginning in the 19th century). Still, tree-ring studies of forest history suggest similar events occurred ca. 500 years ago. The extreme heatwave of June 2021 scorched the foliage of trees in ways we have not seen before, but very few trees have died (so far). Still, this heatwave is a scary wake-up call for what climate change is bringing us.  In these two events, tree canopies were scorched from below by the fall 2020 fires burning through the understory and then scorched from above by the June 2021 heatwave, which is fascinating and worrisome.  

    DPB: My wife and I live surrounded by forest as well as industrial tree farms. Though we have not had any fires threateningly close, we live with the knowledge that it could happen. We will be on our own when it does, so the questions are when to leave and what to take. We can build a new home and studio, but when I imagine the landscape that would surround us post-fire, that is the difficult part.

    For decades scientists have been telling us we would be right where we are today. So, yes, the signs have been here all along. Anecdotally, we put tomatoes in the ground earlier in the spring, and this will be the first year we will have made it to October without turning the heat on in the mornings.   

    The extreme heatwave of June 2021 scorched the foliage of trees in ways we have not seen before, but very few trees have died (so far).

    When it does…we can build a new home and studio, but when I imagine the landscape that would surround us post-fire, that is the difficult part.

    The fires are quite a reality to come to terms with and to prepare for. It is telling how direct the results of warming have been in your direct surroundings. David, as a logger and photographer, and Fred, as a scientist and nature lover, you must have an intricate understanding of both the life and post-life of the trees that you work with. What has been your photographic mission in relation to the trees themselves?

    DPB: To be clear, I was a logger for four years in the mid-1970s. When and where I worked on US Forest Service land in the Sierra Nevada mountains, the timber sales were all selective cutting. When we left a logging site, 60-70% of the forest was still standing. Today’s clear cuts are a very different beast, and I am against industrial tree farming as practiced today.

    My photographic path (rather than a mission) has been to explore different facets of the complex relationship between trees/forests and human beings. I have long felt that the way we treat our forests can also be seen in the ways we treat other human beings.  

    FS: My mission in relation to trees and forests as a scientist has been to learn all I can concerning their history with regard to disturbance events, both natural and human-imposed. I have done this as a participant in a large, long-term ecosystem research team working in the old-growth of the Andrews Experimental Forest in the Oregon Cascades and at Mount St. Helens, which erupted in 1980. The stories from our studies are conveyed to the public through many channels, including works of artists and creative writers who have engaged with these places. I count on the citizenry to take in the sense of awe, wonder, and mystery revealed through these inquiries and be attentive to the natural world's well being.

    My photographic path (rather than a mission) has been to explore different facets of the complex relationship between trees/forests and human beings.

    I count on the citizenry to take in the sense of awe, wonder, and mystery revealed through these inquiries and be attentive to the natural world's well being.

    Fred, you describe how the citizenry should take in this sense of awe, but you must experience this working with the forest daily. You have studied the effects of climate on regional forests throughout the Western United States. What have been the major changes in the forests that you have studied over the past ten years?

    FS: Our home bioregion in the wet conifer forests along the Pacific Coast of the northwest US appears to be in the early stages of profound alteration by climate change. Certainly, other bioregions, such as polar regions, have experienced greater warming and have expressed more significant vulnerabilities as water takes liquid rather than solid forms in soil and on lakes, rivers, seas, and land surfaces. Our long-term research at the Andrews Experimental Forest in the Oregon Cascades shows that air temperature, even under the forest canopy, has been warming over the past 40 years, suggesting that the forest and stream ecosystems are subjected to multiple stresses. Perhaps this warming in the summer months is drying fuels, contributing to the increased intensity of wildfire. With support from the National Science Foundation, the US Forest Service, and other sources, we continue to be vigilant for ecosystem responses.

    A common motivation between basic science (Fred calls it ‘Wild Science’) and art is curiosity. We use different languages to explore and express, but motivations are similar.

    (David’s) reactions to forms and color prompts have led me to see and ponder the forest in ways new to me.  

    What incredible findings! The two of you have paired art and science to work as important collaborators in ecology. What can the two disciplines do best together? How have you both been able to build off each other’s work and unique perspectives?

    DPB: A common motivation between basic science (Fred calls it ‘Wild Science’) and art is curiosity. We use different languages to explore and express, but motivations are similar. By collaborating and using different languages, we can reach wider audiences. One of the greatest joys in this process has been to share a child-like curiosity with Fred. We both get down on the ground and stick our heads into burned-out stump caverns to look at the first bits of green fire moss or oxalis. A moment later, Fred points to a giant boulder and asks me, ‘Do you know where that came from?’ I’m thinking it’s a boulder. Didn’t it come from underground somewhere? He explains this particular rock was pushed down the canyon by the last glacier 13,000 years ago. Me—awestruck and grateful to share this journey with him.

    FS: I have long felt that scientists and their science communications have not been the greatest storytellers. The methods of science can be quite constraining.  So, it has been very refreshing to team up with David and visit a situation new to both of us—freshly burned forest. As David puts it, this is a fascinating common ground in which to exercise the common ground of our curiosities. His reactions to forms and color prompts have led me to see and ponder the forest in ways new to me. And, it is inspiring to see how others, both scientists and non-scientists, respond to his works and the forest. Even in its blackened state, there are beauty and mysterious manifestations of complexity and inter-connectedness.

