This text looks to undo assumptions of creative individuals existing apart from dynamic material relations. Following a material ecocriticism ethos, it describes many simultaneous instances of materials affecting the narrative or meaning-making potential within human art practice, specifically in recounted moments from an artist residency taking place within collective gardens where plants were made into paints. In developing Sara Ahmed’s refrain of ‘use’ coming before, during or after relations, the creative tendency to find potential in pre-existing materials, using them differently, is proposed as a life-sustaining mode, like that of Margulis’ Serial Endosymbiosis Theory.
This essay considers projects by two multimedia artists working in Scotland to propose that culture and local ecology are inseparable and mutually-determining aspects of our understanding of and care for place. The work of Inge Thomson and Deirdre Nelson encompasses material cultures and oral traditions, with an emphasis on marine environments, creating new narratives of passage as works of advocacy for ‘vernacular, community-based ecology’.
Prof. Dr. Dirk Messner is the director of the Institute for Environment and Human Security of United Nations University (UNU-EHS). He is also the Co-Director of the “Käte Hamburger Kolleg / Centre for Global Cooperation Research” at the University of Duisburg-Essen. He is an internationally recognized expert on the topics of global change, digitalization, and sustainable development, transformation towards the decarbonization of the global economy, global governance and evolution of human cooperation.
BioBAT Art Space is the first exhibition space in New York City that is entirely dedicated to the intersection of Art and Science. Their inaugural art exhibit, ‘Spontaneous Emergence of Order’ features four interdisciplinary artists who create works based in science and technology.
Spontaneous emergence of order is a form of self-organization out of seeming chaos, the organic forming of systems mastered by no one person or thing, but the unfolding, natural order of a collective of events and actions. The four artists in this exhibit are sifting through this ordered chaos and creating their own new order based on their findings. Whether their interest is in the biological or the technological their artworks are all connected through the messiness of life itself and our connections to the natural world.
Rebecca Gasior Altman is a writer and sociologist. Her work explores the social history of chemistry, plastics, pollution and environmental legacy— what we pass from one generation to the next. She holds a PhD in environmental sociology from Brown University, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Science and Environmental Health Network, a national think-tank.
“When you are looking closely at the world it is impossible not to see damage and – if you have some understanding of what you are looking at – absence, so increasingly my work is motivated by the catastrophic impact of human actions on the natural world. I am inspired and appalled in equal measure by what I see around me.”
Emma Tuck’s work is informed by natural forms and patterns, refracted through the psychological, the political and the trivial.
“We are all bodies of water! What we do to water, we do to every body, including ourselves.”
Astrida Neimanis writes mostly about bodies, water and weather, in an intersectional feminist mode. Her most recent monograph is Bodies of Water: Posthuman Feminist Phenomenology. She is currently Senior Lecturer in the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies and Key Researcher at the Sydney Environment Institute at the University of Sydney, on Gadigal land, in Australia.
“The challenges we face with water are largely a consequence of how we perceive it in postmodern industrialized societies. Despite the myriad ways that water connects us to the world, our management and engineering of it seldom reflects that realization. Whereas expanding our perceptions of water may appear to be a relatively simple task, there are biological and behavioral factors that complicate our capacity and inclination to do so. Given the complex processes and systems that govern water in nature, our mimicking its patterns could supplement our comprehending or predicting them. ”
D.L. Marrin (nickname West) is an applied scientist specializing in biogeochemistry, water resources and aquatic ecology.
“The idea of interconnectedness has been one of the central themes of my water work for over forty years. Water issues are vast and present intricately complex problems. I think that the solutions and suggestions for actions lie in a diversity of approaches. It will take all of us working together cooperatively to come to the assistance of bodies of water around the globe. In this radically interconnected world it behooves each of us to compassionately take care of each other and our environment, because we are one and the same.”
In her pioneering inter-disciplinary practice, Basia Irland focusses on rivers and watersheds, water scarcity, climate change, ecological restoration and waterborne diseases. Her poetic, socially-engaged work endeavours to reconnect people with their local waterways in order to foster care, appreciation and responsibility.
Richelle Gribble’s exhibition, ‘Anthropocene’, took place at the Jonathan Ferrara Gallery (New Orleans, LA) between May and July 2018. With a strong interest in environmentalism, the artist examines human impact on nature and the biological consequences of human influence. Gribble’s highly conceptual work includes painting, drawing and sculpture.