July 27, 2014

New Growth at Drew

New Growth was installed at Drew University this spring, and it will be up through October.. See image of palm tree as well as a map of where to find each tree on campus.

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July 20, 2014

IN-SITE Sketch

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Percoco IN-SITE

July 18, 2014

City Plants

I ordered Mark Dion’s book today, Concrete Jungle.

I’ve also started a Tumblr.

June 1, 2014

Parallel Botany

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Long quote from this excellent book, recommended by Chiaozza, who breed their own fantastical parallel species.

Dulieu first asks himself the question: What is it that distinguishes the parallel plants from the supposedly real plants of normal botany?

For him there are clearly two levels, or perhaps even two types, of what is real, one on this side and one on the other side of the hedge. “On this side,” he writes, “in our everyday garden, grow the rosemary, juniper, ferns and plane trees, perfectly tangible and visible. For these plants that have an illusory relationship with us, which in no way alters their existentiality, we are merely an event, an accident, and our presence, which to us seems so solid, laden with gravity, is to them no more than a momentary void in motion through the air. Reality is a quality that belongs to them, and we can exercise no rights over it.

“On the other side of the hedge, however, reality is ours. It is the absolute condition of all existence. The plants that grow there are real because we want them to be. If we find them intact in our memories, the same as when we saw them before, it is because we have invested them with the image that we have of them, with the opaque skin of our own confirmation. The plants that grow in that garden are not more or less real than those others which bend and sway in the wind of reason. Their reality, given them by us, is quite simply another and different reality.”

That the parallel plants exist in the context of a reality that is certainly not that of “every day” is evident at first sight. Though from a distance their striking “plantness” may deceive us into imagining that we are concerned with one of the many freaks of our flora, we soon realize that the plants before our eyes must in fact belong to another realm entirely. Motionless, imperishable, isolated in an imaginary void, they seem to throw out a challenge to the ecological vortex tthat surrounds them. What chiefly strikes us about them is the absence of any tangible, familiar substance. This “matterlessness” of the parallel plants is a phenomenon peculiar to them, and is perhaps the thing which mainly distinguishes them from the ordinary plants around them.

The term “matterlessness,” coined by Koolemans and widely used by both Duluth and Furhaus, may not be a very happy one, suggesting as it does the idea of invisibility, which except for certain abnormal situations is not generally true of parallel botany. “Para-materiality” would perhaps be a more correct word to describe the corporeality of plants that are usually characterized by a fairly solid presence, sometimes almost brutally intrusive, which makes them objectively perceptible to the same degree as all the other things in nature, even if their substance eludes chemical analysis and flouts all known laws of physics.

But “matterlessness” does suggest that apparent absence of verifiable structure on a cellular and molecular level common to all the parallel plants. Each individual species has some special anomaly of its own, of course, and these are more difficult to define and often far more disconcerting, although they are always attributable to some abnormal substance that rejects the most basic gravitational restrictions. There are plants, for instance, that appear clearly in photographs but are imperceptible to the naked eye. Some violate the normal rules of perspective, looking the same size however close or far they may be from us. Others are colorless, but under certain conditions reveal a profusion of colors of exceptional beauty. One of them has leaves with such a tangled maze of veins that it caused the extinction of a voracious insect that at one time had threatened the vegetation of an entire continent.

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May 10, 2014

Reading List

Readings about the representation of nature in lit and pop culture:

Lawrence Buell (any of his books, esp The Future of Environmental Criticism)
The Ecocriticism Reader
Noel Sturgeon’s Environmentalism in Popular Culture
Greg Garrard’s Ecocriticism
Rob Nixon’s Slow Violence
Reed’s essay “Environmental Justice Ecocriticism”
and Kolodny’s Lay of the Land (older)

April 27, 2014

New Artist Statement

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As a sculptor, my artistic strategy involves re-contextualizing existing elements: presentation rather than representation. My process is resourceful, responsive, and playful. I spend as much time researching, exploring sites, and scavenging for materials as I do making.

I often work with junk and junk-spaces: materials and places that are overlooked, untended, and thus host to numerous extraordinary possibilities; places where artifacts accumulate and history is most visible. I am also interested in the intersection of nature and culture, including the varied representations of plant-life for commercial and decorative purposes.

I produce public interventions, work for traditional gallery settings, web-based projects, and publications. I learn different things from each way of working.

April 20, 2014

IN-SITE Proposal

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As an artist, I am interested in the intersection of nature and culture, including the way that we humans represent plant-life in illustrations, advertisements and logos, as well as for decorative purposes. The many representations of nature are, in my estimation, about as numerous and varied as real plant species. They range from the most simple geometric shapes to detailed illustrations and photographs, sometimes referencing existing or even imaginary species. As we are increasingly separated from direct contact with wilderness, these representations can sometimes stand in for the real thing. I’ve been playing with this idea in projects such as the fabric sculpture Canopy (2010), my collage series Field Studies (2011), as well as my recent public sculpture on Randall’s Island, New Growth (2013).