    To draw from Robin, we need to be attentive to our “kinship” with trees and have “relationships of reciprocity.”

    In 1989, I participated with TreePeople in Los Angeles to plant Sequoia seedlings in the Sierras near the Mi-Wuk reservation… Loggers, Mi-Wuk, and urban Angelinos all planting trees together.

    Speaking of complexity and interconnectedness: as I write this, the oldest and largest sequoia tree in the world is being wrapped in fire protective blankets. What have been some efforts you have experienced of inter-species collaboration between humans and the trees?

    FS: Some human-forest relationships are simple and exploitative, like logging native forests and replacing them with simple plantations. But, in the words of Robin Kimmerer, this is not an “honorable harvest.” Some might argue that, by revealing their histories of disturbance and resilience in tree-ring and other records, forests are teaching us how we may selectively remove trees for our uses while leaving enough of the forest ecosystem that it can continue to function as complex, highly interconnected systems. Again, to draw from Robin, we need to be attentive to our “kinship” with trees and have “relationships of reciprocity.”

    DPB: In 1989, I participated with TreePeople in Los Angeles to plant Sequoia seedlings near the Mi-Wuk reservation in the Sierras. Steve Brye, as a volunteer, grew 7,000 seedlings and coordinated this effort with the US Forest Service. A group of urban environmentalists from LA went up to the Sierras to plant all the trees for a weekend. Since it was near where I used to be a logger, I organized some logging families who came out also to help plant the trees. To everyone’s delight and surprise that Saturday morning, Elders and others came from the reservation to bless the planting of the trees and help us plant. Loggers, Mi-Wuk, and urban Angelinos all planting trees together. We finished Sunday afternoon and were spontaneously invited to their Roundhouse to witness a drum and dance ceremony. It was a great weekend.

    There are parallels between how we live with each other and how we live with trees.

    These are such important messages of reciprocity and collaboration. In your description of “Standing, Still,” you describe, “Treetops broke off, plunging in the river. Limbs dangled, connected by tissues charred and crisp, and still, the cedars stood, a testament to their strength.” The description could also be used for the loss of human life in war. What are the parallels for you between the trees and the human experience?

    DPB: Great question—thank you. Fred and I chose specifically to narrow our attention to the forest itself, being quite aware, each time we drove up the highway of all the human loss. So many homes were reduced to concrete foundations with standing chimneys and melted twisted metal roofing. So, these portraits also reflect that. I also felt the collective “Disturbance” the pandemic brought to all of us with loss of life, jobs, incomes, etc. In my book Urban Forest there are images of trees trying to survive along our city streets which can also be seen as unhoused humans trying to survive our city streets. There are parallels between how we live with each other and how we live with trees.

    Fire immediately changed the forest dramatically, and now the forest is responding in amazing ways, fast and slow, physical, chemical, and biological.

    We can 3D print homes with adobe. We now need to leave trees in the ground, both alive and burned.

    I am so glad that you mentioned forest “management” since you both hold unique perspectives related to industrial processes and the forests you work with. David, in your recent work “Hazard Tree,” you discuss the industrial uses of the tree’s “destinies.” How has industry shaped these destinies, and how much of the destruction is necessary? Is there a balance within the forest that is being kept?

    DPB: This is a huge topic and difficult to narrow down to an article. It’s not possible to begin without acknowledging that there is, to varying degrees, a mutual dance in our capitalist society of supply and demand. For my first exhibit on this topic, I researched data that showed that from 1950 to 1990, the average family size shrunk from 6 to 4.5, and the average single-family home built increased from 1,200 square feet in 1950 to 2050 square feet in 1990.

    Another factor to consider, as we can no longer deny the climate is changing, is where and what is the balance point? For 5,000 years, we have used trees and forests for our purposes of building societies and civilizations. We now need trees and forests in a vastly different way. We can 3D print homes with adobe. We now need to leave trees in the ground, both alive and burned. 

    3D printing homes is a fantastic way that art and engineering can work together toward climate solutions. What are your hopes surrounding what art can do to create awareness for an ecological response? What can the artistic community do to help the forest recover?

    DPB: I hope all our creative endeavors can inspire awe, wonder, and appreciation to create changes in three ways. First, always ask ourselves what we can do personally to bring about the changes we want on a global level. Second, we can’t lose hope in finding ways to apply pressure politically. And third, if you can, donate money to legitimate conservation and land trust entities buying forest and prairie lands, setting them aside to grow and maintain healthy, natural ecosystems.  

    FS: I have had the pleasure of working with creative writers and artists in the amazing ancient forest of the Andrews Forest and the blast zone of Mount St. Helens since 2000. I see my mission as helping them find their stories in these compelling landscapes, which has taken place through the Long-Term Ecological Reflections program at the interface of the Andrews Forest science program and the Spring Creek Project for Ideas, Nature, and the Written Word in Oregon State University.

    Thank you both for joining me for this excellent discussion. Many of the insights you shared have been eye-opening, offering both warnings and hope in light of the recent disasters.

    DPB: Olivia Ann Carye Hallstein, thank you for this opportunity to share our experience in this way. It is very much appreciated. Thanks.

    FS: And a hearty thanks from me too. 

    Images: all photographs by David Paul Bayes are from his Standing, Still series and are numbered 3, 14, 13, 10, 5, 1, 12, 17 as seen from top to bottom.

  • Friday, October 01, 2021 12:51 PM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    Fig. 3. Christy Rupp, Great Auk (2008), from the series, Extinct birds previously consumed by Humans, welded steel, fast food chicken bones, paper, mixed media 32" x17" x 22". Photo: Christy Rupp. 

    Nature: New Contexts, New Art by Women by Ellen K. Levy

    Published in Woman's Art Journal, Fall/Winter 2020, Vol. 41, Number 2.

    Nature, a realm of biochemical and physical forces, has also long been contested territory, subject to shifting theories, histories, policies, stories, myths, and beliefs. To look at art and art history is to see a projection of changing ideas about nature in varying contexts and scales. Over the past thirty years, feminism and science (along with popular culture) have come far in defining what nature now means. This text calls attention to a diversity of art by eight women whose content converges with recent scientific discoveries about nature. Without comprising a single category (they identify as ecofeminists, bioartists, and media artists), the artists create works that embody what physicist and feminist Evelyn Fox Keller designated a "new consciousness of the potentialities lying latent in the scientific project." (1)

    Nature Reframed by Feminist Science

    The artists explore topics such as self/non-self (Marta de Menezes), the food web (Christy Rupp), cooperation and competition (Lillian Ball), pattern formation and symmetry (Tauba Auerbach), morphogenesis (Janet Echelman), nature and culture interrelationships (Maria Elena Gonzalez), the science of self-organization (Victoria Vesna), and origins of life (Rachel Sussman). Their perspectives are informed by new scientific understandings and feminist writings that question traditional Enlightenment distinctions between nature and culture. (2) In addition to Keller, other key scientific influencers include an early environmental pioneer, Rachel Carson, who authored Silent Spring (1962), launching the environmental movement. (3) Other feminists include Donna Haraway and Lynn Margulis. Haraway revealed Western science largely as a competition for power and resources among groups with different stakes. (4) Margulis showed the prevalence of symbiosis (mutually beneficial relationships between organisms) throughout the natural world, thereby reformulating ideas of evolution. (5) Feminists have devoted great efforts to dismantling old gender stereotypes, questioning assumptions that science is gender neutral or that women are necessarily defined by gender-related activities. (6) Elizabeth Lloyd stated, "Scientific views about gender differences and the biology of women have been the single most powerful political tool against the women's movements." (7)

    Fig. 5 [color] Lillian Ball, GO Donãna (2008), multimedia interactive installation with projectors, dimensions variable, ideally shown in 236" x 314" room. Photo: Lillian Ball. Courtesy of the artist and Fundacion Biacs. 

    Continue here

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  • Tuesday, September 28, 2021 4:56 PM | ecoartspace (Administrator)


    AUGUST 9, 2021

    This week we recognize the work of artist Ken Rinaldo.

    Scientists have identified up to 3,000 types of bacteria on dollar bills from just one Manhattan bank. Most of the bacteria found were skin, mouth, and vagina microbes according to a study conducted by the New York University Center for Genomics & Systems Biology. Bacterial cultures, fungi, and viruses finding transport on monetary exchange systems do not respect or understand borders.

    There are no visas or passports for microbes that hitch rides from hands, noses, and genitalia. Money travels freely nationally and internationally. Cash is a vector of biological cultures and nationalist interests and traded globally.

    Money possesses formal symbolic memories of a colonialist past, such as the monarchies ruling over their colonies for generations. The British Royal Family one of the oldest monarchies, ran the Royal African Company, extracting 5000 enslaved peoples each day, and becoming the primary driver of slavery in the Americas. Yet the queen’s image still remains on most money in former colonies such as Canada, South Africa, Australia, etc, though the royal family has changed its image through clever public relations, focusing instead on diplomacy and family ceremonies and weddings. 

    England was not the only player in the game of colonialism. The United States, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Denmark, Norway, The Netherlands, Portugal, Russia all have their colonialist pasts.

    As money is a potent signifier of identity, nationalism, and a symbolic medium of exchange, it also possesses constitutional beliefs with iconic invocations of wealth and national trust. In God and monarchies, we trust. Money implies all the attendant deities and symbols of nationalist power and oversight.

    Now we have emerging DATA colonialism, where a select few corporations (Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft) collect and extract data and cookies from individuals, and use analytics to become a means by which wealth is collected and national power is exerted. Cryptocurrencies can be seen as another form of colonialism, benefiting mostly wealthy folks.

    Microbes, however, are the original colonizers of us. We can even trace their influences back to the origins of eukaryotic cells. Author Steve Mann writes in his book 1491 that Indigenous peoples of the Americas were a keystone species, which affected the survival and abundance of a myriad of other species. In the colonization of the Americas, diseases like smallpox and measles took a massive toll on indigenous populations.

    With the outbreak of the Sars Virus and now the Coronavirus, likely both transmitted from bush meat, we are seeing another form of colonization from one species to another, and again bacteria and viruses are equal opportunity travelers.