I propose to create a conceptual project in which I collect and scan real leaves from downtown South Orange and the park area as well as representations of leaves also found in the downtown area, such as those printed on packaging in stores, signs, on clothing fabric, decorative fake plants, elements of logos, architectural elements reminiscent of plants, etc. I will organize these “specimens” into a digital herbarium in the form of a website with accompanying information about each leaf (photos of the leaves as they were found, along with information such as location, context, size, and species).

I will also enlarge several of these images to approximately 2 feet tall (quite possibly larger) and wheatpaste them onto walls in public space throughout the downtown area. A QR code symbol will accompany each leaf which will lead viewers to the project website. This will function as a dispersed “natural” history display.

Wheatpasting is a temporary way to adhere paper to an outdoor wall. It’s made of water, flour, and sugar. It can last for months in an outdoor location. Wheatpasted images can be removed with hot water.

QR Codes are square black and white bar codes which can be scanned using smart phones. These codes can have web addresses embedded in them. Scanning the code will take you to the website.

Images attached:

1. Examples of leaves and leaf imagery found in downtown South Orange.

2 & 3. Digital collage of wheatpaste installation for one leaf.

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April 16, 2014

Lecture Notes – Environmental Studies

“Whenever you make something invisible visible or something visible invisible, it is a political act.” — Jacques Ranciere?

AGNES DENES

FUTUREFARMERS

Victory Gardens (2007+) is one of my favorite public projects of Futurefarmers and no doubt an ode to Eleanor Roosevelt’s own victory garden during World War II. Along with Garden for the Environment, Futurefarmers helps San Franciscans transition their backyard, front yard, window boxes, rooftops and unused land into food production areas. Delivery men and women bicycle starter kits containing small plots, seeds, fertilizer, “how-to” guide, and more to participants’ homes.

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Soil Kitchen, 2011

Soil Kitchen tested over 350 soil samples and served 300 bowls of soup per day made from locally sourced vegetables grown on a former brownfield. In addition to serving soup and testing soil a Philadelphia Brownfields Map and Soil Archive was produced and the building was a hub for exchange and learning; free workshops including wind turbine construction, urban agriculture, soil remediation, composting, lectures by soil scientists and cooking lessons.

MARY MATTINGLY

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PATRICIA DOMINGUEZ & DOMINICA KSEL

Tree Analogue: Studies in Myth Making, El Museo del Barrio

There is one specific tree that has become a hybrid during the years. It merged into the fence, creating a new morphology between urbanization and organic growth. It is radiantly impure. This tree will contain a box with an audio recording unit. The recording device will be slightly camouflaged in a box. People will be able to access this box from the periphery of the park, as it is part of the fence. The storytellers can stand beneath the tree and press record when they are ready to share personal experiences, love songs, messages to deceased loved ones, dirty jokes, local gossips, commentaries on current events, weather predictions, marriage proposals, confessions, forgiveness, offerings, wishes, desires, frustrations and new myths. The tree will be also activated as temple, healing center, materia prima for essences and inspiration for wood cuts, weaving, as cabinet of curiosity and a new celestial body.

MARK DION

Thames Dig

ROBERT SMITHSON

Spiral Jetty

WALTER DE MARIA

Earth Room

ANA MENDIETA

MARIE LORENZ

NATALIE JEREMIJENKO

Environmental Health Clinic

Fwish Interface

OOZ

No Park

EVE MOSHER

High Water Line

TATTFOO TAN

New Earth – Tree of Life

New Earth: Tree of Life

McColl Center for Visual Art, Charlotte, NC

RACHEL SUSSMAN

REVEREND BILLY

MIERLE LADERMAN-UKELES

CHRISTINA KELLY

Sweep

JOSEPH BEUYS

7,000 Oaks

JUSTIN SHULL

7,000 Evergreens

WILLIS ELKINS
Jamaica Bay Pen Project

Sunburnt Scribbler

The Vice Versa

Registry Ink

The Haksiva

April 14, 2014

Student Work, 2003-2005

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April 1, 2014

Non-Human Neighbor

raccoon

Yesterday, a raccoon made himself comfortable on my fire escape and slept there for 6 hours. Mindy was pretty interested and seemed to be trying to get his attention, but he didn’t even notice her until it got dark. At that point, he was definitely interested. He watched as she walked in and out of the room, and when Mindy hopped onto the window sill to check him out, they were both pressed up against the glass, mirroring each other.

They are about the same size, and the raccoon groomed himself like a cat both before and after sleeping. Apparently raccoons make good pets.

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I am very interested in Julian Montague’s work, specifically a project called Secondary Occupants, which documents animal-architecture interactions from the point of view of an imaginary author.

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