    Ken Rinaldo is recognized internationally for his interactive art installations, including developing hybrid ecologies with animals, algorithms, plants, and bacterial cultures. His art/science practice serves as a platform for hacking complex social, biological, and machine symbionts. Rinaldo believes that through inventing and constructing techno interfaces, we can amplify the intertwined symbiosis and underlying beauty in natural living systems. Rinaldo teaches neo-conceptual approaches to interactive robotics, bio-art, 2D/3D animation, 3D modeling, rapid prototyping, and broad art practices. He is an Emeritus Professor within Art & Technology in the Department of Art at the College of Arts & Sciences, The Ohio State University. He also recently began teaching a master's class for the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing,

    Featured Images: ©Ken Rinaldo, Borderless Bacteria/Colonialist Cash at BioArts Lab School for the Visual Arts New York and Mute Gallery Lisbon, Portugal, each in 2017. Text from the artists' website.

    Below: Ken Rinaldo holding up his work Borderless Bacteria/Colonialist Cash in the sunlight.

  • Monday, September 20, 2021 6:43 PM | ecoartspace (Administrator)


    September 20, 2021

    This week we recognize the work of artist Anne-Katrin Spiess.

    "My ongoing environmental concerns led me to address the urgent single-use plastics crisis, a leading cause of pollution and climate change on the planet. For decades prosperous nations were sending their plastics to China. Thankfully, their recent refusal to accept these materials is a wake-up call for all countries faced with a glut of plastic and a lack of infrastructure to process them. Part of the problem is that as consumers, we have become incredibly lazy. However, the more significant issue is that corporations keep producing and wrapping products in plastics that are often not recyclable. The result of my research is a new series titled Death by Plastic."

    "In the summer of 2019, I performed Death by Plastic for the first time in Moab, Utah, a small community seasonally infiltrated by tourists who come to explore the extraordinary pristine landscapes but leave behind large quantities of refuse. I have been creating art in the area for twenty years and when I discovered that only plastics #1 and #2 were being recycled, and everything else was being land-filled. After a sleepless night, I decided to build a clear casket where my body would lay covered by plastics 3,4,5,6 and 7, which were longer be recycled. The work was photographed on the Moab landfill, where the plastics would eventually end up.

    In July of 2021, still reeling from the pandemic and its optics, namely in the form of single-use masks, a glut of takeout containers, and packaging materials, I decided to perform Death by Plastic in my hometown of New York City as a funeral procession down Fifth Avenue."


    We are gathered here to mourn the state of the planet, our home, a place where climate change is causing torrential rains and scorching fires. Have you noticed?

    We are here to mourn oceans and rivers filled with plastics and debris. We are here to mourn beaches that are no longer pristine. We are here to mourn the fish who are feeding off micro-plastics rather than plankton. We are here to mourn the whales who are dying with their bellies full of plastic.

    We stand here in the realization that we each ingest a credit card worth of plastic every week through the foods and drinks we consume and that those micro-plastics may end up in human placenta and sperm.
The very essence of human life is in jeopardy.

    Unless we come up with alternate solutions to single-use plastics, the very composition of our bodies will be irreversibly changed. The planet we live on will be so toxic and polluted that life as we know it will no longer be possible.

    Anne-Katrin Spiess is a land artist whose primary focus is the ecology of Earth. She lives in New York City, although much of her art is created in the deserts of the American West. This dichotomy fuels her imagination, with both places providing endless and disparate stimuli. Spiess is able to work in incredibly isolated locales thanks to an Airstream trailer which becomes her traveling studio and hermitage for weeks at a time. Her practice is a way of exploring solitude and becoming immersed in and with the land.

    Featured Images: ©Anne-Katrin Spiess, Death By Plastic, 2019-2021, New York City procession, 5th Ave, July 29, 2021.

    Below: ©Anne-Katrin Spiess, Casket Portrait, 2019, Moab, Utah. Photo credit: Mark Brown

  • Monday, September 13, 2021 3:54 PM | Callie Smith


    AUGUST 9, 2021

    This week we recognize the work of artist Julia Oldham.

    Using a range of media, from animation to graphic storytelling, Oldham gives voice to the animals, ecosystems and scientific phenomena all around us. Her narrative works explore the complex relationships between nature and technology, humans and animals, and science and creativity.

    Fallout Dogs (2019) is a cinematic portrait of Chernobyl guided by the movements and activities of the stray dogs that live in the exclusion zone and the people who take care of them.

    The Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster began on April 26, 1986, with an explosion in Reactor 4 of the Chernobyl Power Plant. Over 100,000 residents were evacuated on buses and told to leave everything behind. During the ensuing clean up effort, many of the abandoned pets were shot to prevent contamination. Some survived by making their way to the power plant, where workers and self settlers have been caring for them and their descendants ever since.

    "BRIDGET is a deep learning machine (AI) that I programmed to offer soothing advice from a large selection of self help books. Though she uses nearly 1000 books to learn from, half of which contain “self help” or “mindfulness” in the title, her advice is quirky and fantastical, utilizing math and probability to build meaning out of the text in the books that she has stored in her corpus. I have performed her advice, taking on the persona of BRIDGET, to create this video, which is presented in the style of YouTube self-hypnosis and self-help videos. The title of my project, “Loneliness Creeps Down the Spine,” was also text generated by BRIDGET."

    The Loneliest Place is a 14-page graphic novella about a scientist and her robotic canine scientific partner. Together they embark on a mission to find a black hole, approach it, and escape from its grip. This work was commissioned by Art Journal and printed in the Spring, 2016 publication. In the Art Journal printing, the novella is peer reviewed by astrophysicist Roban Kramer of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD.

    Julia Oldham is an artist living and working in Eugene, OR and New York City. Her work has been screened/exhibited at galleries including Art in General in New York, NY; Smack Mellon, Brooklyn, NY; the San Diego Art Institute, San Diego, CA; and The Drawing Center in New York, NY. Her work has been reviewed in the New York TimesWashington PostWall Street Journal, and the Village Voice, and has been featured on the NPR shows “State of Wonder” on OPB and “Inquiry” on WICN.

    Featured Images: ©Julia Oldham, Fallout Dogs; Loneliness Creeps Down the Spine; The Loneliest Place

    Above: Julia Oldham/Photo: Still from Terra, a three-channel video projection created and performed by Oldham for "The Observatory," a multimedia installation by Really Large Numbers.

  • Thursday, September 09, 2021 10:17 AM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    Eileen Wold, Square Meter (2021), recycled aluminum post

    Who Owns the Earth?

    This group show proposes fresh paradigms of land ownership and art making in contrast to the rugged individualism of much early Land Art.

    Review by Louis Bury for Hyperallergic 9/8/21

    Includes works by ecoartspace member Eileen Wold, Eliza Evans.

    There’s a curious paradox in the title of Unison Arts’s Owning Earth, a seemingly straightforward group exhibition about our species’ complex attitudes toward land. Curator Tal Beery and assistant curator Erin Lee Antonak clearly intend the exhibition to question anthropocentric ideologies of mastery and domination over the earth. Yet the title speaks of the earth as being owned. This paradox, it turns out, is not a misnomer. Instead, many of the exhibition’s 18 artworks, by 24 artists, incorporate the visual language of property relations as a way to propose alternatives to the norms of ownership.

    This dynamic manifests most pointedly in Eliza Evans’s ingenious piece of artistic activism, “All the Way To Hell” (2020–ongoing). The artist has divided a three-acre Oklahoma property she owns into a thousand 6-by-18-foot parcels. Each parcel’s mineral rights — which extend, under United States property law, to the center of the earth — are being sold or given away to a thousand individuals, creating a bureaucratic morass for the fossil fuel companies interested in acquiring the land for fracking. When Evans has displayed the work in a gallery setting, the visual focus has been on core samples and property deeds; installed along Unison’s wooded trails, the focus shifts to a plot of land demarcated in the manner of a grave site, equivalent in size to one Oklahoman parcel.

    Continue reading on Hyperallergic HERE

  • Monday, September 06, 2021 9:25 PM | Callie Smith

    SEPTEMBER 6, 2021

    This week we recognize the work of artist Lauren Bon of Metabolic Studio.

    Featured is her current project, Bending the River Back Into the City, which will divert water from the Los Angeles River through a wetland and cleaning facility and into Metabolic Studio on North Spring Street. Once the water meets regulatory requirements for cleanliness, it will be distributed through subterranean irrigation to Los Angeles State Historic Park and the Albion Riverside Park.

    Above: Not A Cornfield, 2005-2006

    "Bending the River Back Into the City culminates years committed to reconnecting us with the LA River and sustaining living systems. This journey began with Not A Cornfield in 2005–06 on the site of the recently opened Los Angeles State Historic Park. Contracted by the State Parks agency for one agricultural cycle, I created a durational performance in honor of this pre-colonial watershed at Yaangna that became the industrial service channel for Los Angeles. We laid ninety miles of irrigation piping, planted corn sourced from and returned to the Native American community, and cleaned the soil of this abandoned train yard. Not A Cornfield’s  transformation of the land back into a public space — a commons — created the possibility for a deeper public consciousness and a sense of shared ownership of this historic floodplain."

    Above: Site Plan: Restoring the Historic Floodplain

    "The concrete-sealed basin protects valuable real estate from the ancient route of the LA River and from its swelling and flooding. It also disconnects us physically and spiritually from the shared, life-giving resource of our water. It is within this context that Bending the River Back Into the City will make its actual and symbolic bend."

    Above: Construction of Bending the River Back Into the City

    "Construction of Bending the River begins with the piercing of two holes in the cement jacket of the River just north of Metabolic Studio. One hole and tunnel will “bend” the river westwards and draw a small percentage (0.00158% of dry-weather flow) from the river’s basin, bringing it into a newly-formed wetland and treatment system for cleaning before its distribution. Another tunnel will pierce the sealed river basin further south, returning unused river water that continues its journey to the port of Long Beach. This first phase of Bending the River Back Into the City is not a strategy for re-naturalizing the LA River — a prospect that many of us hope will come into being in the future — but an immediate solution and an achievable model for respectful stewardship of our life-giving birthright."

    Above: Construction of Bending the River Back Into the City

    "On a bureaucratic level, Bending the River Back Into the City is made possible by securing more than sixty interconnected permits and approvals from twenty-three federal, state, regional, county, and city agencies. The linchpin agreement is the Water Right that was awarded to me by the State Water Resources Board in March 2014. It is important to qualify this water right: it has been awarded to me personally rather than as a trustee of the Annenberg Foundation, as director of Metabolic Studio, or in exchange for any funding or capital advancement for the State Water Resources Board.

    "I openly admit that my having a “water right” to bend the LA River is humbling and I do not carry the burden of its language lightly. I believe that water is a right for all living things to share, and that Bending the River Back will activate and transform a water right into a water responsibility. My stewardship of this responsibility is inextricably shared with all of the institutions and agencies who partner with me on permanently re-adapting the LA River. My deepest hopes as we break ground for Bending the River Back Into the City is that the communities and partners that it touches are galvanized by its systematic and emblematic power to transform the way that we think about water. If water is life then our aim is to bend life in the direction that we all need it to go."

    Above: "Delta of Mount Whitney," painting depicting the below ground means by which the LA River will be reconnected to the historic floodplain of the formerly unbridled river

    Lauren Bon is an ecological artist based in Los Angeles, California. Her practice, Metabolic Studio, explores self-sustaining and self-diversifying systems of exchange that feed emergent properties that regenerate the life web. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from Princeton University and her Masters of Architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

    Instagram: @bendingtheriver @metabolicstudio @laurenmetropolis

    Above: Lauren Bon/Photo by Josh White

    Featured Images: ©Lauren BonBending the River Back Into the City

  • Wednesday, September 01, 2021 4:55 PM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    (Sun Eaters, From IDEAS performance @ Qualcomm Institute)

    The Rhythm that Flows Through Us All:
    Grace Grothaus’ Sun Eaters

    Interviewer: Olivia Ann Carye Hallstein

    Grace Grothaus creates immersive environments using computational media revolving around subjects related to the global climate crisis. Finding incredible intersections between technologies and the environment, she uses computational methods to aid the visualization and understanding of human impacts. In her recent work Sun Eaters, Grace has rewired ECG sensors to translate the electrical currents in trees into light. Similar to the human heartbeat, the trees express the pulses that give them life through the light that is presented. For the first time, the viewer can experience the life force in the surrounding plant life as part of the rhythm that flows through all of us.

    Hi Grace! Thank you so much for taking the time for this interview. It is so exciting to learn about your work!

    Though your work is vast, and you have created incredible installations that encourage viewers to focus on the larger world around them, we will mostly be focusing on your piece Sun Eaters for this interview in correlation with ecoartspace’s focus on trees the last year. Can you start out by speaking a bit about your art practice and goals?

    As an artist working in computational media on issues arising from the global climate crisis, I focus increasingly on environmental sensing and visualization to open up conversations through public artworks. My projects generally take the form of interactive or responsive installations, though at times, I also make artwork through video, prints, and sculpture.

    (Sun Eaters, From IDEAS performance @ Qualcomm Institute)

    Plants are more similar to ourselves than perhaps we commonly give credit.

    Sun Eaters is an installation of sculptures that senses bioelectric energy and translates it into visible light for us to see by using ECG sensors. In Sun Eaters, I have focused specifically on measuring and visualizing bioelectricity in plants to call attention to them. Sun Eaters has been installed in a number of venues along paths where people frequently walk and the sculptures’ flickering lights can be seen. For much the same reasons that some stop signs and warning notices are outfitted with blinking LEDs, I’ve illuminated these trees with the same: to arrest your attention within our over-saturated world. The brightness of the lights in Sun Eaters is in direct correlation to the bioelectric pulse of the plant it is measuring. I hope that people will see that plants are more similar to ourselves than perhaps we commonly give credit. They begin to pay more attention to the more-than-human living ecosystems present around them in their daily lives.

    Plant blindness, a form of cognitive bias, is a common tendency to overlook plants and to treat them solely as a beautiful backdrop in front of which human action takes place. Yet plants trees, particularly, sequester large amounts of atmospheric carbon, and we need them to counteract our warming climate. For this reason and others, trees are vital to the health of our future and worthy of our increased attention. I believe that Sun Eaters can play a role in environmental efforts by acting as a visual aid in comprehension, and I hope that the project might trigger an expansion of our imagination: to consider the lives of plant beings of the world to be as worthy of attention and care as our own. Maybe Sun Eaters can provide an empirical interface for grasping ecological processes and ways of thinking about them?

    Seeing aids believing. Vision is our most important sense for perceiving and interacting with the surrounding world in terms of our attention.

    What a beautiful goal! By visualizing the bioelectric currents in trees, you are presenting something otherwise invisible. What role does making the invisible visible feature in your art practice? Why do you think this is important?

    I’m motivated by the understanding that seeing aids believing. Vision is our most important sense for perceiving and interacting with the surrounding world in terms of our attention. There are more neurons in our brains firing for the purpose of comprehending what we see than any of our other senses. At one time, microscopes awakened us to a microbial world. Maybe visualization of other invisible aspects of our fragile earth ecosystems will help us understand them better and subsequently take better care of them? It’s a question that I think is worth exploring.

    And Sun Eaters is a wonderful example of presenting that visualization. Can you explain a little about the process of creating Sun Eaters? What were your main takeaways from the experience?

I was researching about recent scientific developments in our understanding of plants as being able to do things such as learn, count, and share resources with one another via collaboration with mycorrhizal networks, and I came across artworks from the 1970s in the United States where people were using sensors to generate live music from plants. I started to experiment in my studio and became very excited by realizing I could effectively use ECG sensors to generate not music but light. Higher levels of bioelectric energy I translated to brighter light and lower levels to more dim light. It felt incredible to be able to watch the plants in my studio garden in this way. It felt like I was better connected with the plants, like the rudimentary beginnings of understanding plant ontologies better. My mind caught fire, and I wanted to go further with this. What more could I learn through such experimentations?

    (Sun Eaters, From IDEAS performance @ Qualcomm Institute)

    What an incredible connection to music! While describing your Sun Eaters project, you also discuss the rhythm of the natural world and how we are a part of it. Can you talk about your experience in the Mata Atlantica Forest in South America and the insights you gained from spending time there?

    When living in cities (which a majority of humans now are, for a majority of our time), we aren’t linked as closely to circadian rhythm cues. For parts of last year and this, I was spent time living well outside the city in the Mata Atlantica. I not only felt my own being tuned more closely to the daily cycle of sunrise and fall, but I also witnessed the other plants and animals do the same. Birds and monkeys and all manner of animals make noises daily during what is often called the dawn and dusk chorus. In fact, I recently learned that oceanographers have found that even fish are noisiest at dawn and dusk (it takes special microphones to hear it, though, which is why we didn’t know before). I enjoy thinking of it as an ongoing daily song that all living beings are participating in together. Perhaps I, as a human, need to connect consciously, and because as I am not living indigenously, I seem to forget.

    This topic of consciously connecting to the environment reminds me of an ever-diminishing attention span attributed to the twenty-first Century. You have even discussed climate change as “something happening on a scale that is not at a human attention span” and has produced work about that difference in time experience. Can you talk about this gap?

    That is an interesting question. Weather changes within the human attention span. and climate is a slower, intergenerational process. However, this is all changing. With our near exponentially accelerating storm patterns, rainfall changes, and ever hotter summers, we are beginning to see climate change within our attention span. But as for perceptual gaps, I think it is closely related to the importance of visualizing the invisible. How can and how does visualization help us to comprehend our world? These are important questions for me in the studio. 

    Now is not the time to give up but to do everything we can to reach zero emissions and create a just and equitable world for everyone: every person and every species.

    Absolutely! This summer has been such a pervasive and undeniable reminder that climate change is present and has been underscored further in the recent AR6 Climate Change 2021 IPCC report. What have you noticed in your communities, and how will the experiences of this summer influence the nature of your art practice?

    Yes, this latest IPCC report is an even more explicit and grave warning of what is to come. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t think about this, and the alarm bells are going off louder and louder as we witness the horrific evidence of the changes we have wrought to the climate, such as this summer’s fires and heatwaves. I often think that well before I was born people were awakened to the realization that the climate was changing, yet policies and politics did not change. Now it is 2021, and I am hoping that swift action is beginning to occur, and I think it is. Indeed this is the greatest threat humanity has faced, but conversely, it is our greatest opportunity to create positive change. Now is not the time to give up but to do everything we can to reach zero emissions and create a just and equitable world for everyone: every person and every species. It is a global ecosystem, everything is interconnected, and each is necessary to all the others. 

    In my communities of artists and environmentalists and people in various places that I have lived in my life, I hear an increase in openness to discussing the climate crisis and an upswell in commitment to make personal and system(s)-wide changes and thankfully, I hear one thing less and less: uncertainty that the climate is changing due to human action.

    What a call to action! Sun Eaters seems like a project that sits at an intersection of art, research, and experimentation. How do art and science feed off each other? What do you think that art can do that science cannot in these topics?

    These are very interesting questions to me. What are the boundaries between disciplines? Is science an endeavor of making discoveries? Is it new knowledge production? Are the arts conversely about reminding ourselves of timeless truths? Could an artist make art using the scientific method? Can scientists do research that includes emotions in their consideration? It’s clear that the distinctions are not clear cut, and generally, the answers are “it depends.” I’m interested in working horizontally with people across disciplines if the collaboration can mutually make possible things that wouldn’t be possible otherwise, and it is often the case. It is a very exciting space to explore.

    At a very young age, I made sculptures when I was learning about the Keeling Curve. Then I began making work it and about speculative futures. I also started wanting my sculptural work to be and do more, so I integrated electronics into my work. The fundamental framework of electronics is that you use inputs such as sensors, process the signal(s), and then output them through different things such as light and motion. At some point, I realized that this provides the possibility for not just making work about our environmental present or potential futures but also actually and specifically measuring our environments. I’m excited about where this line of inquiry is leading. Can my artwork do more and be more active; can my artwork itself act and have activist agency in the world? What will it take for Earth to reach zero emissions and create a more just and equitable world in the process? In what ways can I best contribute my individual skills towards this global, collective effort?

    Can my artwork itself act and have activist agency in the world?

    What new work(s) are you developing right now? You will be starting a Ph.D. in Digital Media at York University in Toronto. Can you talk about your research direction and what you see as your next steps?

    Next month I begin a Ph.D. program in Digital Media at York University. There I will be able to expand on the work started with Sun Eaters and new work that I am eager to develop regarding visualization of air pollution. At this time, that is all I can say about this new work, but I look forward to sharing more with you in the coming months and years.

    Thank you very much for this opportunity to share a few of the ideas that fuel my artistic practice, and thank you for the support and community you foster for all of us involved with ecoartspace!

    Thank you, Grace, for continuing your incredible work! 

    Sun Eater's online Performance on YouTube

  • Wednesday, September 01, 2021 4:11 PM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    Watermill Center visitors and schoolchildren inspect ring of twigs by artist Laurie Lambrecht.

    Laurie Lambrecht at Water Mill Center, NY Review by James FitzGerald

    The sun is descending over a landscape that, at first glance, resembles many on the East End of Long Island: stands of oak and pitch pine, an understory of moss and blueberry, and yellow farm fields peeping through the trunks. However, a closer look reveals that this is no ordinary woodland. Some of the trees glow with blue, orange, purple, and white. Others appear to be masquerading in the bark of their neighbors; a beech tree has donned a girdle of pine bark, while an oak has cloaked itself as a conifer from base to the midriff.

    This forest of shapeshifters is the creation of Long Island-based photographer and multimedia artist Laurie Lambrecht. “I want the work to be sympathetic with the landscape,” she explains. “I want to draw attention to details people would otherwise miss without detracting from the natural setting. My work shouldn’t be the first thing you see.”

    The installation sits on the grounds of the Watermill Center, a center for the arts and humanities in Watermill, NY founded by theater director Robert Wilson in 1992. Lambrecht’s work provided the backdrop to the July 30 kick-off ceremony for the Center’s week-long summer festival, which also featured musician and performance artist Laurie Anderson and Shane Weeks, a multidisciplinary artist and member of the Shinnecock Nation.

    Lambrecht’s work is spread across the 10-acre site, coming to the fore in some areas and camouflaging itself in others. Our walk began in a wooded corner of the property, where she has wrapped tree trunks in a weave composed of plastic newspaper bags, dyed silk, and a warp of marine ropes. Blue is the dominant color, but flashes of orange, white, and pink glimmer in the late afternoon sun. The land slopes gently upward, channeling slanted beams of light toward the trunks. 

    Two oak trees which Lambrecht wrapped in weaving, with plastic-covered rocks beneath them.

    The ground below is sprinkled with what appear to be bright blue robin’s eggs. On closer inspection, they turn out to be rocks wrapped in the same blue newspaper bags that festoon the trees. The unclothed rocks around them bear the trails of slugs. One, deposited by an unknown passerby, is inscribed with the word “acceptance.”

    Lambrecht seems pleased by the ways in which these visitors, whether human or gastropod, have found ways to enter into dialogue with her work. She has been coming to the Watermill Center since soon after its founding and describes her work as the continuation of an ongoing conversation between land, artists, and visitors to the site. In recent years, she has examined how trees and vines intertwine and photographed these natural weavings. She has drawn inspiration from the woods and dunes of Long Island, where bittersweet vines and wild grapes form thick webs and tapestries. 

    Wrapped branches in the interior of the Watermill Center, New York.

    The next stop on our tour is an oak grove where Lambrecht has wrapped trees in linen sheets bearing photographic prints of other tree species. These “hugging wraps,” which she debuted in her 2019 installation at the Madoo Conservancy in Sagaponack, New York, are designed to draw attention to trees and make people see them in new ways. 

    A beech in pine's clothing

    In a clearing a few feet away sit several piles of twigs wrapped in yarn. They form a color wheel of blue, red, and green. Lambrecht made around two thirds of them, while the rest are the handiwork of schoolchildren at the Westhampton Beach Elementary School and kids who visited with their families on Community Day at the Center. When kids return to visit the site, Lambrecht tells me, they always race to find their own twig in the pile. 

    Wrapped twigs mark the edge of the forest.

    The twigs, like the rest of the installation, will remain on site for the foreseeable future. However, the elements will ensure that they take on new hues and textures over time. Lambrecht is curious to see how the weathering process plays out. The color of the weavings, she says, has already changed and will continue to as the months wear on.

    Time is also a force of change over the short term. Over the chirp of an osprey, Lambrecht tells me, “As I figured out how to integrate the work with the landscape, I was driven by the light. The site faces directly west, and a beautiful orange glow sketches its way across the sky every evening. I think of the weavings as sundials that situate you and give you a sense of beginning, middle, and end.”

    Photo credit: Terri Gold

    James FitzGerald recently became a member of ecoartspace. He is a graduate student at the University of Cambridge, studying international environmental law and policy. FitzGerald currently serves as an editorial intern at Orion magazine, a quarterly publication focused on culture, place, and the natural world. As a nature lover raised on the East End of Long Island, he has long been familiar with Lambrecht's work and with the landscapes that inspire it.

  • Wednesday, September 01, 2021 1:58 PM | ecoartspace (Administrator)

    The ecoartspace September 2021 e-Newsletter is HERE

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